Business as usual at EID board meetings? - Opinion
I attended the first EID board meeting of the year on January 13 following the November election only to find that the returning board members, George Osborne and Bill George, along with General Manager Jim Ambercrombie seem to believe that business as usual at EID is okay and that new Board members can be intimidated to agree. There were several items that lead me to this conclusion.
The first is that the Board cannot agree to elect a Vice President to preside over meetings when Alan Day, Board President, is not able to conduct the meeting. That leads me to believe that both George and Osborne want to control the meeting agendas when Director Day is not present to maintain the status quo.
The second issue is that both George and Osborne demonstrated that they expect newly elected directors to defer to them. They treat the newly elected directors with disdain if they question any proposals presented which George and Osborne seem willing to adopt with no discussion. George and Osborne should realize that Dale Coco and Greg Prada were elected by the voters to oversee the operation of the district, not rubber stamp staff proposals.
There were two items on the consent calendar that Director Prada asked to have moved to the regular agenda at the next meeting. Consent Calendars are generally used for routine items that shouldn’t require lengthy board discussion. The items Director Prada asked to take off the Consent Calendar were material items that deserved discussion.
The first item was a request to approve an application for a $1 million grant from the Bureau of Reclamation to help fund a low priority project that has been in planning for many years but never important enough to spend money on. Director Prada’s is concern that if the district were to receive the grant, it would have to find an additional $3 million through more debt to fund the EID’s share of the project. There was little documentation from the staff regarding the requirement for additional EID money. Director Osborne chided Director Prada for even raising the issue. Is this how the democratic representative system is supposed to work? Intimidation by entrenched politicians when newcomers are trying to do the right thing?
The second item was adoption of a disclosure policy that complies with the securities laws. This disclosure was apparently drafted by EID’s bond counsel. It has significant legal implications committing the district to properly disclose material information that relates to credit ratings, etc. Not an insignificant issue, yet it apparently had not been discussed prior to this meeting. EID has been selling bonds for over 10 years. Has the district not had a policy in place and if so why not? Director Prada was exercising the discretion that the voters want. Understand what you’re voting for; don’t just rubber stamp proposals presented by staff.
It’s time for change in the way EID does business. Kudos to Director Prada for sticking to his guns by doing the right thing!
El Dorado Hills