GA denies WD of rightful place on GA Board

Guest Editorial

I was at my shop contorted under the dashboard of my forklift probing for an intermittent voltage path when I remembered about the Groundwater Authority (GA) meeting that I was missing.  Damn!  The GA was going to vote on denying our IWV Water District their rightful turn of the annual rotating chairmanship.  This was discussed at their previous meeting and it appeared that minds were made up and on Wednesday the GA was going to pull the trigger.  They were about to deliver a poorly justified punitive slap across the face to all the poor saps in the Valley like us who buy their water from the District.  So our representation on the GA Board will be further diminished if they succeed in skipping-over our Water District representative, Stan Rajtora.

Most people have not been following this.  When I got there, dirty and smelling a bit of crankcase oil, the council chambers at City Hall was almost empty.  Under discussion were residual issues associated with shallow well failure remediation.  But I made it in time to urge a “No” vote on the denial of chairmanship issue in support of Stan Rajtora.  The trouble was, I was too angry to actually say anything substantive.  See, one of the “virtual” meeting participants Yelled “F__k You!” into his computer’s microphone when Stan Rajtora offered a dissenting opinion to some previous issue.

Everybody heard it but (curiously) nobody reacted.  Chairman Scott Hayman (who represents our Ridgecrest City Council on the GA Board) sat mute as did the other directors.  I thought this was outrageous and the fact that chairman Hayman let it pass without comment or action was beyond outrageous.  Later, Josh Nugent,  who was speaking on behalf of his pistachio concern, mentioned the profanity and spoke strongly against it.  Indeed, when I finally got to the dais I decided to give the foul mouthed perpetrator (whoever he was) an opportunity to identify himself and to apologize.  But after about 4 seconds of silence, chairman Hayman came to life and asked, “What’s going on here?”

See, I didn’t realize how bad things had become with the Groundwater Authority.  It lacks substantive leadership and appears to be directed by staff.  The GA’s spending lacks ledger visibility and it’s plans (for us!) are not at all clear.  The kicker is, as the GA’s long range plan coalesces for us IWV water users to somehow make do with much less while paying much more, the Groundwater Authority will be desperately needing our tacit cooperation and they are not going to get it.  The demonstrated rude heavy-handed obliviousness which just took place during Wednesday’s GA meeting is now further unlikely to engender hope of our cooperation.

Chairman Hayman should have, immediately after the epithet “F__K You!” was heard over one of the 5 “always open” microphones, directed that all “outsider” microphones be silenced (but he didn’t).  He should have paused the proceedings and demanded to know who yelled that filthy phrase (but he didn’t).  At the very least, he could have acknowledged the grotesque inappropriateness of the anonymous outburst and apologized to all who were offended by it (but he didn’t).

The “rolled over” IWV Water District may now wish to examine their future role on the IWV Groundwater Authority Board.  See, the IWVWD is where the rubber meets the road in this Valley as far as water usage is concerned.  They deliver it and then bill us for it.  The GA may treat the WD with impunity but when (and if) the GA finally comes-up with an approved sustainability plan they surely must know that the WD is the only activity in place to actually facilitate it.  Perhaps, under the circumstances, the WD should consider detaching altogether from the GA.

And we local water users can re-engage with this increasingly stilted farce by coming to the meetings as I just did (even though the GA meetings are scheduled mid-day in mid-week to discourage our participation).  Put-in a strong showing and stand forth loudly with demands for transparency, facts and explanations.  These bureaucrats are not to be feared nor catered-to.  They are subject to recall, lawsuits and must respond to Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests from each of us.

Skip Gorman

Story First Published: 2021-12-17