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OID Recall Target, Proponent Share Views On Election

The pending recall election for OID board member Linda Santos is coming up on Tuesday, April 25. In advance of the election, The Leader recently posed questions to both Santos and the main proponent behind the recall effort, Deanne Dalrymple. Following is a ‘Q&A’ with each woman, getting their take on some of the issues that prompted the recall election.



OID Board Member

Q: With the recall election looming, what is the most important message you want to get out to the voters?

A: Vote NO on the recall, your vote is important!


Q: What do you feel sparked the recall effort?

A: A few people were upset and surprised I was elected by a large majority in the fall of 2015. The only way these people could get enough signatures to force a recall was to resort to lying to the people of my District by telling the lie that the petition they were asking residents to sign was to keep our water local when in reality it was to recall the new, recently elected OID director Linda Santos.


Q: How have you been conducting an anti-recall campaign?

A: I have a lot of support from many people that are not paid and have volunteered to walk with me going door to door to answer questions and get the truth out about my position on the board. I like to give everyone the chance to talk to me directly face to face.


Q: You ran on a platform of transparency and accountability - how do you feel you have accomplished/are accomplishing those goals?

A: Very important for everyone in the OID not just the folks I represent, Director Altieri and I have now made the entire agenda, available on the OID website, with all supporting documentation, the same as all the Directors are provided, free of charge. When I was getting the agenda I paid 23 cents a page, costing anywhere from $15 to $35 dollars every two weeks. Second, we now have one night meeting each month for working people of our community that are not able to attend our 9 a.m. meeting. Third, helped expose how much in taxes the people in town have paid to OID and that transparency has forced OID to work with the city to have greater return for their tax dollars than ever before. Something still working on is to have OID meetings live on line as most public entities do, so you are able to watch at your convenience.


Q: Water is such an emotional topic for people and protecting it is part of OID’s role – what do you feel the OID board is doing effectively in that regard and what do you want to see done better?

A: Our water rights are called pre 14 water rights, established prior to the year 1914, and are the strongest water rights in the State. OID’s policies of abandoning water to Southern California is not in our best interest for the long term, jeopardizing our long established water rights. I have worked to require OID to, most importantly, use and keep our water local to protect our underground water aquifers and promote our local agriculture economy which benefits everyone


Q: Any other comment you want to offer?

A: A lot of false unfounded allegations by the people pushing the recall. The water sale that was challenged in a lawsuit to stop selling water to Southern California. The position I took was to support and make clear to the court that our OID minutes are the accurate report of the actions taken by all five OID Directors, nothing more than telling the court the truth. The results of the lawsuit have no impact on providing water to all the local farmers OID has contracts with. There is currently not a requirement to do an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) to keep our water local.

I am adamant about ensuring and protecting our very strong water rights. Keeping our water local for our local prosperity and protect our groundwater. Make sure OID’s policies are fair and equitable for everyone.




Recall Proponent

Q: With the recall election looming, what is the most important message you want to get out to the voters?

A: It is time to elect a director who can put animosity aside and work for the best interests of all their constituents. Linda Santos has had an agenda from the start, to take control of the board and fire the general manager. She has created dysfunction on the board from day one by refusing to meet with or speak to the GM, except during meetings and the occasional email. She has violated ethics guidelines by recording closed sessions, and by condemning management and other directors in her comments to the press and in social media. The resulting side-show and fractured board is weakening the district during a critical time: when the state is trying to take 40 percent of our water. We need directors who are ready to work together to fight the state on behalf of all of their constituents, not fight one another for the benefit of only a few. It’s time to stop the negativity. Santos was elected by receiving the support of a mere 18 percent of registered voters. Every vote matters, so make your vote count!


Q: What prompted the recall election?

A: Farmers in Santos’ division, including myself, were angered by a string of bad decisions made by Santos on the board and her derogatory comments to the press and social media regarding district staff and fellow board members. Santos actions and words show a complete disregard for the best interests of the majority of farmers in her district. In March of last year, Santos voted with the board majority unanimously to support OID’s long range water plan, which included not entering into any new long term water contracts. Then on the very next agenda item she voted to negotiate a long term water contract with her friend, without his having to pay annexation fees, despite letters from three state/federal agencies warning that such long-term out-of-district water contracts put OID’s water rights in jeopardy. Shortly thereafter she voted against the on-farm conservation program, despite the vocal support of many of her constituents, and mislead the public by calling it a “fallowing” program without explaining its purpose of helping landowners make water-conserving improvements on their land by covering part of the cost of those projects, or by covering the full cost of replacing domestic wells that failed during the drought. This was followed by her affidavit in support of a retaliatory lawsuit against her own district brought by the very farmer who was angered by the failure of his proposed long-term out-of-district water contract, who cynically claimed OID’s program could harm the local aquifer, while he continues to use about the same amount of groundwater for his out-of-district orchards every year. Then came her attempt to sneak a recording device into a closed session of the board, a disturbing ethics violation. Not to mention the character assassination of a fellow board member and upstanding community member she supported on social media, again for the sole purpose of replacing him and gaining control of the board. Finally, at the end of the 2016 water season Santos voted to forfeit OID’s leftover water to the feds for free, rather than sell it to needy farmers including some in Stanislaus County. As a direct result of that water sale, which was approved by the board majority over Santos’ objections, water rates this year were lower for all OID ratepayers. With the state coming after our water, we decided enough was enough. Those decisions, combined with her unwillingness to answer questions and phone calls from her own constituents, prompted the recall.


Q: How have you been conducting the recall campaign?

A: Our committee has been trying to let people know that there is much more to what is going on than what they are hearing about. So much misinformation is out there, it is very frustrating. We have been trying to educate voters as to why it is important to them that we have a director who is willing to communicate and work for solutions, instead of someone who seems so intent on tearing things down. Water rights are complex, and so are laws that govern them. The price and availability of water affects the economy of our entire region. There are no easy solutions and there will always be differences of opinion, so we need a director who is willing to listen to all sides and work towards finding a way to compromise.


Q: Linda Santos ran on a platform of transparency and accountability – how do you feel she has or has not accomplished/is or is not accomplishing those goals?

A: As far as transparency goes, Linda Santos has yet to acknowledge her financial ties with the two farmers involved in the lawsuit against OID. She says her goal in most of her votes is to protect OID’s water rights, yet her support of a long-term out-of-district water contract for the benefit of one farmer puts all of our rights in jeopardy. Further, she hasn’t made any financial disclosures for the recall campaign, but others have spent money for her, skirting FPPC disclosure requirements. That’s not being transparent.

Then there’s accountability. She refuses to meet with or speak to the OID General Manager outside of board meetings and a rare email. She refuses to speak with or meet with constituents who speak up regarding her decisions or farmers in her district who are directly affected by her votes on the board. Why doesn’t she want to hear our concerns or see what we’re doing on our farms, and how her decisions impact our operations? That is why there is a recall. We as voters are holding her accountable for her bad decisions on the board, and her inappropriate behavior as a public representative of our district.


Q: Water is such an emotional topic for people and protecting it is part of OID’s role – what do you feel the OID board is doing effectively in that regard and what do you want to see done better?


A: As a farmer, I appreciate that OID does what it can to keep irrigation costs low while at the same time improving and upgrading its infrastructure. I don’t think a lot of people understand how lucky we are to have such low irrigation rates for basically all the water we need. The board needs to better educate the public about OID’s water operations and figure out the best options for using excess water. How can we make use of our leftover surface water to best benefit all stakeholders, including farmers, small land owners and city dwellers? How can we protect our water rights, while at the same time continue to keep water rates low? With the State coming after our water, things will only get harder. We need unity now more than ever and we need someone who is willing to listen to and treat all their constituents fairly.