The Wednesday night, Aug. 17 meeting of Oakdale Irrigation District directors kicked off with Linda Santos getting served with a notice of an intention to circulate a recall petition calling for her removal from the five-person board.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Deanne Dalrymple served Santos and took the podium to read from the document.
Dalrymple announced that a group of citizens intends to circulate a petition, one of the first steps in the recall process, seeking to recall the District 4 Director and demand an election for a successor.
Dalrymple stated the grounds for the recall were that the group felt Santos put the interests of her friends, campaign contributors and special interests outside of OID boundaries ahead of the district she represents.
When Dalrymple was done at the podium, many members of the audience applauded.
In an obtained copy of the notice, examples the group listed that they feel warrant the recall is that Santos has sided with special interests voting against OID’s farm conservation program and “aiding and abetting OID’s opponents in a lawsuit designed to favor a single out of district farmer at the expense of her own constituents.”
They also accuse Santos of failing to disclose her financial interests with one of the lawsuit plaintiffs.
Robert Frobose, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit mentioned, leases property from Santos.
The notice also remarks that Santos is “colluding” with special interests in conducting a negative social media campaign against OID, its management, and other directors. It also lists that she voted to give “100+ years of district water to her out-of-district friend with no annexation fees.”
In February 2016, one of the plaintiffs, Louis Brichetto, proposed a water agreement for his two out-of-district ranches of 3700 acres. The proposal was a 50-year renewable contract with another 50 years at his discretion.
Santos and Gail Altieri had voted in favor of the item, against the recommendation of OID staff who stated there would potential risk to the district. The other three directors voted against the item defeating it.
Robert Frias followed Dalrymple during public comment and spoke in support of Santos and Altieri. He labeled OID a “soap opera” and pointed to an anti-bullying poster in the room calling upon the other OID directors and management to stop bullying the women.
“I applaud you, Linda and Gail,” Frias said. “You’re the only two here with any balls to stand up to these guys.”
Frias left under his own round of applause from others in attendance.
“It goes well beyond the farm conservation program,” Dalrymple said outside of the meeting. “Not only is she going to court costing OID money because she jumped ship to provide the other side information, she wants to still be in on the planning.”
Dalrymple criticized Santos for siding with her tenant who lives outside the district and was not a voter in any OID district.
“Any director with an ounce of integrity would recuse herself in any litigation involving her own tenant and the district she serves,” Dalrymple said. “It’s not honest, transparent, and open which she campaigned on.”
“I’m surprised about this since no one had ever come to me to talk about their concerns,” Santos said about the notice after the meeting. “When the truth comes out, there won’t be a need for a recall.”
Frobose also gave Santos encouragement after the meeting telling her she was doing a good job and was supported by many in the district.
“She won by a landslide,” Frobose told the Leader. “The people calling for her recall have their facts incorrect and are going to make the voters that voted for her come out to vote for her again.”
On Friday, Aug 19, Santos posted to her Facebook page the addresses and telephone numbers of the original 13 that had signed the petition for the recall process.
The notation, “Stop the lies. Ask me why these people are so afraid of me being on the Oakdale Irrigation Board. Or better yet, ask them why they are accusing me of these lies. Here’s who they are and how to contact them.” The names, home addresses, and telephone numbers that were on the notice were then listed.
Santos later posted an image of the signatures and personal information.
“I think it was very unprofessional,” OID Board President Steve Webb said when asked about the Facebook post. “That’s all I’ll say about it.”
Facebook later removed the post and photo as a “violation of community standards” under its “harassment and disclosing personal information” guidelines.
If the group receives enough verified persons to sign the recall petition, an election will be held within 88 to 125 days after filing the petition with the Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters.