As the Oakdale Irrigation District continues to battle leaks of confidential information from closed session agenda items, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Roger M. Beauchesne granted a temporary restraining order to the district Thursday morning, June 30, prohibiting two of its own directors from being included in those closed session hearings.
Earlier in the week, on June 28, OID filed a lawsuit against Board Directors Linda Santos and Gail Altieri seeking a temporary restraining order to keep them from closed session strategy sessions surrounding an on-going litigation case.
During court motions regarding a 2016 lawsuit filed by local farmers Robert Frobose and Louis Brichetto acting as Oakdale Groundwater Alliance, Santos and Altieri—who had cast dissenting votes in a controversial On-Farm Conservation Program which had sparked the suit—last month provided sworn declarations to the opposition along with confidential emails.
Santos and Altieri were also accused by district lawyers of disclosing closed session discussions and posting that information on a Facebook site.
“Basically, we went in and asked for a narrowly tailored order,” OID Attorney James Oliveira said after the hearing. “The court found that the district would be irreparably harmed if they (Santos and Altieri) continued to sit in.”
Those present at the 8:30 a.m. hearing in Department 24 included Santos and Altieri along with other OID directors.
In an obtained copy of the order, Judge Beauchesne stated that the district would suffer “great or irreparable injury” if the TRO was not granted.
As a result, Judge Beauchesne ordered that Santos and Altieri were prohibited from participating in any closed session item regarding the Frobose-Brichetto “Oakdale Groundwater Alliance” lawsuit and voting on any item in relation to the suit.
“Once they cooperated with the district’s opposition in support of the (Frobose-Brichetto) lawsuit, they created a conflict of interest between themselves and the district,” Oliveira said.
Santos and Altieri have repeatedly dodged The Leader for comment on this item and consistently refuse to return messages and emails.
The temporary restraining order remains in place until the next hearing on the matter Sept. 22 where Santos and Altieri will have the opportunity to show cause why the sanctions should not remain in place.
The next meeting of the Oakdale Irrigation District is Tuesday, July 5 at 9 a.m.
Look to the July 6 edition of The Leader for coverage of the meeting and any updates to this story.