A formal letter of protest to the South San Joaquin Irrigation District regarding breach of Tri-Dam board meeting protocol was unanimously approved to be sent by the Oakdale Irrigation District Board of Directors at the July 17 regular meeting.
OID and SSJID are partners in the Tri-Dam Project, a partnership that has deteriorated over the years, according to OID director Steve Webb, who believes that part of the reason is because SSJID is very focused on becoming a power provider and because of its board president.
OID board president Frank Clark requested the letter after a meeting in Manteca with Tri-Dam general manager Dan Pope and SSJID board president John Holbrook where Clark said OID staff would make a technical financial presentation but Holbrook objected and said since he was in charge he’d determine what was presented in closed session, according to Clark.
Clark stated at the OID meeting that in a partnership it’s the president’s obligation to listen to both sides, at least out of courtesy if one side thinks an issue needs to be discussed. He also said that he views Holbrook’s position as censorship and suggested that this presents Brown Act issues since the Tri-Dam meetings are public meetings.
Director Webb chimed in that he will not be forced into doing something because someone else wants him to do it, in reference to making decisions about labor negotiations at Tri-Dam without getting the full information requested.
According to the OID agenda item, this was the second time Holbrook has blocked information prepared by OID staff from being distributed at a Tri-Dam meeting about Tri-Dam matters.
In later discussion about the upcoming Tri-Dam meeting agenda, OID general manager Steve Knell pointed out various issues, discrepancies, and questions. Director Webb stated he felt OID staff should take minutes at the Tri-Dam meetings when they’re held at OID and also that OID should have its attorney present. Director Clark later stated that he had suggested recording all Tri-Dam meetings.
Director Al Bairos stated that he thought it in the best interest of the OID board to discuss some of the Tri-Dam matters in closed session and then report on them later. He felt some of the comments may not be appropriate for open session and that there could be potential legal issues. Director Clark said that in order to be in closed session it has to fit certain parameters and he didn’t feel the topic did fit.
Director Jack Alpers then said that even though his forthcoming comments fly in the face of what Bairos just said, he feels that Tri-Dam general manager Dan Pope is not paying attention to direction from the board and thinks he should be released. Alpers said he believes in transparency and then apologized to Bairos.
In other discussion, safety coordinator Derek Davis gave a brief report on the findings of a four-year facilities and program safety review/audit performed in April by the Special District Risk Management Authority (SDRMA). Davis provided his opinion about how the district should proceed with the information in the report and taking the next steps.
Also in discussion, the board and staff visited the district’s irrigation and drainage infrastructure installation policy. OID engineer John Davids said that in an effort to streamline things for OID, the district support services staff should perform private infrastructure improvements. Davids said that various difficulties plague the process, such as not meeting OID quality standards, lack of planning by most landowners resulting in an “emergency” mentality. Inspections are also an issue, Davids said, because sometimes the work is done before the specifications are approved.
Directors Bairos and Herman Doornenbal both stated that they felt the landowners should be given the option to find their own resources. Doornenbal said he’d support OID doing the turnouts but not pipelines on private land, and said that OID should do its own work on its own facilities. OID owns the turnouts but the pipelines are the property of the landowners.
This matter will come before the board at a future meeting as an action item, as board members expressed that only some alterations should be made but not the full recommendations to the policy at this time.
The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7 in the OID boardroom, 1205 East F. The next regular joint board meeting for the Tri-Dam Project will be at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24 in the SSJID boardroom, 11011 East Highway 120, Manteca.