No-Bid Contract Extension Raises Questions Of Conflict In Water District

(November 28)  Scheduled action by the Yucaipa Valley Water District next week has resurrected questions about a potential conflict of interest involving at least one of the district’s board members.
The Sacramento-based lobbying firm Platinum Advisors currently holds a no-bid contract with the water district for the provision of representation in the state capitol.
On December 4, the Yucaipa Valley Water District’s board of directors is set to renew a five-year contract with Platinum Advisors at a cost of $60,000 annually. The total value of the contract renewal is $300,000, with the arrangement to last through 2018.
The board of directors did not consider any competing lobbyists.
The alleged conflict-of-interest consists of the familial relationships between two of the board members and one of the more prominent employees of Platinum Advisors.
The board members of the Yucaipa Valley Water District are Jay Bogh, Bruce Granlund, Lonni Granlund, David Leja, and Kenneth Munoz.
Bruce Granlund is the brother of Brett Granlund. He is also board president. Lonni Granlund is the ex-wife of Brett Granlund and the vice president of the board.
Brett Granlund, a former assemblyman, is an employee of Platinum Advisors. Platinum Advisors owner Darius Anderson has long touted Brett Granlund as a key member of his staff, valuable for his intimate knowledge of legislative processes and his familiarity with Southern California, in particular San Bernardino and Riverside counties, in which his district, when he was a member of the Assembly,  was located. Brett Granlund was given a prominent position on the profile portion of Platinum Advisors’ website, where the experience and talents of the firm’s various lobbyists were laid out.
Like many other local governmental agencies Platinum Advisors has contracts with, Yucca Valley Water District’s account is handled by Brett Granlund.
Curiously, as of November 20, Brett Granlund’s profile on the Platinum Advisors website was removed.
Anderson and Brett Granlund were unavailable to explain why Brett Granlund’s profile was taken down. His name yet appears on company stationary.
The water district was unapologetic about employing a company which employs a blood and marital relative to two of its directors.
“District staff believes it would be prudent to continue our investment in an annual contract with Platinum Advisors to protect the financial and political interests of our ratepayers.  The schedule of compensation for the contract is based on a contract that avoids an annual escalation of the retainer,” according to a district memorandum relating to the contract renewal signed by Anderson and Yucaipa Valley Water District General Manager Joe Zoba. According to that memorandum, Platinum Advisors will “work with the district to develop policy arguments and a rationale that can be presented to the Legislature and the Executive Branch to justify the position of the Yucaipa Valley Water District, [provide] direct lobbying [of] the Legislature on behalf of the Yucaipa Valley Water District on prevention of property tax shifts, track… legislation introduced or amended and inform… the Yucaipa Valley Water District staff of legislation that effects the interests of the Yucaipa Valley Water District [and] perform… other necessary and appropriate services which may include, but not be limited to, personal contact with key interest groups and political leaders, building coalitions of support groups, and attending appropriate issue meetings.”
Government Code Section 1090 prohibits elected government officials from having an interest in any contract in which they have a personal financial interest.

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