By Mark Gutglueck
Compounding its already well-established reputation for dysfunctional political and managerial relationships, the West Valley Water District last week accomplished its eleventh detachment from a senior managerial or administrative employee since late 2017, while its seventh board member since 2016 is set to make his departure from the district next month.
Meanwhile, the FBI is scrutinizing the motivation and implication contained within the pattern of parallel firings, hirings, firings, hirings and firings the district has engaged in over the last five years and the seeming use of lucrative employment opportunities with the district as payoffs to politicians for action they took in their elected capacities elsewhere.
On May 19, the board unanimously accepted the resignation of Shamindra “Rickey” Manbahal, who has been serving as the district’s general manager since October 2020, paying him over $290,000 to willingly walk out the door rather than publicly reveal the reasons for his being forced to depart. Simultaneously, it was revealed that Board Member Michael Taylor, whose presence on the board from virtually the day he was sworn into office in 2017 had resulted in a shifting/purging of personnel from which the district has yet to recover, will voluntarily leave as a board member at the end of June.
For most of its history following its 1952 founding, the West Valley Water District functioned in a relatively low-key fashion, providing water to homes and businesses in a roughly 31-square mile area including the entirety of Bloomington, as well as a portion of the cities of Colton, Fontana, Rialto, a small area of unincorporated San Bernardino County, and a sliver of Jurupa Valley in Riverside County. For more than three decades ending in June 2015, the district was managed by Anthony “Butch” Araiza, who had begun with the district as a young man in 1963. The district hired Thomas J. Crowley to replace Araiza. Shortly after Araiza’s departure, perhaps because he took with him so much institutional memory, the district began experiencing difficulties.
To remedy that, Araiza sought election in that year’s election to the district board. Crowley took that as a challenge to his professionalism and competence, and with the support of the district’s legal counsel, Gerald W. Eagans, raised the question of whether Araiza could run for the board, based upon California Government Code § 87406.3, which prohibits a former administrator with a government agency or entity from going to work with that body. The challenge did not prevent Araiza’s candidacy, but it might have influenced the outcome of the election, as, despite his name recognition within the district as well as his command of the issues facing it and the leg up he appeared to have on capturing one of the three seats at stake in the November 2015 election, Araiza narrowly lost, capturing fifth place among seven candidates who included himself, Alan G. Dyer, future Rialto Councilman Rafael Trujillo, Michael Taylor, Greg Young, Manny Gonzalez and Don Olinger. Victorious were Young, Dyer and Olinger. Araiza finished just 34 votes behind the third-place finisher, Olinger, who had long been a board member with the district. Young and Dyer were the first and second place finishers, respectively. Trujillo, who would the following year succeed in capturing the more prestigious position of Rialto City Councilman, finished fourth.
From that point on, the district appeared to be cursed somehow, as the relatively sedate politics that had existed in the water district appeared to be poisoned. Dyer resigned from the district post in 2016. By 2017, Clifford Young, a board member who had been elected to that position in 2013 and held the distinction of being the first, and so far only, African American to serve on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, was embroiled in a dispute with a couple of West Valley employees, ironically one of whom was an African American woman who, among other things, was alleging Young was exhibiting bias against her because of her race and gender.
Cliff Young at that point found himself in conflict with his board colleague, Linda Gonzalez. In the 2017 board race, he vanquished her, gained reelection himself and succeeded in having Taylor, with whom he was then aligned, replace her on the board. Araiza, who again competed in the 2017 election, was unable to achieve election to the board.
Immediately upon the conclusion of the 2017 election, the coalition formed by Young was in ascendancy at the district. Upon Clifford Young and Taylor being sworn in for the four-year term commencing in December 2017, they acted immediately in concert with their two allies on the board, Greg Young, who is no blood relation to Cliff Young, and Kyle Crowther, who had been voted into office in the November 2017 election for the short term to replace Dyer, to sack, suspend or place on administrative leave district general manager Matthew Litchfield; Assistant General Manager Greg Gage; the district’s human resources manager, Karen Logue; and the board’s secretary, Shanae Smith. They terminated chief financial officer Marie Ricci. Olinger had been the lone dissident in that vote.
Virtually simultaneously, the district retained a new general legal counsel in the person of Robert Tafoya. Tafoya’s hiring occurred amidst a remarkable set of circumstances.
Taylor had been an officer with the Baldwin Park Police Department since 1982. He had made a steady progress up the ranks of the department under police chiefs David Snowden, Richard Hoskin, Carmine R. Lanza, Edward Lopez and Lili Hadsell, and was made police chief in 2013. In 2016, Taylor was fired, just as the City of Baldwin Park began in earnest to litigate a lawsuit brought against it in which Hadsell had alleged gender discrimination that resulted in her being unjustifiably terminated as police chief and that Taylor, as one of her highest-ranking subordinates, had undermined her in tandem with Baldwin Park City Councilman Ricardo Pacheco.
Less than two weeks after Taylor’s election to the West Valley Water District Board, on November 15, 2017, the Baldwin Park City Council voted to rehire Taylor as police chief, to return him to his former role under a contract that was to pay him $183,368.08 in annual salary, another $8,565.86 in other pay, $54,782.03 in benefits and a $47,878.57 contribution to his pension for a total yearly compensation of $294,594.54. The employment contract with Taylor was worded by Baldwin Park City Attorney Robert Tafoya to preclude the city from firing Taylor unless he was convicted of a felony, and the contract further prohibited the city council from engaging in annual evaluations of Taylor’s performance.
Upon Taylor being sworn in as a member of the West Valley Water District Board of Directors the following month, in December 2017, the board moved to hire Tafoya, who was yet Baldwin Park city attorney, to serve as the water district’s general counsel.
Five months after Taylor’s and Crowther’s elections and Cliff Young’s reelection and four months after their swearing-in and Tafoya’s hiring as West Valley general legal counsel, Baldwin Park City Councilman Ricardo Pacheco was hired by the West Valley Water District to serve in the post of assistant general manager in April 2018 at an annual salary of $189,592 plus benefits. Pacheco had little to recommend him for the West Valley Water District position, as he had no expertise, experience or licensing in water operations. Pacheco’s lack of qualifications for the post were of little consequence, however, as the job he had been provided with was an essentially do-nothing post, meant as a highly lucrative sinecure with the water district, one that had been arranged in order to reward him for various actions and votes he had taken as a member of the Baldwin Park City Council, as well as a quid pro quo for the rehiring of Michael Taylor as Baldwin Park police chief.
Thereafter, the rapid physical decline and the October 2018 death of Robert Christman, who had been hired as interim general manager at the district under the mutual agreement of Cliff Young, Taylor, Greg Young and Crowther to stabilize the district’s circumstance in late 2017, created disarray. In October 2018, coinciding with Christman’s death, the alliance between Cliff Young and Taylor dissolved. Less than a year after Cliff Young’s triumphant 2017 electoral coup in which he had seen his hold on the district solidified with the election of his allies Taylor and Crowther, the West Valley Water District’s scepter slipped from his grasp as Taylor formed an alliance with Crowther and Olinger and deposed Young as board president. The resultant rift within the district perpetuated a crisis within the district that accelerated an already observable pattern of employee discontinuity that the district has yet to overcome.
Once in control of the district, Taylor moved to hire Clarence C. Mansell Jr. as the district’s interim general manager, hinting that upon Mansell proving himself, he might be given the full-fledged general manager’s position. Mansell was a journeyman water operations professional with nearly 40 years experience, including work with the Los Angeles County Sanitation District, the cities of Los Angeles, Corona, and Rialto as well as in his role as a water operations troubleshooting consultant. Some saw in the hiring of Mansell, an African American, a gesture intended to goad Cliff Young, a way by which Taylor sought to undercut Young’s standing with his black constituents by using his authority as the head of the water district board to hire an African American into the district’s top staff position, something Cliff Young had not achieved. For whatever reason or reasons, there appeared to be bad blood between Cliff Young and Mansell from the time Mansell arrived at the district.
Throughout the final months of 2018 and the initial months of 2019, Cliff Young stewed over the manner in which Taylor had maneuvered to replace him as the president of West Valley Water District’s board of directors. In March of 2019, Cliff Young linked up with the water district’s chief financial officer, Naisha Davis, and an analyst in the district’s administrative services division, Patricia Romero, to file a qui tam legal action in which they alleged Taylor, Pacheco, Tafoya and several district consultants and lawyers were engaged in an elaborate bribery and kickback scheme to divert public money to themselves.
In May 2019, Pacheco was placed on paid administrative leave.
That same month, the West Valley Water District hired another political figure, then-Hesperia City Councilman Jeremiah Brosowske into a newly created assistant general manager post. Like Pacheco, Broswoske had no background, experience, expertise or licensing in water operations. From his district office he served, in essence, as a political operative, working on political campaigns, including that year’s water district board contests on behalf of three candidates favored by Taylor.
From May 2019 until November 2019, Pacheco continued to draw his salary and benefits while he was on leave, a total of more than $135,000. In November 2019, Pacheco’s employment with the district was terminated, at which point he was provided with a severance equal to nine months salary, $146,459.82.
Cliff Young protested that payout, calling it a “gift of public funds.” Cliff Young further lamented that in the 19 months Pacheco was employed by the district, including the 13 months he was reporting as the assistant general manager and the six months he was on leave, Pacheco “did no work. He simply accepted money for having hired Mike Taylor as police chief in Baldwin Park. In return, Mike Taylor hired him as assistant general manager. It was a straight trade-off. They were giving each other kickbacks in the form of jobs. Robert Tafoya was in on it, when he was hired as our [West Valley Water District’s] general counsel.”
Taylor has asserted that when the decision to hire Pacheco had been made on March 29, 2018, it had occurred in a closed session in which he had not participated.
Cliff Young, who in March 2018 was yet on good terms with Taylor, pointed out that in December 2017 Taylor had participated in the 4-to-1 vote with then-Board Member Don Olinger dissenting to hire Tafoya. Cliff Young insisted that decision as well as the March 2018 hiring of Pacheco, with whom Taylor had experience in Baldwin Park, had been made upon Taylor’s recommendations.
Taylor acknowledges making the recommendations, but nevertheless insists he had no part in the actual vote to hire Pacheco.
In April 2020, seven months after Brosowske’s colleagues on the Hesperia City Council had removed him from office on non-residency grounds, the West Valley Water District terminated him, conferring upon him a severance package of $154,884.80 in doing so. Taken together with the $173,792.66 in salary he had been paid for his 11 months with the district together with the $57,291.66 in benefits he had been provided over those same 11 months, that brought to $385,969.12 in total compensation Brosowske took from the West Valley Water District to perform tasks which the district now acknowledges Brosowske was not qualified to carry out and was incapable of performing.
A state audit of the West Valley Water District determined that the district had used slipshod hiring practices and favoritism in both its hiring and promotions.
The May 2019 hiring of Brosowske had been accompanied by the hiring of Logan Olds into a senior assistant general manager’s position. Unlike Brosowske, Olds, who had been the general manager of the Victor Valley Waste Water Management Authority for 13 years, had experience, expertise and professional licensing that qualified him for the position he had been given. Nevertheless, Olds lasted only three months before departing abruptly in August 2019. No reason was given for his departure, but reports flourished that he had been unable to accept the degree of incompetence among certain elements of the district’s workforce, in particular key personnel who did not possess the requisite skill to carry out their assignments.
The same month, the district hired Shamindra “Rickey” Manbahal as its chief financial officer, based on his prior experience as finance director with the City of Hawthorne and as a contract financial auditor with the City of Novato.
In the fall of 2019, West Valley Water District Human Resources and Risk Manager Deborah Martinez and her husband, George Martinez, were charged by the California Attorney General’s Office with seven felony counts of filing false tax returns relating to their two businesses, Alliance Distributing and Alliance Building Maintenance, which had been paid more than $5.6 million by the California Department of Transportation from 2012 to 2015. Deborah Martinez was Taylor’s close friend and associate. She had begun with the district as a human resources analyst in August 2016 at a pay rate of $41.76 per hour, prior to Taylor’s tenure on the board. Immediately after Taylor was sworn in in December 2017, she was promoted, following Human Resources Director Karen Logue’s suspension, to interim human resources and risk manager, for which she was given a raise to $60.19 per hour, a 44 percent pay increase. In April 2018, Martinez, again at Taylor’s bidding, was made full-fledged human resources and risk manager, at which point her pay jumped to $72.12 per hour, equal to a salary of $150,000 per year.
When the California Attorney General’s Office charged Martinez and her husband on September 23, 2019, both Taylor and Mansell learned of that development the same day. They withheld that information from others at the district, including the board.
In the run-up to the 2019 election, Taylor pumped close to $40,000 from his own campaign fund into an effort to keep Olinger and Crowther in office and have Greg Young, considered to be one of Clifford Young’s allies, voted out of office. Crowther was successful in his reelection effort, but Olinger was not, losing to newcomer Channing Hawkins. Greg Young emerged victorious against the candidate Taylor had supported, Angel Ramirez.
In an effort at fence mending, Taylor in early December 2019 cut a deal with Hawkins to have him elevated, immediately upon his swearing in as a member of the board, to the position of board president, an uncommon move given that the board presidency is normally reserved for a board member who has at least two and usually four or more years of experience on the board. In promoting Hawkins into the board presidency, Taylor stepped over Greg Young, who at that point had four years on the board, and his own abiding ally, Crowther, who had two years’ experience on the board.
A day after Hawkins was made board president and both Greg Young and Crowther were bypassed, there was a public disclosure of the charges filed against Martinez. Crowther, who had been vice-president of the board at the time, found himself in negative limelight when Martinez was asked why she had been allowed to remain in her assignment with the district after she had been criminally charged nearly three months previously. She said the top leadership of the district – Taylor as board president, Crowther as board vice president and Mansell as district manager – had consented to her remaining in place. Crowther, who had been kept in the dark over the criminal charges, was livid. Taylor’s dominant position within the district evaporated.
Later in December 2019, 16 of West Valley’s department heads – Public Affairs Manager Naseem Farooqi, General Services Manager Jon Stephenson, Acting Human Resources Manager Paul Becker, Operations Manager Joanne Chan, Engineering Services Manager Linda Jadeski, Business Systems Manager Albert Clinger, Accounting Manager Jose Velasquez, Geographic Information Systems Manager Telat Yalcin, Purchasing Supervisor Al Robles, Production Supervisor Joe Schaak, Water Quality Supervisor Anthony Budicin, Customer Service Supervisor Alberto Yulo, Chief Treatment Plant Operator Ernie Montelongo and Chief Treatment Plant Operator Sergio Granda – signed a letter in which they petitioned the board to terminate Mansell. The letter referenced “extreme concerns with regards to the executive management and overall unsatisfactory performance of General Manager Clarence Mansell, Jr.,” alleging a “lack of transparency, communication, honesty, professionalism and respect for employees” as well as favoritism that entailed “flawed… hiring practices” in which “job description vacancies within our departments are molded to fit specific individuals our general manager desires, most of whom have a personal relationship with him. Often, these employees lack the qualifications and experience required to perform basic tasks and begin at an inappropriately high pay step, creating tension among long-term employees of the district.”
Thereafter, Mansell went into virtual exile, rarely venturing from his office. While he was showing up at the district headquarters, he had no contact of any substance with the personnel of the district and was not performing in the capacity of the district general manager.
In January 2020, Manbahal, in addition to his role as the district’s chief financial officer, took on, without fanfare, the role of de facto general manager of the district. Over the first ten months of 2020, Mansell lodged complaints of workplace harassment and mistreatment against the district. In October 2020, he went out on paid leave, and never returned to the district’s headquarters. On October 12, 2020, Manbahal was officially appointed acting general manager. His title was changed to interim general manager on April 1, 2021. On July 1, 2021, the qualifiers on his title were dispensed with and he became the district’s general manager.
Throughout that time, Mansell, who was out on stress leave, was preparing an in-depth and comprehensive lawsuit against the district that was to allege among workers’ compensation and medical claims, further racial discrimination, breach of contract, creative termination and unjust termination. He asserted he was a whistleblower who was being forced out of his job because he was crusading for decency within the district that was dominated by self-interested criminal types. He opened negotiations with the district toward reaching a settlement in which his straight-out demand was form more than $1 million. He alleged the 16 department heads who had signed the December 2019 letter were attacking him because he was black and the board had improperly publicly questioned him in his role as general manager. Race was a factor in his no longer being on the job at the district, he maintained, despite the consideration that both Clifford Young and Channing Hawkins were African-American. There was relative confidence that Mansell would not be able to sell a jury on a racial discrimination claim, but district officials and their advisors were nonetheless concerned that the cost of waging a defense against such a lawsuit would be quite expensive. Ultimately, the district reached an out-of-court settlement in which Mansell was paid $450,000 with an ironclad agreement that he would forsake all possible claims against the district and leave once and for all.
Unbeknownst to most or even all of those engaged in the West Valley Water District’s operations, Pacheco had stepped into legal quicksand, and not only his political but existential footing was sliding sideways on him. At some yet publicly undisclosed point, he found himself at the utter and complete mercy of federal investigators with the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI. Federal authorities have not disclosed when it was, exactly, that Pacheco began to cooperate with them. It has now been disclosed that federal officials stood by as he tried, and may have even encouraged him, to dissemble when he was questioned about whether he was unburdening his conscience to federal investigators as early as 2019.
In October 2020, FBI agents served a search warrant at Tafoya’s Los Angeles law office based upon information supplied to them by Pacheco.
According to federal investigators, legal documents drawn up by Tafoya are riddled with irregularities. Tafoya and his firm drafted the City of Baldwin Park’s commercial cannabis licensing program, which was approved by the city council in 2017. Elements of that program, it is alleged, involve conflicts of interest and favoritism toward businesses which are willing to engage in out-and-out bribery.
Baldwin Park Police Lieutenant Christopher Kuberry, who oversaw the city’s cannabis businesses inspections, in 2020 filed a sworn declaration in which he said three different operators of commercial marijuana-related concerns told him they were put in the position of “having to pay $250,000 in a brown paper bag to city officials.” Under the city’s licensing program, a company, Rukli Inc., was given an exclusive franchise as the sole transporter/distributor of marijuana permitted to operate in the city, such that cultivators and manufacturers had to use Rukli to transport their wares.
While he was still on the Hesperia City Council and employed by the West Valley Water District, Brosowske was advocating that Hesperia permit commercial marijuana activity within the High Desert city’s confines, at which point he was simultaneously associated with the Bill Postmus Cartel and its subsidiary, Mountain States Consulting Group, which have militated on behalf of commercial cannabis concerns seeking to establish exclusive licensing and permits to operate marijuana cultivation and retail businesses by multiple means, including identifiable monetary donations to various politicians’ campaign coffers and through the provision of laundered money to elected officials in San Bernardino County.
Federal authorities are exploring whether Baldwin Park, Hesperia and West Valley Water District officials used public money that originated from West Valley Water District ratepayers to supply bribes, laundered as employee salaries and benefits, to individuals who had traded votes while serving as elected officials to provide marijuana purveyors with licensing to allow commercial sales of the drug to take place.
Until relatively recently, Manbahal appeared to hold a safe post in the capacity of West Valley’s executive manager. Though he was not steeped in water operations, his command of financial issues and his ability to delegate responsibility with regard to the specific areas of the district’s function to those who possess the requisite degree of expertise made it seem as if he was able to keep the district on track. He had, while filling in for Mansell, made multiple reforms of which the board indicated it approved. Upon Mansell’s exit, he carried out the board’s instructions and directives, putting into place policies that clearly conveyed the board’s intent to district employees at all levels. Manbahal claimed the issues with employee morale that had resulted in the December 2019 letter of no confidence in Mansell from department heads had been in large measure resolved. Manbahal’s hiring of assistant general managers overseeing operations and engineering who had impeccable technical credentials reduced or eliminated the perception that the district was a bastion of political appointees whose incompetence threatened not only the efficient operations of the district but had created a public health hazard. He was lauded for having brought in a new human resources and risk manager dedicated to a hiring meritocracy. The district’s progress toward meeting fundamental goals of efficiency, economy, transparency and accountability under Manbahal were hailed.
Manbahal’s efforts at managing the district were constantly brushing up against what was characterized as Board President Channing Hawkins’ attempts at micromanagement, those intimately involved with district operations say. Early in his tenure as a board member, Hawkins established his primacy at the district when he arranged with Taylor to be appointed, within 15 minutes of his swearing-in as a board member, to be named board president. Thereafter, the district hired a San Diego-based public relations firm, Chamberlayne PR, run by Charles Chamberlayne, who had befriended Hawkins when they were students at Howard University, which Hawkins attended from 1996 until 2001 before matriculating at the university’s School of Law in 2007. Hawkins also succeeded in getting another of his college acquaintances, Rodney Diggs, employment with the district when he induced its management and board to contract with Diggs’ law firm, Los Angeles-based Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell & Diggs. The Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell & Diggs firm had hosted a political fundraiser for Hawkins in September 2019 during his successful campaign for the West Valley Water District Board.
Hawkins landed a job as a special assistant to San Bernardino County Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca Jr, shortly after Baca’s November 2020 election. The post in Baca’s office provided Hawkins with a salary of $119,690 and benefits of $59,262 for a total compensation package of $178,952 with the added perquisite of the use of a county-supplied portable communications device. Thereafter, Hawkins sought, from behind the scenes and outside the bounds of votes officially recorded by the West Valley Water District Board, to dictate district policy, particularly with regard to matters impacting development schemes or other matters favorable to Baca’s political donors. Manbahal sought to work his way around Hawkins’ unauthorized instructions, in some cases complying with Hawkins’ demands and in other cases being unable to do so. Hawkins, whose demonstrated ability for inside political and bureaucratic manipulation and maneuvering serves him well, was able to keep his fingerprints off of virtually all of the questionable actions he pushed the board into taking, as when he convinced his board colleagues to hire Chamberlayne and Diggs, and recused himself from the votes to do so, or in distancing himself from the motion and second to accept Manbahal’s resignation, which was done by Greg Young and Taylor.
Hawkins, since passing the bar in February, has resigned his position with Baca’s office and was able to immediately parlay his political position and connections into being hired as a staff attorney with the San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association.
Reportedly, there was some transgression, one which district officials claim the rules of public employee confidentiality prohibit them from disclosing, justifying Manbahal being forced to leave.
On May 19, the board held a special meeting during which the specific issues to be discussed were an evaluation of Manbahal’s performance as general manager and potentially disciplining him or dismissing him. Prior to the meeting, Manbahal was confronted with what was plainly resolve on the part of the board to see him leave the district’s employ. In lieu of being terminated, he agreed to tender his resignation, conditional upon the district conferring upon him a favorable severance package, one which involved a mutual release of claims, “known and unknown,” which either Manbahal might in the future make against the district or which the district could conceivably make against him. The agreement also contained a gag order – a confidentiality clause – that prohibits Manbahal from disclosing “any and all action taken by the WVWD [West Valley Water District] and the releasees in accordance with this agreement,” such that any information he is privy to as a consequence of his time with the district “shall not be discussed, disclosed or revealed by Manbahal or any other person or entity except Manbahal’s spouse, accountant (if any), tax consultants (if any), financial advisor (if any), or his attorneys. In the event Manbahal discloses any provision of this agreement with his spouse, accountant (if any), tax consultants (if any), financial advisor (if any), or his attorneys, Manbahal shall notify each of them that the provisions disclosed shall be kept confidential, and shall not be disclosed, discussed or revealed by any of them.” Further language in the release states that it is a “compromise and settlement of disputed claims being released herein, and therefore this agreement and the payment provided for in this agreement do not constitute an admission of liability on the part of the WVWD or its officers, directors, Board President, board members, agents, employees, insurers, attorneys or representatives, or an admission, directly or by implication, that any of them has violated any law, statute, rule, regulation, policy or any contractual right or other obligation owed to any party or to Manbahal. Manbahal specifically by this agreement denies all allegations of improper conduct made by the WVWD, if any are alleged. The WVWD specifically by this agreement denies all allegations of improper or unlawful conduct made by Manbahal, if any.”
Of note, in the litany of individuals associated with the district listed as those not making an admission of liability, board president is the lone entity capitalized, giving it special emphasis.
Under the terms of the separation agreement with the district, Manbahal was provided with ten month’s worth of his $241,259.19 annual salary, that is a lump sum of $201,049.33 plus 10 months of health insurance coverage, valued at, according to the independent government finance accountability website Transparent California, $89,988.38. In addition Manbahal is to be permitted to cash out his unused vacation and administrative leave time and the district is to provide him with a letter of recommendation.
In the past five years, the water district has paid out more than $2 million to eleven former high-ranking employees, primarily those who served in the administrative echelon, including Manbahal, Mansell, Litchfield, Martinez, Brosowske and Pacheco. Pacheco is not abiding by his confidentiality agreement, and is providing information to the FBI.
It is not just staff at the water district that has undergone a substantial changeover. Since 2017, Robert Bourland, Linda Gonzalez and Don Olinger have been voted off of the board by voters; and since 2016 Alan Dyer, Cliff Young and Kyle Crowther have resigned from the board.
In quick succession early this year, both Crowther and Cliff Young tendered their resignations from the board and were replaced, respectively, by Angela Garcia and Kelvin Moore. Crowther left his post, he said, to take a job outside the state. Cliff Young resigned following the death of his wife and the onset of health challenges of his own.
It is now known that Taylor is to resign by June and is intent on moving to Arkansas.
The district will not have the option of appointing Taylor’s replacement. Under the California Government Code, a governmental board consisting of elected officeholders cannot be populated by a majority of officeholders who are appointed and not elected. Since Garcia and Moore are appointed, the board cannot seat another appointed board member. As the district moved from elections held in odd-numbered years to even-numbered years, Taylor was scheduled to stand for reelection this year. The board will remain at four-fifths strength until this December, after the election to replace Taylor is held in November.
By Mark Gutglueck