Morgan, basing his information on one of a group of e-mails that are said to have been stolen from a director’s computer and released to members of the public, told the district board that members of the district had kept information secret that could have put in life-saving measures earlier on the All-American Canal at no cost to the district. They instead pushed off talks because it was an election cycle.
Some, though, are questioning whether Morgan’s statement at the May 1 meeting is true.
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Morgan had in the past said a Nov. 28, 2009, e-mail between then-general manager Brian Brady, assistant to the general manager Kevin Kelley and Director John Pierre Menvielle had related back to information about IID’s lawyer at the water transfer lawsuit in Sacramento. However, after more investigation, Morgan said May 1, the e-mail and ones prior to it show that those three had wanted to keep information then-Director Michael Abatti had brought forward about a federal grant to install safety measures on the canal off the agenda to keep it out of the election cycle.
“Whether John Pierre gets his investigation or they (the person who had taken the e-mails) get whistleblower status, you need to follow what’s going on in this place, because that wasn’t right,” Morgan said.
However, the question is whether this information is even true, and some at that meeting had taken offense at Morgan’s statements.
“When we start down this road of openness and videotaping our meetings and allowing for extensive public comment, you really can’t go half measures, but I am mindful that our meetings have gone from a circus-like atmosphere lately, to a carnival sideshow,” IID General Manager Kevin Kelley said following Morgan’s assertions. “So I would ask, with the board concurrence, everyone that approaches the dais try and be respectful of the non-partisan nature of what used to be IID board meetings.
“And Mr. Morgan, you are being deliberately mistruthful, and I’m not going to engage in a back-and-forth with you, but I’d appreciate it very much if you refrain from making such sweeping statements that you know to be factually incorrect,” he added.
District officials have refused to release the e-mail that Morgan said shows the information, and in a letter from Assistant Counsel Vance Taylor in response to a public records request, the district has said none of the e-mails are public documents.
Morgan has since declined to be interviewed, saying he had spoken with an investigator who said not to comment on the e-mails.
The other party in the e-mail, Michael Abatti, said he had received a copy of the e-mail that prompted the Nov. 28, 2009, e-mail response, but he had destroyed it.
Abatti said he had brought up the All-American Canal project after heading to Washington, D.C., for meetings, and that information was not brought to the board. However, those meetings were in May 2010, after the e-mails were sent.
Abatti added that the Nov. 28, 2009, e-mail was in response to what Morgan had initially brought up last month, which is what the district’s water transfer attorney had been arguing at the Superior Court in Sacramento, he said. It wasn’t related to the All-American Canal.
However, there were, and still are, problems at the district, including the fact that staff tries to rush the board to vote on issues and much of what is done is based on politics, Abatti said.
“If we continue to let politics rule IID, we all lose,” he said.
He has publically called for the release of his e-mail in advertisements. He said he’s transparent, and he wants the public to know he did the best services of his ability.
Abatti left the board in 2011 after choosing to not run in the 2010 campaign.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.
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