Things got heated early on in Tuesday’s Imperial Irrigation District meeting, when board members called the general counsel a liar as some closed session comments came out in public session.
Questions came up at the IID Board of Directors meeting about an action attorneys representing the district are pursuing to dismiss the judge that ruled against the district during the Quantification Settlement Agreement lawsuit in 2010. David Osias, who has been arguing the case for the IID before judges in Sacramento at the superior and appellate court levels has filed to have Superior Judge Roland Candee dismissed because of a perceived bias.
Candee ruled to invalidate the QSA, a set of agreements signed in 2003 to send IID-entitlement water to coastal urban areas, citing part of the agreement that required the state to pay mitigation costs should they exceed the money the water agencies set aside. The appellate court overturned that ruling in December and remanded it back to Candee for further decisions on environmental issues.
While some on the board were resigned with the filing to remove Candee, they had issues with how it didn’t go before the IID board for approval.
The action likely would have gone forward with a 3-2 vote, but board Vice President Matt Dessert said he resented not having the opportunity to make that decision. The board is brought into office to make those decisions, and he doesn’t remember moving to remove Candee even being discussed.
Dessert found out when he received an e-mail after the April 3 meeting, he said. He called around to other agencies, and even county board members knew before the IID board.
“That’s just plain wrong,” he said.
Other board members also decried how they received that information.
This is information the board shouldn’t be receiving from the public, said Director Jim Hanks. It should come from the district’s lawyers.
IID General Manager Kevin Kelley said he wasn’t aware of the dismissal request himself, but it’s not uncommon in this situation. He did, however, say the decision came about in the wrong way.
“It should have been put squarely in front of the board, and it wasn’t,” he said. “I regret that.”
In response to the criticism General Counsel Jeff Garber told the board he couldn’t say anything about these issues because they’re closed session. None of them should be talking about the closed session issues during the open board meeting.
This, along with other heated comments, led to both directors Hanks and Dessert calling Garber “a liar” for not bringing it to the board.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.
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