As FPPC investigates Steve Collins, Marina Coast shuns FPPC training.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
What began as a routine agenda item for Marina Coast Water District’s counsel to lead a fast workshop on government code compliance ended abruptly with a call to start looking for a new attorney.
The third in a series of protocol workshops led by attorney Lloyd Lowrey – this one covering how board members should solicit information from staff and recuse themselves when they have a conflict of interest – came to an end after board member Howard Gustafson said, “I’m not going to be attending [these workshops] anymore.”
A session on conflict recusal would have been timely: The Fair Political Practices Commission launched an investigation May 18 into Steve Collins’ contract with RMC Water. Collins resigned from the Monterey County Water Resources Agency board in April; he was paid $150,000 for his RMC work – through an agreement with Marina Coast.
Also at the Tuesday meeting, the board voted 3-1 to hire contract attorney Jeanine DeBacker of Hoge, Fenton, Jones and Appel to investigate Marina Coast General Manager Jim Heitzman’s allegation that board member Jan Shriner has created a hostile work environment.
Board member Kenneth Nishi appeared particularly impatient with Shriner, who was pushing for more direct communications with staff, and with Lowrey for addressing her concerns. He called for a request for proposals for an attorney to replace Lowrey.
Lowrey attributed the dust-up with Nishi to miscommunication.