Squid Fry 9.13.12
Thursday, September 13, 2012
ON THE EDGE… Every time Squid nestles in for a good heist flick, Squid can’t help but think extra appendages would make Squid a good addition to any criminal posse. Too bad Gregory and Jennifer Rutlidge didn’t have an omniscient mastermind on their team, because the husband-wife duo is now facing a $100,000-plus lawsuit brought by Dole Fresh Vegetables for theft and fraud.
The lawsuit, filed last month in Monterey County Superior Court, alleges the Rutlidges schemed to rip off the produce giant by inventing a knife-sharpening business, Pacific Industrial Blade. Gregory, then maintenance manager at Dole’s Soledad lettuce plant, signed a sharpening contract with his wife. Pacific Industrial allegedly started shipping back half the knives with dull edges and lettuce bits attached, and Rutlidge’s superiors complained about shoddy workmanship.
Gregory eventually resigned, and it was only an accidental phone call months later that revealed he and Jennifer were making bank off the deal, according to the lawsuit. Turns out such personal gain is a violation of Dole’s code of conduct, which got Squid thinking the privatized world Paul Ryan imagines already exists. Squid couldn’t even find a criminal case against the Rutlidges; Deputy DA Terry Spitz says it’s typical for big companies to deal with theft without getting the cops involved.
Dole’s rules are even stricter than the California Political Reform Act, which the Fair Political Practices Commission uses to go after the likes of Steve Collins, Dave Potter and Sam Downing. When a family member of a public official reaps the rewards – say, Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Interim CEO Lowell Johnson paying his daughter to drop him off at the airport – the FPPC don’t care. Squid bets Dole would’ve roasted these guys in a heartbeat.
DESAL RISING… Speaking of ripoffs, Marina Coast Water District is at it again. Desalination, the meme that just won’t die, is back after the board voted Sept. 11 to go with GM Jim Heitzman’s proposal to look for a project manager to lead Marina Coast on a 3,000-acre-foot escapade of their own. That means no more pesky Water Resources Agency or Cal Am to contend with at the ill-fated Armstrong Ranch site. (The district would’ve been entitled to 1,700 acre-feet of the Regional Desal Project’s bounty, if the project hadn’t imploded.)
“The difference is, we would be on our own,” says board director Dan Burns, who is seeking re-election in November. Though Squid was never sure who to trust in the water-supply salvation drama, Squid’s pretty sure letting Marina Coast play desal without a babysitter is a bad idea.