Marina Coast Majority Rides the Lame Duck Wave
November 21, 2012
If the Marina Coast Board of Directors seemed confused about its own policies and procedures at a board meeting Tuesday night, they're not entirely to blame.
Here's a sampling of an instructional memo interim legal counsel Roger Masuda prepared for this Kafkaesque meeting: "If the vote is to reconsider the motion and the motion is again approved, it is not clear whether the second motion is then subject to a motion to reconsider at the next succeeding meeting."
Even after Masuda delivered a lengthy introduction to the board to help dust off the little-used procedures for reconsidering pre-approved items, " You're going to have to clarify as you go," said outgoing board president Dan Burns.
The meeting was called to reconsider a slate of items the board had recently approved, but in a strange twist on reality, they didn't actually move to reconsider any of them.
"Could you explain again why we're here at this meeting?" retiring board member Ken Nishi asked Masuda. (Nishi was the person who called the special meeting.)
The board took no action on four of the five items on Tuesday's agenda.
Board member Jan Shriner had voted in favor of three items at the board's preceding meeting—extending General Manager Jim Heitzman's contract; approving a water assessment of the proposed Monterey Downs development on the former Fort Ord; and allowing customers to transfer water and sewer capacity credit between different properties—with the stated intent to bring them back for reconsideration.
Her presumed logic was waiting for two new board members, Tom Moore and Peter Le, to take Nishi's and Burns' seats come Dec. 11. But by calling an earlier special meeting (that Shriner was not able to attend due to Thanksgiving holiday plans), the 4-1 majority prevailed.
Politics aside, Masuda explained that the board would've violated its own procedures if it were to reverse on most of these items, because they include contracts that had already been set in motion.
That means Heitzman's $240,000-a-year contract, as well as the water assessment showing Monterey Downs will use an anticipated 852 acre-feet of water annually, both will hold.
Also Tuesday, the board voted 4-0 to move forward with plans for a desalination plant, narrowing a list of six qualified engineering/construction applicants to one favorite, HDR, Inc., which is headquartered in Omaha, Neb.
Part of what board members Nishi and Howard Gustafson liked about HDR's proposal was community outreach.
"Community outreach is very important because you can't rely on the newspapers," Gustafson said. He blamed the Monterey County Herald and Monterey County Weekly for sinking the Regional Water Project with negative coverage of the plan. Project partner California American Water [decided to pull out] after former Monterey County Water Resources Agency board member was charged with felony counts related to an alleged conflict of interest in the desal plan.