CASH MACHINE… If Squid got a nickel for every time Squid voiced an opinion… wait a second… Squid collects a paycheck for offering insights every week. Squid’s salary aside, people usually don’t expect to get paid for having opinions. And they certainly don’t expect a rate of $367.91 an hour.
But that’s what Michael Warburton, the head of a one-person organization, thinks he should get paid for being a critic of California American Water’s desalination project. He believes the work he has done on the issue as director of the Berkeley-based Public Trust Alliance entitles him to $454,681.31. His compensation claims are subject to review by the California Public Utilities Commission. If approved, the money comes out of monthly bills paid by Cal Am’s Monterey Peninsula customers.
In theory, it’s good that the CPUC has a program that ensures individuals and advocacy groups have the resources to participate in decision making. But Warburton’s case seems like an abuse of the program. Squid has seen plenty of individuals and advocacy groups contribute to the desal debate. Warburton, however, was not on Squid’s radar, so a colleague called him to check in.
In nearly an hour of conversation, Warburton indicates he has worked hard on the issue but fails to give specifics. “What’s wrong with someone getting a little compensation for saying the public should be heard?” he asks. Nearly half a million dollars out of ratepayers’ pockets doesn’t seem like a “little” to Squid.
BOARD TO DEATH… Squid loves oozing into the back row of a good public meeting, bucket of shrimp-flavored popcorn in tentacle, and taking it all in. Squid had planned on hitting the Oasis Charter Public School board meeting on Dec. 3 to catch up. At a prior meeting, the board decided to help former principal Juanita Perea pay her attorney’s fees resulting from an investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which found she funnelled $132,000 worth of school bucks to her husband’s landscaping company. But Tuesday morning, when Squid decided to check the agenda, Squid found the meeting had been cancelled.
Could it be that it was cancelled because the terms of board member Pete Cryer, PresidentAugustine Navarez and Vice President Mike Roberts ended last month?
The vote to pay Perea’s legal fees happened in closed session, but it came under scrutiny from the Monterey County District Attorney’s office, which dispatched a letter apparently questioning the accuracy of the board’s minutes. Nevarez, in response, told Chief Assistant DA Berkley Brannon the board will continue making necessary changes to ensure compliance with the Brown Act.
Squid suggests a place to start: Don’t convene a meeting led by board members whose terms have ended.