Special to RioLindaOnline from Courtney Caron, RLECWD board president.
I am always surprised when people call themselves journalist, or writers, but insist on publishing articles that they have done absolutely no fact checking or research for, prior to publishing.Â I am also very surprised when folks use their publishing rights and privileges to purposely create a “stir” or to attempt to damage the lives of others.
After reading a few select sections of the March 2011 edition of the North Country News, I felt compelled to write my own publication.Â I call it, Truth Be Told, Uncovering Facts from Fiction.Â Below, please find several quotes from the NCN, and the facts that should have been researched and published.
Excerpts from Ricochet Rabbits (page 6 and 9)
Under the article titled Ricochet Rabbits, Director Vivien Johnson outlines her short lived experience with participating on the committee to search for a new General Manager.
Director Johnson and Director Smith- GM Search Committee #1
Quote: “Martin got his nose bent out of shape and did not follow through.Â Nothing was posted concerning the job opening, He did not even return my call.”
The Truth: What Director Johnson fails to state, is that she published lies regarding Director Smith in the February 2011 edition of NCN and made distasteful comments alluding to inappropriate behavior by Director Smith’s wife in relationship to her employment.Â The real disappointing part is that I believe she took pleasure in publishing these items.Â Did she think that this would make for a positive working relationship between her and Director Smith?Â Were these actions by Director Johnson truly in the best interest of the district or the GM search committee? Clearly not.Â Any level headed person would have set their personal ideals and opinions aside in order to foster a good working relationship, especially when the committee consisted of only two people.Â Had Director Johnson acted with character and respect, Director Smith would not have had to ask to be removed from the committee.Â No person, whether public figure or otherwise, should be forced to work with a person who publicly attempts to humiliate them or their loved ones.Â I for one, would not have returned her phone calls either after the utter disrespect that was shown.
Director Hood and Director Caron- GM Search Committee #2
Quote: “Courtney, appointing herself as chair, and Cathy Hood form a new committee to find a general manager.Â So far our search for a District Manager has been posted on Craigslist.”
The Truth: Let’s back track for a moment as to how Director Hood and I were appointed to the GM search committee.Â First, Director Johnson offends Director Smith to a point where he is no longer willing to work on the committee with her.Â Secondly, both Director Smith and Director Johnson also sit on the finance committee together.Â Clearly this was also going to have to change for the above mentioned reasons.Â In an effort to have everyone involved on a committee, and due to the conflict between Director Smith and Director Johnson, I removed Director Johnson from the finance committee but allowed her to remain on the GM search committee.Â Director Johnson was removed from finance and Director Smith allowed to remain because Director Smith has training in finance.Â Director Johnson was given the opportunity to remain on the GM Search Committee.Â She turned down the opportunity.Â I then offer it to Director Hood who accepted the opportunity and has been very valuable in the search.
The GM Search
While it is true that the GM posting was advertised on www.Craigslist.com, what Director Johnson failed to mention is that it was also posted on www.awwa.org, www.waterjobs.com, www.acwa.com and www.cajpa.org at the SAME time as www.craigslist.com.Â The worst part is that Director Johnson was AWARE that job had been posted on multiple sites as she was sent an email on February 1, 2011, as were all the directors, stating that the job was posted on all the above mentioned sites.Â Despite these facts, Director Johnson elected to print in the NCN, language to insinuate that the committee was not doing their job, was unorganized, and was not taking the search seriously.Â Why else would she leave out all of the important websites and state “So far our search for a District manger has been posted on Craigslist?”Â Why not state the truth which was “So far our search for a District manager has been posted on Craigslist, Waterjobs, AWWA, ACWA and CAJPA?”Â If Director Johnson had felt she could do a better job, she should have accepted the challenge.Â But as stated above, she turned down that opportunity for unknown reasons.
Director Johnson also failed to include the fact that Director Hood and I have not only placed the job posting on multiple websites, including our own, but we have also created a panel of qualified persons (as recommended by LAFCO) to assist in the interview process, which will begin March 10, 2011.Â We have 8 qualified, first round candidates to interview.Â Behind those 8, there are several others, who we can interview should one of the top 8 currently in the pool, not fit our district’s needs.Â The truth be told, Director Johnson had not reviewed any of the resumes submitted for the GM position as of Monday February 28, 2011, as she refused to check her district email, where all resumes were being rooted.Â It is beyond me, how she was even aware that “Tom, Dick & Harry” were applying or “carpenters, plumbers, etc.” since she had not even reviewed the resumes.
Quote:Â “Our next regular meeting should be February 21 but Courtney says she is busy on Tuesday and the 14th is Valentine’s Day so the Regular meeting is put off until February 28th. (I assume Director Johnson by referencing Tuesday is speaking of Tuesday February 22, 2011.)
The Truth: First and foremost, I did indeed ask that our February 21, 2011 meeting be moved because it was a Federal Holiday.Â For many persons who work full time, this is one holiday that you have off from your employer.Â The Federal Holiday January 17, 2011 was also a regularly scheduled board meeting.Â It is only fair that every once in a while, when a meeting is held on a holiday, that Board members have an opportunity to enjoy it as well.Â It is also true that I was busy Tuesday February 22, 2011.Â I was taking the California Bar Exam.Â I was not on vacation, I was not frolicking about, I was not on a hot date, hence blowing off the board meeting.Â I was taking Day 1 of the 3 day exam.Â Further, it was not me who requested we not have a meeting on February 14, 2011.Â We actually have other board members who wanted to spend the evening with their spouses.Â As with most of the articles in the NCN many other parts of this discussion were left out.Â When attempting to schedule the replacement meeting, many other days were mentioned as possible meeting dates for the February regular meeting.Â Unfortunately multiple persons including Director Johnson had obligations on one day or another.Â We even had a person who was going to be out of the state for several days. So, let the truth be told, the difficulty in scheduling the meeting was neither because of me alone nor my personal/social calendar but rather scheduled at a time that was suiting for ALL of the directors needs.Â Let it be known that the regularly scheduled meeting was originally February 21, 2011.Â Our general meeting occurred February 28, 2011, only one week later.
Affinity Consulting Contract
Quote “…the agenda is packed withâ€¦hiring a district engineer for $10,000.00 per monthâ€¦”
The Truth: Jim Carson and Affinity Engineering are NOT being paid a salary of 10k per month as Director Johnson implies in her statement.Â A contract was entered into with Affinity Engineering with a cap on services totaling $10,000.00, monthly.Â This does not mean that Affinity will be receiving a guaranteed $10,000.00 every month.Â The contract ensures that services will not exceed this amount without prior approval by the Board.
Per Diem for GM Search Committee Members
Quote: “â€¦request for payment of $100 per diem to committee members to interview GM applicants” and â€œShe even wants to be paid to interview GM applicants when that is the job of the full board and part of their duties.”
The Facts: In our policy guide section 2.20.120 states “Compensation for attendance at District-related Functions- Each Director shall receive compensation in accordance with Section 2.01.050 of the Administration and Personnel Policy for each day’s attendance at approved conferences, meetings and seminars subject to the policies and limitations contained in Chapter 2.20. Such compensation shall not include travel days, unless the Director was in attendance at the approved function on the day of travel.”Â The request for compensation was in compliance with the policy guide.Â As the committee meeting is a “district related function,” the request was appropriate. Regardless of the pay, I am still “doing my job.”Â The vote did not pass, who cares, moving on.Â Nothing like making a mountain out of a mole hill.
Quote: “Add in all the meetings that the three “RR” attend without the full board being includedâ€¦”
The Truth: To this statement I am thoroughly confused.Â Director Smith has not attended any meetings outside of board meetings that I have been made aware.Â Director F. Caron and myself attended a meeting with Peter Brundage, at his request, on the morning of January 17, 2011.Â That evening, at the board meeting, during open session, I personally disclosed the discussions between Peter and myself from that morning.Â Regardless of my report at the meeting on February 17, at our February 28, 2011 meeting, on record, Vivian suggested that no report was given and eluded that secret meetings were being held.Â Really, what occurred is Director Johnson was tuned out at the January 17, 2011 meeting, and did not listen to the full report given, regarding the meeting with Peter Brundage.Â Â There was nothing to hide from this meeting, which is why it was fully disclosed, despite Director Johnson’s public comments at the February 28, 2011 meeting and her rant in the March 2011 NCN.
Emails from the President of the Board
Quote:Â “From Courtney, Board President beginning her emails to certain board member with “Listen Upâ€¦”
The Truth: There are certain board members who for the first 4 weeks continued to send to me disrespectful emails.Â I replied with an email to ALL board members, not certain board members, but ALL board members.Â It started with “Everyone, I am going to say this one time and one time only.Â I will no longer be responding to any of your emails that are not directly on point with an agenda item, or board business. I have had enough of the emails blaming one or more people, calling people a liar, accusing persons of different things, so I will no longer respond.”Â This was necessary after all the ridiculous emails I was receiving that were counterproductive and completely unnecessary from board members.Â If I am a board member, I get to choose what I will and will not tolerate.Â That is my right.Â I will not tolerate anyone wasting my time.Â Period.
San Francisco and the Election
Quote: “hopping from here to the Bay areaâ€¦I would wager to say that she never even heard of the RLECWD until “Daddy Frank” talked her into running for the board.Â She never even voted in this district prior to running for the election, does not own property in the district, does not work in the area and spends most of her time out of the district.”
The Truth: First things first.Â We all know by now that I attended and graduated from Law School in 2007.Â “Daddy Frank” was calling me long before this years election, dating back as far as my early law school years, to discuss the RLECWD board meetings. He often would ask me to research and send him law related to different topics.Â So my question to Director Johnson is “How much was that wager?”Â Secondly, “Daddy Frank” did not have to “talk” me into running. In late July a few community members approached “Daddy Frank” to ask him to consider running for the water board.Â Director Smith was also approached by these citizens.Â I attended the informal gathering in relationship to the interest in these two potential candidates to take notes for “Daddy Frank.”Â He was a tad nervous, and because he trusts my abilities, Frank wanted me to be there to support him.Â There was another female potential candidate there, who was unable to run in the end.Â Thereafter, I left for a few days to Indiana to say goodbye to my grandmother, who was dying of cancer.Â The deadline to register for the election occurred while I was away.Â Upon returning, “Daddy Frank” handed me a notification that stated the registration had been extended.Â The following day I traveled to the office and registered, all by myself.Â That’s right, at 29 years of age, I was able to make a grown up decision, travel to the office and register without “Daddy Frank” holding my hand.Â Shocking.
This segment of the NCN did have two truthful statements.Â First, it is true, prior to moving to Elverta in June of 2010, I had never voted in this district.Â Ummmm, how could I have voted in the district? I did not live in the Sacramento area, let alone the district until June 2010.Â The last time I checked, a person is supposed to register to vote in the area where they are a resident. Once they move, guess what folksâ€¦they register in their new area!Â That means they are a brand new voter in their new area!Â This was my first opportunity to vote in the area, obviously. I also am unaware of any rules or codes or law that state a person running in the election must “own property” or “work” in the district.Â Now why is that?â€¦oh yes, because it is NOT a rule, law or code that you own property or work in the area.Â The rule is that you RESIDE in the area.Â Director Johnson is not even a rate payer for crying out loud.
The second true statement is that I “hop” (cute use of the word Director Johnson) between San Francisco and Elverta.Â If you consider a daily commute to San Francisco and home to Elverta “hopping” then that is what I do!Â I have worked for the same law firm since 2008.Â I was once a resident of San Francisco.Â I lived there from September 2008 until May 2010.Â Finding a good apartment in SF is pretty challenging when you have three Chihuahuas, trust me.Â In May of 2010 I was notified that I did not pass the CA Bar Exam.Â On my prior attempts, I had worked full time while trying to study 40 hours a week for the exam.Â I realized that maintaining this schedule was not going to help me pass this difficult exam.Â In an effort to set myself up to pass versus fail, I called up “Daddy Frank” and asked him, when my lease expired in the end of May, if I could move home to his house.Â This would allow me the time to study, not have to pay outrageous rent, and have the love and support that is necessary to accomplish this type of goal.Â He agreed to take me in.Â End of May I loaded my studio of belongings into a storage unit in San Francisco and moved home.
I am not sure how sharp Director Johnson’s mathematical skills are, but she states that she believes that I spend “most of my time” in the bay area.Â Well for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that “most” means majority which is 12 hours of each day or 84 hours a week.Â Director Johnson, here, would yet again be incorrect.Â I work 8 hours in San Francisco each day and have a commute to and from, 5 days a week.Â At most, that is 60 hours.Â My weekends, I do not spend in the bay area.Â I am really happy to just stay in town after spending so much time on the road each week.Â So no, “most” of my time is not spent in the bay area.Â I also would like to point out that MANY people commute to the bay area for work, daily.Â There, in fact, is a whole system called the casual carpool system, devoted to persons like myself, who commute.Â I ride DAILY with two other Sacramento area persons, who actually work in my office.Â It is a well known fact that a person can earn a higher salary working in the bay area.Â Thank you, but I prefer the higher salary while I pay off my school debt, not to mention, my firm is full of awesome individuals.
My questions to Director Johnson are: 1) Are you aware of the cost of a law school education? 2) Are you aware of the fact that not all children have parent’s who can pay for their education? 3) Do you know how difficult it is to pay back school loan costs when you are trying to start a career? 4) Are you aware that MANY graduates move back in with their parents to assist with debt control and to help kick start their careers that they just worked years towards?Â If you did know these answers, you would realize that a law graduate, moving back home to her father’s, quite possibly is because she wants to be debts free and perhaps not because she wants to hold a political office.Â I moved back with “Daddy Frank” prior to him even being solicited to run in the election.Â Get your facts straight.
For the record, I really appreciate the â€œadopt a pet portionâ€ of the NCN.Â How about all the sections filled with fiction and false statements be dedicated instead to adopting homeless pets.Â Seems like a much more valuable use of this publication.