Are the South Coast Water District Board of Directors flying under the radar screen?

With the focus on the presidents recovery plans, tax increases in California, job losses, foreclosures and dwindling 401 K’s, there is a public agency that rarely gets any public attention. I am referring to all of our “special districts” where Board members are elected. Years ago our very own Santa Margarita Water District, SMWD, made the news as reported here:

“In the decade-old case of the Santa Margarita Water District’s top officials, temptation came in the form of $60,000 worth of gifts they eventually admitted taking. That money was on top of spending that prosecutors called “excessive” and “disgraceful.” Not all examples of abuse are that clearly defined.”

Although we did have a little mist today I wonder if there is any connection of a dark cloud over the South Coast Water District relating to what may be a “no bid” Contract Award next Thursday, March 26th.

At their March 10th meeting  the Subject of Agenda Item #9 reads: “Special Project Services for Public Outreach Objectives.” In the Staff Report it is requesting an amount up to $36,000 for the balance of FY 2008/2009 yet does not indicate any RFP for said services. When is this consulting effort to be completed?

Will this consulting effort continue indefinitely and at what cost?

Making matters worse the report reads “Directors suggested that the Kathy Barnum Agency provide a proposal for additional services.” In essence apparently the water district is giving the fox the keys to the chicken coop. Has the Board asked the Kathy Barnum Agency to write the project scope and give this same firm the Contract award? That’s sweet.

Among other recycle water quality issues, the education plan relates to community efforts to “improve the environment by reducing the impacts from water softener systems.”

With so many people out of work, as well as others engaged in public relations I have to believe that there is surely more than one firm ready, willing and able to at least submit a bid before awarding this contract.

I would also question having the pre determined vendor drafting the contract which may give that firm a leg up on any other candidate.

The only difference in text between the March 10th and March 26th Agenda’s is the addition of NEW INFORMATION stating that the contract for the Kathy Barnum Agency was discussed at the Administration and Finance Committee meeting on March 10, 2009.

Has  a contract been awarded before the vote and meeting of March 26th?

What is the spending cap for an apparent  no-bid contact for this type of service by this agency?

Folks. If you or anyone you know has experience in providing this type of service let me urge you act on or to pass along this blog article.

The SOUTH COAST WATER DISTRICT meeting is being held at the City of Dana Point Council Chamber, 33282 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629. Thursday, March 26, 2009 starting at 6 p.m. This issue is found as Agenda Item #13.

I would bring my resume and request an opportunity to receive a copy of the RFP, if one exists, and request a delay so that you have a reasonable amount of time to submit your bid.

Some use the word “change” for 2009. Another word that I prefer is “transparency.”

About Larry Gilbert