GDPUD: Is there a lawyer in the house?

By From page A1 | April 29, 2013

The special meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District last Tuesday night was tripped up by legal questions, rendering the meeting a non-event that required rescheduling.

The evening’s board meeting began with a motion to approve the agenda. But stopping it dead in its tracks was resident Bill Evans who pointed out that GDPUD’s Website did not include the agenda for the meeting or any notice that the meeting was going to be held other than a notice outside the district office.

Asserting that the meeting was a violation of the policies put forth by the board as well as the Government Code, Evans said the board was in violation of state law if they proceeded as planned.

Board President Bonnie McLane insisted that the failure to properly notice the meeting was not intentional, but Evans noted the law does not distinguish between excuses.

The question arose as to how widely the meeting notice needed to be posted with board member Kathy Otermat asking if interim counsel John Knowlton should be contacted since he was not in attendance.

However, board member Norm Krizl suggested asking someone at the meeting, pointing out that, “there’s at least one attorney in the audience.”

Amid widespread laughter, someone noted there was at least more than one. This was in reference to the three attorneys in the room who had come to find out who would be selected as general counsel for the district since one of the agenda items dealt with reviewing the responses to a Request for Proposals for legal services.

The board then discussed the requirements for posting the agenda. “Before the board members took over putting together the agenda and doing the minutes, this was done properly,” said Krizl, saying it was traditionally posted at the post office, outside the district office, at the library and on the Website. “And when it wasn’t done on any of those, certain members of this board tore the general manager a new one because of that. Now that they’ve taken over some of this responsibility, and this hasn’t happened, now it’s, ‘We didn’t do it on purpose’.”

Krizl then asked for one of the attorneys in the audience to voice his opinion on the subject.

That led resident Dale Miller to object, saying “a lot of time when the shoe’s on the other foot, it’s a flip-flop. There’s many times we have not had this on the website or not been notified via email …, and when those times have happened, previous boards have enabled the general manager, saying, well he’s doing his best. Now that it’s a new board, the shoe is on the other foot, now it’s the board responsibility and the board is at fault,” he continued, cutting off Krizl and Evans when they tried to respond.

Two of the attorneys in the audience then volunteered their own take on the matter with one asking how often the agenda was posted on the district’s website and another advising the board to take the conservative route and re-schedule the meeting after additional notice was given.

Krizl said he didn’t think what happened was intentional and believed that rescheduling the meeting was the right approach, with Evans agreeing. The board then voted unanimously to reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, April 30, at 4 p.m. at the district headquarters.

On the agenda will be an update of discussions with the California Department of Public Health, the United States Department of Agriculture and other agencies regarding plans for the retrofit of the Auburn Lake Trails Water Treatment Plant. A review of RFPs received for district legal services will be discussed as well as a review of the public finance committee’s goals and responsibilities.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

Dawn Hodson

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