Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No. 7 A year of turmoil at GDPUD

From page A13 | January 04, 2013 | 6 Comments



The past year was a tumultuous one for the board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District.

Controversies, largely instigated by board members, led to the resignation or retirement of several long-term contractors and staff including General Counsel William Wright, Business and Finance Manager Mary Pat Frick, and most of the district’s administrative staff. General Manager Hank White attributed their leaving to the hostile work environment created by certain board members.

In March, emotions were at such a high pitch that a group of local residents launched a campaign to recall board member Kathy Otermat who they accused of being “derelict in the performance of her duties and responsibilities.” However, the recall failed after the group couldn’t get the required number of signatures by the July 16 deadline.

In May, Otermat was accused by board member Norm Krizl of trying to undermine GDPUD after she requested 10 years worth of documents from both the California Department of Public Health and GDPUD. The dispute continued to the June board meeting where accusations were exchanged between Otermat and General Manager Hank White over unfettered access to hundreds of files.

A different controversy erupted in August when the board removed Kathy Otermat as treasurer after she was accused by district employees of removing private and confidential employee information from the district office when she came in to sign checks. While Otermat denied all charges, she was removed as treasurer and Krizl was appointed to take her place.

In November, the balance of power on the board shifted when incumbent Norm Krizl was reelected but board member Bonnie Neeley was ousted by newcomer Maria Capraun.

The December board meeting established a new voting bloc made up of Otermat, Bonnie McLane, and Capraun. Among other things, the threesome voted for several evening board meetings, two months worth of workshops, the immediate dismissal of Wright, and the hiring of a new interim counsel. They also decided to review White’s contract at the next meeting.

Despite all the controversies and distractions, the district staff accomplished a number of goals, including securing various grants and loans to pay for the retrofit of the Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) Water Treatment Plant; completion of a Proposition 218 process tied to the ALT retrofit; completion of a five-year budget; establishment of a list of qualified bidders for the ALT project; the implementation of technology improvements including a new GIS/GPS mapping program; and the amendment of their CalPERS contract which will result in reduced district pension costs for new employees.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.


Discussion | 6 comments

  • John S. - Garden Valley, CAJanuary 03, 2013 - 12:52 pm

    As usual, Dawn Hudson puts here biased reporting and innuendo at full tilt with this story. I am not vocal in the community but enough is enough from this shallow ignorant reporter Dawn Hudson and editor Mike Raffety. I would like to provide a more accurate version from someone who lives in this community. in 2010 the voters on the Divide voted for Director Otermat and Bonnie McLane to represent their interests and replace the good old boys Bob Diekon and Mike Cooper on the board. The same voters, chose to keep Director Otermat and actively refuse to recall her. Dawn's stories tried to give the impression that the recall was close but insiders close to Bob Villalobos leader of the recall, say it failed MISERABLY, Dawn! The GDPUD GM Hank White as well as GDPUD Legal Counsel William Wright was exposed by these Directors Otermat and MccLane for their years of illegal backroom meetings, shocking salary increases for the GM with no evaluations, lies by the GM to the public at Prop 218 hearings and more. The GDPUD GM and legal counsel proactively tried to get other people to do their dirty work and some were stupid enough to do it (Bob Villalobos, Dolores Barron and Stephanie Beck). An objective reporter would actually let the public know that that as even Bill Wright said " there's no proof Director Otermat took any personal information". Listening to the meeting one can hear her offer her cell phone to be analyzed for any photos but of course they wouldn't take her up on it because it would prove that she did nothing wrong. Instead Dawn Hudson still keeps the innuendo out there that the District had to pay for Lifelock. Well the good people of the Divide saw through that BS and continued on the path of getting rid of the good old boys & girls and voted in Maria Capraun to replace White's key protector and puppet Director Bonnie Neeley. The only reason Norm Krizl won is because he did not list himself as incumbent on the voting ballot and instead put himself as "farmer". You'd think after 10 years on the board one would be proud to be incumbent but he knew the attitude on the Divide is remove long-time incumbents. We on the Divide welcome the changes the new Board is doing - I read they are actually WORKING for us and having WORK shops starting with Board Policies and Procedures. Now Dawn could twist this to be a agressive manuevering by the new board, but we on the Divide welcome the time being spent by the new Board to finally having rules and policies in place. I heard the tape and Norm Krizl would rather continue celebrating the holidays then work in January. I wonder if he will have the patience and finesse for the next 2 years that Otermat and McLane had? The old Board members including Krizl and Neeley should be ashamed they were allowed to be controlled by Hank White and would rather run the district on "history and tradition". Nice try Dawn but we know your schtick by now. People - listen to the meeting audio and ignor what Hudson is reporting.

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  • Jay TerneyJanuary 03, 2013 - 3:02 pm

    I agree with John S. re: Dawn Hudson's totally slanted take on the new board and especially Ms. Otermat. Dawn where do you live? You obviously aren't part of are community? Why do you try to erroneously slant things against Director Otermat? I too have started listening to the meeting audio. Why didn't you write about the Public Comments at the last meeting where you were told by a member of the public that you should be ahamed of your salacious headlines and totally slanted articles? Using this one for example - a photo fo Otermat with your "year of turmoil" headline. Ms. Otermat has been totally professional in all 2 years of audios from the meetings, yet you try to convince the unknowing, ill-informed readers that she is"hostile"? I think it is more accurate to say your writing re: Ms Otermat as well as the statements in meetings from Director's Krizl, Neeley (glad she's out - what a looney!), GM Hank White and Legal Counsel Bill Wright have been totally hostile against a Director who stands for the public and not the status quo good old boys. Someday we will find out why the Mtn. Democrate starting from the top down has chosen the path to continue to write totally slanted views of what I consider the best directors GDPUD has had: Otermat, McClane and now Capraun. Too bad Pat Snelling didn't beat Krizl but I doubt if hot-headed Norm can take the heat for another 2 years.

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  • EvelynJanuary 03, 2013 - 4:45 pm

    “Controversies, largely instigated by board members, led to the resignation or retirement . . . of most of the district’s administrative staff.” [While diplomatically refraining from naming any names] "General Manager Hank White attributed their leaving to the hostile work environment created by certain board members." [Under GM White's expert guidance] and "Despite all the controversies and distractions, the district staff accomplished a number of goals ... ."] No other Georgetown residents, GDPUD staff or elected Directors were available for comment.

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  • Resigned or Fired?January 03, 2013 - 10:09 pm

    Wait, so am I reading correctly that according to Dawn Hudson, BILL WRIGHT WAS FIRED? Odd as he announced a resignation from his duties at GDPUD recently. That certainly makes for interesting conversation if Dawn is now claiming he was FIRED. That certainly will make for a tough time getting a new job around here. So which was it Dawn? Do you have inside information? And, as consistent as usual, you cite no details on his FIRING? Seems BILL WRIGHT might care about this slander and do something more about it than the usual person you slander. WHICH IS IT? Frankly, I feel bad for Mr. Wright to have the Mr. Democrat state he WAS FIRED when he politely advised he resigned.

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  • James E.January 03, 2013 - 10:15 pm

    Slander is speech, libel is printed letters, so S=S, L=L.

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  • Resigned or FiredJanuary 03, 2013 - 10:44 pm

    OK. Didn't realize that and I do not know the difference, only that it seems Mr. Wright has been horribly misrepresented in this article as are those Dawn Hudson claimed to have dismissed him should that be untrue.

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