Thursday, February 14, 2013

Memo on disclosure of compensation to directors

I contacted Directors Lezotte and Estremera and got their support for the memo below.  It will be considered later this month, with action (if any) sometime to follow.

Board of Directors and Staff
Directors Estremera, Lezotte, and Schmidt

Item 10.1, Future Agenda Item for a Proposed New Policy on Disclosures
February 7, 2013


The Water District has a stellar record on disclosure and openness, something we know from direct experience and from feedback we have received from the press.  Still, we look for opportunities to make that openness even better.  We suggest that an appropriate point in the near future, that the Board consider a discussion of a variety of options for a new Ends Policy regarding potential disclosure of agreements between the District and Directors, including former Directors, when the agreements involve monetary payments or benefits conferred upon the Directors by the District.  One option is listed below to begin the discussion, which we suggest staff consider and report on how other agencies handle disclosure of similar agreements.

As a general matter, confidentiality in settlements of disputes with employees may often be necessary and in the public’s best interest, but dealings with Directors are a special situation where the public has a special interest in understanding what has happened.  We emphasize that the potential disclosure under discussion here is regarding the special case only of Directors and former Directors.

Even in the case of dealing with Directors, the negotiation process often needs to proceed in a confidential manner, but upon finalization, the public’s interest in knowing the outcome that occurred between the District and the Directors that the public elected should be considered.

In lieu of drafting specific language, we suggest the principles below and look to staff to develop them further and to the Board for potential modification and adoption:

Alternative requiring disclosure (new policy would include all of the following):
1.    Agreements regarding monetary compensation or benefits for Directors shall be disclosed in the same manner as other compensation to Directors.
2.    Agreements regarding monetary compensation or benefits for Directors shall not include confidentiality provisions binding upon the District.
3.    Copies of agreements regarding monetary compensation or benefits for Directors shall be provided to all upon request.
4.    Notice of agreements regarding monetary compensation or benefits for Directors shall be provided to all who have requested notice of such agreements in general, and not require specific request of the specific agreement in order to be given notice.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Documenting the passage of Safe Clean Water Measure B

I should have done this a while back, but on November 20th of last year the Board reviewed the successful passage of Safe Clean Water Measure B, with 74% of the vote representing a possible new record for approval.

The whole discussion was 20 minutes long, watchable here (click through to November 20th, 2012, and then click to Item 9.3.)  I did want to pull out a place where my colleagues congratulated my work of bringing the environmental groups together with business support for the voter initiative:
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Everyone involved can share the credit for its passage, of course.  And as I said earlier in the video, the challenge is now to make sure we deliver.