Finding # 19: The District is overdue for water and sewer rate studies.
Internalized Question # 12:
Why would the Kern County Grand Jury find it necessary to specifically point out this fact to the Rosamond Community Services District Board members?
Perhaps, as a parent, hoping to influence a child’s future decision-making; constantly reminds the child to make the right choices, in hopes that when presented a choice later on in life, that the child will make the right decision based upon his or her upbringing. One could venture that the Kern County Grand Jury highlight this obvious fact based upon the demonstrated past bad performance of these three rookie Board members. Ultimately, the grand jury is demonstrating its lack of trust that these three newly elected board members would ever make the right choice in any given situation. Maybe, just maybe; the grand jury is firing a shot across the bow to demonstrate an understanding (of things requiring action) that these three rookie board member clearly do not understand; in hopes they might do what needs to be done.
Internalized Question # 13:
Do we really want these three RCSD Board members to set any kind of policy that would be in a direct conflict with their personal interests? Can an injunction be filed? Will this recall really happen?
Concerning this specific finding, it is true! The RCSD is overdue for a rate study. The last one was done over five year ago. That said, maybe the board should consider the interval for which water and sewer rate studies are performed. Mistakes, similar to the exclusion of empty properties can have a devastating impact to a small town such as ours. I suggest we follow the example set by the City of Tallahassee, Florida (see the discussion for Finding # 14). In short, Tallahassee uses the season of survey consideration to incentivize water conservation. I think that would be VERY successful in Rosamond.
Since I began The Midnight Writings, the RCSD has released their individual response to the Kern County Grand Jury findings, let’s explore the laughable response the current board provided. They stated that they actually agree with this finding and then went on to use the official response to cast blame upon a previous RCSD Board. Claiming that the previous Board of 2013-2014 should have done began a Water and Sewer Rate Study prior to the November 2014 elections.
This “blame game” response is typical and therefore, not surprising of the current board at all. The eagerness to always pass the buck and never take any responsibility for their actions characterizes the group. The fact is that the MacKay-led board of 2015 failed to mention in their response was that the previous board had just completed a 5 Year Strategic Plan. A Strategic Plan is simply a document that provides a roadmap to success and is a very common business tool used by highly-effective organizations. It is also, the first step before water sewer rate study can begin. The previous board worked on the “5 Year Strategic Plan” for several months before adopting it, just two weeks before the November 2014 elections.
The previous board started the process for a new rate study months before the last election but, the November 2014 election results meant that a new board would be sworn in; that said, the previous board decided to allow the new Board to complete the rate study.
Let’s peel back the onion one more layer.
Internalized Question # 14:
It has been nine months since the election of November 2014, so what progress has the MacKay-led RCSD board done regarding the required water and sewer rate study?
Absolutely NOTHING, they have failed to start a rate study; in fact, they are consumed by arguing about the 5 year strategic plan (that I referenced above). The three of them are actually considering completing a new one even though the ink on the old one hasn’t even dried yet (it’s less than 10 months old). The current and approved “5 Year Strategic Plan” cost the ratepayers thousands of dollars to complete and their only reason they want a new one is because they did not write the last one; yet, they insist on hiring the same person who did the Strategic Plan in 2014.
Internalized Question # 15:
Are these rookie mistakes or blatant Fraud, Waste and Abuse issues that border on being criminal?
Earlier this week, when they fired Mr. Steve Perez, they actually got rid of an irritant; you see…since day one of this new board taking over, Mr. Perez has been hounding them about doing a rate study.
Additional Information concerning the Kern County Grand Jury, its duties, make-up and sworn oath commitment can be found on the Kern County Grand Jury website:
Let’s examine the purpose of a Grand Jury in Kern County. The Kern County Grand Jury is empaneled for a one-year term. The term just so happens to correspond with the County’s fiscal year, July 1st – June 30th. There are various Grand Jury committees that perform investigations of different government agencies and other entities and publish reports of their findings and recommendations.
The Grand Jury is comprised of a body of 19 citizens, independent of any political or special interest group. NO law degree or specific credential is necessary to be a Grand Jury member though an avid interest in preserving honest and proper conduct of ALL governmental agencies within Kern County is essential (perhaps this is the reason that Olaf snubs his nose at the grand jury, he is after all; a lawyer). Grand Jurors should also possess the desire to insure that all monies, within these areas of government, are being handled prudently and in the best interest of Kern County residents. The Grand Jury’s purpose is to serve and assist the people of Kern County.
The Kern County Grand Jury has two basic functions.
- Civil or “watch dog” function: In this capacity, the Jury has the power and duty to examine the function and performance of public offices and officers. They report their findings and can make recommendations for changes. For more information on the reporting process, see the Reports page.
- Criminal function: In this capacity, the Jury has the power and duty to inquire into possible public offenses, misconduct in office by public officers, and to determine whether to return indictments charging the commission of felonies.
Duties of the Kern County Grand Jury:
- Will objectively investigate, audit, or examine all aspects of County government, special districts, and cities to ensure that these bodies are being effectively governed and that public monies are being judiciously handled.
- May subpoena persons and/or records to obtain information on subjects under investigation.
- May issue an accusation against public officials that may result in removal from office if upheld by the Court.
- May conduct criminal hearings to hand down criminal indictments. After hearing evidence presented by the District Attorney’s office, an affirmative vote of at least 12 out of 19 jurors is necessary to indict.
The Presiding Judge of the Kern County Superior Court, who acts as the advisor to the Grand Jury, selects a foreperson for the Jury. The foreperson selects a foreperson pro-tem, a recording secretary, a sergeant-of-arms, and an assistant sergeant-at-arms. Committees are then formed. Each juror may serve on several committees.
These committees include: Ad Hoc Committees, Administration and Audit Committee, Budget Committee, Cities and Joint Powers Committee, Continuity Committee, Edit and Final Report Committee, Health, Education and Social Services Committee, Law and Justice Committee, Library Committee, Public Relations Committee, Special Districts Committee, and the Tracking Committee.
These committees conduct the majority of the work concerning investigations. A general business meeting is held weekly with all Grand Jury members present to coordinate activity.
The Grand Jury is sworn to secrecy and complete confidentiality as it pertains to complaints, witnesses, or content of investigative matters. The Grand Jury may not disclose any information they receive within the confines of the jury or the identity of anyone appearing before them, unless permission is given. Grand Jury investigations and interviews are protected by law. Grand Jury records may not be inspected nor subpoenaed. All hearings pertaining to criminal cases are conducted in complete secrecy regardless of their outcome.
The following oath is administered to Grand Jurors: “I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of California, and all laws made pursuant to and in conformity therewith, will diligently inquire into, and true presentment make, of all public offenses against the people of this state, committed or triable within this county, of which the grand jury shall have or can obtain legal evidence. Further, I will not disclose any evidence brought before the grand jury, nor anything which I or any other grand juror may say, nor the manner in which I or any other grand juror may have voted on any matter before the grand jury. I will keep the charge that will be given to me by the court.” (Section 911, Penal Code, Amended June 2, 1983) These reports are made available to the general public and media as follows:
1) During the year, the individual reports are released and published on the Web site as Early Releases. Elected County officials are required by law to respond to each recommendation contained in these report(s) within 60 days of issuance; other County entities must respond to each recommendation within 90 days. These responses are published with the Early Releases soon after they are received.
2) At the end of each Grand Jury’s term, the Grand Jury issues its Final Report to the Presiding Judge. This Final Report contains the committee reports/responses plus general information about the Grand Jury. This report is also published on the Web site. A hard copy of the Final Report is available at the Beale Branch of the Kern County Library.
======================Finding # 19 states: “The District is overdue for water and sewer rate studies.”
The RCSD’s official response to Finding # 19: The Board agrees with this finding. The Board notes that the rate studies should have been conducted prior to the November 2014 election.
To read the next section click here: The Midnight Writings: Finding 20 – “If you are going to have a job, you have to understand the job.”