Finding # 6: Transcription of meeting minutes created unnecessary costs and delays for the District.
This finding is the result of the newly elected board members not trusting or believing the minutes prepared by Ms. Lizette Guerrero (the Board secretary). Mr. Landsgaard, Mr. MacKay, and Mr. Shingledecker spent almost $2,000 dollars to bring in an outside contractor to listen to the tapes and transcribe the minutes of numerous meetings. In the keeping with the theme of starting “a new tradition” (refer to Finding # 2) the three freshman board members did something that has never been done. They forsook their trust in a duly appointed officer of the board and arbitrarily decided on this wasteful course of action.
As discussed in Finding # 5 there are two ways to report minutes. 1) A word for word report from audio recordings (very expensive and time consuming, also for the most part completely unnecessary for such a small town) or 2) the secretary provides a “Reader’s Digest” version (almost no cost, very quick, also short and sweet and covers the main points of the meeting).
In selecting either one of the two recognized methods, the goal is to have the minutes that will 1) stand up the formal review (in case of litigation) and 2) give an accurate accounting of what transpired at the meeting (without going into a lot of unnecessary detail).
While excess expense of transcribing the minutes from actual audio records is the main point of Finding # 6, this practice generated at least two negative impacts upon the RCSD Board. Let’s look at the first of the two negative unintended consequences resulting from such an amateur decision.
Finding # 7: Since the seating of the new Board, approval of minutes has been delayed beyond reasonable time limits.
The Kern County Grand Jury considered specific evidence that identified excessive delays in the creation, approval and final posting of the official meeting minutes for meetings held on November 12, 25, and December 3, 2014. Additional evidence indicated that there were other meetings impacted by the transcription decision rendered by Ed, Olaf, and Dennis. The backlog of approved official minutes exceeded 60 days, these delays created delays in board action of several agenda items, thus highlighting the need for timely documentation of RCSD Board activities. Let’s look at the second of the two negative unintended consequences resulting from the decision not to trust the Board secretary in the performance of her official duties.
Finding # 8: Delays in approving minutes held up bill payment and other District business.
When operating a business or a service providing organization, it is important to maintain a customer focus at all times. Granted, RCSD is the only show in town when providing community services; RCSD does not have autonomy to function without the will of the electorate.
Upon official posting of meeting minutes, a process begins which includes taking care of due expenses, awarding and closing out contracts, acting on resolutions (many of them “time-sensitive”, and carrying out all of the dealings of the District. Until the minutes are approved some bills cannot be paid, budgets cannot be adopted and implemented, and reports to the county or state are delayed. All the while, customers begin to doubt your effectiveness and professionalism as an organization.
One example of the negative impacts of such a delay came to the surface in a board meeting held on December 10, 2014.
An audit presentation from Brown & Armstrong, an independent certified public accounting agency located in Bakersfield http://bacpas.com/about-us/ to accept and approve the mandated audit for the year 2013-2014 (the final audit for the previous board). The new board members were completely unprepared to receive the audit and appeared did not have a clue as what it was about, nor the circumstance resulting in the audit.
On a side note, the 2013-2014 RCSD Audit resulted an “Unmodified Opinion” which is the highest grade an organization can receive from for an audit. In short, the audit determined that the RSCD bookkeeping documentation, accounts receivable and expense accounts were 100% error-free.
Having just finished a very negative campaign against the previous board members, emphasizing expense overruns, bad business practices and the like; it seems that the MacKay, Landsgaard, and Shingledecker couldn’t quite handle the slap in the face by a perfect audit…essentially erasing any of the “logic they based their campaign upon”…could you imagine how embarrassing that would be?
Specifically, the three of them campaigned based upon allegations that:
1) General Manager, Steve Perez and the former Board members misplaced funds, 2) spent $400 a night on hotel rooms, 3) hid money, 4) maintained expense accounts of more than $100,000 a year, 5) spent $10,000 a month on travel, and 6) other claims of fiscal irresponsibility.
Ultimately the above allegations were proven completely false by the Brown & Armstrong audit. I reiterate, an independent audit report gave General Manager Steve Perez, the former Board of Directors and the RCSD staff not only a clean audit report but also an “Unmodified Report”
Need I say it again? The highest rating an organization you can receive from an audit!
This report proved that everything that the MacKay, Landsgaard and MacKay had been telling the community for the prior six months had allegedly been a lie. I just want to know when did/or will the alleged lying stop?
I guess when you are not trustworthy, you tend not to trust people. I am beginning to see a common theme here… are you?
Predictably, the newly elected Board members almost immediately questioned the qualifications of the accounting firm. They did not want to approve it and actually wanted the auditor to come back the following month and make another presentation to the RCSD. Accountant, Brad Rockabrand informed the Board that delaying the approval would cost another $700 and hold up bill paying and reports for which Kern County and the State of California were waiting. Disregarding the experts, they chose to “do their own thing” and refused to accept the report on December 10th.
I guess the board’s actions that night were similar to someone channel surfing when there’s nothing good to watch on television…you keep changing channels hoping for something better. In this case, that Audit Report was the only game in town that night and Ed, Olaf, and Dennis were in search of an non-existent smoking gun again serving their agenda and self-serving interests at the expense of the Rosamond Community Service District ratepayers.
====================== Finding # 6 states: “Transcription of meeting minutes created unnecessary costs and delays for the District.”
“The RCSD’s official response to Finding # 6: “The Board partially disagrees with this finding. The Board agrees that the costs for the transcription of meeting minutes was rather high but disagrees that the delays associated therewith were unnecessary.”
====================== Finding # 7 states: “Since the seating of the new Board, approval of minutes has been delayed beyond reasonable time limits.”
“The RCSD’s official response to Finding # 7: “The Board disagrees with this finding. The Board responds that there is no time limit on obtaining accurate minutes.”
====================== Finding # 8 States: “Delays in approving minutes held up bill payment and other District business.”
“The RCSD’s official response to Finding # 8: “The Board disagrees with this finding. The Board responds that delays in approving minutes do not affect the payment of bills because bills are paid before the meeting.”
To read the next section click here: The Midnight Writings: Finding 9 – “Disorderly Conduct”