Ka-Ching! Tardy Orange County Water District Directors Rake the Cash

Note: The Surf City Voice website was destroyed by hackers in December, 2019. This article was first posted September 11, 2016.

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Director Steven Sheldon called me out at the August 24, 2016 meeting of the Orange County Water District Board of Directors. 

He did so after I spoke during public comments about habitually tardy directors, including him.

Sheldon asked me a question. When I tried to answer, he got angry and cut me off, arguing that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

I’m going to answer his question, but first some background.

OCWD directors receive $250 per meeting, even if they arrive late and/or leave early, for up to 10 meetings per month at $2,500 per month or $30,000 per year.

Ka-ching!

OCWD directors also get 56 cents per mile for traveling to meetings, that’s hundreds of dollars per month for some directors. They get free food at their meetings, a collective value of thousands of dollars a year.

Steve Sheldon
OCWD Director Steve Sheldon getting some shut-eye at an OCWD board meeting.

Directors also get an “electronic equipment allowance” of $1,290, a pension, health care, dental, and vision. Including benefits, an  OCWD director can make over $50K per year for a job that is easier than working for Starbucks.

Ka-Ching!

At the August OCWD meeting I said that the habitually tardy directors, who should not get stipends (or benefits), are ripping off the taxpayers.

It’s safe to say that Starbucks won’t pay its workers for doing nothing—and if they’re too late too often they’re fired.

OCWD’s engineers, hydrologists, environmental technicians, administrators, secretaries, fork-lift operators, etc., have to follow the no-work no-pay rule, so why shouldn’t the OCWD directors?

From the podium, I gave examples of tardy directors taken from official minutes of 11 OCWD meetings back to April this year, but the problem has gone on for years:

Denis Bilodeau, missed 104 minutes of 9 meetings due to tardiness.

Jordan Brandman missed 93 minutes of 7 meetings.

Steven Sheldon missed 70 minutes of 5 meetings.

Roger Yoh missed 79 minutes of 3 meetings.

In contrast, Cathy Green, Shawn Dewane, Jan Flory, and Phil Anthony have excellent attendance records.

I asked the board to put the issue on a future meeting agenda, instead of remaining silent.

“I think you’re ripping off the taxpayers,” I said. “And I think you ought to answer for that.”

Then Sheldon asked: what was the combined length of the five meetings I had used to calculate his tardy times.

I mistakenly thought he meant the combined time for all 11 meetings I had referenced. I had single meeting times, so I tried to summarize from those, but Sheldon cut me off.

“I want a direct answer”, he demanded in anger, “Do you know the total amount of minutes?”

“I’d like you to give me a chance to answer the question. I’m not under cross examination,” I replied.

“You don’t know it. So you’re coming up here saying things you don’t know,” he accused.

“No. If you’d be quiet and let me answer that.”

“No. I’m the one asking the question, so I appreciate that you didn’t know an answer.”

“If I’m supposed to answer it, why don’t you let me answer?”

“I’m done, Madam President.”

Now, here’s my answer to Director Sheldon:

The total run time of his five selected meetings was 291 minutes, 70 minutes or 24 percent of which he missed by being late.

Sheldon missed almost half of a 45-minute meeting and 30 percent of a 65-minute meeting.

Bilodeau missed 81 minutes (21 percent) of 370 minutes for (7) meetings.

Brandman missed 27 percent of 108 minutes for (7) meetings.

Clearly, the rules need to be changed. Directors should only get full pay for full work, like the rest of us.

Ka-ching!

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