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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Water District Riposte

I recently published a blogpost that contained an unsolicited letter from an anonymous person that made certain allegations regarding the management operations of the Fallbrook Public Utility District. I received this letter yesterday from my neighbor Bert Hayden, who is a board member and print it in its entirety, in the interest of balance and fairness.


Thank you for forwarding your blog with the anonymous email regarding FPUD to Barbara, she provided me a copy.

If I may I would like to set the record straight.

The author is either Director McPhee or one of his supporters who follows Director Mcphee’s misleading and incorrect ads in the Village News.  By agreement with the Village News, “Opinions” from any of the FPUD Directors will not be accepted or published.  The Village News will accept paid advertisements; and Director McPhee often chooses to advertise his incorrect and misleading, speculative opinion.

Transportation costs
I don’t know where the dollar amount regarding transportation originates but the total cost quoted sounds like the cost of operating the entire FPUD fleet to me. The Board has discussed take-home vehicles in the past and determined that we would rather incur the expense than delay responding to an after hours emergency while an employee drives a personal vehicle to the FPUD yard and then drives to the emergency with the appropriate vehicle; after hours is up to 16 hours each day and week ends.

Lewenger’s Contract
FPUD did contract with former General Manager Keith Lewenger for professional services in the areas of transitioning the new GM, continuing the negotiations with the Base (which were at a critical stage) and working on a project which would allow four of the north county water districts to share equipment and specialized staff and perhaps save money for all by reducing duplication. GM Brady controls Lewenger’s working hours and since February, Mr. Lewenger has billed $1308 of which FPUDS ¼ share was $327.  (This was for work on the sharing project).

Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use
FPUD has rights to 1/3 of the water flowing down the Santa Margarita River (as documented in Federal Court).  This is very complicated because there are lots of complex water rights that are prior to the court decision.  But for the first time we have a “Letter of Understanding” with the Base re. water sharing (the FPUD share is an average of 3,100 acre feet per year), delivery ground rules, etc. which has been approved by USMC in Washington and the Department of Defense. Efforts are under way now to flesh-out the details so the project can proceed; probably a 200 page document that will take more than a year to get DOD approval.

SD Water Authority/MET Representation
While he was General Manager Mr. Lewenger, at the direction of the FPUD Board, consistently worked to keep both Metropolitan and San Diego County Water Authority, (our water wholesalers) water rates as low as possible.  Unfortunately, on the San Diego County Water Authority Board, FPUD’s weighted vote is between 2% and 3 % of the total. Mr. Lewenger’s reputation and skill in working with the group provided us with much more representation than our small percentage would allow.   The City of San Diego has more than half of the representation. By joining with Valley Center and Rainbow we have been successful in establishing an agricultural SD County water rate (which continues for the next two years) even though the Metropolitan interruptible agricultural surplus water program ends this year. (This is the Met. program that sold farmers cheap water for 17 years and then with the drought, contractually required a 30% reduction in agricultural water usage. The result was many of the Avocado trees were stumped or the groves abandoned). Likewise San Diego County Water authority is one of a number of water agencies (a number like 33) that belong to Met.  Even with a no vote from the SD Water Authority, the rate increases passed; but the increases were less than Met’s staff proposed and Lewenger’s efforts to moderate the increases obviously helped.  Los Angeles County is the major player on the Met Board.  Mr. Lewenger currently works for the city of Carlsbad and is their representative to the San Diego County Water Authority and also represents The Authority on the Met Board.

Per Diem Payments
While he was General Manager Mr. Lewenger was receiving Per Diem for his Water Authority Service while being paid by FPUD.  The Board explored the issue with the Water Authority. The Water Authority would not agree to reimburse FPUD rather than Lewenger for his service on the Water Authority Board and the only other alternative was to refuse the Per Diem.  The Board determined that since the District benefited significantly from Lewenger’s involvement, and water rates would not be reduced by refusing the per diem, that the Board would allow Lewenger to receive the payments.

Breach of Fiduciary Duties
Since both MET and The Water Authority have Boards that are entirely made up of representatives from member agencies, I can’t see where any breach of fiduciary duties occurred.

Thank you for allowing me to set the facts straight.

Bert Hayden
Director Seat Number 1
Fallbrook Public Utility District


Anonymous said...

Here is an open letter to Hubert's rebuttal. I am delighted that Mr. Hayden has responded to my letter and applaud his attempt to "set the record straight." His paragraph on transportation costs does not correct with real numbers the $495.000 for eight individuals. This number is as matter of public record and Mr. Hayden's admission of not knowing these numbers on a budget that he participates in annually, is very disappointing. Especially considering that he was elected originally for his budgetary strengths. Also, this is a small district and takes very little time with the exception of De Luz to get from one place to another. Anyone coming into Fallbrook would pass within close distance of the yard or just stop by the scene of "emergency" on the way to the yard. If one were to ask these eight individuals who are favored with a free vehicle ratepayers expense, how often they have rushed from their home to an "emergency," I would say the answer to that would be either never or once a year. And, by the way, the board does not incur the expense, the rate payers do.
Mr. Hayden's statement about the former General Managers contract will take more exhaustive scrutiny. But first, after thirteen years he Mr. Hayden should have learned to spell the ex-G.M.'s name correctly. Bert, it is Lewinger, with an "i." Lewinger has contended that the base negotiations have been critical for the last four years. He will continue to bill and double and triple dip as long as you five let him. And I include the new G.M. in that number and not Director McPhee.
This four water district "sharing project", which is actually presumptuously called the "Joint Powers" project, has been long abandoned by the wiser two of the four district managers. There is also no doubt that the open ended contract that Lewinger demanded and was subsequently awarded, will continue to be milked for its duration.
Regarding the Santa Margarita, if I remember correctly, Lewinger gave up FPUD rights to the river in exchange for water from Lake Skinner. The Letter of Understanding for conjunctive use actually says that after Camp Pendleton uses their fill, FPUD can have water if there is any left. Then this water if will have to be treated in a treatment plant that does not currently exist and will probably cost the rate payers many millions of dollars to construct for a questionable water supply.

(to be cont.)

Anonymous said...

Your attempt at humor, citing Lewingers reputation and skill, fell far short considering the fact that he was paid for full time employment at FPUD while he was, in fact, driving his District subsidized vehicle to San Diego or Riverside on Metropolitan related business or S.D. Water Authority business.
Sir, San Diego Water Authority does not belong to Metropolitan as you have stated. It is its own agency and has sued Metropolitan over the manner in which the Directors set up the rate structure, with obvious overcharging, not just for delivered water, but for upgrading its own infrastructure.
As far as the Per Diem for Cagey Keith goes, it is no surprise that instead of reducing pay for his time absent from the District, the Old Boy Network decided to call it a wash and pretend that the District benefited from these junkets to Camp Pendleton, Washington, Riverside, San Diego and who knows how many other venues.
Since Met is a Board that directly controls our water charges, since Lewinger has not been effective in staving off these charges while being paid to mind the store in Fallbrook, I would say these circumstances do not just look suspicious. If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, there is only one conclusion to your lack of pertinent facts.
Your club of Lewinger sycophants should stop bullying Director McPhee and help him to save the hard earned money of the rate payers. Your collective behavior has been less than honorable and you should remember you are men and not children.
One more thing. Going around the rate payers wishes when they voted Al Gebhart out of the Board and placing him back in, was Old Boy Politics as usual. The obvious choice would have been the ex-G.M. I guess you were guaranteed cooperation with a known vote for the Lewinger agenda. Thank you for allowing me a retort to your embarrassing statements.

Anonymous said...

This blog is from someone who has way too much time on their hands..getalife. Why are you worried about the little things in life? You must have a hidden agenda! You must really have a strong dislike for Mr Lewinger (as many people do). If you don't like what is going on at FPUD, run for the board of directors and fix it. Stop taking the time to blog and write to the Village News. Man up and run for the board ! I will bet you won't, you are more comfortable standing behind Archie McPhee!

get a life

Blue Heron said...

I would like to make a comment. I don't have a horse in this race and my relationship with FPUD has always been excellent. They have gone out of their way to be accountable and understandable with me on several occasions. I appreciate that concerned citizens feel comfortable to use this blog as a forum to say their piece regarding local issues. Get a life, I think that it would be advisable to answer the emailer with facts rather than with emotional responses. Anonymous emailer, I ask that you not used charged invective like Cagey Keith. Let's act like adults. It is also true, at least to me, that Mr. McPhee has thrown some rather wild allegations at the wall over the years to see what sticks. I have talked to experts and engineers about a few of them and they have often turned out to be both outlandish and unsupportable upon inspection. He lost credibility with me many years ago. His letters seem to suggest that he is the last honest man, working against the desperados, the reality is that everyone involved is most probably doing their job in the best way they see fit.

Anonymous said...

Robert ... on the subject of this FPUD tit-for-tat,The Blast is getting sucked into the same whirlpool the Village News did years ago. 2 words: 1). Bore 2). ing!

Michael Cartwright