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By Brian Hews
HMG-CN has learned that the Central Basin Municipal Water District Board of Directors, in a closed meeting tomorrow, will discuss General Manager Kevin Hunt’s future employment status with the Commerce based water agency.
The agenda states “Public Employee Performance Evaluation Title: General Manager. Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release (Pursuant to Government Code section 54954.5(e), no additional information is required in connection with a closed session to consider discipline, dismissal, or release of a public employee.)”
The next item states, “Public Employee Appointment Title of Position to be filled: Interim General Manager.”
HMG-CN has been told it will only require three votes to put Hunt on administrative leave, four to outright dismiss him.
If there are three votes, the Board can bring in a temporary GM and later hire a full-time GM. The temporary GM cannot be considered for the full-time position.
If there are four votes, Hunt will be dismissed and the Board can hire a new GM immediately.
It was reported exclusively by HMG-CN last week that former Central Basin Municipal Water District (CB) employee Ron Beilke filed an injunction against his former employer that effectively halted the election of three new director positions created by recent legislation.
AB 1794 (Garcia) was signed into law in September 2016 with the intent to reform the CB Board amid charges of mismanagement, corruption, and “Board dysfunction.”
AB 1794 directed Hunt to notify the agencies water purveyors of a 60-day period that CB will accept nominations for appointment of individuals to the CB Board of Directors.
Water Purveyors are defined in the legislation as cities, & small and large pumpers.
After the appointment of the three additional directors, the CB Board would function with eight directors until reapportionment would reduce the number of Districts from 5 to 4.
The CB Board would then consist of seven directors; four elected by area residents and three appointed by water purveyors.
The seven member Board would become effective in November 2022.
The law did not go into effect until January 2017, but sources inside CB told HMG-CN that Hunt started looking immediately after the bill was signed in September 2016.
Only nine candidate names, from a universe of hundreds of names, were submitted for the three director positions.
That Hunt started looking earlier to “pack the board” as Beilke put it in his injunction, could be one of the reasons Hunt could be put on leave or dismissed.
CB is scheduled to announce the director appointments on February 22nd, 2017 with new directors installed sometime in April 2017.
Beilke told HMG-CN, “I was very concerned that (CB General Manager) Kevin Hunt was rushing to appoint three directors that he had hand-picked in order seat directors who he controlled” Beilke stated. “These directors will be Hunt’s bosses, so if the GM is allowed to select his bosses, that is a clear conflict of interest.”
CB Board President Phil Hawkins commented “I was very concerned that the GM was rushing the process and was not keeping the Board apprised, and I informed the GM of that. I was afraid that constituents would complain and I was right.”
CB Board Director Art Chacon stated “I spoke to several of the cities I represent and they had no idea that this election was even happening. In fact, they have not yet been informed of who the candidates are, or given any information of their qualifications. And we’re supposed to announce the winners in a week? It doesn’t make sense. We need to have an independent review of the legislation to make sure the process is fair and transparent.”
The meeting will be tomorrow at 10 a.m. at Central Basin located at 6252 Telegraph Road, Commerce, CA 90040.
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