Front and center, big bold headline on the front page of today’s Sacramento Bee.
Now that LAFCO and the CDPH have taken an interest, the Bee’s coverage of the crime taking place at the RLECWD had graduated from the depths of the opinion and “Our Town” sections to the spotlight.
In the article, Bee writer Robert Lewis says:
“A lawyer and lobbyist whose alleged improprieties previously grabbed headlines statewide is once again the focus of scrutiny, this time for his work at the tiny Rio Linda-Elverta Community Water District.
Three months ago, the water district board approved a contract with attorney Ravi Mehta that includes fees of $305 an hour and a provision potentially requiring the district to pay Mehta hundreds of thousands of dollars if it stops using his services.”
What he doesn’t mention is that the board voted on, ratified, and withdrew about FIVE revisions of Mehta’s contract. Many of the board members voted on contracts that they had only seen moments before. Vivien Spicer-Johnson’s comment leaps to mind. When challenged about having read the contract and voting on it just minutes later, Johnson said “I read fast.”
I can’t fault Mehta. I really can’t. He’s found a group of ignorant, foolhardy, backwater rubes in the water board and he’s making them pay. It’s his golden goose. Show up to referee a few meetings, field a couple of phone calls, bill $305 an hour. I can’t say I’d turn it down. I’m not saying it’s right… I’m just saying I understand. (With all credit due to Chris Rock.)
His association with the district falls squarely on the backs of those who hired him, and the hits just keep on coming. After having been advised by LAFCO not to sign any contracts in the next 30 days, the board extended long term contracts to an accounting service, a consultant, and an unknown, unqualified general manager who unequivocally states that he’s ill equipped for the job and will have to hire an assistant GM who knows something about the industry.
Thankfully the election is over and the votes have been counted, and in what might be a shock to Mary Harris, herself and two others were ousted from the board. The new Caron-Smith-Caron board takes office on December 2nd. Maybe they can restore some respectability in short order but I’m afraid the writing is already on the wall; LAFCO has already had their meeting with Sacramento Suburban water district, and SSWD is making preparations to take over.
So, our long suburban nightmare (knightmare?) is nearly over, but what does this mean for the future of Rio Linda and Elverta?
Take a look at Fair Oaks. Take a look at Florin. Take a look at Arden-Arcade. These are just names now. There’s no sense of place. Small communities swallowed up by suburban sprawl. The Rio Linda Elverta Volunteer Fire District, and the Rio Linda Union School District are gone. Now the Rio Linda Water District is on the precipice. Will the Parks and Rec District be the last domino? We’re being pressed by the city on the south, and the Elverta specific plan on the north.
I’m not ready for a Sacramento address.