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North San Joaquin Water Conservation District board mulls replacing Bryan Pilkington

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Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2011 6:21 am | Updated: 12:12 pm, Fri Jul 8, 2011.

Bryan Pilkington may not be chairman of the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District much longer.

After missing a second consecutive district meeting without notifying directors he would be absent, the remaining four directors voted 3-1 on Wednesday evening to consider appointing a new chairman at the next meeting. Director Marden Wilbur voted against the motion.

Pilkington’s possible removal as chairman was only one of multiple items discussed at a nearly four-hour meeting for the district. Delinquent groundwater charges, the status of multiple grants and the potential hiring of a new legal adviser were other topics the board addressed in front of a crowd of 40 at the Liberty Fire Station.

When one member of the public noted the meeting did not have a circus-like atmosphere like previous sessions, director Joe Petersen offered a theory as to why.

“The circus ringleader is not here,” he said.

The board moved closer to accepting one grant and walking away from another, but is no closer to deciding whether it will move forward in collecting money that is technically owed to it. While the board unanimously approved ending its CALFED project if it can retain control of  infrastructure connected to it, and extending an offer to a Turlock attorney who will guide them through the Tracy Lakes project, it deadlocked on whether or not to send letters to district residents who are delinquent on groundwater charges.

Board members Petersen and Mark Beck voted in favor of the motion, while Hugh Scanlon and Marden Wilbur voted against. Scanlon and Wilbur were chided by audience members who felt they should have recused themselves from the vote because they owe the district money related to the charges. Scanlon owes the district less than $100, and a family trust in the name of Wilbur’s wife owes roughly $9,000.

“From what I just saw, I hope your insurance has good errors and omissions coverage,” said Bill Stokes, chairman of the Woodbridge Irrigation District. “If you owe back taxes, you guys just made huge mistake.”

CALFED project to end?

The district also will determine if it will walk away from a federal grant project designed to put water into the ground and then deposit it into the river in dry years.

Beck said the district can walk away from the Bureau of Reclamation’s grant without any hard feelings from the federal government, because the project was essentially a shot in the dark for both sides.

The board voted unanimously to end participation with the CALFED project if the district had confirmation in writing that it would retain control of the pump station, fish screen and point of diversion associated with the project.

The CALFED recharge project, located on the north side of the Mokelumne River, replenishes more than 1,000 acre-feet of groundwater annually, but most of that groundwater migrates to the north rapidly, Beck said. Continuing the project would mean the district would incur heavy pumping costs associated with the project.

The more suitable option, Beck said, is to give the earmarked funds — almost $150,000 — back to the government so they can distribute it to another grant project. 

Legal counsel/Tracy Lakes project update

Directors announced they will offer the position of district’s legal counsel to Roger Masuda, of Turlock, today. If he accepts, Masuda will be asked to help the district pursue the Tracy Lakes grant with the Bureau of Reclamation.

The board also approved a motion to spend $3,500 pursuing the grant project.

The plan centers around farmers who would draw water from the temporary lake throughout the year, instead of pumping from the ground like they currently do. Proponents say it benefits everyone in the region because it would help the district keep its water right and reduce water being pumped from the ground. Growers and grant money would fund the construction of the infrastructure.

The federal government approved a $300,000 grant for the project in June, but the district needs to make final arrangements before accepting the funds.

Directors voted unanimously to send letters to San Joaquin County, Woodbridge Irrigation District, Stockton East Water District, East Bay Municipal Utilities District and the city of Lodi “respectfully inviting them to cooperate in the project.”

Board to reach out to public

While the district’s water right technically expired last year, it applied for an extension in December and can continue to operate as normal until the State Water Resources Control Board rules on its petition for extension.

One way the district can help maintain its water right, Petersen said, is to address the myriad of protests from individuals against its water right.

“We have petitions currently against our water right and we as a board need to look at those petitions and ask those people for help,” he said. “We need to tell them: ‘Your protests are standing in the way.’”

There are roughly 18 protests from private citizens, but many of them are canned statements that read exactly the same, he said. Pilkington is believed to have written up the statements and given them to constituents to sign.

Educating those protesters that the issues they complained about are no longer valid could go a long way towards rebuilding the district’s image and helping it retain its water right, Petersen said.

A common issue cited in the protests was the concept that district water could be sold to Stockton. Since the district amended its petition to keep water within district borders last year, the issue is no longer a valid argument, Petersen said.

The board voted unanimously to work together and approach constituents to remove their protests, providing that the district keep its place of use within its boundaries.

When the district voted to amend its petition and not sell water to Stockton, Pilkington was the only vote against the motion, even though he filed a protest with the state over the proposal to sell water to the city.

Scanlon also has a petition against the district with the state, but said he would remove his filing if the state  gave him confirmation his issues were resolved.

The district’s next meeting is July 25 at 6 p.m. at the Lodi Public Library’s Community Room.

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com.

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  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:12 pm on Sun, Jul 10, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Why hasn't the longtime board chairman of the NSJWCD ever been questioned? I suppose if you're one of the original good old boys, you can do no wrong? His name is nary mentioned and he knew, more than likely, every move and financial deal that ever went on all those dysfunctional board appointees, appointed by other good ol' boys board appointees also, that made substantial personal gains for the chosen few, both above board and otherwise, word goes.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:08 pm on Sun, Jul 10, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    baxter, quite some bitter words from an imposter.

  • roy bitz posted at 9:06 pm on Fri, Jul 8, 2011.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    Area water resources consern me.
    I have attended several NSJWCD meetings to learn more about area water resources.
    NSJWCD has options for 20,000 acre feet of river water every "wet year" which could be taken away by the State of California or East Bay Municipal District unless the district can use the water. The loss of this water would effect the entire area.
    Again, I have attended many meetings and observed Mr. Pilkington's silly and unprofessional
    It seems Mr. Pilkington is using his position on the board for personal or political reasons---that he does not really care if the district and the area loses this option for river water.
    Again, I have gone to the meetings and observered Mr. Pilkington in actiion. In my opinion his behavior at these meetings has been reprehensible---bombastic---devicive.
    If he succeeds in his efforts to bankrupt the district we all loose.

  • Joe Baxter posted at 2:49 pm on Fri, Jul 8, 2011.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1795

    Montgomery: "Chaney, I have read your posts before and always thought you were extremely ignorant, paranoid, and bitter."
    Very perceptive Mr. Montgomery. Your observations are very correct.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 11:05 am on Fri, Jul 8, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    Doug, there's a good reason the Grand Jury hasn't done anything with this organization.......there's nothing there. Don't you think if your buddy Pilkington could find something he could nail previous Board members with he would have done that by now? This guy has been totally ineffective and now he's tired of it. I'm sorry he's had health issues but if he were thinking of those he represents he would have gotten off that board months ago. It's time he starts taking care of himself the be replace with someone who is going to take the position seriously. These guys are the laughing stock of the County.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:14 pm on Thu, Jul 7, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    I wouldn't pay those crooks, either. You call them criminals, yet they haven't been tried and convicted of any crime that I know of. Mr. Jackson, just keep on crying and whining, that's what you're best at. Audit those books and show us the numbers and where all those funds seem to have disappeared all those years and who the parties, employees and board members, mainly the long term chairman for years, were who squandered large amounts of money without proper paperwork, receipts or ledger records and who just gave jobs to their favorite entity, sometimes rumored to be even themselves, without a bid process or or any accountability. So you two say it's OK to let those thieves slide over millions of dollars and you're worried about an illegal tax and a paltry few thousand dollars? Surely you two fit right into the good old boys mold. Like watching ol' Bozz Hawgs and the Dukes of Hazzard?

  • Jackson Scott posted at 12:54 pm on Thu, Jul 7, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    Montgomery: "Chaney, I have read your posts before and always thought you were extremely ignorant, paranoid, and bitter."

    Me: "Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!"

    What is even funnier is that Doug used to go by the moniker "Taxpayer & Citizen." Now he is in support of not paying taxes & screwing the district. He must be off his meds.

    In his next post Chaney will somehow tie the Water Board in with the Lodi City Council, The Good Ol Boys of Lodi, The Three Ayemeegos, and how DUI checkpoints are useless.

  • phillip montgomery posted at 12:28 pm on Thu, Jul 7, 2011.

    phillip montgomery Posts: 8

    Chaney, I have read your posts before and always thought you were extremely ignorant, paranoid, and bitter. This is the first time I have ever directly addressed you because I never cared enough. Those "taxes" were actually determined to be quite legal during the 2007-2009 water season. They were blocked by the voters of this district after that time frame, and the court has ruled and upheld the legality of the taxes during that time frame, they are only illegal from here on out basically. The district can't collect them though because the majority of the board (Pilkington, Scanlon, Wilbur) wants to forgive the debt of criminals who didn't pay or at least refuses to take action on them. Im not sure if you paid your tax Chaney but I am surprised that even you would think that its ok to not pay your taxes then get voted onto a board and vote to not collect delinquent taxes you owe. That would seem like the GOB type cronyism you are always denouncing. As for the audit, collect the taxes owed and I wouldn't mind seeing it myself, unfortunately the district is broke, moslty due to Pilkingtons lawsuit.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 11:44 am on Thu, Jul 7, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Montgomery, those "taxes" were considered illegal, weren't they? Why don't Scanlon and Wilbur insist on a complete audit of the books of the dysfunctional past boards to see who bilked or wasted the district funds all these years? Maybe when Mr. Pilkington returns, if they don''t fire him, Scabnlon, Wilbur and Pilkington can call for a vote for a full audit of the books for the last twenty years, at least, by an independant outside auditor, and not by the generic auditors who only audit books by the numbers given them by the party being audited?

  • phillip montgomery posted at 10:38 am on Thu, Jul 7, 2011.

    phillip montgomery Posts: 8

    Shame on you Mr. Wilbur and Mr. Scanlon! You owe it to the constituents of this district to do 1 of 2 things, eIther: A) Aggressively go after the criminals who didn't pay their taxes (the category you both fall into) or B) Start seriously thinking and discussing ways obtaining revenue to repay the law abiding citizens who paid their taxes.

    You both seem to want to have your cake and eat it too. You don't pay your taxes, somehow get elected to this board and then vote to do nothing about the minority of criminals who also didn't pay their taxes. Your actions are twice criminal!

    As for getting rid of Pilkington, all I can say is..... about f'n time!



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