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North San Joaquin Water Conservation District citizens call for Bryan Pilkington’s removal

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Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 11:55 am, Wed Jun 29, 2011.

Citizens of the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District are so fed up with the board's chairman that they are strongly considering hiring lawyers out of their own pocket to remove him.

"This needs to stop," said Toni Miller, a constituent of the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District about the board's chairman, Bryan Pilkington. "He can't keep running the district into the ground."

Miller was one of multiple audience members who spoke out about the absent chairman at Monday evening's regular board meeting, which did not have a quorum because only two board members appeared. Without a quorum, the board could not take action on a myriad of outstanding issues, including an update to its annual budget and whether or not to pursue delinquent groundwater charges.

As rancor grew among the audience, Denise Wamerdam, another audience member, recommended organizing a fundraiser with the intention of hiring a legal firm to potentially remove Pilkington as chairman. Miller quickly passed around a legal pad that gathered roughly 15 signatures.

Despite not being able to take action, directors Mark Beck and Joe Petersen, who attended the meeting, talked with the audience of more than 40 about issues facing the district — specifically its lack of finances.

If current trends continue, the district, which has about $90,000 to its name right now, could be $162,000 in the red by January.

"If by the end of this year we don't get our act together, we will be in trouble," Petersen said.

The agenda for Monday's meeting featured an item to take action on updating the annual budget, as well as pursuing delinquent groundwater charges as a way of recouping funds, but no action could be taken since not enough board members were present.

Beck and Petersen told the audience that one way the district could regain financial footing is if the people with outstanding groundwater charges from 2007-08 and 2008-09 would pay. Roughly 23 percent of the district's ratepayers, nearly 100 entities, have not paid the charge. The total amount owed the district from those individuals totals nearly $300,000. Both Vice President Hugh Scanlon and director Marden Wilbur are among the people who owe the district.

"Seventy-three percent of people paid the fee, whether they agreed with it or not," Petersen said. "It's not fair to them that the others didn't pay their share."

Both Beck and Petersen said Pilkington did not attend Monday's meeting as part of a stalling tactic to prevent the district from moving forward. He was absent Monday because he did not want to address issues they had put on the agenda items at a previous meeting Pilkington was also missing from, both men said.

After the meeting, Beck voiced strong criticism about the chairman.

"He's already said in a previous public meeting he wants to bankrupt the district," Beck said. "Everything he supports — hiring a new legal team and accounting firm and having a full-scale audit — is about spending. He has nothing on the revenue-generating aspect; that's because he wants to bankrupt the district."

While discouraged, Beck said the issues on Monday's agenda will need to be addressed at next month's meeting before any other agenda items are added.

Scanlon and Wilbur were the other directors who did not attend Monday's session. Scanlon had previously said he would be on vacation and unable to attend, while Wilbur and Pilkington did not return calls seeking comment. The district's next meeting is July 25. The time and location have not yet been announced.

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com.

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  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:43 am on Wed, Jun 29, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    It was Mr. Somera, a Lodi area resident. He was termed out just this past year. I think he's a retired Lodi police officer, and reputed to be a very good one at that.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 7:14 am on Wed, Jun 29, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    Doug, who is the foreman of the Grand Jury from Lodi? I went to the website and found only two members from Lodi and the foreman being the retired parks and recreation director from Stockton. Am I reading that wrong?

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:15 pm on Tue, Jun 28, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    I support that this dysfunctional group stop fingerpointing and blaming others for the problems that some of these same board members have created themsleves. Where is the outside private auditor that is needed to straighten out the financial mess going all the way back to when Fred Weybret was chairman of this board and it was just a bully pulpit, rumor goes, and the free wheeling and unaccounted for spending was never accounted for and many assumptions were made that a large amount of funds were plain taken or misspent and no records ever kept. I now put myself in a neutral position on this dysfunctional group, Mr. Pilkington included, and the only solution I see for this disoriented group is to realize that the good old boys dominance is not a ruling factor in good old Lodi anymore and the bullying, name calling and finger pointing are going nowhere. As a Lodi resident that resides in this dysfunctional districts' boundaries whose city tax monies pay some of that wasted purported $200,000 the city of Lodi still donates of our taxpayers' money even after the pumping tax was declared illegal, I've attended one meeting and was ashamed that they even call themselves a board. This board could care less about the smaller ag farmers in their district and until they are treated like the good old boys with the winegrapes and crops growing on every spare acre they can beg, borrow steal, lease or buy there will never be any forward progress. It seems their only solution is to hire consultants who can meet and talk seriously and actually think and solve problems instead of screaming out of turn, blaming others, finger pointing, bullying and continue conducting meetings that go absolutely nowhere. Maybe the grand jury didn't scrutinize the right parties when they conducted their "thorough" investigation, with a Lodi good old boy as the grand jury "chairman" that seemed to avoid stepping on any toes of anyone with an influential position or name.

  • roy bitz posted at 9:22 pm on Tue, Jun 28, 2011.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    I am extremely interested in area water issues and have attended several NSJCWCD meetings in order to learn about area water resources and issues.
    I have listened to Mr. Pilkington's presentations and goofy comments.
    In my view, Mr. Pilkington has proven to be a "useful idiot".
    His "bombastic behavior" has brought attention to the fact that significant area water rights---20,000 acre feet of water annually (in wet years)-- could be lost. if the district cannot get it's act together---cannot develop a plan to use these precious water rights.
    I support Mr. Beck and Mr.Peterson in their efforts to preserve area water rights.

  • Casey Orndorf posted at 6:28 pm on Tue, Jun 28, 2011.

    Casey Orndorf Posts: 8

    Let's slow down here. One of the board members apparently announced that he would be on vacation this week. Everyone is entitled to a vacation. One can hardly hold HIM responsible for the absence of the others. Especially in this economy, if you have the wherwithal to schedule a vacation, you go or you lose deposits.

    The alleged grandstanding of one of the other members is a different story entirely. But to brush the entire board with such a broad brush is just as irresponsible as the actions of those holding up the meetings.

  • phillip montgomery posted at 1:47 pm on Tue, Jun 28, 2011.

    phillip montgomery Posts: 8

    I went to this meeting last night and I have to say that I felt like I was slapped in the face by the absence of 3 of our duly elected board members ie: Bryan Pilkington,Hugh Scanlon, and Mehrten Wilbur. These individuals didn't have the time to do their job resulting in a non-quorum. Even though 50 +/- constituents took their time for this meeting these fellows did not. I want to thank Joe Petersen and Mark Beck for doing their job and taking the time to address all of the people that did show up. To the other 3 fellows: your election to this board is a travesty and I hope Mrs. Miller's petition gains some steam. I don't care if you do or don't support taxes on groundwater but I sure as hell care that my elected officials take the time to show up for scheduled meetings.



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