Bryan Pilkington will remain president of the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District.
In a 2-2 vote by the board of directors Monday evening, Director Joe Petersen’s motion to replace Pilkington with Mark Beck as chairman was defeated. Beck seconded the motion, but Marden Wilbur and Hugh Scanlon voted against it. Pilkington, who was present at the meeting but did not officially attend because he said the session was illegal prior to it being called to order, did not vote on the issue.
Petersen said he wanted to replace Pilkington as president due to what he feels is a lack of progress and communication on the board.
“There’s an extreme conflict at every meeting he attends,” Petersen said. “He promised financial accountability when he became chairman; it’s almost August and he has not provided that to the public.”
Directors Scanlon and Wilbur said they believe the reason for the motion was due to personal conflicts and disagreements between constituents, rather than due to any wrongdoing.
“Pilkington has his own method of working and operating the board,” Scanlon said. “There’s no reason for this motion other than personality conflicts and audience members not liking Mr. Pilkington.”
The goal of the motion was not to remove Pilkington from the board completely, Petersen said, but rather to find a chairman who is less divisive.
“Pilkington doesn’t return my phone calls, and I’ve handed him documents in public meetings that I want put on future agendas and he doesn’t do it,” Petersen said. “He’s also missed the last three meetings, counting this one.”
While Pilkington attended Monday’s meeting and sat at the table with the rest of the board, he barely spoke the entire time and did not vote on any issues.
Prior to the meeting being called to order, Pilkington argued the meeting was illegal because he didn’t receive an agenda or consulted about any item on it. He delayed calling the meeting to order for more than 15 minutes as audience members argued with each other and the board about the situation.
Scanlon, the vice president, called the meeting to order at 6:15 p.m.
The argument centered around the timing of the meeting, which was scheduled in accordance with the district’s recently approved policy manual. Pilkington’s argument for the time of the meetings came from the district’s previous manual, which was updated and approved in March.
Pilkington did not attend the session in which the new policy was approved due to health complications.
The district’s new legal counselor, Roger Masuda, said the meeting’s timing and agenda did not conflict with any laws for open meetings and was legal.
Pilkington quickly said that Masuda had not yet been retained, prompting audience member Steve Raddigan to say, “Oh, he’s going to fire you too.”
The district’s previous legal firm, Herum Crabtree, was fired in March after serving the district for 11 years.
Directors also discussed the Tracy Lake project, which would combine federal grant money and private investments to use 2,000 acre-feet of district water, but no action was taken.
Masuda recommended creating an improvement district, which would defer costs to residents in a certain area who would receive the most benefit from the project. Grant funds will pay for about 35 percent of the project, private investment is required to pay for the remaining $550,000, he said.
He also recommended the board of directors allow Herum Crabtree, which is working with the private investors, to coordinate their clients’ efforts for the project.
“I don’t see it as being efficient to spend money to bring me up to speed on it,” he said.
The motion for a consent waiver would dissolve any potential conflicts of interest between the district, the law firm and private investors.
The motion passed unanimously before the meeting was concluded at 9 p.m.
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at email@example.com.