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Woodbridge Sanitary District story needs rebuttal

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Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:02 am, Thu Oct 18, 2012.

I am responding to your cover story entitled "Grand Jury praises Woodbridge Sewer District for improvements," dated Thursday, Sept. 27. The article references a 2011 Grand Jury investigative report; WSD's September 2011 response; and the Grand Jury's June 2012 follow-up report.

Your article presents multiple falsehoods, which merit rebuttal and correction. Specifically, statements attributed to Mia Brown, the district's outside legal counsel, demand response.

Ms. Brown states, "The Grand Jury didn't find a smoking gun," and "It certainly was not what the initial complaint made it out to be." Yet the Grand Jury's investigation confirmed all but one of the allegations lodged against WSD. As quoted, "the Grand Jury found a lack of policies, procedures, Board oversight and mismanagement, including payroll fraud and fiscal mismanagement," and "records for plant operation and reporting purposes were falsified."

Ms. Brown further states, "We've responded to all of the allegations and implemented or have drafted forms (for procedures) in regards to everything recommended." Yet WSD's response lacked any external audit of its operations, nor was its response inclusive of any input, review and/or approval from its entire board of directors. Thus, lacking any accountability, WSD's response dismissed most allegations as being unfounded, or without admitting guilt, simply pledged to make improvements.

One such allegation by the Grand Jury states "Relatives were hired and paid more per hour than other district laborers." WSD's one-line response states, "The district's personnel manual does not allow for the hiring of relatives of present employees." Yet the General Manager's son posts on his LinkedIn profile of his WSD affiliation/experience of "oversight of daily plant operations," among several other organizational initiatives. This contradiction is but one of several anomalies in which WSD's response distorts the facts and truth.

Finally, Ms. Brown states, "The initial complaint was made by an unhappy individual." This seemingly dismisses the complaint as simply precipitated by some vendetta; the resulting Grand Jury investigation unwarranted; its findings erroneous; and WSD's management and operations as honest, transparent and in full compliance. Unfortunately, WSD's distortion of the truth makes it a poster child of an organization which continues to misuse and abuse our public trust.

Charles Stocker


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