GRASS VALLEY, Calif. October 11, 2018 – Tuesday night (October 9) I had a memorable theater experience. I was reminded of the shocking shredding of the recently-auctioned Banksy art piece that self-destructed after the closing of the sale. NID hosted a Special Board Meeting at the capacious Grass Valley Veterans Memorial building, ostensibly to take action on two items regarding our community’s water future. Ineffectively facilitated/moderated by NID-contracted counsel Andrew McClure, the meeting failed to build the bridge of trust that NID claims to desire. The agenda consisted of only two items—consideration of a South Yuba River Citizens League-sponsored resolution1 to cease expenditures and activities related to the Centennial water storage project until the completion and acceptance of the new NID raw water master plan, and a resolution2 to suspend Resolution3 2014-43. Back in August 2014, the NID Board of Directors unanimously passed Resolution 2014-43 after a closed session and with no public input. Resolution 2014-43 authorized the “application for water rights for diversion, storage and use of water of the Bear River”. Thus began the NID quest for construction of the Centennial Dam.
On Tuesday, neither of the publicly noticed resolutions passed. After a 30-minute presentation by Melinda Booth, SYRCL’s Executive Director, NID responded with a mind-numbing parade of staff-led presentations with text-dense slides purporting to address and rebut SYRCL’s criticisms. The NID show dragged on for over an hour, addressing only the first seven of SYRCL’s 10-point list of supporting evidences for the requested Centennial “pause”. Director Scott Miller then interrupted the in-progress staff report and offered up a brand new third resolution, in the “spirit of compromise” which de-railed any decorum or order for the meeting.
As the Board of Directors’ decorative blue and white table skirts sagged and eventually fell to the floor, the third resolution eventually passed by a split vote of the current NID board. I have yet to obtain a copy of this new resolution—NID staff attempts to publicly display the language of the new resolution were largely unsuccessful, and there was no substantive Board discussion, nor opportunity for public comment.
In fact, after advising the audience members at the beginning of the meeting that they would not be held to the typical three minute limit for public comments, after NID’s lengthy and off the target staff presentations, Mr. McClure informed us that we had to vacate the hall by 8:30 p.m. Two lines of energized community members urgently crowded to the two microphones, to ask questions and submit opinions, only to be abruptly dismissed, as the confusion of actions, order of commentary, resolution status (“courtesy motions”, followed by lack of a second) and break down of meeting protocols soon generated an atmosphere of anger and betrayal.
Shouts erupted, police presence came to the fore, and cries to extend the meeting, were ignored.
Clearly, if NID was trying to educate the community, clear up mis-understandings, and justify their actions to further the construction of Centennial Dam over the last four years, they failed miserably last night. The choice to squander community interest and good will with a sham of a special meeting was ill-advised.
NID now has to deal with a growing hostile and betrayed public as it shifts gears from having Centennial front and center to the newly announced and funded Raw Water Master Plan. The new plan no doubt will address many questions that should have been informing NID’s actions all along—how much water is required for NID customers? How much water is available? How can the NID water supply be secured in light of future uncertainties of drought, rainfall, snowpack and climate change?
NID says the Raw Water Master Plan will be a 24-month process, informed and supported by substantive community and public inputs. After last night’s debacle, I wonder what brave souls will volunteer their time and expertise and energies to advance this important endeavor. While many have noted that Centennial was very much placing the cart (dam project) in front of the horse (demonstrated need and fiscal feasibility), the Raw Water Master Plan may be a valid attempt to remedy that unfortunate order. I am an optimist. But I am not a fool. Last night’s theater performance, gave me chills of premonition, and not in a good way. I wish NID the best, but the meeting last night did not demonstrate that NID is giving us their best.
(Note NID’s incorrect attribution of the South Yuba River Citizens League (“Sierra Yuba River”, and the incorrect Resolution number (2017-26) incorporated in NID’s proposed Resolution 2018-27, which was publicly noticed, but never discussed nor acted upon.)
1NID Board Resolution 2018-26
SIERRA (sic) YUBA RIVER CITIZENS LEAGUE’S REQUEST TO CEASE ALL EXPENDITURES AND ACTIVITIES RELATED TO THE FURTHERANCE OF THE PROPOSED CENTENNIAL WATER STORAGE PROJECT OR ANY OTHER WATER STORAGE PROJECT ON THE BEAR RIVER
“NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The Board hereby directs staff to cease, to the extent legally possible, all actions, expenditures, analysis, promotion, further information dissemination, or discussion in the furtherance of the proposed Centennial Water Storage Project, or any other water storage project involving the Bear River until the Raw Water Master Plan, authorized on April 25, 2018 under resolution 2018-09, is complete and accepted by vote of the Board.
2Resolution No. 2018-27
of the Board of Directors of the Nevada Irrigation District
SUSPENSION OF RESOLUTION 2014-43 (AUTHORIZING APPLICATION FOR THE WATER RIGHTS FOR DIVERSION, STORAGE AND USE OF WATER OF THE BEAR RIVER)
WHEREAS, the Nevada Irrigation District Board of Directors adopted Resolution 2017-26 (Sierra Yuba River Citizens League’s Request to Cease All Expenditures and Activities Related to the Furtherance of the Proposed Centennial Water Storage Project or any Other Water Storage Project on the Bear River) which resulted in contradictory direction pertaining to Resolution 2014-43 (Authorizing Application for The Water Rights for Diversion, Storage and Use of Water of the Bear River).
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, this Resolution Suspends Resolution 2014-43.
PASSED AND ADOPTED by the Board of Directors of the Nevada Irrigation District at a special meeting held on the 9th day of October 2018, by the following vote:
___________________________________ President of the Board of Directors
3 Resolution 2014-43:
The NID Special Bored meeting was one of the strangest public meetings I have attended. Melinda Booth’s presentation was comprehensive and articulate, balanced and informative, collaborative, expansive, and very thorough. (and only 30 minutes long) This is one of the best presentations I have seen. What a great summary of the situation and a positive path forward.
Next came NID’s turn; they really know how to put the bored in a Board meeting. During the next hour of tangents and minutia including slides of demolished trailers, people were turning to one another wondering what they were talking about and why. More than half of the standing room only crowd got up and left. I was standing so I went out to the lobby and watched a steady stream walk out. Most people seemed confused and disappointed. NID finally said they were finished (although they apparently still had 3 more points to refute) followed by NID Board comment which was nothing. After that with only 45 minutes left, the long suffering public who had waited through the long lifeless and confusing NID presentation had their turn. Well maybe 20 people had a turn, the dozens left waiting in line, who wanted to be heard badly enough to stay until the end were cut off. This included 2 Nisenan tribal representatives.
At this point, our hand waving friend, Director Miller, breaks in. How do you portray CHAOS? This is what Scott Miller brings. He suggests instead of voting the resolution on the agenda they bring in this phony status quo “compromise” and vote on it. (fyi *the budget for Centennial is 2 million per year through 2023 except for 2019 where it was 1.5 million. So the “compromise’ was actually an increase.) It may be that this “spontaneous” drama was preplanned. A few people report a typed up copy of the “spontaneous” resolution. Not surprising.
Well as a matter of Order, the original resolution, which was the whole point of the “special” meeting still needed to be dealt with. So Director Wilcox arrogantly suggested a “courtesy” motion that died along with the chance to heal the divide and proceed with a fair and open Program Planning Analysis (RWMP).
I guess they approved what they were already doing. Buying up property and destroying the real estate market while spreading public money like Fairy Dust. It made absolutely no sense; another NID waste of money, time, and public good will.
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