By Renee Rinehart –(Published: Oct. 19, 2017) It was more like a visit to a water park than a meeting of a water district, as the president of the board of Cucharas Sanitation & Water Dist. took customers on another wild ride last Friday morning.
With two of the five board members resigning in the last month, Board President Gerald Van Nort opened the meeting with three directors and asked them to approve the agenda. Board Treasurer Jim Berg questioned the need to move the appointments of new directors to the beginning of the meeting, especially since the board has not accepted the resignations of Art Pierce and Tom Lewis.
Berg read the CS&WD Bylaws regarding order of agenda items, pointing out the item should be under New Business. Van Nort referred to rules from the Special District Association, which says board vacancies may be filled by a director in order to make a quorum, so regular business can be conducted. However, CS&WD has a quorum with the three directors in place.
Berg said, “This is disrespectful to the community, board, public, employees to conduct ourselves this way. We took an oath to uphold the Rules and Regulations and Bylaws.”
Van Nort then claimed he had called the meeting an “Appointment Meeting” at the beginning, although no one in attendance heard him specify a special meeting. When asked if any of the applicants for the board were present, Van Nort answered, “They’re both here.” This drew disagreement from the audience, who accused Van Nort of recruiting candidates Bradley Lemons and Shella Snider, while discounting letters from candidates Jim Littlefield and Jim Alt.
“This is absurd insanity,” Berg said.
Van Nort replied, “I’m doing as I see fit to get board members on.”
The audience was aghast and several spoke out in disagreement with Van Nort. He was accused of recruiting and meeting with board candidates as well as conducting a special meeting without proper posting.
Suddenly Van Nort banged his gavel and said, “Meeting adjourned.” The room went silent.
In the end, Van Nort and Harnly voted in favor of Lemons and Snider, with Berg voting for Alt and Littlefield. Lemons and Snider were then sworn in and joined the meeting.