Beau Goldie made an unexpected—and extended—goodbye tour last week at the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s offices, and things got more than a little awkward.
Sources at the district said that the former CEO and 31-year district employee popped up three straight days last week, and that he was “acting strangely.” During his multiple drop-ins, Goldie reportedly violated district rules on unsupervised visitors and may have even attempted to influence staff direction on future work.
District spokesman Marty Grimes confirmed Goldie was present Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“Other than to return a laptop,” Grimes said, “we understand the purpose of his visit was to say his goodbyes and express his thanks and encouragement to employees.”
Chief Operating Officer (COO) Norma Camacho expressed concerns about comments Goldie made to staff, according to an internal email sent Friday, and acting CEO Jim Fiedler apparently had to instruct Goldie to stop violating visitor protocol.
Of course, the hype of Goldie’s “retirement/resignation” was so contrived it’s possible he thought he was still running the show.
Since his last day on Jan. 15, it’s been reported that Goldie received a six-month severance package of more than $152,000, according to the Mercury News. Sick pay, vacation time and benefits bump that up to roughly $278,000, and that’s in addition to the $236,000 annual pension he’s expected to receive.
According to an internal email sent out Friday on behalf of COO Camacho, Goldie made staff and the board of directors uncomfortable with his lingering presence.
“Acting CEO Jim Fiedler reported there were concerns expressed by some staff, as well as the Board, that former CEO Beau Goldie had been in various locations throughout district facilities. He said he has spoken to Beau, and normal security protocol should be followed.”
Goldie’s discussions with staff allegedly included disparaging comments about the board, as well as giving instructions to staff working on recycled water projects.
The latter item is especially worrisome considering Goldie and his colleagues have been accused—by district employees—of conflicts of interest and violating rules in expediting contracts with RMC Water and Environment on an $800 million recycled water treatment plant.
In the final months of his tenure as CEO, Goldie remained steadfast that all contracts and district protocols were followed in relation to RMC work, which is owned in part by Tom Richardson, the spouse of district administrator Melanie Richardson.
However, San Jose Inside has published multiple reports, citing internal documents and emails, which suggest or explicitly state the opposite of Goldie’s contention.
One recently discovered document from April 2011, written by senior district counsel Leslie Orta, states that Melanie Richardson had a clear conflict of interest related to RMC while overseeing procurement for the district. It also states that she would continue to have a conflict of interest in her role in charge of watershed projects unless an ethical wall was created. As of last year, Melanie Richardson was still providing performance evaluations for district staff working on RMC projects.
In another memo from September 2014, Orta wrote that Goldie broke district rules in bypassing board approval to amend and increase contracts with RMC. The district has claimed that Orta’s opinion was incorrect in this matter, although that decision was made by Goldie and lead district counsel Stan Yamamoto, and they came to this conclusion without drafting a single document to clarify this legal opinion.
Meanwhile, the district is expected to carry out an independent audit of all RMC work, while a separate inquiry—authorized by Goldie—is currently trying to identify employees who blow the whistle on what they see as inappropriate conduct within the district.
According to contracts obtained through a Public Records Act request, an amended agreement signed last spring with special investigator Rebecca A. Spear authorizes up to $25,000 of work.
This story has been updated.