As the eyes of the world focus on tonight’s election results, a multi-million dollar decision affecting Silicon Valley’s flood protection will almost assuredly go overlooked.
And it appears that’s exactly the way the Santa Clara Valley Water District wants it.
This is the same RMC that the board has yet to audit—even though they authorized one more than a year ago—after a series of reports identified multiple conflicts of interests. These conflicts include: the former CEO rushing a contract with RMC without going out for bid; claims of improper billing practices; a lack of paperwork when discussing legal issues; and contract extensions that were identified by an in-house attorney as violating District bylaws.
Let’s also not forget that all of this led to the resignation of former District CEO Beau Goldie.
Norma Camacho, the District’s acting CEO, was one of the few District staffers aware of Goldie’s improper actions. Now she’s one of the people pushing to give RMC more money. She also appointed Melanie Richardson—who is married to one of RMC’s principal owners and used to oversee RMC business—to her prior position as acting chief operating officer.
“I talked with Norma about [Tuesday’s agenda item] yesterday, and obviously I’m not very happy,” board director Barbara Keegan told San Jose Inside on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a large amount and a large amount that the contract has gone up—I don’t like seeing that whether it’s RMC or not.”
Staff has suggested a $5.2 million extension for RMC to continue work on Upper Llagas Creek flood protection near Morgan Hill. This would increase the cost of the project by roughly 50 percent, and project manager Katherine Oven recommended that it receive all of five minutes of discussion before getting the board’s blessing.
District spokesman Marty Grimes told San Jose Inside that staff did not take the election into account when planning the agenda, and a contract extension is perfunctory since no other firm would be willing to oversee a project designed by RMC.
A summary of amendments shows that former District CEO Goldie gave RMC a one-year extension to its contract on Dec. 28, 2015. This extension expires at the end of this year, meaning there would be no negative impact by deferring a decision to a day when people will be paying closer attention to lucrative water contracts.
UPDATE: The board voted 5-2 to approve the contract extension, with directors Barbara Keegan and Gary Kremen opposing the motion.