Valley Water District Loses Yet Another High-Ranking Executive

In the last two and a half years, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has seen CEO Beau Goldie’s forced retirement, ethics director LeeAnn Pelham’s resignation over conflicts of interest and chief administrative officer Jesus Nava’s departure amid allegations of sexual harassment. Now the Golden Spigot has lost yet another high-ranking executive—barely 10 months after her hire. Chief Administrative Officer Susan Stanton, Nava’s short-lived successor, left a little more than a month ago on less-than-amicable terms. Sources inside the district say Stanton, who has yet to respond to phone calls or a text message, butted heads with virtually everyone in her path, including her own secretary. Stanton’s carefully crafted Wikipedia page showed promise. In addition to 30 years of public sector management, the Catskill Mountains native was known as an advocate for transgender acceptance, and featured prominently in a CNN documentary on the subject. Her sex reassignment surgery in 2007 reportedly cost her a city manager gig and thrust her into the national spotlight, landing her interviews with Montel Williams and Larry King, among other TV hosts and journalists. Stanton’s advocacy was apparently a far cry from intersectional, however. Multiple sources say she made racist asides about some of the district’s African American employees, including managerial peer Rick Callender, the district’s external affairs exec who declined to comment. A few of the agency’s critics saw Stanton’s departure as symptom of deeper problems—an understandable assumption, given the district’s history of dysfunction. In emails to Fly, they claim Stanton was looking “too closely” at conflicts of interest involving Melanie Richardson, head of flood control at the district, and procurement and billing irregularities involving contractor RMC Water and Environment, which was previously owned by Richardson’s husband. However, district staffers who spoke with Fly insisted that Stanton had zero authority over RMC work and her problems stemmed from her inability to get along with anyone.

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9 Comments

  1. Rubbish. I worked closely with Susan Stanton. She was was a thoughtful, caring, and ethical person. She never said an ill word about anyone..

  2. I don’t know how you could say that “Susan couldn’t get along with anyone.” This is just not true. Susan was kind to me and many others. She was honest and straight forward which I appreciated.

  3. Never mind the wasted tax dollars and the fact that this agency fails to keep the waterways clear of obstructive debris, trash, and homeless and that they have failed to make improvements that would free thousands of taxpayers from the burden of living in a designated flood zone. All these things are of secondary importance.
    The important thing is that SCVWD is progressive and recognized it’s primary responsibility of serving the transgender community.

  4. > the Catskill Mountains native was known as an advocate for transgender acceptance, and featured prominently in a CNN documentary on the subject. Her sex reassignment surgery in 2007 reportedly cost her a city manager gig . . . .

    Translation: SCVWD is NOT serious about running a water district.

    Just like the NFL and the 49ers are no longer serious about playing football.

  5. Susan Stanton is just too big for the water district. She didn’t quiet fit in with the countywide agency in silicon valley that functions with small town mentality. The fact was that Rick Callendar was instrumental in spreading the rumor all over the district that Susan was racist. That is not true. But that’s Rick’s MO. The point that she had “zero oversight” of RMC contract is incorrect. As the Chief of Administration, she also oversaw all of the water district’s spending, including procurement and consultant contracts. Too bad you have not talked to Susan yet, may be you should contact her attorney who is also serving as her spokesperson. She has remarkable ethics and demosntrates fairness in her dealings with our bargaining units. She didn’t fit in with the tribe of the CEO Norma Camacho, Melanie Richardson and Rick Callendar. She made it worse by making Melanie feel uncomfortable with closer examination of the contracts for the Rinconada water project, the san francisquito creek flood control project, the upper llagas flood control project, and how all these revolve around potential conflicts of interests for Melanie and her husband. These people are squandering public funds for their person gains and the board members don’t seem to care. While Norma appointed her, she did so over the objections of Rick and Melanie. Both of them worked to undermine Susan and seek the board trustees on her. When the trustee turned on Norma, she had to let Susan go. Bottom line, anyone not in the inner circle of Rick and Melanie will not be acceptable to Norma Camacho. Case in point, watch the appointment process for the permanent position of Chief of Flood Control which ends posting this week. There is a mad rush to quietly appoint Melanie to that position during the holidays when no one is watching, following “nationwide search”. These are things that made Susan squirm and caused the “tribe” to engineer her exit.

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