Water District Takes Typically Passive Steps to Accountability

Almost immediately after Coyote Creek flooded San Jose in February, Mayor Sam Liccardo fell on his sword and admitted that the city failed to alert people in time. The Santa Clara Valley Water District, on the other hand, played defense. The region’s designated flood control agency said it gave the city more than enough time and information for the city to act. Five weeks passed before a water district official—namely board director Linda LeZotte—acknowledged that there was blame to go around. Finally, it seems, a housecleaning of sorts is occurring, as two high-ranking water district officials directly involved in the agency’s flood response are retiring. Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Water Utility Jim Fiedler, the district’s second-in-command, presided over the district’s emergency operations center from 6am to 6pm the day of the flood. He will retire in May after 34 years at the district. Emergency and Security Manager Dale Jacques, who leaves this week after 24 years at the district, acted as the agency’s emergency operations coordinator from midnight to early evening the day of the flood. Under their watch, the district failed to express the urgency of Anderson Dam’s spillover. Of course, the district’s COO of flood control, Melanie Richardson, went on a ski retreat days before the flood, yet she has somehow escaped the slightest of rebukes from interim CEO Norma Camacho and the district board. This courtesy also appears to extend to a long-overdue audit of RMC Water and Environment, a district contractor that was once owned by Richardson’s husband and has been accused of conflicts of interest and improperly billing the district. An $87,000 audit of RMC—launched more than a year after the board ordered one—is taking a superficial look at what went wrong, according to Fly’s sources. The audit will apparently only consider RMC work done from 2009 to the present—omitting a key timeline of work RMC did (or did not do) on flood control dating back to 2000. Sources also say that auditors do not plan to interview district employees who raised alarm bells on RMC’s work.

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  1. Tony Estremera of District-6 seems to be a straight forward and personable elected official of the Santa Clara Valley Water District. He was very forthcoming about the history and limitations imposed on the District in regards to notifying residents (The City’s Job) and as well the cleaning and grubbing of the Coyote creek channel and flood control plans, permits as well as funding or lack there of. Tony has a bus tour of the Anderson Dam this Saturday April 22nd, 2017 if anyone is interested in going. I will be on that bus. Many questions have been raised here and I am for one interested in some answers. On March 13th, 2017 a Monday evening at the Tully Road Library Community Room Tony Estremera and Rick Callender were the guest speakers. I asked a lot of questions. Here are the answers if you are interested:

  2. Yeah. Sam didn’t “fall on the sword” until there was no one left to blame. The day of the late evacuations, he blamed the Fire Department. Didn’t work, so he then pointed at SCVWD… who promptly provided email and call logs that showed the City was given warning well ahead of the flooding. I think it was about that time that Sham started taking responsibility.

    Oh, but wait… the next week he pointed the finger back at SCVWD because only Calendar showed up at his meeting and not a hydrologist. He also put some blame on the City Emergency Director or some title like that.

    Sham Lie-hard-oh falling on a sword… I wish he would!

  3. Now if they could rid the district of bad managers,MISTAKES that tell lies and spread deceitful information, you might have a district. again read the audit 2012, WHICH wonders whynot more lawsuits, and calls out the discrepancy between workers and managers among other items.
    What is sad is the district managers have from day 1 run amok. Myself and others presented proof and information about abuses to the board, ethics, CAO ETC . RESULT MANAGERS WITH FAT PAYCHECKS AND PPL like myself tossed aside.
    view item 1.4 http://scvwd.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=962&meta_id=105359 /

  4. @fly ppl try to tell you and supply you links/documents, and you wonder why the district is like it is? dont print feedback, fine its your rag,,,, only until you dig in the past will you understand why flooding, rmc etc really happens.

  5. Liccardo claimed he lacked authority to declare an emergency. What nonsense.

    The mayor, city manager, fire chief, and police chief all have authority to declare an emergency. Have yet to see a retraction or admission that he “misspoke”.

  6. You get what you vote for.
    Politicians are in it for the power & prestige (and the money they accrue while “serving the public”).
    Once in, they do not care about who voted them in, just how can they win the next election.

  7. Wow,

    Linda how many city council, county boards and get rich water boards do you have to sit on before you retire. You sure must love our tax payer dollars.

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