Thursday, June 2, 2011
Taxation without representation was a central concern during the Board of Supervisors’ May 24 debate over a Monterey County Water Resources Agency board seat. Oddly, it was invoked in arguments both for and against the appointment of Soledad Mayor Fred Ledesma.
The supes were considering who should replace former Soledad mayor Richard Ortiz, who lost his re-election bid last November. Their choices, as recommended by the Mayor Select Committee: Ledesma and Pacific Grove Mayor Carmelita Garcia.
Supervisor Lou Calcagno made a case for letting Ortiz ride out the rest of the year. “I don’t think we should be changing a mayor mid-stream,” he said. But when his motion to take no action stalled, he backed Ledesma.
Almost all of MCWRA’s revenue comes from Salinas Valley assessments, Calcagno argued, so it’s appropriate to appoint a board member from the South County rather than the Peninsula.
“It isn’t fair to the taxpayers of the Salinas Valley to end up overlooking the amount of dollars they put into the agency,” he said.
Supervisor Jane Parker, however, made a similar argument in favor of appointing Garcia. MCWRA is one of three governing partners of the Regional Desalination Project, which is being paid for by California American Water’s customers on the Peninsula, she noted. Yet MCWRA doesn’t have any Cal Am ratepayers on its board.
“It was time for someone to be the eyes and ears and voice for the Cal Am ratepayers because of the really important role that the Water Resources Agency is playing right now,” she says.
Several members of the Peninsula Mayors’ Group had also lobbied the supes to appoint Garcia.
Supervisor Dave Potter expressed support for Garcia in an effort to bring more gender diversity to the currently all-male board. But he was absent for the afternoon vote appointing Ledesma 3-1, with Parker dissenting. Ledesma’s board term ends Dec. 31, 2013.
Since his defeat in November, Ortiz has not been reporting to the Monterey County Mayors’ Association. Ortiz’s term ended last year, but he remained on the MCWRA board because the supervisors had not replaced him. Neither he nor Ledesma could be reached by press time.
The MCWRA board still has two vacancies: a District 1 seat, to be nominated by Supervisor Fernando Armenta, and the Grower-Shipper Association seat vacated by Steve Collins, who is under investigation (see p. 15). The GSA nominee, Mike Scattini, hasn’t yet been seated because the GSA failed to give the supervisors a second nominee to consider.