July 21, 2011
The cost to investigate a hostile work environment claim that yielded a lawyer's recommendation that the Marina Coast Water District board be trained on its own board policies totaled $4,452.50.
In May, General Manager Jim Heitzman complained to the board that Shriner "seems to be intent on harassing and caus[ing] a hostile environment for staff…if every ratepayer was spending $20,000 of the district's money in pursuit of firing the general manager and having the general manager leave, I think that we'd be broke in one month." He was referring to Shriner's proclivity for asking questions and requesting documents, a concern that other board members have raised in the past due in part to the cost of staff and attorney hours.
Jeanine DeBacker, an attorney with the San Jose firm Hoge Fenton Jones & Appel, charged $325/hour for her investigation, an invoice submitted to Marina Coast shows. On the copy provided to the Weekly, specific descriptions of her billable tasks have been redacted.
At a meeting in July, the board voted 5-0 to retain DeBacker as its employment attorney should additional personnel concerns arise. At that same meeting, the board voted 4-0 to hire at attorney to represent Heitzman as conflict of interest accusations regarding a private desal project deal swirl.
In discussing district policy on such matter, district counsel Lloyd Lowrey said that Shriner would have been able to request that the district cover her legal costs. She paid personally to retain Ken Kroopf as her attorney during the investigation on the hostile work environment claims.