February 2, 2012
So much for the cozy relationship Walnut Creek-based RMC Water & Environment once had with the Monterey County Water Resources Agency: RMC's ready to sue for the nearly $700,000 it billed last year for the now-defunct Regional Desalination Project.
"RMC regrets that it has come to this," attorney David Ericksen of San Francisco-based Severson & Werson wrote in a Jan. 18 letter. "It has extended every possible courtesy to MCWRA as it worked through internal issues and issues with its project partners. Unfortunately, RMC can no longer do so."
The letter arrived 10 days after the County Board of Supervisors stalled on a proposal to lift a cap on a line of credit from California American Water, the project partner that first announced the desal project was dead, even after months of mediation behind closed doors.
Then at a Jan. 24 board meeting, Interim MCWRA Manager David Chardavoyne described "an uncertain way forward" and the supervisors agreed to pull the delayed line-of-credit discussion from the day's agenda.
The board raised concerns about paying RMC for work former MCWRA board chair Steve Collins had done for them. Those very payments resulted in conflict-of-interest charges against Collins, as well as an ongoing state Fair Political Practices Commission investigation. Erickson, RMC principal Lyndel Melton and County Counsel Charles McKee did not immediately return calls Thursday.
Invoices show payments due to Claremont-based Geoscience for hydrological work; RMC is a subcontractor under Geoscience. A county investigation (that exonerated county officials from wrongdoing) reported that Collins first revealed his ties to RMC when the MCWRA board voted on a contract with Geoscience to drill test wells.
The supervisors are scheduled to discuss RMC's claim in closed session Feb. 14. Should they reject the request to pay up immediately, "RMC will have no choice but to immediately bring legal action," the letter states. The Weekly reported on friendlier demands for payment back in September.