Santa Ynez Water Board Ballot Battle

Santa Ynez Water Board Ballot Battle title=
Santa Ynez Water Board Ballot Battle
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By France Komoroske, a Santa Ynez Valley resident

Three candidates recently filed to challenge the three incumbents on the five-member board of the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District, Improvement District No. 1 and were certified as qualified by the County Elections Division.

After the deadline for candidate filing had passed, the general manager of ID1 contacted the County Elections office to remove two of the candidates, Brian Schultz and Anita Finifrock, from the ballot.  The purported reason was that only landholders could sit on the board and neither Mr. Schultz nor Ms. Finifrock owned land in the division of the district in which they were running.  The candidates found this decision deeply troubling for many reasons, one of which was ID1’s refusal to provide any information about the board seats that were coming up for election because ID 1 told them it doesn’t get involved in the election process.

On August 15, the two candidates were informed of the requirement, and the next week and a half were consumed by a battle between the candidates and ID1’s lawyers over whether the landowner requirement even applied and, if it did, whether it was constitutional.  On Friday night, the two candidates were informed in writing by County Elections that they were in fact off the ballot, and their candidate statements and checks were returned to them. 

Attorney Phil Seymour then stepped in and wrote a detailed letter to County Elections explaining why the decision to remove the candidates from the ballot was unconstitutional and would not withstand a legal challenge.  Mr. Seymour has had success with similar electoral challenges in the past and this was no exception.  The ACLU was also contacted and we're waiting in the wings to hear the final decision by the Elections Division. 

On August 27, the candidates were informed by County Clerk, Recorder and Assessor Joseph Holland that they were in fact back on the ballot.  This means that these two candidates, plus Allen Anderson, will be facing the three incumbents in the November election.

The three challengers hope to change the atmosphere at ID1 to rein in salaries and legal expenses, treat customers fairly and with respect, ensure that board meetings are open, transparent, and properly conducted, end the siege mentality that frightens and intimidates customers, examine fees and charges with the idea of imposing more equitable pricing where possible, and to cooperate with rather than litigate against other entities that have a stake in our water supply.

The candidates look forward to a fair fight for the three seats this November.  What the water board does over the next four years will have profound effects on the valley, and valley residents deserve a board that understands the importance of protecting the public interest rather than the special interests of a favored few.

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a-1561633812 Sep 05, 2018 11:40 AM
Santa Ynez Water Board Ballot Battle

TRUTH IS TRUTH A short time ago, France Kamoroske wrote a lengthy condemnation of the ID 1 Water District Board and its general manager. So, let’s try a thought experiment. Imagine you are behind a large sheet of blackened fabric. It has a number of pinholes in it. Only a lie and a misrepresentation by Komoroske can reach you through the pinholes and will be recorded on photographic paper. Let’s begin. Here’s what shows up on the photographic paper: 1. The general manager’s salary compared to the Sheriff’s is ridiculously high. 2. “what is believed” and “It is also believed”. 3. “In 2013 the board imposed a secret 40% rate increase”. 4. “based on a faulty study” 5. The Grand Jury “issued a scathing report” 6. “failure to inform the public” 7. “pushing for legislation known as AB 2686” 8. “secret attempt to get AB 2686 adopted” 9. “When a local activist (this was one Bob Field) looked into these activities, the general manager of the water district filed a false police report against him.” 10. “The grand jury report also noted an apathetic public…” 11. There is a “no fire” clause in the General Manager’s contract. So, let’s closely examine each one of the ten. 1. The GM’s salary was arrived at by comparing his responsibilities to others in other districts with the same responsibilities. The GM’s salary came out somewhere in the middle of that comparison. 2. “what is believed” and “It is also believed”; who is the believer? Komoroske? Or is this a rhetorical invention to make it sound like a general opinion? 3. The increase was not 40% and it was arrived at after several well publicized public meetings the last of which was very well attended. The increase that was finally decided upon was less than 40% and was spread over five years. 4. The Grand Jury report was issued ten years ago when there was a completely different Board. The study was not “faulty”. That is Komoroske’s idea. 5. As indicated, there were no secrets. The public was well informed in well publicized public meetings. 6. Same response to assertion about secrecy. 7. The AB 2686 was authored by Assemblyman Pedro Nava and included language favoring the Chumash tribe. ID 1 had no role in this legislation. 8. There was no “secret attempt”. AB 2686 was Nava’s baby. 9. The report filed (to the Sheriff, not police) was the result of female employees voicing concern about someone lurking behind bushes outside the Board Room when it was in closed session. The report was recorded. The lurker took off. 10. Here’s where you can access the Grand Jury report. Decide for yourself: It is 10 years old and three boards ago. 11. A lie. You can read the contract. It is my sincere hope that the angry birds who are friends of Kamoroske and who commented on her post will seek truth and not follow Komoroske like lemmings. Should they wish to clean up their self-image, I suggest they examine written records and not be victimized by a series of lies and misrepresentations.

Eddie Sep 03, 2018 06:58 AM
Santa Ynez Water Board Ballot Battle

As a informed resident, I did my homework, read the formation documents under state law and since there is a parcel tax, you must be a land owner in the division you want to be a candidate. There is one at large seat.

Gobbledygook Aug 31, 2018 11:35 AM
Santa Ynez Water Board Ballot Battle

This is becoming a tactic of desperation, trying to remove candidates from the ballot rather than just compete in a democratic election. Kind of like how the Soviet Union used to do it, as I recall. A land-owning requirement is not the same as a residency requirement. You can have either one without the other. There was a land-owning requirement (in addition to being white and male) for voting at the very beginning of the USA but it was removed because it was so un-democratic. (Took a while longer and a lot more effort to remove the white and male requirements.) Most people don't own land, but they're still "interested parties" who pay the water bills.

Rto Aug 31, 2018 11:18 AM
Santa Ynez Water Board Ballot Battle

It's hard to believe those so-called public servants at the water district tried to convince the elections board to kick legitimate challengers off the ballot. And to utilize the services of their own General Manager to do it seems like a misuse of the district's resources. This is shaping up to be a fight! Vote the incumbents out in November by supporting Allen Anderson, Brian Schultz and Anita Finifrock!

a-1561633812 Aug 30, 2018 08:19 PM
Santa Ynez Water Board Ballot Battle

" The purported reason was that only landholders could sit on the board and neither Mr. Schultz nor Ms. Finifrock owned land in the division of the district in which they were running. " ?!?! Reeks of discrimination and echoes of land-owning whites only able to vote and run for office. I can see some justification, but not enough to uphold the policy. Go get 'em, indeed, Phil!

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