Circular Firing Squad and the Makings of a Political Circus…

Circular Firing Squad and the Makings of a Political Circus…

WVWD Whistleblowers, Campaign Contributors, Quid Pro Quos, Unqualified Candidates, Satate Audit and Threats of Murder

Gail Fry Contributor

As auditors from the State Controller’s office arrived to conduct a financial audit at the West Valley Water District, Director Greg Young told The Voice/Black Voice News its recent vote to appoint Jeremiah Brosowske as an assistant general manager was the result of a “corrupt political deal.”

At its May 16, 2019 meeting Jeremiah Brosowske, a Councilman for the City of Hesperia, was appointed under a cloud of controversy by a three to two vote over director Greg Young’s objections.

Board President Dr. Michael Taylor motioned to approve Brosowke’s appointment with director Kyle Crowther seconding the motion while G. Young objected explaining Brosowske did not meet the minimum qualifications for the position of assistant manager based on WVWD’s own policies and internal job description.  Director Olinger reasoned Brosowske would be an at-will employee and assured he would take a close look at Brosowske once he was on the job.  

WVWD’s job description for general manager calls for minimum qualifications that include a combination of education, training and experience. It also calls for a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in business administration, public administration, civil engineering or a closely related field and a minimum of ten experience in progressively responsible professional water utility administration at the managerial level. It also states that eight years of additional qualifying experience may be substituted for the required education, on a “two for one” basis.    

Accredited colleges or universities are those accredited by accreditation agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education for postsecondary institutions and programs.  More information can be found at:  https://ope.ed.gov/dapip/#/agency-list. 

At its May 16 meeting, Rialto Resident Don Griggs, speaking on behalf of Mr. Hardy Brown, Publisher Emeritus the IE Voice/Black Voice News, spoke of a pattern of political appointments and insufficient vetting leading to unqualified personnel being appointed.  As President of the West Valley Water District Ratepayers Association Griggs reminded the board of their responsibility to the public.        

When the vote was called President Dr. Michael Taylor, Vice President Kyle Crowther, and Director Don Olinger, voted in favor while Director Greg Young, and Director Dr. Clifford O. Young, Sr., voted against.   

In response to a public records request by The Voice/Black Voice News, WVWD provided a total of five resumes submitted by individuals vying for consideration to fill the open position of assistant general manager.

The five resumes revealed three of the applicants had bachelor’s degrees from accredited colleges/universities in “business administration, public administration, civil engineering or a closely related field.” One applicant had a bachelor’s degree from a college with an accreditation from a unrecognized accreditation agency, while Brosowske had a Bachelor’s degree in Science, Policy & Economics from an accredited college or university, however it was not in the qualified field. 

One applicant not chosen for the position had a Master of Science degree in environmental engineering from California State Polytechnic University and bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, 20-years’ experience in the water/wastewater industry, management experience, is a registered professional engineer and possessed state certificates for water distribution operator and water treatment operator.    

Four out of the five applicants met the requirement of having over ten years’ managerial experience at a responsible professional water utility administration.  Additionally, all four of the applicants had state licenses in either drinking water or wastewater.  Comparatively, Brosowske has no managerial experience at a responsible professional water utility administration, no experience in the water industry, and no state licenses related to water. 

Brosowske’s resume indicated he had previously worked for San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman as a policy advisor from December 2014 until February 2018.      

Yet at its May 16, regular meeting President Dr. Michael Taylor, Vice President Kyle Crowther, and Director Don Olinger, voted in favor of approving Brosowske’s employment contract as an assistant general manager with an annual base salary of $189,592 and $62,500 in benefits—totaling more than a quarter million dollars per year.    

As questions about Brosowske’s appointment continued to haunt WVWD and after review of the applicant’s resumes, The Voice/Black Voice News requested comment from all five WVWD directors as to their reasoning in either voting for or against Brosowske’s appointment as assistant general manager.  

WVWD Board of Director Greg Young explained, “I voted against Mr. Brosowske because he completely lacked the required experience for the job.” 

“Additionally, I can tell you that the board never got to meet any other candidates other than Mr. Brosowske,” he continued. According to G. Young, Taylor and Crowther were the only board members who supposedly interviewed other candidates.

“They admitted to me that they only spent 20 minutes interviewing Mr. Brosowske,” G. Young confirmed. He concluded, “Mr. Brosowske’s appointment is the ultimate in political paybacks designed to appease Councilman Jesse Armendarez from Fontana, who is the main financial benefactor of Mr. Crowther and a close personal friend of Mr. Brosowske.”   

An anonymous source close to WVWD described to The Voice/Black Voice News a similar scenario that the vote to approve Brosowske’s employment contract was in exchange for future campaign contributions to Crowther.  

WVWD Board Director Don Olinger voiced, “In retrospect I have added reservations about my vote to support two board colleagues and the general manager in the hiring of Jeremiah Brosowske as AGM.”

“My vote was based on the positive information presented by the independent consultant and the interview team,” Olinger justified explaining, “Concerns about Jeremiah expressed by Director Young were disconcerting, but I surmised that they may have been motivated by a rift between two solid Republicans.”     

Olinger continued, “Negative reports about political cronyism began to surface soon after the hiring. I am trying to fact-check that information given so much spurious internet blogging.”  

“Yes, the salary package is excessive for the skill, experience and background, but is in line with the other AGM positions,” Olinger reasoned recalling, “As I publicly stated, Mr Brosowske is an ‘at will’ employee and his performance will be fairly monitored.”  He further expressed hope Brosowske’s contributions will meet customer expectations. 

Olinger concluded by declaring his personal loyalty to the ratepayers and hopes he has avoided the appearance of favoritism and nepotism.  

“ ‘It’s always the ones with the dirty hands pointing the fingers,’ a wise woman once proclaimed—but she never explained what happens when everyone’s hands are dirty…”

Additionally, The Voice/Black Voice News reached out to one of the other applicants who submitted a resume for the open position of assistant general manager.  The applicant described being recruited by a headhunter, rudely interviewed by Taylor and Crowther, and developing the opinion, “They knew who they wanted [to fill the position]”. The applicant commented on the lack of professionalism when he did not receive a courtesy call advising he was not selected for the job.  

G. Young also recalled questioning Taylor and Crowther’s knowledge of Brosowske’s ties to former Assessor and former County Supervisor Bill Postmus.  

Postmus, once a rising star in the San Bernardino Republican Party, is now serving three years in state prison for several felony crimes related to the settlement of a lawsuit brought against the County of San Bernardino by Colonies Partners, LLC. The suit involved the county’s flood control operations’ alleged negative impact on its property in the City of Upland.   

Court documents allege Postmus and San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Biane were being extorted by Colonies Partners to vote for a favorable settlement.  In November 2006, the San Bernardino County Supervisors approved $102 million to settle the lawsuit. 

Evidence of ties between Brosowske and Postmus lie in Brosowske’s 700 form, the statement of economic interest filed when Brosowske ran for city council in the City of Hesperia. It showed Brosowske received over $10,000 in income from Mountain States Consulting, LLC., a Wyoming limited liability company, managed by Bill Postmus.  

Over the past four years WVWD has experienced an unusually high turnover of its management staff culminating when in December 2017 the staff filed allegations that former WVWD President Clifford O. Young, Sr. had a pattern of “improper spending and hiring practices.”  

Subsequently, staff members were put on paid leave. A personnel investigation ensued, followed by WVWD’s management staff filing complaints with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and several lawsuits in state court.   

Then WVWD directors, employees and ratepayers were shocked to learn of a whistleblower lawsuit on behalf of WVWD was filed under seal by WVWD Director Dr. Clifford Young, Chief Financial Officer Naisha Davis and Assistant Board Secretary Patricia Romero in February 2019.  The whistleblower lawsuit became public when it was unsealed in June 2019.   

It alleged corruption at the agency including kickbacks, bribes and fraud in exchange for campaign contributions, free trips, gifts and NFL tickets. The lawsuit named WVWD General Counsel Robert Tafoya, also city attorney for the City of Baldwin Park, Tafoya’s law firm Tafoya and Garcia, WVWD Special Counsel Clifton Albright and his law firm, Albright Yee and Schmit, WVWD Special Counsel Martin Kaufman and his law firm Kaufman Law Firm and WVWD consultant Robert Katherman.   

The whistleblower complaint named as co-conspirators WVWD President Dr. Michael Taylor, former police chief of Baldwin Park, Vice President Kyle Crowther, General Manager Clarence C. Mansell, Jr., former Assistant General Manager Ricardo Pacheco, current Baldwin Park City Councilman, and Human Resources and Risk Manager Deborah Martinez.   

The whistle blower case is being heard in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The next hearing scheduled for August 13, at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse  will consider a special motion by the defendants named in case to strike the complaint, claiming the whistleblower lawsuit was filed to silence Tafoya, his law firm Tafoya and Garcia, Albright, his law firm Albright Yee and Schmit, Kaufman and his law firm and Katherman. 

To many observers, C. Young’s complaint appears to be an effort to silence unresolved allegations against him tied to the purported misappropriation of funds and potentially unethical hiring practices that led to the State Controller’s Office conducting an audit of the district—state auditors arrived at the WVWD the week of July 29.  

On July 29, WVWD Public Affairs Manager Naseem Farooqi issued a press release announcing the state audit and quoting Taylor welcoming the audit while appearing to point a finger at C. Young, Sr. 

That same day, July 29, Farooqi also filed for an emergency temporary restraining order in San Bernardino Superior Court against WVWD Director G. Young. Farooqi alleged that at a meeting on the evening of July 11, G. Young with a serious facial expression pointed to him and declared, “I am going to kill you.”  Farooqi recalled G. Young uttered he had “read the press release and he was going to kill me.”

Farooqi confirmed he filed a complaint about the threat with WVWD on July 16. He was so concerned and fearful for the lives of his wife and children he missed time from work and took his family out of town.  Farooqi alleged his delay in filing the complaint was because he was out of the office.    

According to the court’s minute order, a July 29 hearing on Farooqi’s emergency temporary restraining order occurred and after hearing testimony from Farooqi, the Court found there was “no emergency” at this time, continuing the hearing until July 31.  

Two days later at the July 31 hearing, after receiving testimony from G. Young and witness, WVWD Public Affairs Specialist Socorro Pantaleon, the court advised G. Young of his Fifth Amendment Rights and denied Farooqi’s emergency restraining order. Although the court found no emergency existed, it did schedule a hearing on the restraining order for August 27 at the San Bernardino Court, Civil Division. 

The court’s minute order revealed a Farooqi associate, Christopher Dustin Duarte, took a photograph of the counsel table and was excluded from the proceeding as taking the picture violated court rules.

In an interview with The Voice/Black Voice News, G. Young voiced, “I am overjoyed that for the second time in as many days that a superior court judge has rejected Mr. Farooqi’s restraining order against me.”  

“I am also pleased the judge forcibly removed Mr. Farooqi’s political associate, Christopher Dustin Duarte, for an improper attempt to take photographs in the courtroom and lying to the judge,” he continued adding, “And I am also pleased that the judge criticized Mr. Farooqi and his associate for turning the proceedings into a political circus.”    

Neither Taylor, Crowther, nor C. Young, Sr. responded to The Voice/Black Voice News requests for comment.  A request for comment was also made of Armendarez who also did not reply before publication.   

 

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