WVWD Board President Channing Hawkins and Vice President Kyle Crowther are working to lead the water agency out of its history of questionable personnel decisions. During last week’s Board of Directors meeting Hawkins introduced Martin Piñon who will serve as WVWD’s Interim Human Resources and Risk Management Manager. “We are glad to have selected Mr. Piñon,” declared Hawkins. “He has the education, experience and skill set to assist West Valley at the critical time. The board and I look forward to working with him to develop and implement Human Resources policies and practices to move our organization forward.” In mid-December 2019 WVWD administered a temporary ban on recruitment and hiring of new personnel to address several human resources issues within the District however the ban included an exception to positions critical to safe and effective operations of the District. According to Hawkins, the hiring of Piñon does not end the freeze but is a critical step to lifting the temporary ban and resolving the District’s personnel issues. Hiring will not resume until a strategic plan is presented to the Board of Directors on how steps will be taken to assess and correct the District’s personnel issues. In addition to implementing best practices and standards for human resources, Piñon will manage the District’s personnel activities including salary and benefits administration, workers’ compensation, risk management, safety, training, employee relations, recruitment and selection. He will also be responsible for ensuring the District complies with employment laws and work with management to correct employee deficiencies, apply disciplinary actions, address grievances and follow-up with complaints and inquiries. Among his many qualifications, Piñon is a seasoned human resource professional, trained as a lawyer with management-level experience. Prior to his hiring at the WVWD, Piñon worked as the interim human resources director for the City of West Covina in California, where he was responsible for all human resources functions including employee relations, labor relations and risk management. Commenting on his appointment Piñon said, “I am truly excited about accepting this appointment to serve West Valley Water District. With the support and leadership of the board of directors, our senior administration, and department leaders, I know we can turn this place around and achieve even more. The District ratepayers deserve the best service and the employees deserve a good, engaging and respectful workplace.” Crowther stated, “West Valley needs a breath of fresh air, and that’s exactly what Martin Piñon is. He has a professional record of working with medium and large sized governmental entities and understands the value of employees. I am honored to extend my congratulations to Mr. Piñon as we work together on writing West Valley’s next chapter.” WVWD’s actions are partly rooted in the preliminary findings of the state auditor last year that found agency failures in hiring practices and vendor contracts. It is important to note the hiring of Piñon does not end the current hiring freeze at the WVWD but is a critical step to lifting the temporary ban and resolving the District’s personnel issues, according to the agency’s Public Affairs Manager, Naseem Farooqi. Farooqi further noted the agency will not resume hiring until a strategic plan is presented to the Board of Directors on how steps will be taken to assess and correct the District’s personnel issues.
Header Photo: WVWD President Channing Hawkins