“A nitpicker is a person who finds faults, however small or unimportant, everywhere they look. To be concerned with or find fault with insignificant details.”
At the last board meeting of WVWD what I thought would be a quick and quiet meeting turned out to be a long and cantankerous event between Clifford Young, Greg Young and the rest of the board members, legal counsel and staff.
The meeting opened with a celebration in recognition of forty young men in attendance who represented the Eisenhower High School Football Team’s Championship year, and a presentation from Edison of a $400,000 check for energy conservation at WVWD.
Ratepayers Association President, Don Griggs, commented during public participation that he was pleased with the current direction of the board under its new leadership and permanent General Manager, while pointing out that there are still a few lingering dark clouds over their heads related to employee litigation.
He began pointing them out, leading with a law suit filed in court by Karen Loembergue, a former Human Resource Manager, who was fired by Clifford Young and the board in Dec 2017. He then mentioned the more than one million dollars in legal costs to defend the cases. He then highlighted the lost five-million-dollar employee litigation insurance policy, the monthly payment of $527 for Clifford Young’s Long-Term Care Insurance and concluded with the investigation of the board by the State Attorney General’s Office over a political celebration event on December 7, 2017 at Sierra Lakes Golf Club in Fontana for which Clifford Young was reimbursed by WVWD.
Then, without any warning, Clifford Young objected to the wording of the first agenda item which read, “Approval of November and December 2018 Cash Disbursements Report.” He said it should read, “Receive and file the Cash Disbursement Report.” The president looked puzzled and asked, “What should it say?”
I sensed this was going to be one of those nitpicking meetings to embarrass the General Manager and Board President. So, President Taylor said, “I have no problem with the wording, but if you want it changed, go ahead before I call for the vote.”
Since Dr. Young made such a fuss over the wording, I decided to review the past minutes where cash disbursement reports were on the agenda and they all used the “approval” language. This included “all” of the meetings where Dr. Young presided as president. In my opinion, Dr. Young was finding fault with unimportant and insignificant things in order to try and embarrass the staff and President Taylor, but it only demonstrated his incompetence and abusive behavior toward others.
In another example, Dr. Young and his side-kick Greg Young, started nitpicking item 9 on the agenda for the “Approval of a contract for Rob Katherman Consulting.” They both objected to awarding this contract because of a possible conflict of interest as stated by Dr. Young, because of an alleged political campaign association to someone, but he did not call out any names. He called on legal counsel Robert Tafoya to give a legal opinion but kept interrupting him. So finally, Tafoya threw Clifford a brush back pitch in an aggressive and harsh tone. He said, “If you stop interrupting me, I will answer your question sir.” Griggs leaned over to me and whispered, “Tafoya did not like Cliff interrupting him.”
Greg Young chimed in and declared that paying Katherman $85.00 dollars an hour for his service was too much money—further noting he wished he could make that kind of money.
Dr. Young again demanded an explanation from Tafoya, while including General Manager Clarence Mansell, in his demand for an explanation regarding why they would bring this kind of incomplete contract before them for approval.
Before Tafoya could compose himself to respond, Mansell in a professional and reserved demeanor leaned forward into the microphone and responded, “Sir, this is what you approved before I got here. This is the same contract that you approved on June 21, 2018.”
I personally went online Saturday, and this is what I learned about the Robert Katherman Contract: It was listed as item 12 on the June 21, 2018 agenda Consulting Services. The one thing missing was the usual cover memo from management stating who recommend the item before them. I also noticed this was during the period that Naisha Davis, the Chief Financial Officer, also worked in the position of Acting General Manager. In addition, as President, Dr. Clifford Young was the mover of the motion, and Greg Young seconded the motion for the Robert Katherman contract to be approved. The motion passed on a 3-0 vote with Michael Taylor. Board members Kyle Crowther and Don Olinger were absent.
On May 17, 2018, Clifford Young, Greg Young, Kyle Crowther and Michael Taylor voted to waive insurance requirements for Rob Katherman as he acted as a consultant. Board member Don Olinger abstained on that vote.
The first contract was signed by Katherman on 3/26/18. Robert Christman, the Interim General Manager, did not sign the contract. On June 18, 2018, Katherman re-submitted, providing another opportunity for the district to sign the contract that had already been approved by the board. Again, Katherman signed but Dr. Young in the capacity of President, did not sign.
There are other examples of nitpicking I could list since Dr. Young and Greg Young have been removed from the positions of President and Vice-President, but I do not want you to waste the time it would take to read them.
In my professional opinion Clifford Young and Greg Young have become “Nitpickers” on steroids.
Header Photo: Hardy Brown, Sr. Contributor