WVWD Rate Payers Association Continues its Quest for Transparency and Accountability

WVWD Rate Payers Association Continues its Quest for Transparency and Accountability

Hardy Brown, Sr.
Contributor

During the West Valley Water District (WVWD) Board of Directors Meeting on December 20, 2018, by a vote of 3-2, the directors appointed Clarence Mansell, Jr., General Manager of the district. Mansell has served as acting General Manager for several months. 

“We are pleased to see this appointment of Mr. Mansell,” stated Mr. Don Griggs, President of the WVWD Ratepayers Association. Griggs stressed how having “interim” staff at the top of any organization is viewed as unstable—like the Trump Administration in Washington, D.C. 

“Now, we have a General Manager that can help the Board focus on providing clean, safe, drinking water to the ratepayers,” he added.

Griggs went on to thank members of the board, including Dr. Michael Taylor—President, Kyle Crowther—Vice President and Director—Don Olinger, for making this decision—a decision the Ratepayers Association fully supported. In addition, the three board members did so over the objections of Directors Dr. Clifford Young and Greg Young.

Griggs continued, “This is good news to the employees in the district and community at large because of Mr. Mansell’s knowledge of the local community. He grew up and lives in the Inland Empire,” Griggs stressed. “He will be an asset to all of us in this position and a great example, especially for our African American youth.”

Griggs further noted how a career in the water industry is not often viewed as a place to seek employment. “So, his [Mansell’s] visibility will attract their attention just as other utilities company did back in the sixties when Blacks worked at Edison,” he concluded.

While I join in the congratulations on this appointment, I want to highlight that a year ago, Dr. Clifford Young and Greg Young led the charge to terminate/place on paid administrative leave, five of WVWD’s top management team including Board Secretary Shanae Smith, who was the highest paid Black employee at the district. 

Smith had filed a complaint with the EEOC against Dr. Young in 2016, because of alleged harassment, intimidation and bullying because she would not go along with his wants, wishes and demands. 

From a personal perspective, during that period, Dr. Young wrongly and inappropriately told several people in the community that I only attended board meetings because I had a personal grievance against him—not because I was seeking justice on behalf of Smith. He told them that there was no truth or validity to her complaint against him and that the complaint had been thrown out and done away with. 

WVWD Board of Directors: (Top row) Clarence Mansell, Jr.; General Manager, Dr. Mike Taylor; President, Greg Young; Director, (Bottom row) Kyle Crowther; Vice President, Dr. Clifford O. Young; Director, Don Olinger; Director

I want to inform the public and those he told that lie to, that according to the West Valley Water District Board minutes of May 3, 2018, Dr. Young settled with Smith after five months of Paid Administrative Leave for $83,000.00—this included her legal fees of about $15,000.00—not bad for a case, Dr. Young claimed, was thrown out and had no validity. 

I want to thank Don Griggs, President of West Valley Water District Ratepayers Association, Stan Futch, President of Westside Action Group, Dr. Paulette Brown Hinds, Publisher and S.E. Williams of the IE Voice/Black Voice News in Riverside for their commitment to stay on top of this story while others doubted whether the issue had merit. 

Now, Mrs. Smith has her own personal fitness business in Riverside thanks to Dr. Clifford and Greg Young. Others WVWD leaders caught-up in this malfeasance have received similar settlements while others are still in negotiation. 

One last thing regarding the actions of Dr. Young and Greg Young, is the legal cost to the district. In the last two years those costs have totaled over one million dollars and resulted in the cancellation of a $5 million insurance litigation policy.

2018 was a strange year for Dr. Young. He was removed from his post as President of the WVWD Board of Directors by fellow board members including the current President, Dr. Michael Taylor, Vice President Kyle Crowther, and board member Don Olinger, after they learned Dr. Young is under investigation by the California Attorney General’s Office. 

The investigation resulted when, under the leadership of WVWD Ratepayers Association’s President Don Griggs, the organization filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practice Commission concerning a campaign political event held at Dr. Young’s direction on December 7, 2017. The event was coordinated by David Morgan a Republican Consultant and Dr. Young’s Campaign Manager.

Someone paid for the event the night it was held. This was evident when a December 8 invoice presented to Dr. Young by the Sierra Lakes Golf Club in Fontana where the event was hosted, reflected a zero balance. 

We know that Dr. Young requested West Valley Water District reimburse him for a $1,897.43 invoice because it was documented in WVWD invoice records. The WVWD Cash Disbursement Report for January of 2018 showed Dr. Young was reimbursed for the event.

Apparently, the FPPC thought this documentation which was provided in support of the WVWD Rate Payers Association’s complaint, revealed a potential criminal violation. The complaint was subsequently forwarded to the state Attorney General’s Office for consideration and Griggs received written notification of their action.

Dr. Young and Greg Young are now taking a new approach in what appears to be a collaborated effort to object and obstruct anything the new leadership wants to do. However, their efforts are continuously failing by a vote of 3-2. The new leadership is forging ahead to bring transparency and civility to the board—they are treating each other and the general public with professionalism.   

When President Taylor brought forth a new policy on Board decorum both Youngs opposed the idea even though Clifford Young had filed his own complaint with the FPPC (Compliant Number 06092017-01044) against former board member, Linda Gonzalez. 

Next, when the opportunity came to hire a permanent General Manager to give stability to the organization, both Youngs once again objected and asked questions that had nothing to do with the selection since Mansell had been working in the job for the past several months. So, President Taylor called for the vote, and Clarence Mansell Jr. was appointed General Manager for West Valley Water District by a 3-2 vote.

I offer my congratulations to Clarence Mansell, Jr. on his appointment and extend my congratulations to Taylor, Crowther and Olinger for showing the courage to move forward in the best interest of the WVWD ratepayers they were elected to serve.

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