Déjà vu Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District (CSD) meeting By Terri Hill
It was a familiar scene at the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District (CSD) meeting February 1st. Much like last year’s meetings concerning water conservation rules, last week’s Board meeting was attended by residents who were concerned they could be jailed for wasting water. At issue was the Criminal Penalties and Fines section of Ordinance 2017-01, which in part establishes rules and regulations within the water district. In that section penalties for criminal acts, such as damaging District equipment, or water theft by contractors, are spelled out. At the previous meeting of the CSD Board the ordinance was offered for public hearing. At the close of the hearing the Board discussed the ordinance and Director Brandon disclosed a conversation he had with the District’s attorney, Steve Kennedy. Brandon suggested the Board explore including specific verbiage as to the possible fines and jail time associated with criminal acts against the District. At the January 18 meeting, the board decided to include a maximum 30-days in the county jail as an option within the criminal penalties section of the ordinance. Also like the meeting of 11 months ago, angry residents showed up in mass to oppose what they saw as license for the CSD Board to jail customers who don’t follow the rules. Before the public comments on the issue began, Mr. Kennedy explained that the penalties are intended for criminal violations only, and that it is not the intent of the CSD Board to jail its customers. As community members made their comments at the podium, one theme was repeated; the CSD should not threaten constituents with jail time. The meeting dissolved quickly into chaos as audience members spoke out of turn, interrupting each other, board members, and Mr. Kennedy, and the board failed to control the meeting. Often the noise of people talking to each other made it impossible for others to hear the answers to questions posed to the board or the attorney. One resident who spoke at the podium pointed out that, in reading the ordinance, he had found verbiage that could indeed leave residential customers open to the fines and jail time if they broke the Water Conservation rules. Mr. Kennedy reread the section cited and agreed the language would have to be deleted from the ordinance, in order to keep the intention of the penalties intact. The reference to Water Conservation will be removed before the ordinance is passed. After 2 ½ hours, the board agreed the ordinance would not include a mention of jail time as a penalty for criminal infractions of the rules. Without a provision in the ordinance, the penalty for criminal violations defaults to the state’s maximum six-month sentence. A subject that was not on the agenda was mentioned by an audience member, and then argued on and off throughout the meeting. A safety partition installed in the CSD offices, between the lobby and customer service staff, caused concern for some of those in attendance at the board meeting. Because it was not on the agenda, the board was not free to discuss the decision to approve the project, but the agenda for the September 7th meeting, at which the matter was discussed, is available on the CSD website: pphcsd.org At that meeting, General Manager Don Bartz brought the concerns of the staff to the Board of Directors. Confrontations by angry customers had resulted in assaults, physical and verbal, on customer service staff members. An altercation between two customers in the lobby also put the staff at risk. Bartz cited incidents of customers coming in sick, sneezing and coughing, putting staff at risk for illness. He also cited the legal requirement to provide a safe work environment for employees. After “a recent threat, and particularly hostile customer in the lobby,” staff again requested a partition for their safety. The board approved the partition, a bullet-resistant acrylic window, for the office. At less than half the yearly salary of a private security guard*, like those employed at the local banks, the safety partition was supplied and installed for $13,094. Bartz gave an update on the water supply to the school sites between Nielson and Sunny Slope Roads. CSD staff has met with the school district and are moving forward to take over the remaining water provisions, which are within CSD boundaries but still served by Sheep Creek Municipal Water. Snowline Joint Unified School District will be financially responsible for the 12” pipes, meters, and other infrastructure, for which there are grant funds available.
*According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The candidates share their stories and love for the community
The candidates’ biographies for Wrightwood Community Services District election The Mountaineer Progress has given each candidate the opportunity to submit a short biography. The submission of bios is not an endorsement but is provided as a community service in helping the voter to be better informed in selecting their representatives, to the Wrightwood Community Services District, should the WCSD be approved by Wrightwood registered voters. There will be two to three bios per week prior to the March 7 election. The biographies are submitted as they are received and have not been edited by the Mountaineer Progress.
Monica Ciccarelli. Bio Dear Editor: Thank you for hosting the candidates’ forum last week. Here is my candidates’ statement that you had requested. Thank you for being willing to publish them in the paper. We all really appreciate that. I moved up here a little less than 2 years ago with my family and we fell in love with this community. My husband Todd and I love giving back to this community. I am the committee chair of one of the local Cub Scout packs and am a parent volunteer for the Walking School Bus. I have a BSN from California State University Los Angeles and have been a pediatric nurse for over 9 years. I think the CSD is an amazing opportunity for our town to gain more control over how our tax dollars are spent. I also see it as an amazing opportunity to develop a more prominent parks and recreation department. I would love to see the CSD pass and encourage everyone to get out there and vote on March 7th. (**LA county residents is a mail in ballot only. Thank you, Monica Ciccarelli Contact info for Monica Ciccarelli: firstname.lastname@example.org>
Seven political hopefuls running for the WCSD participated in a candidate forum held at the Wrightwood Community Building on Thursday, February 2, 2017 The need for local control was the topic for the recent candidate forum. The eight candidates, that were invited, answered questions that were addressed by the audience. Tom Pinard moderated the forum. The eight declared candidates running for five seats (two four-year seats and three two-year seats) on the Wrightwood Community Services District (WCSD) included: 1. Charles “Chuck” Franklin 2. Leo W. Hordyk 3. Michelle Schneider 4. Monica Ciccarelli 5. Stephanie Carroll 6. Natalie Lopiccolo 7. Wes Zuber 8. Andrew Ciccarelli (Unable to attend) Guests attending the forum were requested to fill out a questionnaire card. The candidates expressed their views openly so that community members could learn about their background, understand their positions and make informed voting choices. Ten questions were discussed ranged from recreation to financing and how they would conduct business. About 30 - 35 people attended the event. Prior to answering question each candidate have the opportunity to address the audience with their personal background and why they feel they would best serve as a member of the board. The interviews can be viewed online at: facebook/WrightwoodCa and Wrightwoodcalif.com forum The questions presented to the candidates were: 1. What is your position regarding additional parks throughout Wrightwood? 2. What are your plans, to hire a General Manager? 3. Will the current SBCo staff remain on the Job? 4. Why can’t we just leave well enough alone? 5. How will you make sure the CSD meetings don’t go out of control? 6. Do you believe the WCSD needs to do more community events? 7. Would you suggest the WCSD take over any Chamber activities? 8. Many people don’t seem to know about the WCSD election. Are any of you putting out any signs to inform? 9. Do you expect taxes or fees to go up over the next several years as a result of the WCSD formation? 10. Are you now or have you ever worked for or represented the Steinmann family?
Question 1: Each candidate were in agreement that the WCSD would not be obtaining any additional parks, as it is not in the WCSD budget, and the parks that would be under the WCSD would be maintained and improved. Stephanie: “If land was to donated and grants were approved we would definitely go with it.” Leo: “Love to have a new park but we must be fiscally responsibility.” Natalie: “We don’t need additional parks.” Michelle: “It would be nice to have a sports field or soccer etc.” Stephanie: “ We have an agreement with Wrightwood Elementary and the WCSD could improve the field for community use.” Stephanie: “We could look into making bike trails in the forest. It would be great for families and for visitor (that would help businesses).” Monica, Wes and Chuck were in agreement Question 2 & 3: Leo: “We first would hire a general manager who then hires his staff.” Stephanie: “We would recommend that the GM keep the current staff but they would have to apply.” Natalie: “We would most likely hire a person recommended by LAFCO as GM in the beginning while the new WCSD is in transition. Someone who has operated a CSD.” Chuck: “We need to pick their brain as we all learn how to operate a CSD.” Stephanie: “Resumes have already been forwarded to us.” Michelle: “We have many highly qualified individuals right here in Wrightwood. We should look right here in our neighborhood,” Wes: “I agree we should give our recommendation to the current staff. They have done a great job and they know the job.” Monica: Shana has history with the parks and rec. She knows the struggles with the property and has taken good care of the property.” Question 4: Chuck: “There is a positive and a negative in having a CSD. The risk is little but people up here can eliminate the risk and be fiscally responsible with the tax dollars.” Natalie: there is $620,000 dollars that are controlled by the County. So why not let locals control the taxes dollars.” Michelle: “Why not take control of the tax dollars. A CSD gives us power to work on what the community feels they need,” Wes: I think we should manage ourselves not the County.” Leo: It takes the County forever to get things done. We can get things fixed quicker. A CSD would care for all of us better. If the parking lot needs repairs a CSD can budget that better rather then the County making us check mark on their agenda.” Question 5: Stephanie: “We would follow the Brown Act and have question cards for the public. We would run it just like the MAC which is very organized.” All other candidates agreed. Question 6 & 7: Monica: We wouldn’t take any events way from the Chamber.” Natalie: “If the Chamber drops an event the CSD would discuss the situation.” Stephanie: “We could help the Chamber to reduce its cost. CSD would look into the feasibility and financial assistance. I would like to see more recycling events, green waste events.” Wes: “The CSD could sponsor e-waste events.” Monica: “Children’s after schools events are lacking.” Chuck: “Also Senior sponsored activities should be part of the CSD plan. It all comes down to fiscal responsibility.” Question 8: Leo: I’m not putting out signs but rather I’m talking to people about the CSD. I like to do it face to face.” Stephanie: “LAFCO is talking about doing some advertising. A group has put out signs to encourage a Yes Vote.” Monica: “ I don’t plan on putting out signs as it is expensive.” Wes: “I’m talking to people about the CSD.” Chuck: “Just talking to people in the antique store.” Michelle: “The ballot has a space for candidate’s bio but it cost $800 and none of us want to put out that cash.” Question 9: Chuck: “There will be no increase in taxes or fees.” Monica: “No tax increase.” Natalie: “Only the LA side of Wrightwood would see a fee charge of $82, the Dump Card fee, that is already on the SB tax bill.” All other candidates agreed that the WCSD would not seek a new tax or fee. Question 10: Stephanie: I did work for the Steinmann family in the past. They are a great support to the community. We have the community garden and the walking school bus program that the Steinmann have funded, plus the Snowline Players Theater group gets support from Lora.” Natalie: “I work for Eric Steinmann in his office. There isn’t any conflict of interest there.” Stephanie: “the Steinmann are really a special family that have helped the community in many ways.” All candidates had a closing statement in which they all agree that a CSD could be in the best interest to the community and that all candidates are excellent choice. So whose ever elected to sit on the board would do right to Wrightwood. They all encourage the community to vote Yes.
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961