During the first-ever live-streamed meeting of the West Valley Water District (WVWD) Board of Directors, the group took several steps in an effort to meet transparency and accountability standards recognized by the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF) on Dec. 19.
“The Board of Directors is moving in a new direction towards earning the public trust of our customers and community stakeholders," said Board President Channing Hawkins.
The WVWD has been embroiled in controversy in recent years, and its leaders said they have recognized the need to make serious changes as the new year arrives.
“Our Board will continue taking action towards attaining the Transparency Certificate of Excellence. Our commitment as an organization is to earn the trust of our customers and continue providing safe, high quality, and reliable water," said Hawkins, who was elected to represent WVWD's District 4 in November.
The WVWD, based in Rialto, serves some residents of Fontana as well as other nearby cities.
“Tonight we began demonstrating to our ratepayers and public that we are will operate in a sound, responsible manner, with the ratepayer’s best interests in mind,” said Vice President Kyle Crowther. “We are going to move forward together as an organization in restoring integrity, accountability, and transparency. This is my commitment to our community.”
Crowther represents District 1, which includes Fontana and Bloomington.
The new steps taken by WVWD include:
• applying for a Transparency Certificate of Excellence Award. The certificate covers all general, website and outreach best practices and requirements regarding transparency for special districts. The certificate is administered by the SDLF, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides recognition and certifications to special districts and officials to enhance services to the public.
• live-streaming the meeting for customers and community stakeholders. New meetings and workshops will now be live-streamed for the public on the WVWD website and Facebook page.
• producing digital copies of Board of Directors meetings for the public in compliance with the California Public Records Act.
• publishing a master calendar for scheduled meetings of the Board of Directors and Committees.
• reviewing the WVWD's human resources policies.
The agency will be conducting a hiring freeze while it takes action to ensure its policies are fair, transparent, and consistent, the WVWD said in a news release.
The Board of Directors also directed that additional limitations be placed on General Manager Clarence C. Mansell, Jr., whose actions have been opposed by several managers in the district recently.
The new limitations on Mansell include prohibiting any contracts being executed without prior review and approval by Hawkins.
In addition, on Jan. 9, 2020, a special meeting of the Board of Directors will be conducted to review all professional services contracts within WVWD.