Trust and Transparency 

Folks, the dysfunction between this Board and the entire SLVWD community is 100% due to the inability of the current Board to keep the promises they made in the 2014 election—and that includes a recently appointed incumbent who has joined with the rest of the incumbents wholeheartedly.

Most of us thought that new faces on the Board after the 2014 election would bring about change.  Unfortunately, we ended up with a board unable to move past the paralysis of that dysfunction. 

This has resulted in a continuation of the same inability to successfully communicate with the public, with the same vague policies and lack of accountability.  What this Board now calls “experiments” were designed to do just one thing—limit the ability of the community to engage with its elected Board.   We disagree with that approach.  And we disagree with the Board response explaining these limitations as “experiments” gone bad—they were poor practices needlessly imposed upon the public.

From the day we are seated on the board, here are a few of the changes we will make:

  • We will personally welcome everyone who attends our meetings, especially new faces, and we will shake your hand and thank you for attending.  Whether you come to applaud us or criticize us or coach us, we mean it when we say:  “Welcome, we’re all part of the SLVWD community.  Let us discuss and debate and reason together.”

  • We will encourage you, our customers, to ask questions.  And if we or the staff cannot answer those questions immediately then we will follow up at the next meeting to make sure your questions are answered.  And all questions (and answers) will be documented in full in the minutes and posted on our website. 

  • We will treat you with respect and decorum, especially if you come to disagree.  We promise that we will not berate members of the community for asking tough or challenging questions nor will any of us sit by silently as a fellow Board member engages in this behavior.  We believe that a Board can achieve much better results if discussions on pros and cons are civil, respectful, and focused on a search for the facts.

  • We will use regular Board and committee meetings to conduct business.  We will not use Ad-hoc committees unless those meetings are open to the public, nor will we use an abundance of Special Meetings to conduct regular business.  We believe in using Special Meetings for single topics only—and only those single topics that cannot wait for the next regularly scheduled meeting.  By contrast, this Board has 12 regularly scheduled meetings per year, and convened 19 special Board meetings in 2017 and 7 to date in 2018, as well as many special committee meetings.  In addition, this Board convened 2 Ad-hoc Committees in 2018, one on Capital Improvements (of critical importance to the ratepayers) and one on the Grand Jury report—clearly needing to be public.

  • We are going to investigate live streaming the Board meetings and possibly the committee meetings.  If it can be done, we will do so.

  • We will immediately scrap this Board’s template for minutes—something called “action minutes” promoted in a workshop called Jurassic Parliament.  Action minutes record vote actions only—no context about the debate that led to a decision, no record of an item that is discussion only. We don’t believe this is appropriate for a government agency, where the documentation of the deliberation process is key to public understanding and transparency.  Presently, unless you attend the meeting or listen to every word of the recording you are unable to have a sense of supporting or opposing viewpoints, board and public, on an issue that may be important to you. 

  • We are going to dramatically expand our social media outreach and use of e-mail communications to provide substantive information and encourage public comments on all topics, especially those where there is an ongoing community debate.

  • Even though the current Board promised to redo the website to make it easier to use, there has been no action on that.  We will have a new website completed within a year—hopefully sooner.

  • We recognize that our community is changing.  Many new and younger families are, and will be, over the next decade, moving into our beautiful area.  We need to develop the next generation of leadership for the SLVWD.  To that end, we will be very proactive in recruiting people to join committees and volunteer to help us make our district the very best that it can be.  No one will be turned away from service—we will find a place for you.

  • We will start having 2 meetings a month with an objective to keep the meetings shorter.  Any meeting going longer than 3 hours is likely to be less productive than it should be and will result in the public not wanting to attend.  We will do this in a way to minimize impact on staff’s time.

  • We will start having regular workshops where the Board, staff and public can more deeply dive into a topic of interest and where the public can hear more from the staff about the good work they are doing.

  • And more to come…

SLV Water District Trust and Tranparency