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San Lorenzo Valley Watchdogs Forced to Make Own Recordings of Water Board Meetings
by Alex Darocy (alex [at]
Saturday Dec 21st, 2013 6:55 PM
Community members involved with the group San Lorenzo Valley Watchdogs have been recording their water board's meetings and posting them to their website because the district's recordings are of such low quality.
Audio of San Lorenzo Valley Water District meetings going back to September are available on the Watchdogs' website on the 'Recordings' page, along with this statement:

"After Watchdog Dana Weigand ruefully discovered the District's elaborate looking 1980's era audio recording equipment, complete with microphones and mixer, was defective and apparently has never in recent years resulted in a useable audio cassette tape (she asked for her $10 "tape duplication fee" back for the 8.15.2013 BOD high drama meeting), the Watchdog's decided to make their own recordings. One of our members has professional audio experience and set us up with a professional portable 4-channel directional 5-microphone digital device configured to record at 44kHz / 16 bit resolution. Each recording is then down-sampled to 8kHz / 8 bit resolution with about +15dB of compression to augment average volume and decrease the resulting stereo WAV format output file size. These files are made available as a courtesy to our fellow rate-payers and the public."

The San Lorenzo Valley Watchdogs say they were "shocked" into first creating their website when the water district's staff personnel told one of their members that they "could not stop them" when they complained about the district drilling holes in their roads and newly paved driveways without asking permission or warning them of their intent.

In the Autumn of 2013, the Watchdogs mounted a major petition campaign against the water district to prevent construction of the new water district campus that could wind up costing over $9 million and will trigger a major water rate increase, but they were unsuccessful.

The San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) was established in 1941 and serves more than 7300 metered connections. The District supplies water to the communities of Boulder Creek, Brookdale, Ben Lomond, Zayante, Scotts Valley, Manana Woods and Felton.

For more information about the San Lorenzo Valley Watchdogs, see:

Alex Darocy

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Bruce Holloway
Sunday Dec 22nd, 2013 11:50 AM

Public agencies aren't required to make recordings of their meetings. If they do, then according to Brown Act section 54953.5(b), they "may be erased or destroyed 30 days after the recording. Any inspection of an audio or video recording shall be provided without charge on equipment made available by the local agency." It's true that SLVWD's recordings are of poor quality, but their purpose is for the District Secretary to use them if necessary in preparing the minutes.

Apparently a county water district is required to have minutes of its meetings. Yet there are no minutes of SLVWD's October 24 water rate increase hearing. If you listen to the SLV Watchdogs recording of the "Board actions" of that meeting, at about 15:00 Director Jim Rapoza made two motions and two votes were taken to pass two resolutions unanimously and to number them consecutively. The first was regarding the campus project and was not written down. The second is RESOLUTION NO. 10 (13-14) which describes the water rate increase. RESOLUTION NO. 9 (13-14) is from September and RESOLUTION NO. 11 (13-14) is from December. With a packed house in attendance, they pretended to defer the campus project, but didn't even bother to write down a resolution they all voted for.

Since the unwritten first resolution was merely to refer the campus project back to the Facilities Planning Committee, at the December 5 board meeting Director Randall Brown proposed to go further and rescind the authorization for campus spending the board had given on October 18 a year ago. The other directors were able to convince him that was unnecessary due to the unwritten resolution.

During oral communications at the Personnel Committee meeting on December 13, also recorded by the SLV Watchdogs, it was pointed out that the acting District Secretary (who happens to be District Manager Jim Mueller) failed to produce minutes of the October 24 meeting. The District Manager, board President Margaret Bruce and Director Rapoza (members of the committee) ignored those comments and there continued to be no October 24 minutes on the board's December 19 agenda and no resolution in writing about the campus project.

by Highway Niner
Monday Dec 23rd, 2013 6:20 AM
I didn't realize the SLV watchdogs were individually responsible for the community's Prop 218 protest. See previous article:

The photos you took aren't watchdogs. Others not pictured knocked on doors and handed out flyers. The protest was somewhat successful as the planned rate increase was cutback.
by Rita Redwood
Monday Dec 23rd, 2013 10:36 AM
Thanks Alex. For reasons clear to many the Santa Cruz Sentinel is frightened of this story (San Lorenzo Valley Water District misdeeds). Independent media indeed.

Interview Paul Gratz, review his evidence, and conduct some investigative journalism jumping off the investigative research he already did which revealed fraud and public corruption involving the now dead Santa Cruz desalination plant.

I suspect a lot of money exchanged hands — this story is ripe for the picking. If you need some help with FOI requests, just ask. The City of Santa Cruz is ready to fall like a domino ;-)

John Colby/Cohen

Tel: 831-419-1521
Email: karma [at]
by for a campus?
Tuesday Dec 24th, 2013 5:46 AM
9 million divided by only 7300 connections.

How can board members be removed from power?