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Department of Water Resources

California Water News

A daily compilation of significant news articles and comment


September 1, 2009



5. Agencies, Programs, People –




Perjury charge added to case against water district board member

San Bernardino County Sun


Water district trying to shut out public

Antelope Valley Press


IID to expand conflict of interest guidelines to include consultants

Imperial Valley Press


Nora Jaeschke; property-management leader, staunch water conservationist

San Diego Union-Tribune





Perjury charge added to case against water district board member

San Bernardino County Sun-8/31/09

By Wes Woods II


A single charge of perjury was filed against Xavier Alvarez on Monday as a result of his filing a false W-4 form with the Three Valleys Municipal Water District when he was elected to the board in 2006.


Sandi Roth, a prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Public Integrity Division, said Alvarez checked a box saying he was married which resulted in the withholding of the incorrect amount of taxes in his paycheck.


Alvarez, 51, represents south Pomona on the Three Valleys board.


The perjury charge against him carries a maximum of four years in state prison. Prosecutors discovered the alleged violation while preparing their case over related charges, said Roth.


Alvarez has pleaded not guilty for one count each of insurance fraud, grand theft and misappropriation of public funds, a case originally filed on Sept. 22.


He was accused of illegally registering his ex-wife for health benefits with the Three Valleys Municipal Water District, which gives medical insurance for its directors, their spouses, children and other dependents.


Authorities said Alvarez presented a Jan. 28, 1995 marriage certificate to the district but failed to say a divorce occurred March 2, 2002.


In the case, prosecutors said he added his ex-wife Juanita Ruiz on his insurance from Jan. 24 to Oct. 31, 2007, five years after his divorce was final.


A readiness conference for the health benefit case is scheduled for Monday.

Trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 10.

Roth said an arraignment for the perjury case is scheduled for Wednesday at Pomona Superior Court.


If convicted on the theft charges, Alvarez faces five years in jail.


In July 2008, Alvarez was fined and sentenced to probation for violating the Stolen Valor Act, which criminalizes false claims of military valor. He had claimed he had received the Medal of Honor.


Alvarez could not be reached for comment.#



Water district trying to shut out public

Antelope Valley Press-8/31/09



Palmdale Water District board members' 4-0 decision to shift their meeting time earlier will inconvenience members of the public as well as the board member who often doesn't vote the others' way.


Board meetings will now start with a closed session at 5:30 p.m., followed by the public meeting at 6:30 p.m.


The earlier time will make it harder for Palmdale Water District customers who commute long distances to and from work to attend meetings.


In addition, director Raul Figueroa, an aerospace engineer who is frequently the lone dissenter on board votes, said the earlier time will make it hard for him to get to the start of the 5:30 p.m. closed session.


"I know it's done purposely," Figueroa said later.


"Any way they can avoid me being there would be perfect for them."


The Aug. 18 vote was the third time within a year that Palmdale Water District board members have changed their meeting times.


Until last fall, board meetings had started with the open session at 7 p.m.


Directors would convene in closed session after the public session.


In November 2008, the meeting time switched to 6 p.m. at the recommendation of then-interim General Manager Bob Toone.


Directors would go into closed session, but Figueroa could not end his workday in time to participate in that portion of the board meetings.


The meetings continued that way until last spring when Director Linda Godin suggested the board revisit the start time issue.


At the May 13 meeting, the board members went back to the 7 p.m. start time.


The June, July and August meetings began at 7 p.m.


However, the Aug. 18 special meeting at which the time was changed - and from which Figueroa was absent - began at 6 p.m.


During the board's discussion at the meeting, board President Jeff Storm suggested starting at 5 p.m. Director Linda Godin suggested 5:30 p.m.


Director Dave Gomez suggested the ultimate outcome: 5:30 p.m. for the closed session, with the open meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m.


Palmdale resident Tracey Summerford told the board that night that the change will prevent a lot of customers from participating in meetings.


"I think you're trying to silence the public," she said.


We agree.#



IID to expand conflict of interest guidelines to include consultants

Imperial Valley Press-8/31/09

By Megan Glenn


The Imperial Irrigation District is working on updating its conflict of interest policy as court decisions have expanded who needs to fill out paperwork detailing their financial obligations.


"That issue is being considered in our revisions," said IID attorney Jeff Garber.


Imperial Valley farmers such as Mike Morgan, who is suing the IID, have repeatedly called for information detailing the financial interests of a variety of consultants that the IID contracts with.


Morgan has alleged during IID board meetings that consultants working on water policies such as the Quantification Settlement Agreement, have conflicts of interest.


Garber said that the IID has a code of conduct that spells out who is required to fill out the conflict of interest forms, which includes board members and general management.


"It's consistent with all other local agencies in the Valley," Garber said of the code of conduct.


Consultants, however, operate within a gray area, as they are neither employees of a governmental agency nor are they elected representatives. However, several court cases have ruled that if they are working on contracts that affect the agency, then they need to make their other financial obligations public.


Garber said that the revised code of conduct will be made public soon.


"We have revised the code of conduct and will be bringing it back to the board," Garber said.#



Nora Jaeschke; property-management leader, staunch water conservationist

San Diego Union-Tribune-8/31/09

By Blanca Gonzalez


When Nora Jaeschke lost her part-time job at a homeowners association management company in 1971, she started a business so she could help three landscapers who had also been laid off by the company.


The enterprise she started from the garage and living room of her Rancho Bernardo home grew to become one of the region's largest private-property-management companies, with more than 200 employees.


Ms. Jaeschke, a leader in the industry, also became active in water-conservation efforts and served on the San Diego County Water Authority board of directors from 1997 to 2005.


Ms. Jaeschke died Wednesday at her Escondido home. She was 72. The cause of death is pending, her family said.


Although she sold her company, N.N. Jaeschke Inc., in 2004, she stayed active and was at a meeting to help formulate a water-conservation program the night before she died. Friends and family members said she was fearless, optimistic and remarkable.


County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price served on the water board with Ms. Jaeschke, and the two became friends. They also served on the Red Cross board together.


"She always looked on the bright side, no matter what challenges she faced," Slater-Price said. "Nora always brought the same spirit of high energy, positive attitude. ... She always wanted to help people."


"Things can get contentious (at Water Authority board meetings), and she always tried to build consensus. She had strong leadership skills but was the most pleasant, engaging person."


Friends said Ms. Jaeschke's professional success was inspirational at a time when few women started and owned their own businesses.


"She said it was an uphill battle, (but) she wanted to be an example to her daughters," Slater-Price said.


Elizabeth Jaeschke de Buenrostro said her mother always looked for ways to make things work. Instead of dwelling on problems, Ms. Jaeschke preferred to focus on solutions, her daughter said.


"She had a heart for service. Wherever there was a need, she tried to help," de Buenrostro said.


In addition to her work with the Red Cross, Ms. Jaeschke volunteered with the Mentor San Diego program and was on the board of directors for St. Vincent de Paul Villages. She was founding president of Friends of the Water Conservation Garden.


Carlsbad Mayor Claude "Bud" Lewis, who also served on the San Diego County Water Authority board of directors, said Ms. Jaeschke understood the importance of water conservation for future generations.


"Nora was unsurpassed in her commitment, passion and tireless dedication to water issues," Lewis said. "She was a real go-getter. She was very energized to help San Diego become the best it could be."


Ms. Jaeschke also enjoyed music and learned to play the ukulele five years ago. Friend and water board colleague Fred Thompson taught her to play, and the two would often strum their ukuleles in parking lots before and after water-related meetings.


"Her schedule was so busy that we had to find the time to play in between meetings," Thompson said. "She was like the Energizer bunny — always going. She was brilliant. She was totally involved with the human race. She had a tremendous sense of humor and was always laughing and enjoying life."


Ms. Jaeschke was born Jan. 13, 1937, in Great Barrington, Mass., and was the oldest of two daughters of Thomas Francis Nugent and Mary Williams Nugent. She loved to swim and was the best swimmer at the local Boys Club, her daughter said. She was invited to the Olympic trials when she was 13 or 14, but her grandmother wouldn't let her go "because it was not very ladylike," de Buenrostro said.


She attended Syracuse University before marrying Charles Jaeschke in 1956. They moved to California for the warm climate and settled in San Diego in 1969. The couple had three daughters. The Jaeschkes divorced after 42 years of marriage in 1998.


Ms. Jaeschke is survived by her daughters, Eleanor Jaeschke Hugus of La Jolla, Christina Scott Jaeschke of Escondido and Elizabeth Jaeschke de Buenrostro of San Marcos; a sister, Beth Bartholomew of Sheffield, Mass.; and four grandchildren.


Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. tomorrow at El Camino Memorial in Sorrento Valley. Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at The Immaculata at the University of San Diego.


The family suggests contributions to Friends of the Water Conservation Garden, 12122 Cuyamaca College Drive W., El Cajon, CA 92019; or to St. Vincent de Paul Villages.#





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