Taking the first steps toward a possible recall of four members of the Board of Directors, a small group of angry ratepayers rallied at the Oct. 28 to discuss their options, and to organize themselves.
The group, initially organized by Division Three ratepayer Dan Connell, say they are fed up with rate increases, poor management and increases in Otay’s employee benefits.
But a lot has led up to this point.
Despite outspoken ratepayers packing the chamber of a public hearing at Otay’s board chambers Aug. 10, the for some 95 employees, spouses, and dependents. While the board insists that employees will ultimately pay for the plan themselves with increased contributions and wages, ratepayers and watchdog groups, including the San Diego Tax Fighters, feel that the board has not been honest in its representation.
“I get the feeling that these people see us as pawns,” said Connell. “That bothers me a lot.”
Connell, who insists that he is not interested in running for office on the board, not only organized the group, but also paid to rent the room at the community center out of his own pocket. He also spent countless hours researching the correct procedures for a recall, explaining them in detail to those in attendance.
“I think it would be worthwhile to put the fear of God into them [the Board of Directors]by initiating a recall,” said Connell.
Initially, all the members of the board, save Mark Robak of Division Five, were to be considered for recall. But as both the enormity of the undertaking and lack of volunteer numbers were realized, the group decided to hold another meeting Nov. 16 to discuss exactly who will be the target of their efforts.
Connell, busy as the caregiver of his wife, a lung cancer survivor, called for someone else to step forward and take charge of the effort. Reluctantly, former Otay Water District Engineer Tim Stanton volunteered to take on the responsibility of recall coordinator. While Stanton has volunteered his services, he also knows that the effort is going to difficult.
“It needs to be real focused,” said Stanton, who was defeated by Mark Robak in the 2008 election. “It’s so much easier to run a candidate.”
None of the five members of the Otay Water Board of Directors could be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts over the last week.