At the 1/22/19 meeting AGM Finance/Treasurer Scott Van Vuren delivered a report that was supposed to layout our in-house and outside legal costs to allow the Board to make an educated decision regarding whether to hire a replacement in-house attorney or to hire an outside law firm to function as MID Counsel. He made his presentation but both some members of the Board and the public had questions. When we tried to get Van Vuren to total the two pages, the first for $1.8 M and the second for $1.8M each total is give or take $100,000, he was hesitant to respond, in fact he refused to respond to repeated inquiries.
We helped him with his math offering that it added up to approximately $3.6M but we couldn’t get him to say the words. Finally he was forthcoming enough to state that there were additional legal costs he hadn’t included in the report. Most notably these were outside legal costs. When asked to place a number on these he said he’d have to get back to us and the Board. Scott repeatedly said the missing numbers would be skewed by settlements. So some of the Board started following up with questions. Scott kept using Turlock Irrigation District (TID) as his comparison. But when asked to produce TID’s numbers so we could compare apples to apples he claimed he’d need to get TID’s permission. Obviously Scott was stalling since these numbers are public domain.
Scott had been saying all along that we paid more then TID for legal costs but had nothing to back up his statements. Questions were finally asked why he hadn’t checked with other districts for comparison. Obviously it didn’t suit his and Director John Mensinger’s preconceived position that outside services would be better.
John Mensinger kept trying to interrupt the questioning saying he’d heard enough but even Director Stu Gilman was getting curious now. What they didn’t mention and since public comment is only 5 minutes so we didn’t get a chance to ask, was about the comparison. TID’s budget is less that half of MID’s. ($164M vs $429M) and it’s safe to say that MID’s 122,000 electric customers are several times more than TID’s. So why use them as a comparison? So they can get the predetermined outcome the ruling cabal desires.
And since we’re just trying to be helpful we have made a Public Record Request from TID for their legal costs for the last three years. Scott seems to produce more reliable numbers when someone is looking over his shoulder. The public needs to look out for themselves now since our compadres in this fight on the Board are out numbered.
It’s starting to sound like 2011 all over again. And that bodes ill for the ratepayers.
For the follow-up see MID’s Missing Legal Costs