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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Apologizing for John

For context, this is an imaginary apology from a friend to a demented, obsessed newspaper editor/ come stalker, who, is as I type, home fantasizing on his next assault.

It has been just over a year since I assumed the helm at the Fall River CSD and it seems like three. Little did I know when I walked in the CSD door that my life was never to be the same.

Oh, I was told, by our Board, that our District was years behind in government reporting, we had little funding and pitiful reserves. We were working our way out of near bankruptcy and were dragging ongoing expenses, of previous administrations, around like an Olympic swimmer dragging around a bowling ball. And that was the good news.

Little did I know that our local newspaper editor was suffering from post-administration depression, inasmuch as he had developed an unhealthy obsession with the previous CSD manager, who was spoon feeding him information pulled out of thin air.

But my biggest surprises came when I dared to drag the CSD into the 21st Century. In every move to expand the District I was met with critical, if not irrational, articles condemning anything but water and sewer services, even though we had been blessed, by Charter, with a lengthy list of services we could provide our customers. Nevermind that it would ultimately be the citizens who decided what services they wanted, not the CSD management or Board.

However, due to an unholy alliance formed between The Mt. Echo and a power hungry bureaucrat, all that has come to a screaming halt. In the interim, while those with cooler heads are calling the interfering harridan to task, I must make some amends.

I wish to apologize directly to Mr. Caldwell, because he appears to be the nexus of all my negative, public persona. So, not in any particular order, here goes:

First, I wish to apologize directly to Mr. Caldwell for bringing current years of reporting to government agencies that had been woefully ignored, adoption of Policies and Procedures that had mysteriously disappeared under previous administrations and working with our Board to streamline operations to generate and stabilize revenues.

Next, I wish to apologize for attending meetings, of various agencies, essential for compliance, alternative funding and resource assets necessary for operation of today’s CSD. I know, you believe I should have been in a ditch somewhere, ignoring those pesky opportunities available to us.

I would be remiss if I didn’t apologize for failing to respond to the first editorial assault on my management. Little did I realize that facts, “second sourcing” or story confirmation was anathema to the Echo sensationalism.

I sincerely apologize for those, that know what is happening at the CSD, actually defending my management and the Board in your paper. On the other hand these folks, unlike the Echo, have yet to present one fabrication, misrepresentation or falsification in their attempts to correct the record. I know it doesn’t have the divisive, explosive affect you seek.  But darn it some things are just boring.

I really, really apologize for working with one of those blood sucking consultants, you seem to abhor. Nevermind that it was not me that hired her in the first place.  It was the Board, years ago, who hired her to prepare a 20 year study, marked critically tardy in several audits, which ultimately revealed the systematic embezzlement of tens of thousands by previous manager, Mike Pena. It was then she was sidelined by a lengthy illness. Then under the tenure of short time manager Stewart Busby this consultant was again contracted to assemble, construct and complete the 20 Year Plan.

It was not until after my hiring that the consultant was once again hired to expand information for the Plan and prepare the necessary documents for grant and loan applications submitted to various agencies.

And lastly, I apologize to Mr. Caldwell for grants and loans of over $1 million dollars, received as a result of her work. And I would also be remiss if I didn’t detail that the loans will NOT cost the ratepayers and additional penny, as they don’t take affect until the expiration of current liabilities. These loans, by the way, are specifically for upgrades to an ageing and failing water and sewer system.

Most likely I’ve forgotten other things to apologize for, but I need to close now and actually go out and have a life, something Mr. Caldwell might consider, as I am running out of things to apologize for.


John Van den Bergh said...

I appreciate the support from Dumb Plumber. The CSD or I, are not the only ones impacted by Walt Caldwell's unprofessionalism.

A "reporter" who does not ask questions or confirm his understanding does not produce a quality paper. Walt Caldwell of the Mountain Echo never contacts the CSD for information or comment.

The distorted news published by the Mountain Echo about the CSD has done enormous amounts of damage to the Fall River Valley communities. It is a pity that one person can impact the lives of so many in such a negative way.

In the last year, Mr. Caldwell was able to annoy three CSD board members to such a degree that they quit the CSD Board. First Tom Smith, who quit in August, in part, because of Walt's continuing dogging of the CSD. Then Barbara Briggs, who's husband's business has been impacted by Walt's continuing negative comments and untruths about the CSD, and finally Quincy Hatch, who has had it by Walt's negative reporting on the CSD.

By chasing off three good people Walt deprived the community of positive input on the CSD board, and positive contributions of these people to the valley. This means that fewer services will be available for the people that need them. The ability of killing any progress in this valley by a man from Johnson Park is astounding.

The Mountain Echo's negative reporting has scarred people of this valley in thinking there is something wrong with the CSD. In fact, it is just the opposite: good things are happening and the CSD is both financially and operationally sound.

By only focussing on the negative and fabrications, Walt has become the village bully, instead of a community builder. His personal views should be limited to his editorials, which almost everyone dismisses by saying "Walt is Walt."

I do not mind negative reporting, as long as the facts are correct, and are balanced with positive stories. If Walt is looking for dirt, plenty of dirt can be found at the board meetings of other special districts in the valley. I am proud of the CSD's superior quality of board meetings, transparency of its activities and the professionalism of its staff. Come and see for yourself; our Board meetings are on the second Wednesday of every month at 6 PM at the CSD office on Third Street in FRM.

The Mountain Echo motto is "If you don't want to see it in the paper, don't do it." It should be followed with: "And if you don't do it, I'll make it up."

So, enjoy the pictures of our local athletes in the paper, but don't believe what Walt writes.

Michelle Bonnewell said...

What makes a bully? Fear, incompetency, greed, and most important, opportunity! Go to for good information on recognizing and dealing with bully behavior. They have a great slogan: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, bully."

In Walt Caldwell's world, he is righteous and courageous. In reality, he's just a small minded bully who happened to inherit a newspaper from his wife's family; talk about opportunity! Fear and intimidation can only work on the willing; count me out. I prefer to call it like I see it and I don't have to be a rancher to recognize BS! Publishing nice photos of next generations does not compensate for trashing THEIR opportunity for future empowerment. John Van den Bergh used the word progress and to some, that means physical growth; wrong! The progress at stake here is REAL LOCAL EMPOWERMENT, not the illusion of such. Make no mistake, when two (or more) bully's find each other especially "useful" they double team for double trouble. For us, that means Walt Caldwell's Mountain Echo and our Shasta County LAFCO Director, Amy Mickelson working very well together: pathetic but no surprises here. So sad, but seriously, why is this bully from Johnson Park so deeply invested in thwarting our best efforts and intention to TRULY do for ourselves? My dad had a saying, "Sometimes you got to take the bull by the horns." He was right.