Richmond, CA – West County Wastewater’s Board of Directors on Wednesday, February 16, approved a formal response to a report by the Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury, reaffirming WCW’s dedication to responsible, open governance and adherence to industry and public agency standards.
The Grand Jury’s report, issued in November 2021, did not find evidence of irregularities in WCW’s operations and procedures. The investigation stemmed from a complaint of Board member misconduct, and did not involve allegations of financial or general mismanagement. The Board issued the following in a statement about the response:
“At West County Wastewater, we are – and always have been – profoundly invested in serving in the public’s best interest. We are appalled by the misconduct of certain members of this Board, one of which resulted in a referral to the District Attorney and an investigation by the Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury.”
The Board’s declaration commended the leadership of WCW General Manager Lisa Malek-Zadeh and her efforts to modernize the agency while denouncing the actions of Board members who carried out a personal vendetta against her. The statement also condemned the Grand Jury’s decision to focus on agency operations instead of the Board misconduct, despite the report noting political and personal divisiveness among Board members as the probable cause for the complaint.
Investigations into those Board members’ behavior, their censure and follow-up trainings cost the district $200,000, enough for 60 homeowner grants to replace laterals, an outcome that is “blatantly unacceptable,” the statement says.
Despite finding no evidence of wrongdoing, the Grand Jury report recommends that WCW review its financial policies and the General Manager’s responsibilities, both of which were updated a year ago. The agency and the Board already follow industry and public agency standards, as proven in a recent survey of 19 public agencies and professional associations. However, in its response, the Board agreed to again review these procedures. The Board’s statement regarding the report also read:
“As an organization that provides a vital public service to almost 100,000 people in our community, we are committed to great governance. Transparency, accountability, and trust are at the core of our operations and are the driver for all that we do. WCW will always operate in this manner, now and in the future.”
Additional information can be found in the Board of Directors agenda, available at wcwd.org/about-us/meetings-and-agendas.
Contact: Kate Gibbs, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-390-4844