Corporation attorney calls for immediate special board meeting to oust Harris
Reporting from the field, Charles O'Dell . . . Send your comments and news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org, to O'Dell at email@example.com or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story
A bad situation at Dripping Springs Water Supply Corp (DSWSC) just got worse when board president Steven Harris – already under pressure to resign from the board for harassing DSWSC employees and open meetings violations – mailed a rambling three page political letter to members that repeated unsubstantiated charges against DSWSC employees. The letter, sent last week, also addressed a former CPA of the water supply and attacked a member-signed petition calling for a special membership meeting on March 10th to hear charges filed against Harris and to vote on whether to oust Harris and fellow board member, Larry Brewer, from the board.
The unauthorized letter is designed to affect the March 10th membership election. It contains charges already shown to be false and was mailed using DSWSC funds, all apparently in violation of laws governing non-profits, libel laws and US Postal laws.
DSWSC attorney, Phil Haag, is reported to be concerned that Harris’ letter may place the corporation at risk for numerous slander and libel suits. Harris used the DSWSC postage permit on his unauthorized political letter and obtained reimbursement from the corporation for more than $750, including $429.27 in “printing” costs.
Harris submitted a personal receipt for the printing he claimed was done commercially, and promised to submit the printer’s original receipt as requested. So far, Harris has failed to deliver the receipt from a commercial printer. Harris’ letter may have turned what was once a messy internal DSWSC dispute into a matter for law enforcement.
"So, as members, we have to ask what this is all about. Is all the fuss about your best interest? Is (general manager Doug) Cones serving us, or his wallet? Is Walden just a noble ex-member living nearly 30 miles away who has tons of free time to spend riding around with Cones every week? Is all the time in the field (at your expense) just to serve you and I, or is the plan to get a job? You need to know that Cones is only a year or so out from retirement, according to his version of the contract. The version he tried to write his own contract with our professionals! Is this right? Can the employee negotiate his terms with our representative and present it to the employer for approval? I did interrupt this plan for a five-year term with no requirements and plenty of payout. That is true. The Board approved an offer that was presented to Cones and he accepted.
"This petition is going to cost the membership a lot of money. Then, immediately following is the regular annual meeting where another election will be held for the seat held by Mr. Wolf, the Secretary/Treasurer. Your votes will decide whether conservative votes remain on the Board, or more of Cones' handpicked yes-men will be in place. Do you want another mess like what happened to P.E.C.? Do you want more like Garnett who does not read the minutes or plans and yet votes. So often, he votes once he asks Jim Walden what to do or looks up at Cones and nods or shakes his head to vote yes or no . . .
"Whatever happens, I encourage you to vote based on facts and not the emotion of half-truths that continue to make headlines. Consider the source. Is the author a member? What does this serve? Who does this serve? So much of the paper and blog information is coming from non-members and quite possibly staff. The office staff has been seen passing recording devices in meetings. Does the staff work for us, or outsiders? Should we be able to trust the staff to defend the board, their employer?"