Friday, February 18, 2011

Board president sends alarming letter to Dripping Water Supply members

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, to O'Dell at or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

Embattled DSWSC
board president Steven Harris

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.
Click on pages to enlarge
Excerpts from the Harris letter:

"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?"


Anonymous said...

It looks like everyone around here having to do with water management is corrupt in one way or another.

Anonymous said...

NO, not everyone. Mr Harris has crossed the line in his letter to the membership. It is unfortunate that this Tyrannt who is desperate to hold on to his office cannot abide by the standards required of his office.

It is time for the members to take back their water company.

A.W.Blair said...

I have known Steve Harris for 15 years and have found him to be an exceptionally ethical and good person. If he has concerns with the management of DSWSC I think every member should be alerted.

Steve has worked hard for this community and has nothing to gain by his actions. He has served as a board member on the WSC for many years and as president for the last 5 years. I see no reason not believe him.

From his letter, I assume the other side has a significant financial interest in getting rid of Mr. Harris. I suggest that TCEQ and the State Auditor be advised of both sides concerns and perhaps they can bring some light to the issues and help the members sort out this situation.

A.W.Blair, P.E., Phd. and Member of DSWSC

Charles O'Dell said...

Dr. Blair,

When did you last attend a DSWSC board meeting?

DSWSC Member said...

I'm a DSWSC member, attend board meetings and participate in board elections.

I received the Harris letter and found it very interesting. Harris seems to suggest that Walden, Cones and Garnet are in a conspiracy against him. He may be right. Doug Cones has the most financial risk if Harris remains on the board and attempts to renegotiate the Cones Employment Agreement.

Local CPA Roy Pursley is acting as a proxy to vote Harris and Brewer out of office. We do not know who Roy will vote for as replacement directors. If he intends to vote for "pro-Cones" directors things may take a turn for the worse as the corporation evolves from the Dripping Springs WSC into the Doug Cones WSC.

It will serve our Members well to attend the March recall election and decide this matter for themselves before assigning proxies to Roy.

Anonymous said...

Steve Harris and ethical are not synonymous terms. Power hungry, opportunistic, unethical, border line crazy? Yes.

Anonymous said...

Having had professional dealings wwith Harris, Walden, Cones & Brewer; they are all well qualified to serve as village idiots.

Anonymous said...

Maybe LCRA could include the WSC in its offering..

Roy D Pursley said...

To DSWSC Member,
I am not actively seeking proxies for this election. The member letter mentioned the members who are seeking proxies for the election. If by chance someone wishes to give me their proxy, I will vote it, However, I really do not expect to have any siginificant effect on the outcome of the vote. I am not sure where you got your information about me seeking proxies, but it is wrong. I have not sent a letter to the membership, have not engaged in a calling campaign, nor have I spent time trying to convince friends to give me a proxy. As I said, if a proxy is assigned to me, then I will vote it.