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Rio Linda News 030612

by Jay O'Brien

On Friday, June 6, Superior Court Judge Raymond M. Cadei denied Charlea and Gene Moore's petition for writ of mandate intended to force the Rio Linda/Elverta Community Water District (RLECWD) to rescind employee salary increases that were approved in November 2002. Charlea Moore, who holds office as Director of the Rio Linda/Elverta Recreation and Park District, and her husband Gene alleged that the referendum petition they and others circulated to rescind the RLECWD action was valid and should have been honored by RLECWD, halting the increases and potentially forcing a special election.

Water District General Manager Dave Andres said "We are pleased with the court decision."
Rio Linda/Elverta Community Water District
officials are pleased with court decision.

RLECWD office and tower 6/03 RLECWD General Counsel Stacey Sheston advised the RLECWD Board at its January meeting that setting employee salaries and benefits are actions that are not subject to a referendum petition. Further, she said the petition was flawed on its face as it did not provide full information for the signers of the petition to review, as required by law.

The RLECWD Board, following Sheston's now proven to be correct advice, took no action. On February 18, the Moores filed the legal action that was heard in court on June 6.

Judge Cadei agreed with RLECWD's position, stating in his ruling "Given the obvious formal defect in the petition, respondent [RLECWD] was under no mandatory duty to accept or process it, or to take any of the steps that would otherwise be required by [the] Elections Code..." The RLECWD Board thus followed the law.

The petition circulated by Moore and others "omitted the three pages of schedules setting forth the monetary amounts associated with each pay range", said Cadei, "The petition was thus defective as a matter of law."

Having found the Moore's petition defective as a matter of law, Judge Cadei deemed the issue of whether the Board action was a proper subject for a referendum to be moot. He declined to rule on that issue.

RLECWD Counsel Sheston, in a filing with the court on March 7, said "In the three months since the salary increase took effect, it has cost the District only about ...$1860 per month... defending this frivolous lawsuit will cost the District far more than that". Sheston was right. Through May 1, RLECWD costs to defend against the Moore's "frivolous lawsuit" total $12,997, while the salary increase has cost only $9461. May and June costs are not included.

Legal costs imposed by the Moores "frivolous lawsuit" will be passed on to RLECWD ratepayers; the Moores do not receive water from RLECWD and are not ratepayers themselves.

As the petition was incomplete, "people signed without viewing the schedules listing the actual dollar amounts of the salaries under question", explained Andres. Those who signed the flawed petition with the intent to reduce RLECWD expenses caused the opposite effect; legal costs to the District that will be paid by RLECWD customers.

RLECWD employees can breathe easier now.


Rio Linda Elverta News Editorial, June 5, 2003
This 'N That

She's at it again. Prolific petition gatherer Charlea Moore is at it again. Remember, Parks and Recreation Director Moore is personally suing the Water District for not accepting her flawed petition to stop deserved salary increases for Water District employees. I understand it has cost the District more in legal fees to respond to Charlea than it has spent on the salary increases. And Moore isn't even a Water District customer!

Now she wants equestrian access to the Dry Creek Parkway from U Street, so she can ride her horse to the trails. The residents, however, on that narrow dead-end street see it another way. They fear horse trailers choking their street, as the County has not proposed to either improve U Street or provide a parking area for those who would access the trails. The residents presented a petition to the County signed by 35 residents who included their addresses and articulated their concerns.

Charlea Moore, opposing the residents, submitted a petition to the County with 72 signatures, plus four letters with the same text as the petition. None of Moore's signatures identified the petitioners addresses, some of whom are not even residents of Sacramento County. Four of the signers of Moore's petition, including Water District Director Mary Harris, also sent individual protest letters to the County, perhaps hoping that no one would notice the duplicate submissions.

The signed petitions are included in the official County document finalizing the Environmental Impact of the Dry Creek Parkway, issued in May.

What is most concerning is the tainting of the petition process itself. One of the "signers" of Charlea Moore's petition is two years old! How can that child understand both sides of the issue and make a concerned decision to sign? By the way, the handwriting is very good for a two year old.

If a two-year-old can sign Charlea Moore's petition, does this make you wonder about the validity of the other signatures and the other petitions she has circulated?

Links:
Previous article on this issue March 13, 2003
Previous article on this issue March 27, 2003
Moores' motion asserting they receive water from the Water District
Previous article on this issue April 24, 2003
Subsequent article on this issue November 13, 2003