In a move that surprised no one, Carlos Tabarini has resigned from the Byron-Brentwood-Knightsen Union Cemetery District board ("Cemetery Board") and Dave Piepho has applied his wife, Mary Piepho for the open seat.
Contra Costa Times Article: Appointment would allow Supervisor's husband to remain on board that settles growth disputes
Whatever people may say about the Piephos, they do not lack for moxie! They appear willing and ready to say just about anything.
The article points out Piepho's new found interest in this obscure and tiny cemetery board as he tries to minimize the reality that this will keep him on LAFCO:
Really? One wonders what the "primary" reason is for his interest. Piepho doesn't stop there. He also wants to point out that his concern at this point is not about himself:
Fortunately, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is aware of the Piephos' actions as well as the public outrage demonstrated by the CoCoTimes editorial and public comments they have received. While the Piephos no doubt have a "Plan B" and "Plan C" ready for implementation, they have at least been delayed in ensuring Dave will keep "his" LAFCO seat. Also, they know that people are watching...
August 28th Update
The Contra Costa District Attorney's office has issued a memo dated 8/24/2010 saying that they have no investigation currently pending in their office involving Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho or Discovery Bay Community Services District Board Member David Piepho.
August 2010 Update
Against a backdrop of comments that the Contra Costa District Attorney's office is investigating Dave Piepho for alleged criminal activity resulting in $6,500 in illegal stipend claims, Piepho has decided to not seek re-election to the DB-CSD. Piepho meanwhile is reportedly telling people that he has received assurance from the DA that no investigation is taking place.
Last year, following a lengthy investigation by the DB-CSD spurred by Bob Mankin's allegation against the DB-CSD, Piepho returned over $6,500 in illegally claimed stipends. However, he demonstrated no remorse, issued no apology or acknowledged any wrongdoing. He has also never explained why he ignored the advice he was given by the District's attorney in 2006 (
, but then returned the money following similar advice from the same attorney in 2009 (
To the surprise of some observers, Piepho did not file his campaign papers prior to the August 6th, 2010 deadline, thus beginning a five month lame duck phase of his long tenure on the DB-CSD board.
Piepho had taken his candidacy papers out in July, signaling his intention to endure what was certain to be a vitriolic campaign.
Piepho enjoys serving on the powerful Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and will need to find another special district office to hold in order to retain that seat. Piepho's wife, County Supervisor Mary Piepho, is an alternate on LAFCO. Some expect Dave Piepho to take over a special district seat from one of Mary Piepho's appointees to another special district in order to maintain his LAFCO position.
July 2010 Update
The new Community Services District Law took effect on January 1, 2006.
The Discovery Bay CSD commissioned its attorney, John Stoval, to review the law and provide guidance to the DB-CSD. Dave Piepho was serving on the board at this time and received John Stoval's advice letter clearly outlining the law regarding stipends and warning of the criminal implications of not adhering to the law.
Despite this advice, Dave Piepho, sought and received over $6,500 in illegal stipends from the ratepayers.
In 2009, subsequent to Bob Mankin's Public Records Request and call for an investigation, John Stoval issued an updated letter that again outlined the law regarding stipends and warned of the criminal implications of not adhering to the law.
Piepho and other CSD board members were forced to return the illegally paid stipends.
Because Dave Piepho was placed on notice by the board's attorney but ignored his advice, it appears that Piepho's violation of the law may have been intentional. To that end,
Contra Costa Count DA Steve Bolen has confirmed the ongoing criminal investigation into the actions of Dave Piepho. Other CSD members may also be included in this investigation however the amount of town money they took was much less.
It is worth noting that Dave Piepho has stated publicly that he disagrees with the law and wants to see it changed. He has also taken steps to help board members receive as many stipends as possible, including making motions to allow all board members to attend meetings outside the DB-CSD authority which is limited to water, sewer, landscaping and recreation.
Responding to a request, the DB-CSD BOD has provided a detailed accounting of the stipend restitution claims. That information is now available to the public at 2010-01-14 Stipend Detail.pdf.
Providing the detailed accounting signifies the first time that the Board has acted in an open and transparent manner on this issue and hopefully is a sign that the newly formed Board will act similarly with open and transparent actions in the coming months.
If anyone reviewing the Stipend detail has any questions or issues you can direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org or the DB-CSD.
Clearly, public concern has brought this issue to this point and the Board has improved their process, oversight, and willingness to respond to the public in an open and honest manner.
December 2009 Update
As a result of Bob Mankin's letter in which he threatened litigation against the CSD, and this website in which a large number of community members expressed their concerns, the CSD has taken some action. Unfortunately the action was not discussed openly and more questions remain.
The agenda for the December 16th The Discovery Bay CSD meeting included these two items:
The agenda packet is available here:http://sites.google.com/site/dbcsdagenda/home
The exhibits that were provided for these two issues were not included in the agenda packet, or available to the board or the public until the beginning of the 12/16 meeting. Those documents are available here:
The Board voted to approve the direction recommended by John Stoval on both agenda items without any discussion amongst the directors. When questioned, President Tetreault said that these items had been discussed in several closed sessions and the board was prepared to take action on that basis.
In his stipend resolution letter of 12/16/2009, Mr. Stoval determines that directors were paid stipends inappropriately but also neglected to claim some stipends to which they were entitled. He has determined what the proper amount owed by the directors is on that basis:
Mr. Stoval did not provide any detail of these restitution claims that the directors will reimburse to the CSD, and when a citizen has asked for that information he was denied 2009-12-18 Privilege Claim.pdf. In the 12/16/2009 meeting, Mr. Stoval said that Bob Mankin's letter contained the threat of litigation and the board has used that excuse to discuss this issue in closed session and not provide a full accounting of the overpayments.
The Board has not handled this in an open and transparent manner, and refusing to provide an accounting of the innapropirate claims that the directors have submitted doesn't help build trust.
The input from the community has helped us get this far - now the community needs to let the CSD know that the questions that remain must be resolved openly and honestly.
You have received an email with a link to this website either because you participated in the last CSD election by supporting Ray Tetreault and Mark Simon, or you have expressed interest in seeing the DB-CSD operate at a higher level.
Unfortunately this website does not contain good news. Several months ago it was suggested that some or all of the DB-CSD directors were not following the law regarding the $100 per meeting payment (stipend) they are allowed to request under certain specific circumstances.
The DB-CSD was asked in public to look into this alarming situation and fix the problem using independent and objective means. When it was apparent they were not going to act, the expense reports for the longest tenured Director (David Piepho) were obtained through a Public Records Request.
In all likelihood these potential compensation issues go beyond just this director and the review of this issue should not be limited to this director.
Here is the pertinent section of California Government Code law that deals with meeting payments/stipends:
California Government Code §61047
(a) The board of directors may provide, by ordinance or resolution, that each of its members may receive compensation in an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) for each day of service. A member of the board of directors shall not receive compensation for more than six days of service in a month.
(b) The board of directors, by ordinance adopted pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 20200) of Division 10 of the Water Code, may increase the amount of compensation that may be received by members of the board of directors.
(c) The board of directors may provide, by ordinance or resolution, that its members may receive their actual and necessary traveling and incidental expenses incurred while on official business. Reimbursement for these expenses is subject to Sections 53232.2 and 53232.3.
(d) A member of the board of directors may waive any or all of the payments permitted by this section.
(e) For the purposes of this section, a "day of service" means any of the following:
(1) A meeting conducted pursuant to the Ralph M. Brown Act, Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 54950) of Part 1 of Division 2 of Title 5.
(2) Representation of the district at a public event, provided that the board of directors has previously approved the member's representation at a board of directors' meeting and that the member delivers a written report to the board of directors regarding the member's representation at the next board of directors' meeting following the public event.
(3) Representation of the district at a public meeting or a public hearing conducted by another public agency, provided that the board of directors has previously approved the member's representation at a board of directors' meeting and that the member delivers a written report to the board of directors regarding the member's representation at the next board of directors' meeting following the public meeting or public hearing.
(4) Representation of the district at a meeting of a public benefit nonprofit corporation on whose board the district has membership, provided that the board of directors has previously approved the member's representation at a board of directors' meeting and the member delivers a written report to the board of directors regarding the member's representation at the next board of directors' meeting following the corporation's meeting.
(5) Participation in a training program on a topic that is directly related to the district, provided that the board of directors has previously approved the member's participation at a board of directors' meeting, and that the member delivers a written report to the board of directors regarding the member's participation at the next board of directors' meeting following the training program.
Click here for the Director's actual expense reports for the last several years through Q2 2009. This information is presented to you along with the applicable law so you can have the facts and draw your own conclusions.
You should look at the California Government Code section above that describe what kind of meetings a director can be paid to attend and then look at the kind of meetings that this director has claimed on his stipend requests over the years. It can easily be construed that this director has wrongly claimed and been paid thousands of dollars.
As an example, one could conclude from reading the law that meetings with developers, vendors, CSD staff, and others do not qualify for payments. However if you look at the claims submitted by this director you will see many instances of compensation being requested and paid for just these sorts of activities. Beyond this obvious example there are many other categories of payments that require critical and independent review as they appear to be questionable Including submitting charges for mileage for driving from his house to the CSD office (various distances), and for seeking double compensation when a closed session is held in conjunction with an open session despite the fact that he never has to leave his seat.
Interestingly, even the payments that seem legitimate in many cases may not be lawful because they may not have met the requirements of prior authorization and submission of a written report within a certain time frame.
In all likelihood these potential compensation issues go beyond just this director and the review of this issue should not be limited to this director.
In fact questions need to be asked concerning whether or not board members acted to conceal or cover-up this matter.
So why is this a matter worth public scrutiny and why is NOW a critical time to bring this forward? Clearly when there is the probability of the public's money being wrongly taken (no matter the amount) it is impossible to sit idly by and do nothing, but that seems to be what the DB-CSD is doing. Because of the serious nature of this matter and lack of any response from the DB-CSD, this matter has been referred for review by potential intervening governmental authorities.
The elected members of the DB-CSD have a fiduciary responsibility to properly conduct the affairs of this town and to hire competent employees and support staff, in this case the General Manager and CSD attorney, who are to ensure the laws are followed. When they fail to do so or circumstances emerge that raise serious questions the public needs to step in and seek answers and a resolution. It is our obligation to do so.
Right now is that time. The three remaining DB-CSD members are planning to select two new members to fill the vacant seats on November 4, 2009. By virtue of your past desire to see the DB-CSD function at a higher level now is the time for you to contact the existing directors and state your opinion regarding investigating and resolving this entire DB-CSD compensation situation and most importantly choosing new directors with the specific skills and stated objective necessary to raise the DB-CSD's functional competency.
After reviewing the contents of this message and the attachments, if you reach the same conclusion of disappointment please pass this message on to your friends and neighbors who also desire improvements in the way this town operates. With your help we can put an end to directors using the town treasury as their own piggy bank!
Below are the email addresses we suggest you contact to express how you feel on this issue and on the future of this community; the two new directors must be willing to raise the bar:
President Ray Tetreault, DB-CSD email@example.com
Director Mark Simon, DB-CSD firstname.lastname@example.org
Director David Piepho email@example.com
General Manager Virgil Koehne DB-CSD firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor Rick Lemyre, The Press email@example.com
Staff Reporter Ruth Robert, The Press firstname.lastname@example.org
With your help we can bring a higher level of governance to our community. Thank you