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General manager David Edwards tendered his letter of resignation to the East Quincy Services District board just before the end of last week’s Aug. 13 board meeting.
Director Mike Green said board members were surprised by Edwards’ resignation, effective Aug. 13 with a six-week notice of final termination, as per his contract.
In his letter, Edwards cited recent decisions by the board as reasons for his resignation. The main reason appeared to be the board’s decision to continue its working relationship with Sierra Controls, which supplies the district’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system.
In his resignation letter Edwards said, “It appears to me that this Board wants to run the District through ignorance and prejudice. Personally, I refuse to be a party to wasting $60,000+ of our customers’ money.”
Edwards said his goal upon becoming general manager was “to make EQSD a district that lowered its rates through good management and become an example for the state and nation.”
“I wanted to stop wasteful spending, find alternative sources of income, and be more creative in how we run our business.”
Edwards claimed in his letter to have run a $200,000 surplus during his one-year tenure and to have cleared more than $150,000 above all expectations.
Hired a year ago
Edwards began his job with the district Aug. 15, 2012. He was one of four candidates interviewed for the position and won out over former GM Mary Henrici, who had resigned her position during negotiations to merge with Quincy Community Services District in the previous year.
Almost from the beginning of his employment, Edwards clashed with board members.
Perhaps the first serious shocker came in a memo to the board in September 2012 stating “I would like to be able to break ground next spring (for a new treatment plant).” That comment drew the ire of constituents and board members alike, as the two American Valley services districts were engaged in a joint venture income survey project toward a wastewater solution for the entire American Valley.
In October 2012, Edwards’ travel expenses were brought into question by then-audience member Kathy Felker (she was elected in February to the board of directors).
Felker noticed that although the budget contained no money for travel, Edwards had spent $381 and Felker wanted to know who had authorized the expense.
Later in that meeting, the board directed Edwards to obtain approval for expenditures before taking action.
At the November board meeting, Felker’s concerns about customers’ money being spent on candy, soda and other personal items for employees was on the agenda. Edwards’ written response to Felker’s concerns outraged both board members and constituents.
He wrote, “You may have the impression that I don’t consider this important enough for me to waste my time on and you are correct.”
Director Green said Edward’s response was “absolutely appalling,” and apologized to customers. Other board members said Edwards’ comments were off-base, and they called for a closed session meeting to discuss personnel issues.
In an interview Aug. 15, Edwards said he couldn’t comprehend the logic of a board that is willing to waste $60,000 or more on an outdated SCADA system.
He said he didn’t want to work for a district that didn’t allow him to implement a SCADA solution that was much more cost-effective and would be owned and operated by the district itself, instead of a third party.
Edwards said he plans to go back to being retired in Grass Valley.
The board tentatively scheduled a special meeting Aug. 27 where it is expected that the board will review the general manager job description in preparation for advertising the position.
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