Tina Stillwell vs Garberville Sanitary District: Civil Suit Filed Monday Alleging Plaintiff Was Fired for Bringing Attention to Misconduct by the General Manager

Judges Gavel

Image by Chris Potter via Wikimedia Commons

On Monday, Tina Stillwell, a former employee of the Garberville Services District, filed a lawsuit against the District alleging that she was fired because she blew the whistle on misconduct by the General Manager, Ralph Emerson. Stillwell alleges in the suit that Ralph Emerson retaliated by firing her within months of her providing information to an outside auditor.

In a story we published in May of last year, Kelley Lincoln, our reporter, noted the auditor “discovered the General Manager holds several positions at three other districts. Since this District employs him full time, there should be some accountability for the time he spends at his outside employment.”

The auditor also noted that Emerson used the Garberville Services District’s credit to “purchase a tool for another district. Although this tool was replaced, it is a major internal control concern.”

According to the Stillwell’s lawsuit, Stillwell was the one who informed the auditor of the issues. She alleges that Emerson retaliated within months and terminated her employment. In a story we posted in September, Stillwell and her attorneys, one of which, Herb Schwartz, was a former Garberville Services District Board Chair, sent a letter to the Board of Directors offering “pre-litigation mediation to the District in an effort to bring about a speedy and cost effective resolution.”

Now a suit has been filed and Schwartz, in an email sent to multiple people including several reporters and Supervisor Estelle Fennell, states that he is concerned at how long the case could drag on as “criminal cases preempt civil cases all the time.” In addition, Schwarz alleges that Humboldt County’s “lack of internet access to our [court] files is medieval” and is especially burdensome on those who live in outlying areas who must travel to Eureka in order to read court cases.

However, Schwartz provided the file in the email and we’ve provided access to it below. For those unfamiliar with court language, Stillwell is the plaintiff, the Garberville Service District and Ralph Emerson among others are the defendants in this case. The section, General Allegations, on page 3 of the pdf below, provides the basic story as told from the point of view of Stillwell and her attorneys.

Please remember the following information has not been proven in a court of law but are only the allegations of one side in the case.

In September when we requested more information from the Board, they strongly denied the allegations by Stillwell. However, they also stated, “…no additional comment will follow at this time as this is a pending and/or threatened litigation matter involving District personnel determinations.”

Below is the lawsuit. Please give the pdfsome time to load.

Stillwell 1 v GSD 3.5.18


  • Taurus Ballzhoff

    This is a good example of what should happen to public agencies who fire people for no reason at all, maintain hostile and toxic workplaces, and operate according to local prejudice and repressive provincial methods.

    Jerold Phelps Hospital should have a large number of similar lawsuits against it, given SHCHD’s history of 60% turnover and the extreme number of “severed” employees.

    Study the action above. It is a good example of what to do when employment is terminated by stupid local characters that occupy public office and positions of authority in public agencies.

    • Hey, all’s fair inside special utility districts. You have to pay your fair share. He should have taken her out back and straightened her out like they do out at the coast.

    • I think if you check it out you’ll find that there are a number of reasons for turnover at any of the local medical facilities. Lack of affordable housing is one big one. With the lack of qualified personnel interested in living and working here and the difficulty of attracting them one can be sure that anyone “canned” by the healthcare district was terminated for cause. I suspect you are one of them T.B. and if you’d use your real name we could confirm that.

      • Taurus Ballzhoff

        You imagining what happened, and what actually occurs or occurred at SHCHD are two different things. Please keep your opinions to yourself, since you do not know anything at all.

        Some people come here to work, on purpose, and can afford the housing. My experience is recent enough, and indicates that in the example of SHCHD, having stupid people in charge, and the rule of the incompetent and corrupt in local public agencies is a one usually followed in high order. Since it is difficult to root out the poor quality incumbents, specific lawsuits may be the best method of helping these poorly operated agencies to evolve.

        Making excuses for the badly operated is hardly a method of improving our public agencies.

        Please confine your activities and opinions to your own business of selling real estate and trinkets and greeting cards.

        Your hospital will eventually author it’s own downfall.

        Next time, try some elected board members, instead of appointing friends of current and retiring board members… Maybe you will eventually get people to serve who are less incompetent and corrupt, and who are somehow qualified to operate a hospital district…

        • Veteran's Friend

          Thank you sir.

          • Taurus Ballzhoff

            My pleasure.

            Now let’s work to defeat the upcoming and most recent attempt to tax property to support SHCHD’s continued poor quality operation.

            Meanwhile, there are REAL hospitals available, in Fortuna and Willits, and I advise using them instead, even though they seem hardly less incompetent and corrupt, and seem also to not offer a workplace that is less toxic and hostile…

            • I hope Sohum voters aren’t so stupid as to vote the parcel tax down. It’s a long way to Fortuna.

              • Taurus Ballzhoff

                I hope SoHum voters adopt a new motto:

                You call THAT a “hospital”?


                If you want to waste your money on higher taxes to support a dying mess, that is operated by clueless locals who have no earthly business or qualifications to run a healthcare facility, then go for it!

                Most persons who own property in SoHum have already indicated that they do not support SHCHD, by the recent rejection of Proposition W by 2:1.

                You and all citizens of SoHum have an opportunity to vote for lower property taxes, in an area that is quite expensive to live in.

                I know you will want to vote against this continued parcel tax.

                SHCHD exists in a support-vacuum, and I for one, refuse to pay any more of my money to support this corrupt, and incompetently operated facility.

                The drive to Willits or Fortuna could well save your life!

                • Like most commenters that hijack the comment section for their own off-topic agenda, you have a tendency to exaggerate.

                  While Measure W did not pass, it was not rejected 2:1 as you suggest.

                • I own property in Sohum, but I do not live there to be able to vote on it. Again, I hope the voters will be sensible enough to pass the measure. When I lived there I had to make a couple of trips to the ER for my kids who were injured. I would not have wanted to watch/hear them in pain for the long drive to Fortuna. They did very well by my kids.

                • Taurus Ballzhoff

                  Thanks for the info! I do believe that 56/44 represents a clear message to the district!

                  This discussion is hardly over, but SHCHD will be…

                  The election is not till June, but how many chances will you get to vote yourself a reduction of your property tax?

                  Plus: The subject here was supposed to be problems and lawsuits related to employment. Thanks for your input!

                • you make me tired

                  since you don’t like or respect the locals, whyn’t you go on back where you came from? im starting to not care for you much niether.

                • Taurus Ballzhoff

                  “If you don’t like it, leave!” THAT’S that good Garberville attitude… Thanks!

                  Let’s work on that: Hey, how about: “if you don’t like it, fix something!

                  You can’t change the past, but you can build the future.

                  Or just build SOMETHING new! There’s never anything new there, just new lows in crime and general behavior!

              • Eric V. Kirk, you stated on your blog; “I’m going to avoid comment for reasons I’m not going to get into,”


                So what was it?

                To be honest, you already called the “voters” of Southern Humboldt “stupid” on this blog. Did you not want to weight in because of some ethical lawyer BS or was it because you are on the Board of the Southern Humboldt Community Park and want water connections from GSD?

      • Thank you, Kirby. Lack of available housing has certainly cost us medical providers from the Clinic, as well as at least one potential veterinarian. It is the biggest issue in growing our community in a positive direction, in my own humble opinion.

        • Taurus Ballzhoff

          Er, I think the drug zombies, the house-less persons living down by the river, the pot thing, the 24/7 drug supermarkets running in the motels that are not being used to house hundreds of tweakers and their families, the psychopathic growers in their pickups, and the average citizens of Garberville and their antisocial, paranoid, provincial and parochial attitudes might have something to do with it! Also the lack of culture, the extreme feelings of isolation, the distance to civilization, and the abusive, hostile and toxic environment at your “hospital-like facility” could be contributing to the lack of doctors and allied healthcare professionals, plus the fact that everyone gets fired there, because someone who’s been around for a while does not “like” them… Not to mention “Bonnie” and “Kirby” who already know “everything about everything”…

          The main problem with Garberville is the excuses everyone gives for just about everything! As we know, the one doing the blaming is almost always the abuser…

          • but its the corrupt good ol boy network local friends and family first plan that drives the implanted professionals away. Once they learn it, they leave.

          • Michael Thompson

            Ballzhoff: I believe you should get out of town. How the hell did you end up in such a terrible place? What have you done to make it better?

            • Taurus Ballzhoff

              Came to work, for YOU, Garberville! Got screwed over by the lackeys who worked for the locals, but decided to live in a beautiful area for awhile… Then my neighbors started dealing meth, and building greenhouses. Probably had been all along…

              Where is better, Michael? I been everywhere, but settled elsewhere!

              It’s easy to rag on Garberville, since it’s so pathetic. I do love the farmer’s market though…

          • In that case, the biggest blamer on this blog would be you, Ballzy.
            Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, Kirby and myself included. You certainly spew yours all over the page–bitch, bitch, bitch.

            • Taurus Ballzhoff

              Thanks for your opinion. Level, as always…

              Must be time for your Levaquin, Neurontin, Tramadol…

              Breathe, you’ll feel better soon…

              • Taurus Ballzhoff

                And if you think there’s not enough housing, why don’t you build some?

                People who can afford housing can find it.

    • Alas, unfortunately, ALL employers in CA who do not contract independently with each employee can, and usually do, hire people “at will,” meaning the employer has the legal RIGHT to fire any employee at any time, with or without reasons, with or without notice. The employee then has the burden to prove to the court that they were the victims of discrimination, workplace harassment, fraud, etc. — i.e., some legally actionable wrongdoing on the employer’s part. As an employee I certainly find this wrong. But for employers, it saves a heck of a lot of trouble. For a public agency, it means less likelihood of spending public money (taxpayers, ratepayers) defending themselves.

      • Taurus Ballzhoff

        In any case, employers are required to follow state and federal laws, relating to
        conditions of employment, harassment, discrimination, etc. Almost no employers are careful in the application of these laws, and, anti-harassment laws are some of the most frequently violated ones. Often when persons are terminated, the severed employee will immediately file for unemployment. Very few employers will fight these awards, and, the few who do, almost always lose on appeal. Often, the severed employee goes no farther.

        Recent sexual harassment and sexual assault claims have focused the employees upon improprieties in the workplace.

        It is always a good idea to consider legal action when the employer is acting illegally. If you have a problem with your employer’s actions, you should carefully document, and collect photos, voice recordings, and any other evidence you can obtain.

        Burden of proof is on the claimant, but, these cases are easier to win than ever, and, many employers will settle, rather than have their laundry aired in public.

        Employment is often a struggle, but we can always move on, and we can always try to make the employer act in a legal and responsible manner. Often, a lawsuit will result in a smarter, more compliant employer, and action against individuals may result in them being severed themselves.

        In the case of a public agency, one hopes that these entities will be careful in the future, and that public entities will act in a more legal and sensible manner.

        Nobody has the right to fire unfairly, merely the right to terminate for any or no reason at all. Employees also have this right.

        Don’t work for employers who are abusive! You don’t have to!

    • Michael Thompson

      Taurus Ballzhoff: What facts do have have for your accusations against the SHCHD? Don’t make general accusations without facts. You are spreading rumors if you can’t supply some facts. It is people like you who will cause the death of locals for lack of emergency care.
      Why don’t you take the time to create your own blog addressing YOUR opinion on SHCHD? You a practicing “Whataboutism” Stick to the topic! Have you taken your accusations to the BOD? Probably not, it is easier to sit back and throw accusations with no facts.

      • Taurus Ballzhoff

        Jeeze, Michael, what would you like to know? I worked at SHCHD, and I know where some of the bodies are…

        The professional community in Eureka and points North call JPH “the death zone”… You don’t want to apply at Mad River or St Joe’s and talk about your time at JPH!

        Go to Humboldt County Mental Health and mention Garberville. You will get an ear-full.

        Hey JPH! Keep blowing that smokescreen! Keep lying to everyone! Doing a great job of it!

        I wouldn’t bother going the a BOD meeting, since they are still talking about the same things they were talking about in 2012. Read the minutes on the website, when they bother to stop face-booking long enough to update them…

        I have nothing against my fellow healthcare workers, at all. A long career has taught me that administrators are paid to lie, cheat, and steal, while exploiting, abusing, and harassing the staff. SHCHD is a very good example of an under-performing and mostly crooked facility operated by a schedule of characters who have few qualifications, in the dark, with opaque funding from “somewhere”… Who really gives them the money to keep that nasty, dirty little hospital open? You will never find out, and the financials are a big secret. Someday the truth will be exposed, but I got things to do besides solve SHCHD’s problems, and real healthcare to attend to…

        YOU need a facility that is preparing for the future, not one that is stuck in the past. Start with a whole new board, a new CEO, and a new COO! Honest, competent, profitable business that serves the public, is what they should aim for, not constant grubbing for funds. We got enough beggars already!

        SHCHD has a real bad case of “mission drift” and I don’t see any improvement, year to year.

        It will never get better with the same old cadre of characters. And what about you, Michael? What sold you on working at JPH?

        • Michael Thompson

          Your rant has no substantiation or facts to support it.
          If you have all of the inside information of unlawful actions you should take it to the D.A. for prosecution.
          PLEASE put up or shut up.
          Oh, by the way, I served on the BOD. What have you done to improve this community?

          • Taurus Ballzhoff

            Let’s see, not in the last 6 years you didn’t serve on the BOD…

            I can’t talk cases, since the patients are protected by HIPPA, and I am not on trial here. I have spent the last 40 something years serving patients in various settings. Some of the worst examples of poor care at JPH are buried in the local cemetery, and I watched some of these folks die.

            I was never so traumatized anywhere as I was within the walls of Jerold Phelps Hospital. I tried to help the Administrators do the right thing over and over, only to have these folks take a hard turn and do the stupid thing. Like I said, you can’t change the past, but you can build the future.
            The current crowd at JPH prefers the wrong course, the poor choice. I can’t fix that, and no amount of evidence will either. The only thing likely to fix the place, is bankruptcy, and closed doors. Or maybe outside management, but that does not always work, either. See Tulare Med Ctr or Lone Pine…

            Fix it yourself! Lead SHCHD to water! If you are a board member, or were a board member, it’s disingenuous to ask me “what did I do”. I worked there a year, and was discarded for my trouble, by a CEO who was then discarded himself. No amount of salary makes up for a year of your life, and nothing I did or said had any effect. The current leaders at JPH are still hiring and firing, alienating yet another batch of severed employees, and, disaffecting the community as JPH again seeks 66% of the property owners to vote to pass yet another bond in order to obtain even more general funding, so they can go on doing a poor job! This. Will. Not. Happen!

            If you don’t like my opinion, don’t care for the wisdom of others, if you feel that “something, anything” is better than nothing, in the case of JPH,
            then we are just going to disagree. Something is not always better than nothing!

            Good for you, for attempting to steer the hospital. What happened?

  • Really clear, Kym. Thank you so much for laying out the issues and the history of the problem.

  • Hey ED voice I hear you know some of the criminal goings ons of this water District raise the water rates to pay for his raise about that same time not very many people keeping an eye on these things I wonder how many hours he clocks at these other two jobs to still have a full-time job in Garberville and if you donate a couple billion we could probably fix the hole in the bucket put some bubblegum in it for a little while the biggest water diversion in the Eel River for grapes evil grapes queuing ED voice

  • Veteran's Friend

    I hope no one is expecting any help from our supervisor.

  • Fennel appointed three of the “out of district board” members-Gary Welborn-Richard Thompson-Rio Anderson-they voted then Emerson got his raise-Sorry Dave you are way off on this one. And Emerson taking his late night walks with his wife looking into your back yard is not “really” acceptable. A board he had appointed,living so far away,who pays your travel time? How many hours spent working your other districts? and now one of GSD employees to take over Phillipsville district while still employed by GSD ? yes, something is wrong people. Thank you Redheaded Blackbelt and Kelly Lincoln for your reporting.

    • And exactly how did Emerson get his raise and how much I heard that he kind of gave it to himself and it might have been voted on in some back alley behind where they took my friend in the cove

  • While this case is a classic, and therefore legitimately raises discussion on all the peripheral issues, I hope some focus will remain on supporting Tina the whistleblower. As a lifetime Garberville resident, it took a lot of ethics and courage for this woman to “stand up” in an environment of people of greater social power.

  • You get him Tina..these good old boys start thinking they are the lords of the manor and everyone else is their serfs

  • I know Tina, not as a personal friend but as someone whose work meant frequently needing her help, and I firmly believe she is a dedicated and honest person. She worked for GSD for many years, for two different General Managers and through many changes, conflicts and controversies. I would take anything she says very seriously. And I agree re ethics and courage.

  • Yeah, Tina…thank you for stepping up! Best of luck to you!

    And thanks, Herb. What took you so long? It’s not like Ralph Emerson was an anomaly or anything when it comes to nefarious shit over at GSD…

    Oh, and whatever happened to that other now jobless critic, Ron Copenhofer?

  • Pingback: Tina Stillwell vs. Garberville Services District | Sohum Parlance II

  • What was the tool that was paid for by the district, but used by another district? A screwdriver, a backhoe?

  • Michael Thompson

    Taurus Ballzhoff: What facts do have have for your accusations against the SHCHD? Don’t make general accusations without facts. You are spreading rumors if you can’t supply some facts. It is people like you who will cause the death of locals for lack of emergency care.
    Why don’t you take the time to create your own blog addressing YOUR opinion on SHCHD? You a practicing “Whataboutism” Stick to the topic! Have you taken your accusations to the BOD? Probably not, it is easier to sit back and throw accusations with no facts.

  • GSD just had a Board meeting last week, it was reported on by the Indie this week (Keith Easthouse) concerning the Water Treatment Plant chlorine contact chamber replacement ($200k). Why are the GSD ratepayers allowing GSD to spend approx $200k for something that only benefits a private Park?

    lets recap this GSD chlorine contact chamber debacle:

    Just to give you some background information about what I am requesting; the GSD water treatment plant underground chlorine contact chamber failed in November 2017 and generated a boil water notice from the State to the ratepayers of GSD:


    And during a GSD Board meeting on November 28, 2017; the following was stated concerning the failed underground chlorine contact chamber:

    “When the plant was built, the contact chamber was installed to accommodate potential water needs for the Community Park. All other customers can be served without having a contact chamber. However, in summer, higher water demand will shorten the delivery time. This means using twice the chlorine that has been needed according to Arreguin”


    And there is a recording of the meeting where Mr. Dan Arreguin (GSD Drinking Water Operator/Employee) stated and I quote:

    “The reason that we could count this contact time coming up the hill into town is because they put in that chlorine contact chamber to add for potential growth at the Park. So we had to have, if they put a house down at the park, and we connected down there right off the water treatment plant, we had to have that contact chamber. But they don’t have houses. There’s no water connection going to them from the treatment plant. So we can count all the way up here to town as our contact time.”

    And just to remind you, the “Park” (Southern Humboldt Community Park) is contiguous with the GSD Water Treatment Plant.

    So, given this new information was not made available, studied, included, mitigated, adopted or approved by the lead agency (GSD) in the Water Treatment Plant MND (SCH # 2009122069), GSD Boundary Change Annexation MND (SCH # 20122032025) or the Southern Humboldt Community Park Rezone EIR (SCH # 2010092037) until now. And given the fact GSD wants to replace the underground chlorine contact chamber with a new above ground chlorine contact chamber, that is still somehow connected to the potential water needs for the Southern Humboldt Community Park; I feel this project warrants review under CEQA with an amendment disclosing the growth inducing effects to the environment, reasonably foreseeable and future growth of the Southern Humboldt Community Park.

    Section 15126.2(d) of the CEQA Guidelines requires a discussion of how the proposed
    project could foster economic or population growth, or the construction of additional
    housing, either directly or indirectly, in the surrounding environment. Induced growth is
    distinguished from the direct economic, population, or housing growth of a project.
    Induced growth is any growth that results from new development that would not have
    taken place in the absence of the project and that exceeds planned growth. CEQA
    Guidelines also state that growth in any area should not be assumed to be necessarily
    beneficial, detrimental, or of little significance to the environment.

    Growth-inducing impacts are caused by those characteristics of a project that tend to
    foster or encourage population, either directly or indirectly. Indirect inducements to
    growth include the establishment of infrastructure or other conditions at the project site
    that would potentially lead to growth in surrounding areas. The proposed project involves
    short-term construction and would not include construction of housing or development of
    new utility infrastructure that could induce growth into undeveloped areas. Construction
    workers would be sourced from the local labor force and would not generate a short-term
    or long-term rise in local population.

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Let’s keep the thread focus on GSD and Ralph Emerson. We’ve got people coming to town and hijacking the district and GSD is indifferent and party to it. Rate payers are being bled dry for high salary raises and mismanagement of funds. BOIL WATER NOTICE! Don’t forget. This is very bad for our town and our wallets. ACCESS TO CLEAN AFFORDABLE WATER IS A BIG DEAL!

    This lawsuit is one of the first steps towards accountability in the right direction. Tina has been a steward of the community through her work with the district and she actually cares about this town and it’s residents, unlike Ralph Emerson and the GSD.

    The allegations in her lawsuit are right in step with Ralph Emerson’s MO. He is manipulative and unprofessional and the board just follows his lead. Locking Tina in a dark room with him at the district office — Read the allegations in the suit. We don’t want this man handling our water.

    Ralph and GSD violated state labor laws and thumbed their nose at mediation, which has now led to a lawsuit for which rate payers will be paying. If they are arrogant enough to do that, to walk the district into a lawsuit, then imagine the other things and back door deals we aren’t hearing about.

    How will they raise the money to fight lawsuits? By raising rates eventually of course and looking in your yard to see if they can hook you for outrageous $8000 plus hook up fees. We are being ripped off! Thank you Tina for sticking your neck out and exposing it!

    • Michael Thompson

      I agree, but when someone makes unsubstantiated attacks on a community organization it needs a response.

      • Taurus Ballzhoff

        Some organizations need attacking. Substantiation is in the reality of the observer.

        They are just comments, don’t take it so seriously…

        AND: As far as people dying because of no ER in Garberville, when YOU are the tough case in the ambo, you will find out that ambo isn’t going to stop in Garberville, and that you are going somewhere where you can actually get help…

  • Thank you Tina for doing SOMETHING

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Thank you Ed for providing detailed hard evidence and facts concerning the GSD’s malfeasance and waste of rate payer funds…What do we have now, let’s add it up:

    Bad loans, misappropriated funds, expensive and unnecessary failed equipment, boil water notice, labor violations, a semi-elected indifferent board making up ag water rates and policy for their own marijuana farms, a district manager who is clearly overpaid for the size of this district who has shown himself repeatedly to be a person of very poor character and now a lawsuit.

    This is getting really, really expensive and I’m not up for paying rates to cover for mismanagement and waste, and neither should anyone who lives and operates a business in Garberville. WAKE UP GARBERVILLE. This is your money and your future water access at stake!

    • The largest and most egregious project(s) GSD attempted, was the new $5.5 Million Dollar Water Treatment Plant. Given the fact there was nothing wrong with the old Water Treatment Plant purchased from the Hurlbut Family (Garberville Water Co). No, the new Water Treatment Plant was for private development, non of whom were GSD ratepayers and who did not pay one cent for the construction, improvements, service connections or meters. And in some cases, were paid $25,000 to have it built on their own property and given metered water connections at no cost for future development.

      People often talk about the “culture” of Southern Humboldt. This is what happens when your “culture” is a black market underground economy.

      Don’t ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies…

  • I support Tina in her lawsuit.
    There are several posts here mentioning that 3 of the GSD BOD members were appointed by the County Supervisors. I’d like to encourage some of you folks t step up and run for those seats that could not be filled any other way than to have them appointed. I am anxious to see a shake up on the GSD Board of Directors any day now as those positions come up for election.

  • Tina Stillwell is good people. She stood up for the citizens of Garberville and lost her job as a result. I’m glad Herb Schwartz is representing her. Tina deserves to win this case.

  • I hope for Tina’s sake Herb Schwartz skills as legal counsel are better than when he was on the Board at GSD. The public had to fight tooth and nail to get straight answers and public documents out of Schwartz and hold him to account for the Brown Act while he was on the BOD at GSD.

    For what I witnessed, heard and read attending years of GSD Board meetings, Schwartz never represented the best interest of the GSD ratepayers or the public, as much as he served the best interest of private development and private interest outside GSD’s service boundary and place of use; i.e. McKee, Hull, Brisbin, Goldeen, Dazey, Southern Humboldt Community Park Board and Connick Creek subdivision.

    I hope Schwartz does the right thing for the right reason and not just for the money…

  • Lets also hope Tina’s legal team can obtain all information concerning Ralph Emerson when he was employed at the Murphys Sanitary District. A simple google search says alot about Emerson and his track record. Even though we shared all this information with the GSD Board at the time Emerson was considered, they hired him anyway…

    • Taurus Ballzhoff

      Thanks for the info, Ed… I believe there will be a settlement here, and that nobody will be held accountable for anything, just because it is cheaper to do so.

      Most hiring in public agencies in the SoHum area is done without much thought, and the worst administrative incumbents practically have to kill someone before they are discharged. Line employees are churned and burned, like they are everywhere.

      I think the only way to change things in our area would be to see a succession of suits like this one. Not everyone has the stomach for this kind of action, though…

      • I would like to know who is representing GSD and Emerson? Will Emerson retain his own legal counsel and will they be tried separately?

        BTW, Emerson is also on the Board of Directors “CALIFORNIA SPECIAL DISTRICTS ALLIANCE”


        It confirms Emerson works for many other interests than just GSD:

        “I have worked for public agencies in the water/wastewater field for over 20 years as an operator, chief plant operator or general manager. I currently am the water operator for Leggett in Mendocino County, the wastewater operator for Miranda in Humboldt County, the contract wastewater operator for the USBR at Melones reservoir in Calaveras and Tuolumne County and the general manager for Garberville Sanitary District, which provides water and sewer service.”

        Do these other operations know about the pending lawsuit?

        • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

          I doubt those other listed water districts know about the suit unless they see it online or they are informed by another source. It would be good for CSDA to receive a copy of the lawsuit so they are aware of this specific situation with one of their board members….

  • Kym, what did you mean by “among others”?

    “Stillwell is the plaintiff, the Garberville Service District and Ralph Emerson among others are the defendants in this case.”

    And Thank You for posting this.

  • The real corruption at GSD happened back when Mark Bryant was general manager and Herb Schwartz was board president. The staggering debt the district carries as a result of that unnecessary boondoggle water treatment plant for private interests outside the district is the real story.
    GSD could have upgraded the already existing water treatment plant back then for $88,000. But no, it had to be at the park, and big enough to supply the development plans of McKee, Dazey, Connick Creek, and the park.
    Too bad so few people were paying attention then.
    But everybody loves a lawsuit, especially when it’s a local against an outsider.

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