Time for a Change at Garberville Sanitary District, Says Letter to the Editor

Remember opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of Redheaded Blackbelt nor have we checked the letters for accuracy.

There are a couple of seats on the GSD board coming up for election in November. Brodersen and Bryan specifically. While it is laudable to serve on such a public entity, being on that board comes with a duty to actually be critical and oversee the General Manager and make sure he is doing the best job possible for the community. From what I have observed and read that duty has not been taken seriously. The GM told me that he makes all the decisions, and it seems that way, so maybe it is time for a change on that board and get some good citizens on that board who will hold his feet to the fire, so to speak, when he is not performing for the good of the community.

The poorly executed and vindictive firing of long time employee Tina Stillwell has resulted in a illegal termination lawsuit that has got to cause the insurance costs to go up. By the way she was fired for sticking up for her neighbors and community. Expensive pumps burning up, the chlorine system (worth a quarter million) blowing up and work being done outside the district are just some of the negligent things that we know about. The water rates for our town are among the very highest in the state. Why?

The GM, who is really highly compensated for the small, 450 or so water hookups he oversees, always touts the positive financial numbers that his regime chalked up but these claims never seem to take into consideration the long term costs resulting from negligence and bad judgment. It would be nice to have the upcoming board meeting and agenda communicated to the public in all local newspapers and internet blogs in a timely and prominent manner. They claim transparency but that does seem to be lacking on the face of it.

A couple of good citizens could get on this board and change this. You have to be a voter who resides in the Garberville Sanitary District. THE CUTOFF DATE TO REGISTER TO RUN FOR THESE SEATS ON THE BOARD IS AUGUST TENTH. NOT MUCH TIME. ITS TIME FOR CHANGE.

Charlie Butterworth

Ratepayer but not resident or I would do it.

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74 comments

  • This Is My Name

    Was Tina the woman always at the very front desk who processed payments/did the bookwork?

    • Yes that was Tina Stillwell, longtime Garberville resident .

      • This Is My Name

        She was always incredibly nice, understanding, and helpful when I had the brief displeasure of residing in town and dealing with horrible, irresponsible roommates. No wonder they got rid of her, as her presence would have been contrary to the GSD’s greedy, screw-the-customer attitude.

        Tina, thanks for doing your best to be a good person and community member! I hope you find something better with people who appreciate and respect you.

        Edit: It’s also worth mentioning that Rio Anderson is, or at least was last year, a board member/treasurer. Another greedy “community” member.

        • Rio is also involved with these guys: https://www.elevatethemagic.com/

          They call themselves a “Community Organization”? They are all about growth and development, which needs water and sewer connections. Purity cozy if you ask me. Oh yeah, and Meghan Joyce is on the SoHum Park Board, they want GSD water service. He keeps it all in the family…

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    GSD is no longer being covered on Redheaded Blackbelt so yes, the agenda and meeting notes need to be published at the very least. I had suggested that these be posted on this site once a month with direct links to the agenda.

    GSD needs to be watched closely by the public because they operate with their own rules and very little regulation or oversight. “They” the employees just requested and got the approval for $15.00 late fee charges, up from $5.00.

    WHY ARE GSD EMPLOYEES SETTING POLICIES THAT AFFECT OUR ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE WATER???? This would be unheard of in a legitimate water company.

    They’ve basically just designed a way to collect thousands more a month from struggling rate payers.

    The board takes all their direction from Ralph Emerson who sets his own agenda for the water policies and his own salary rate. The board members now are about as passive as dairy cows in the field while the wolf circles the farm.

    It’s definitely time for a change — Board members are so comfortable and ensconced in their position that they are setting up AG rates for marijuana grows, including their competitors while being in the industry themselves — Collusion, Conflict of Interest, Time to GO!!!!

  • And don’t be late with your payment! The late payment fee just got tripled to $15!

  • Tina should run for the board. Nobody would be able to be aware of the GM’s shenanigans, like her! Come on citizens, how about a little public service that would actually accomplish something positive for the community. Its an opportunity

    • I’d vote for Tina!

    • yes. Tina has a conscience.

    • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

      Somebody should speak to Tina and see if she would be willing to run..and/or be appointed like the rest of the members. She would have a great deal of community support. CA is very in support of whistleblower protections at the federal and state level.

      Her firing was a retaliation. Ralph and GSD would have been put under state investigation. It may not be too late.

      They acted with impunity to terminate her with total disregard for employment law and protocol. She’s a long time community member and they are a nasty, nasty bunch. Focused on lording over rate payers and scoring the best deals for themselves and their friends……

    • Maybe she could help run the GSD in a paid position put in the places of those who had her fired I would vote for that

  • The deadline is Friday. The qualifications are you must by 18 or older and live in the district.

    • Ernestine, when did it matter if you “live in the district”? Wellborn did not, current BOD Thompson does not. There have been many past GSD BOD in the last 15 years who did not “live in the district”! And they get appointed anyway. To my knowledge, in my life time, their has never been an election of an GSD BOD by the ratepayers, ever! They are appointed by the Humboldt County BOS.

      And, you need to remember, GSD only purchased the water service in 2004/05. Before that it was the Garberville Water Company, a privately owned water company, owned by Fred and Pat Hurlbutt (RIP) since the early 50’s. So you see, it only took GSD 13 years, to mess it all up, spent Millions and millions on a new water treatment plant, larger sewer waste treatment plant. All on the backs of the GSD ratepayers, so they could sell more hook-ups and meters to developers, even though they don’t have the water.

      I hope who ever gets in there can change the GSD good ol’ boy culture and mentality; just say NO, we don’t have the water for development, period! Be accountable and responsible to the South Fork Eel River and GSD ratepayers, not beholding to developers…

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Ed, I think it would be awesome if you have the time and inclination to report what you know following meetings in the form of a letter to the editor once a month or as needed. You really are the most informed on these issues and the best to take GSD to task.

    That way, partisan issues that Kym is so concerned about wouldn’t matter and the news could continue to filter throughout the community.

    Ralph once said that he had a target on his back and I think it would be great to keep it on him, front and center. Almost nobody knows about the rate increase because there was no report, or status of the contact chamber or how they are setting AG rates to run their competitors farms. None of this is making the news.

    I hope you consider it.

    • My main focus and concern is on the South Fork Eel River; of which GSD is one of many that adversely affect its water quality, directly impacts wildlife habitat and degrades aquatic species by abusing its water rights and beneficial use of the South Fork Eel River. I keep tabs on GSD so they don’t abuse the South Fork Eel River.

      The bottom line is, GSD ratepayers need to make the difference, they need to start going to meetings and hold the BOD’s feet to the fire. And don’t be intimidated by the Board at meetings and let them know how you feel. GSD knows that is not going to happen, so they and the GM will keep running it for their own benefit, not for the rivers sake or benefit of aquatic species. If the majority of GSD ratepayers feel the same, then its a waste of time and energy to report on it.

      If you want to make a difference, GO TO GSD BOD MEETINGS on a regular basis and ask questions. That is what works, keeps everyone honest and makes them accountable.

      BTW, its not that I am the “most informed”, I’m just more vocal and care more about the South Fork Eel and habitat than most. With that being said, it doesn’t mean other people don’t care. My approach works for me, I don’t expect it to work for everyone…

      • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

        Thanks Ed for your additional comments and notes. Unfortunately, I can’t attend meetings or sit on the board…I do hope that some people outside of the GSD circle try and fill those seats…..and that Garbervill-ians start to pay much closer attention to the water use (for who and how much), policy setting, rates, salaries and sanitation….

  • FACTS NOT FICTION

    Butterworth and ed are both bitter people imo.They use bits of truth mixed with exaggeration and a tad of lies to create a bullshit cocktail that they expect you to pick up and chug down.They both have a personal agenda and it’s not the river or the people.The reason there isn’t a bunch of people trying for the BOD seats is that many know the history and are aware of how garberville got in the financial position it did that forced rate increases.Targeted or not Ralph isn’t going anywhere, he’s doing his best to correct an inherited problem,If there was any real merit to their complaints they would be filing papers with a court instead of blasting the district on a comment section of a web sight.Do your own research and actually talk to Ralph and you can form your own opinion on facts rather then twisted allegations .

    • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

      Ralph tried to pull a fast one on Charlie demanding over $18,000 in hook up fees. Charlie had to go all the way to finding information legally dispute this rip off nonsense. Ed is really knowledgable on the ecology and politics in this matter.

      If you knew anything, you would know that filing papers in court requires a lawsuit.

      There is no regulatory agency for Ralph Emerson or this board – -That is the problem in these small districts. And it’s why there is so much corruption.

      I don’t think the first thing that someone does if they care about a struggling district, is move to town and vote themselves in a monster raise for a nominal amount of meters while moonlighting in other districts — with our supplies, which was one of the allegations that got Tina illegally fired.

      Go lick Ralph’s boots some more and see if you can get some more truth to share with us.

      • Fact vs fiction

        Filing a lawsuit was what I was referring to and since none are being filed there must not be anything to file about or complaining on a web sight wouldn’t be nessisary. By the way there’s no boot licking going on here, I actually know the man pretty well, I’m sugesting you meet the man wearing the boots before you spit on them. Try putting on a pair yourself and join a board , which ed has come up with all sorts of excuses why he won’t. Easy to sit at a computer and do nothing, while picking apart people who are doing something.

        • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

          ENOUGH WITH THE APOLOGISTS FOR GARBERVILLE SANITARY DISTRICT!

          I’m doing my part – I pay their exorbitant rates so they can keep up with their pay raises.

          A man who locked Tina Stillwell in a dark room to scream at her (and who knows what else), per her lawsuit, is about all I need to know about Ralph, thanks.

          The board is just as bad and I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with those people — I’m very experienced with how this town and our area works and cronyism, apathy and criminality are interlinked throughout. Follow the money…..

          See Ed’s post below. You might learn something……

        • Fact vs fiction, or should I say, stranger than fiction?

          Couple of facts:

          1. GSD is a public agency, and as such, is required to abide by all state & federal laws, rules and regulations, not just in the jurisdiction of Humboldt County.

          “Filing a lawsuit was what I was referring to and since none are being filed there must not be anything to file about”.

          2. What kind of “lawsuit” would that be? I believe there’s one pending right now!

          “Try putting on a pair yourself and join a board , which ed has come up with all sorts of excuses why he won’t. Easy to sit at a computer and do nothing, while picking apart people who are doing something.”

          3. What “excuses” would that be; maybe because I don’t live in Humboldt County?

          But, you are correct; its “Easy to sit at a computer and do nothing, while picking apart people who are doing something.”. This is the only way the public has to make comments. God knows we have tried for years in public meetings, in person, in writing and we don’t get answers. Maybe if enough Board members see their name in print, ratepayers read the facts and listen to public opinion or letters to the editor, then maybe GSD will change for the better. My personal philosophy is I’d rather be optimistic and wrong than pessimistic and right!

          For all we know, you could be on the GSD Board or Emerson. It must be easy to sit at your computer as anonymous, while picking apart people who are doing something…

        • Lynn Harrington

          Wow, with your false logic you just convinced me that Concerned Business owner is right. Yuck.

    • So said the anonymous person, who cannot even use his or her name in public? If you could, please tell me which parts were “bits of truth mixed with exaggeration and a tad of lies to create a bullshit cocktail”?

      Since I’m the only “ed”, please provide the facts, in graphic detail, of this “bullshit cocktail”? If you are right, and I am so wrong, where are all your documented facts? I have many, concerning GSD, both before and after Emerson!

      In fact, lets start with documented facts about Emerson before GSD, for example:

      http://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/3795429-151/scandals-ensnare-sanitary-district

      http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/news/article_ad5b6a4e-88a5-11e1-a838-001a4bcf887a.html

      http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/news/article_bc2d5fa4-0f4e-5461-82f1-9696514f2c8e.html

      Here is Emerson’s current bio as CSDA Board Member, Northern Network:

      “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.”

      https://www.csda.net/about-csda/board-of-directors

      Those are his words, not mine! Please note, Emerson works in 3 other counties while at GSD, and you can be sure GSD ratepayers are paying Emerson’s operators licensing, training, lodging, meals, and transportation cost.

      When did GSD stop being a public agency and become a private benefit income stream for the GSD GM?

      As for your claim

      “he’s doing his best to correct an inherited problem”

      Emerson knew exactly what he was walking into and jumped in with both feet. Sure he “inherited” lots of problems. However, he has also incurred many major problems himself, or by his crew under Emerson’s supervison.

      For example, lets talk about the Chlorine Contact Chamber debacle, all under Emerson’s watch. GSD finally got the Chlorine Contact Chamber cause and failure analysis, as stated in the June 19, 2018 GSD Board Meeting packet & agenda. It starts on page 22:

      https://www.garbervillesd.org/files/47893db7c/BOD+Meeting+Packet+June+19th%2C+2018.pdf

      For me it raises more questions than it answers. And it would seem, GSD has many many issues and problems with their $5 Million Dollar Water Treatment Plant, that was never disclosed in public before.

      The funny part was the “4.0 Conclusion” on page 29; which did not conclude anything, just pointed to more “Possible contributing factors”, without talking about the elephant in the room; was it human or mechanical error?

      It makes you wonder if GSD has a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for shutting down the Water Treatment Plant, and another SOP for bypassing or side-stepping procedures because of defective or faulty equipment?

      I would like to know how Candor Rock LLC was hired to conduct this “cause and failure analysis”, since they are also contacted by GSD (Emerson) to design, engineer and install the new system. I guess there is no conflict of interest, since they were hired by GSD’s insurance company for this “analysis”? And by the way, GSD’s Insurance carrier is a subsidiary of CSDA, of which Emerson is a current Board Member. Its not what you know, its who you know…

    • No personal agenda other than being as good a landlord as possible, therefore keeping the water on for my tenants.

      Heres the facts. I received a letter from Ralph Emerson that stated that the rules said that I needed to have a separate water meter for each of my units. I was told I must send him $18,000 + within 30 days or he would cut off the water to my tenants. I reviewed the district ordinances and could find no such rule/ordinance. I went to a board meeting to plead my case. They would not listen at all. So I kept showing up. Wellborn finally admitted that the ordinance wouldn’t support Emersons position. The threat to turn off the water if I didn’t pay could be characterized as extortion under the color of a non-existent law/ordinance. Now I realize people make mistakes but when the board stonewalled for months on a cut and dries legal issue I realized something really was stinky in this organization. I didn’t voluntarily get involved in this. What I found was that the board had procedures in place to insulate themselves and Emerson from input by citizens. Lets see some change. The ratepayer deserve better.

      • I do agree that 18 thousand is too much, I’m aware of the situation you faced, I think by not getting county permits and not approaching the board about the addition of 2 more rentals in a previously 1 rental property was viewed as trying to sneak it in both passed the county and the GSD.When you change how many family’s live in a building you increase the use on the system and that’s why it comes with additional hook up fees even though the hook up already existed, that would happen in any district. You will make more money renting 3 vs 1 but it will cost a little more, in the end you still come out ahead just takes time to get there. Be careful where you choose to do business, different districts have different fees for different reasons and it’s good to know what they are before starting a project. I take back the bitter part, I can tell it’s more frustration then anything

        • Nothing hidden from the county, they have been aware of the issue for years. Finally got the zoning change recently. As to the assertion that more units mean more water/sewer usage, that is pure speculation and a scam. One can look at the monthly usage in this instance and it did not change one bit. Facts matter. The board did not like this being pointed out. They actually have the evidence of this in their monthly bill. We get charged for water by the gallon and the sewage fee reflects this. In my instance there was no extra impact on the system. I urge anyone else who is being given this line to look at the fact. Truthfully, I would not mind at all having separate meters, but at a cost to me that reflected the actual cost to put them in. On the other hand, my retired/fixed/low income tenants would find the extra $130 or so a month to be a heavy burden.

          By the way, bringing up my permit issues is an attempt to muddy the issue. Should stick to the issue at hand. In fact, soon after I stood up to Emerson, someone filed complaints with the county about my permit issues. I can’t really know who that was unless I file a lawsuit and get a court order. But then there is the issue of perception

          • Water use has too many variables to reflect sewer output. Your first tenant could have been watering the lawn everyday and washing car once a week. Sewer isn’t metered but statistic say 3 families poop more then one and that’s the part of the system that’s really taking the higher use. The permit issue wasn’t to muddy the waters but to give an example of why they may have went the route they did. You may have a special situation where your 3 families rarely poop and don’t water lawn or wash car and don’t do laundry but that would be extremely rare lol.

            • Well, the water use went up then the bill would go up. Its just speculation to state that three units would have more impact that one. Reality is that the bill was astronomical when one family lived there and now it reflects 3 older fixed income ladies use. More units means nothing. Its a scam. I do pay a multiunit rate which is more per gallon that someone who is single family. I do wonder why someone who lives in a multiunit has to pay more per gallon of water. Maybe multiunit water is special or something

              • In our district we don’t charge more per gallon on multi units but I can assure you their sewer output is way higher then single units due to how often we have to pump multi unit septic tanks, every 3-4 years instead of 5-7. You may have a statistic breaking situation but as a distric you use statistics because it’s the average impact, some do more some do less but since it isn’t metered the average is the rule of thumb

          • Mr. Butterworth. You can file an California Public Records Act request with the County Department that received the complaint against you. Unless it was with the Grand Jury. That County agency would need to comply and disclose the complaint, along with all the documents.

            We had a similar situation happen when we owned our property and home down at River Crest (1966-2015). We found out the complaint came from GSD, because GSD was trying to include our subdivision into GSD district boundary for water service. This was back in 2013/2014. They filed a complaint with County DEH; stating our water system did not meet state or county health standards. GSD had already used these same tactics on the Kimtu subdivision. Basically, it was a hostel takeover on GSD’s part.

            GSD wanted to run an additional water supply line off the 8″ Kimtu Waterline under the bridge to serve River Crest. Once across the bridge, GSD had plans to serve the airport. In the end, GSD could not get approval from the property owners at River Crest, because the expense was astronomical. However, GSD did get its water line down to Kimtu, paid for by a CDPH grant, but it was restricted to only the 20 homes in the Kumtu Meadows subdivision.

            It was a leaning experience, how GSD would do anything it could, cheat, steal and lie to expand its jurisdictional boundary and sell more water…

            https://firstamendmentcoalition.org/public-records-2/sample-cpra-request-letter/

    • Filing a lawsuit against my own water district, which has no deep pockets, would be filing a lawsuit against myself/a ratepayer and property owner. When I won, it wouldn’t really be a win, would it.

      • Mr. Butterworth, its not your water district! As a ratepayers, that’s all you are, nothing more, nothing less. You are the GSD cash cow, just like the river is to GSD. You are one of many who pay GSD to use their services, pay the operation cost, maintenance, overhead, personal salaries and new private development.

        Please take the time and read the following. It will educate you about “What’s So Special About Special Districts”, of which GSD is one:

        http://cvmvcd.org/brochure/specialdistrictfactpublication.pdf

        After that, look into what’s called “California Special Districts Association” (CSDA), of which GSD is a member and Emerson is on their Board and before that so was Mark Bryant. Then ask yourself if GSD is still YOUR water district…

  • Remember Ralph Emerson went from $78,000.00 pay to $120,000.00 per year with the help ( votes )of Gary Welborn,Richard Thomson and Rio Anderson, none of these people live in the district and were appointed by Estelle Fennel at Ralph Emerson’ request !!! That is close to $500.00 per day for a manager that oversees 450 meters,drive time to his home in the Sierra Mountains and days off. Considering the fact that Anderson is a pot farmer from Benbow it does not seem right that he gets to set water rates for his competitors here in the Garberville district. Now go back to sleep and pay your water bill. By the way, the late fee increase was requested by OUR employees at G.S.D. or so says Mr.Emerson. and how many of these employees live in the district ? Something is really wrong here.

    • GSD has just installed a new, top of the line, video and audio system in their office. There is no reason why they cannot use it to live stream, or at the least, next day or even the same week, have that recording of their BOD meetings on their website for the public to view. They can also record any ad hoc or committee meetings as well. Public agencies like GSD need to be accountable to the public, not run or hide behind closed doors. Not that long ago, when I submitted public comments to GSD’s annexation that increased the number of water connections and district boundary, they claimed my public comments was a threat of litigation, and had meeting in private.

      Also, speaking of Emerson. He came to GSD with allot of baggage from his old employer in Murphy. It seems his past practices preceded him again. Not that Mark Bryant was any better, just never wanted the public to know what he was doing or planning and disused in private.

      BTW, almost all those new “residential ag parcels” now included in GSD’s district boundary, did not exist before the annexation. Same with what is now commercial property for hotels and cannabis businesses, all with new water & sewer connections. None of which was disclosed to the public in the annexation documents, reports or studies.

      GSD does not have an unlimited amount of water, but yet, they encourage new growth.

      Take for example about the chlorine contact chamber that failed last November; which is still not repaired or replaced. People who drink GSD water should be asking how GSD is keeping the water safe to drink, after all the festivals have taken place up-stream…

  • Anderson is on sanitary not water

    • More Facts – please clarify your statement, “Anderson is on sanitary, not water.” Or perhaps you’re unaware The Garberville sanitary District is in charge of sewer and water in Garberville?

      • You are correct, when I spoke with rio he said he was on sanitary , in our distric water and sewer are seperate, so my mind just assumed he was on sewer, I’ll always admit when I’m wrong, no big ego here

  • OK, disgruntled residents and property/business owners of Garberville: If you are qualified, run for the board. If you’re not, but you are still affected by the policies of GSD, find friends who are qualified and encourage them to go for it.
    When was there last an actual election for board seats, rather than an appointment (by the existing board, or the supervisors) for the seat? Nobody really likes* serving on boards like this, especially when there’s trouble that might involve getting flak from our neighbors; at best, it’s kind of boring and takes up time we’d rather spend doing something else. Don’t make excuses! Do it!
    *Actually, I found it very satisfying once I got into it. It’s good to feel you’re working for your community, you learn new things, and get to know interesting people you might not otherwise have spent a lot of time with. But — you WILL get flak! That’s democracy.

    • Trumptastrophe for the GOP in November

      Serving is better than complaining.

      If any of you wants to run for a seat on this board or any of the other many different kinds of elected boards across Humboldt in the November election, you have to file your papers with the Elections Office at 2426 6th St. in Eureka 445-7481. Friday the 10th at 5pm is the deadline if the incumbent files for re-election (or election if they were appointed, which is often the case), and Wednesday the 15th at 5pm is the deadline if the incumbent decides not to run. If you can’t make it to Eureka, I’m pretty sure the Elections Office will make arrangements with you so that you can file the candidacy papers by fax or online. I checked a few days ago, and there are very few challengers running for any of these boards, and almost all of the candidates running are incumbents. So if you like the Humboldt status quo, so far you’re probably going to be pleased, unless some political challengers get off their couches of complacency and do something about it ASAP. Seriously, folks. If it turns out (LIKE USUAL) that the only people bothering to run for these advisory/oversight boards are the same old unelected unopposed incumbents, then refrain from complaining when these incumbents act like they can get away with whatever they want without consequences, because apparently they can if no one has the backbone to run against them. And of all elections, this one in 2018 has incumbents soiling themselves nationwide (Republicans specifically), so if you decide to run and become an insurgent candidate/challenger, there is a reasonably good chance that you will win, and incumbents are terrified of it.

  • People in the GSD service district should know this;

    The only reason my late partner Jim Fish did not file charges against GSD was out of concern for the customers of GSD. I urged him to do so and he said no.

    Jim was hired as a laborer with GSD’s (Ralf’s) full knowledge that he had broken his back on more than one occasion and could not sustain heavy lifting. He was told by Ralph that he didn’t have to, that GSD had all the equipment necessary for lifting and that he could easily handle the job. Jim worked hard for GSD, he put his heart into it and was also doing very well studying for certifications and a career in water service.

    Fast forward to Ralph suddenly ordering him to lift every single manhole cover in the district by himself, without the right equipment and to go into them and take photos. WITHOUT the right equipment. They forced him to quit while they were working on Kimtu. Possibly they wanted him out because he was not part of it. In the process they really harmed him. He was in bed for 4 months, very severe pain for more months and when he finally did go back to work again for one of the hardware stores he could only work part time. They about killed him. He was in bad pain after that. They refused to sign any papers to allow him unemployment or medical compensation and it was a fight to get any medical bills payed. As far as I remember they did not pay one medical bill- it was some state labor agency.

    Not only that, they illegally made him get down in the hole with NO backup. It is illegal to do that because the gases can easily overpower and kill a man. I went to his field site and watched him to make sure he did not pass out while in the hole. I was never an employee. Ralph found me there once and had the nerve to tell me to go away and I glared at him and he backed down.

    In my opinion Ralph Emerson is an unethical man who does not care for the lives of his employees. With that perspective I personally can’t see how he would care a bit for his customers either. In my opinion GSD would be well invested to finance the certifications of a willing and capable person. Who has empathy.

    Tina if you are reading this you are welcome to contact me. I give Kym permission to give you my phone #.

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Ralph Emerson is Garbage!

    Lynn,

    I’m very sorry to hear what happened to your husband while working with Ralph. This doesn’t surprise me. I think he is a VERY bad person and a menace to have within our town. This should be filed as a formal complaint with the labor board. You should also file a complaint with OSHA because they were putting your husband’s safety at risk.

    I would also contact Tina directly so she can inform her attorney about this situation.

    Have you emailed this account to the individual board members? Their addresses are on their website.

    I think you should also do an interview locally to be published as the board is seeking new members. It’s time for a change. This man needs to be held accountable and FIRED!! He has threatened other residents. He is not the right person for this town or this job.

    I really hope that Kym can do a follow up on the matter.

    • Thank you CBOR.

      If the board is as described I don’t see what good it would do to email them. It might make more sense to make the local chamber of commerce aware, but being a local business person you could do that easily by simply pointing them here. I’m willing to talk to anyone about this but I don’t want to campaign on this issue. There isn’t much more to say anyway. However, I will add that one of the first things a person does when relocating to a new area, if they are smart, is to look at the water company fees and how good the infrastructure is because otherwise it would cost them… In the future the COC may be interested in attracting new people to the area. Obviously the equipment has had problems and it’s a mystery…

      Jim did file a complaint with some state labor board or organization in order to get medical help. It went nowhere as regards GSD or unemployment, but he did get some medical help.

      If you have a contact # for Tina maybe Kym could forward it to me?

      I’m not at all surprised if Ralph threatened people. I hope some of them will support Tina at the very least.

  • I just want to address the issue that a lot of people arnt willing to run for the board because they have everything to lose. They grow pot and clearly an out of town nark like Ralph would have no problem turning them in.

    I asked a friend who lives in Garberville if she was interested in running. Her response was “the GSD is scary and Ralph is a creep. No thanks.”

    I’ve heard rumors about Ralph snooping around town at night, pretty creepy stuff.

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Ralph Emerson is an outsider, unethical and untrustworthy.

    Thanks for adding this. I can see why people would not want to work with him on the board – I’ve heard the same thing about him peering into windows at night to see if there are additional ways for him to increase people’s water fees.

    Remember when he wanted to go through people’s yards to look for new ways to levy fees??

    He needs that of course because I’m sure he’s planning for more raises in the future – that’s probably what the new late fees will be allocated towards…so he can moonlight in all those other districts on our dime!!!

  • I have no idea if Ralph would turn people in or not, and at some point that wouldn’t matter anymore anyway, but he was/is not always an out of town person.

  • I don’t know anything 100% for sure, maybe he’s not a nark. But I wouldn’t suggest running for the board seat if you’ve got more than six plants in your back yard. And wasn’t he proposing that anyone who wanted cultivate cannabis for personal use had to apply for permits and have inspections?

    From everything I’ve heard about the guy, he just strikes me as a typical greedy green rusher. He shows up to town and wants to get paid a lot of money for not working that hard. And if he has to do a little extortion, narking, and firing to get rich he will. It’s probably impossible for him to imagine that some people in this town got ahead by working hard. And by being fair and honest to other human beings.

    For 120 grand a year that guy should be working his ass off, doing at least 40 hours a week. And he should stay out of people’s personal affairs, businesses, and backyards. And he shouldn’t have more than one job.

    Thanks Estelle, we are super glad we elected you 🙏👍👌. Good luck in the next election.

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Totally agreed guest 2 – I think you summed up our GM very well!!

    • The average green rusher would scoff at 120 grand, he’s not a narc as it is futile to turn someone in these days. Btw 120 a year is low compared to the larger California districts , look up what the head of San Francisco puc or any of the other large city’s pay their GM. Also don’t fear running for a seat, you might find yourself facing the same tough decisions that they have and trust me the common sense aproach like most would think they could have usually isn’t an option due to California’s screwed up laws and rules. You try your best to go that route and find yourself with a handful of options that are legal and suddenly realize that no matter what you do someone’s not going to like it and call you garbage. Not so bad if your getting a paycheck but please remember that most aren’t , they are volunteering their time with no pay trying to do what’s best for the people of the district, I swear it’s not easy and it really bites when the only comments they ever hear are negative, like I said earlier All you that aren’t happy about it go get on a board and see how it works for you, wear them boots everyone’s so fast to spit on

  • Just to clear it up for all of you it was a 20 -30$ pipe clamp that is the focus of another district that used something from garberville , we have a high school in our town that shuts down if water is off. It’s called a good neighbor policy, we replaced it immediately and they had several, we did not. Now we do. If garberville or any other district had an emergency and couldn’t get the part right away we would do the same. No different then a fire department would do for another. That’s the common sense aproach and I see where it gets you if used, who out there wouldn’t do the same?So was it really a violation or was it doing what’s best for the people, you make the call

    • So, who is on the MCSD Board? And why hasn’t your MSR been updated with Humboldt LAFCo? They are required to be updated every 5 years:

      http://humboldtlafco.org/wp-content/uploads/Miranda-CSD-Approved-MSR-2009.pdf

      Not only South Fork High School, also Miranda Jr High. Have kids ever been sent home because MCSD could not provide them water? In the 6 years I attended both schools, it never happened.

      If you could not provide the schools water, what about fire prevention? MCSD has a 200,000 storage tank?

      It weird, the Municipal Service Review from Humboldt LAFCo (2009) does not mention one word about MCSD providing water to South Fork High School or Miranda Jr High. You would think its your biggest customer and largest daily demand, while in session, but yet it states your highest demand is in the summer months, when school is out?

      Are you still having problems with that one well going dry in late summer?

      • Have never had a well dry up, matter of fact in the worst drought year they were 35 and 38 feed deep out of a possible 40 feet.The high use in summer is attributed to lawns being watered, the high school keeps it green during break, and our fire department filling up during fire season.
        The only times we’ve been out of water is when a major line has broke and we are very fast to fix it.
        We just had a meeting with lafco but there only interest was trying to get us to give them our fire dept , trucks ,building,personnel, and bank account.In exchange they wanted to apply a parcel tax to Miranda to pay them for fire prevention.It was the most ludicrous proposal I’ve heard in all my time there, I’m shocked they would think we’d even consider it, we unanimously said no

        • Sorry, my bad, I was thinking of Phillipsville; I had local blackened catfish for dinner last night.

          So you must be talking about this, its from the July 2018 Humboldt LAFCo meeting staff report:

          Fires Services Coordination Efforts

          A portion of Measure Z funds granted to the Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association is
          focused on sustainable community fire protection to address the lack of complete
          community coverage and sustainable revenue. A series of meetings have been held
          with fire-related districts within the “Avenues Study Area” that includes the response
          areas from Phillipsville to Redcrest – as well as Salmon Creek, Miranda, Fruitland Ridge,
          Myers Flat, Shively and Weott. Currently, discussions are ongoing regarding the potential
          for forming an Avenue of the Giants Fire Protection District with multiple fire stations and
          coordinated response/training. In addition, LAFCo staff is providing pre-application
          technical assistance to Rio Dell Fire and Redway Fire, both of which are exploring
          annexation. However, many fire related districts have stated that annexation cannot
          proceed without a share of property tax revenue. The County has no master tax sharing
          agreement or clear policy with respect to fire related districts. For this reason, planning
          efforts related to fire district annexations, particularly in Southern Humboldt, have
          stalled. LAFCo staff anticipates the Board of Supervisors will be reviewing and
          considering the County’s policy on tax sharing agreements and support for addressing
          the problem described above in the coming months.

          http://humboldtlafco.org/wp-content/uploads/9C_Status-of-Current-and-Future-Proposals-1.pdf

        • So are you with the MCSD or MVFD? Because what you are talking about and what Humboldt LAFCo is having meetings about is fire districts, not water and sewer CSD’s.

          Since you brought up about the $30 to $40 pipe clamp. I don’t think Tina being fired was about a $40 part. In the court filings Kym posted, there’s allot more to it than that…

          http://kymkemp.com/2018/03/07/tina-stillwell-vs-garberville-sanitary-district-a-civil-suit-was-filed-monday-alleging-the-plaintiff-was-fired-for-bringing-attention-to-misconduct-by-the-general-services-manager/

          • If something was used at another district that was garbervilles parts I’m unaware but from what I know of it’s the part we needed that is the center of focus, it’s not the value of the part that is her complaint.Beyond that I cannot comment on any of it as I was not a witness or involved with Tina and Ralph’s dispute. MCSD created the Miranda fire department long ago, funded and built it from the ground up. MCSD owns one of the most top of the line departments in all of Humboldt County . To hand it over would be in my mind compareable to the loss of ragae on the river( which was created by the Mattel that was funded by the people, or the split of tooby that was also funded by the people for the people.The fire department in essence was built and funded by the people of Miranda , I would never be able to face the public again if I was involved in its transfer of hands. That fire department belongs to the people of Miranda and it’s going to stay that way, and that’s a fact lol

            • The reason I compared it to tooby and Mattel is, when you solicite the public for money ( not that Miranda did but it was built on their money)for a project that you promise will help the community and self perpetuate into something great for them, you owe it to them to keep it as you promised, not take it away or sell it or find a way to make money yourself. Without public donations the foundation wouldn’t be there to make it happen.Never forget how it got there to start with

              • I’m glad you pointed that out about Tooby Park, we lived across the river before it was built. My family and many others in the area helped put that together, raise money, and include it into the County Park system. We also went to the hearings opposing it when the county gave it away to a private organization (2004). It was a shame, something I will never forgive or forget.

                Just so you know, members on the GSD Board (2004) tried to way in and save Tooby Park, include Tooby Park under GSD and create a Park District, so it would remain public. Sorry to say, that private organization wanted no part of that. In fact, not even the Arthur R. Tooby Estate didn’t want the County to take it out of public ownership. But they gave it away anyway. Said it was too expensive to operate…

            • “MCSD created the Miranda fire department long ago, funded and built it from the ground up. MCSD owns one of the most top of the line departments in all of Humboldt County.”

              So if that is true, you would never know it if you read your Humboldt LAFCo Municipal Service Review:

              http://humboldtlafco.org/wp-content/uploads/Miranda-CSD-Approved-MSR-2009.pdf

              However, it does talk about it here, page 38:

              http://humboldtlafco.org/wp-content/uploads/Regional-FPD-MSR_South-County_ADOPTED-7.20.16.pdf

              Humboldt LAFCo is the closest regulatory oversight public water/sewer purveyors and Community Services Districts have, outside of Water Rights, Water Quality Control Board and the Division of Drinking Water (formidably and formally known as CDPH):

              Humboldt LAFCo is an independent local agency created by the State Legislature in 1963 to encourage orderly growth and development of local agencies. LAFCo’s mission is to facilitate changes in local governmental structure and boundaries that fosters orderly growth and development, promotes the efficient delivery of services, and encourages the preservation of open space and agricultural lands. LAFCo seeks to be proactive in raising awareness and building partnerships to accomplish this through its special studies, programs, and actions.

              For example, even though the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors appoints over 99% of the Board members on public Community Services Districts and Special Districts in Humboldt County, they have NO oversight or regulatory authority over their governess or structure.

              Now, as far as Humboldt LAFCo is concerned:

              The Commission is composed of two county supervisorial members appointed by the Board of Supervisors, two city council members appointed by the Mayor City Selection Committee, two special district members appointed through a special district board nomination and election process, and one public member selected by the other six members. Commission members serve four-year terms. There is also one alternate member for each of the four classifications. In addition, the Commission contracts for Executive Officer staffing services to manage the day-to-day operations of the Commission.

              http://humboldtlafco.org/commissioners-and-staff/

              My point; beside the fox guarding the hen house, citizen monitoring and the complaint driven process; how do you keep these small public agencies, their Boards and staff honest and only working in the best interest of the public benefit?

              For example; GSD is not involved nor has authority over or with the Garberville Fire Protection District. They are completely separate public agencies. So in the case of GSD, what is the public recourse? Besides public meetings, civil disobedience and social media!

              BTW, and on a personal note: Thank you very much for coming down to our neck of the woods and doing an awesome job fighting fires, we do love what you do. Next time you’re down here, bring the whole crew and their families we’ll go get fish & chips at the Blue Wing, my treat…

          • Making me chuckle with the fish comments, not sure why they edited it out later, it was meant to be humorous not an insult, and by your reply’s I can tell you didn’t take it as an insult so if the person the comment was aimed at didn’t see it as an insult and the person making the comment didn’t mean it as one i guess that means the moderators sence of humor isnt as good as ours lol

          • Just read the link you sent about the lawsuit, it’s the pipe clamp that is being referred to. It’s a special type of wrap around clamp, not a regular one you could get at a hardware store

  • I doubt very much it’s quite so simple as one visit to one other district and a $30 part.

    And SF has just a few more water hookups than 450, and more employees to oversee than 2 – 4.

    This is false logic and conflation. It would be more appropriate to compare a town the size of Garberville with comparative hookups. Perhaps Redway, Laytonville or even Rio Dell which is larger.

    • It’s over a 4” pipe clamp lynn.We had a main explode right below the tanks, it shut down all water service and we weren’t going to be able to get one for 3-5 days which meant no school till water was fixed

      • Nice try. That’s not the issue. To state again; “I doubt very much it’s quite so simple as one visit to one other district and a $30 part. ”

        Pushing emotional buttons or “for the children” focuses always make me very suspicious.

        • I’m saying that the “ tool” that is in question is the clamp. As far as her firing I’m sure there’s way more to it.

    • Don’t know if it’s fact lol

      Each town/ city / district has different needs. Some don’t hire GM while some do. Garberville chose to do so for their own reasons, a big reason sometimes requires a big salary to help fix. I can not speak on their behalf but I can speculate that they needed someone that could handle their situation witch may reflect the salary they would need to pay to get someone that could deal with it.Just my speculation nothing more

  • Mr Emerson, and his outside jobs, is just what the market will bear. he created his reality and naysayers could end up with someone worse, should the market no longer bear him. that said i don’t have the facts to have an intelligent opinion, though i am a GSD rate-payer. (after his big raise i did ask Tina what was up with that? she did not approve…)

  • As an FYI – Within the last couple of years I had an empty house in town. I was charged $99/month just to keep the water service on. I was going to have the service turned off while I was away but Tina saved my butt by telling me that if I did that I’d be charged $8000.00 to turn it back on! 8K to turn on the water!! A hundred bucks a month even though I didn’t use one drop!!!

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Yes, it’s all part of the water scam. Base charges and then really high fees if you don’t keep paying base charges — Even if no water or sewer is used.

    They run this scam in water districts across the country and it’s a farce and historically really poorly regulated. But it seems to be especially bad in small service districts.

    Water hook up used to be $1200.00 and was raised to over $8,000 by you guessed it – Ralph Emerson. Just another one of his clever ideas to leach off the community.

    I read an article about a small district outside of Chicago that was largely elderly, poor and black. They were charging like $300.00 a month to single residential homes and then turning them off so they had no water or sewer.

    Disgusting, totally disgusting. Water rights and rates are usually concocted and controlled by gutter, greedy people….

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