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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      

December 17, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán expressed her deep concerns with the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) Board of Directors’ rushed actions to force out its current general manager and hire a special interim general manager.

“WRD should continue its initial plans to hire an independent recruitment firm to conduct an open, ethical, and transparent search to fill the general manager position.  Additionally, WRD must allow the public adequate opportunity to communicate feedback about potential candidates.  Doing anything short of that would be a disservice to the millions of residents served by the WRD and erode the trust and reputation of the WRD,” Barragán said in a letter to be read during the WRD Board meeting today.

Barragán compared the WRD Board’s lack of transparency and secretive hiring process to actions by the Trump Administration: “For the last four years this country has endured an Administration who has no regard for facts, process, the law or transparency.  Individuals were hired because of relationships and political favors, not necessarily qualifications.  Actions were taken in the dark of night or behind closed doors as to not draw attention to the matters.  We don’t need that lack of trust and lack of transparency undermining our local groundwater agency.”

On December 3, Congresswoman Barragán called into WRD’s Board meeting to initially express her concerns.  On December 7, she led the Los Angeles-area congressional delegation on a letter to the WRD Board urging transparency in the hiring process.

The WRD is the largest groundwater agency in the State of California and serves the critically important function of managing and protecting local groundwater resources for millions of L.A. County residents.

Full text of Congresswoman Barragán’s letter read at today’s WRD Board meeting is below:

December 17, 2020

Board of Directors

Water Replenishment District of Southern California

4040 Paramount Blvd.

Lakewood, CA, 90712

Dear Board of Directors:

I remain deeply concerned by the Water Replenishment District (WRD) Board’s rushed actions to force out its current general manager and hire a special interim general manager.

Members of the Los Angeles Congressional Delegation and the State Legislature have sent a clear message to the WRD Board: WRD should continue its initial plans to hire an independent recruitment firm to conduct an open, ethical, and transparent search to fill the general manager position.  Additionally, WRD must allow the public adequate opportunity to communicate feedback about potential candidates.  Doing anything short of that would be a disservice to the millions of residents served by the WRD and erode the trust and reputation of the WRD.

For the last four years this country has endured an Administration who has no regard for facts, process, the law or transparency.  Individuals were hired because of relationships and political favors, not necessarily qualifications.  Actions were taken in the dark of night or behind closed doors as to not draw attention to the matters.  We don’t need that lack of trust and lack of transparency undermining our local groundwater agency.

Many cities, elected officials and vendors who work with the WRD have expressed concern and opposition to the proposal before you today in the name of good governance.  Moving forward today on the proposed action to haphazardly hire a new general manager without a meaningful search and oust your current general manager will tarnish the WRD’s reputation and result in a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Our groundwater is precious.  The management of the largest groundwater agency is a serious matter that must be protected and is deserving of good governance.  I continue to believe the Board’s conduct at its December 3rd meeting and today’s Board actions, motives behind the actions, and behind the scenes conversations may best be investigated by the public integrity unit to ensure the public trust has not been abused.

I encourage the Board to weigh the fiscal implications and calls for transparency raised by the many stakeholders it represents as it considers the contract for a special interim appointment.

Sincerely,

Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44)

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Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington

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