West Bay Sanitary District employee resigns from board

District seeks applicants to fill board vacancy

A West Bay Sanitary District board member has resigned after the district's attorney discovered that it's against the law for a district employee to serve on the board, district manager Phil Scott said.

Rich Kinder, a field supervisor for the district, ran unopposed for the seat in November and was appointed to board in December. He voted in several board meetings, not knowing it was against the law for an employee to serve on the board, Mr. Scott said.

Mr. Kinder had been intending to retire soon, said attorney Anthony Condotti, who provides legal counsel to the sanitary district. At the time Mr. Kinder joined the board, Mr. Condotti said, the issue raised his concerns, but he didn't perceive a conflict of interest until labor negotiations were to take place, at which time Mr. Kinder would not be permitted to participate.

When Mr. Condotti found a passage in California law that said current district employees are not permitted to serve as board members at all, he said, he raised the issue with Mr. Kinder.

"It was my bad for not identifying that provision of the government code at the outset," Mr. Condotti said.

Mr. Kinder had to make a choice: resign his job and stay on the board, or resign from the board and continue working. Mr. Kinder chose to resign from the board and will continue to work for the sanitary district, Mr. Scott said.

The decisions made during Mr. Kinder's time on the board in January and early February are still "valid, in my opinion," Mr. Condotti said.

Now, the agency is seeking to fill the board seat. Prior to Mr. Kinder's brief tenure, the seat was occupied by Ronald W. Shepherd, who served on the board for about 16 years before he retired in 2015, Mr. Scott said.

Eligible candidates – registered voters within the West Bay Sanitary District – may apply by submitting a brief statement of interest and qualifications to the district no later than April 21, in advance of an April 27 meeting when the board plans to make the appointment. The board term would last until the district's next regular election in November 2017.

Meetings usually occur on the second and fourth Wednesday each month, starting at 7 p.m., at the district offices, located at 500 Laurel St. in Menlo Park.

The district covers Menlo Park and portions of East Palo Alto, Redwood City, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley and parts of unincorporated San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The district operates more than 200 miles of mainline sewer systems.

Read the vacancy notice or call Phil Scott at (650) 321-0384 for more information.

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