June 15, 2012

SMWD General Manager Issues Statement on Orange County Grand Jury Report on Transparency

John Schatz, Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) general manager, issued the following statement today regarding the Orange County Grand Jury’s latest report on transparency:

“The Orange County Grand Jury report issued today is factually inaccurate and mistakenly fails to acknowledge that SMWD has posted executive and employee compensation and benefits information and has made this information easily accessible to the public.” 

As SMWD noted in an April 20, 2012 press release, it has added several links to its website to assist the public in easily obtaining information about the District, including:

To ensure SMWD was doing everything it could to be fully accountable to the public, the Board engaged William R. Mitchell, an expert on local government ethics and transparency, last year. Mr. Mitchell is the former chair of Orange County Common Cause and has a long history of promoting good government in Orange County. With his guidance, SMWD adopted several changes in its website to meet the Grand Jury’s 2011 recommendations and its Feb. 23, 2012 letter regarding these recommendations.

In response to the latest report, Mr. Mitchell has sent the Grand Jury a letter, noting that all these changes were “for naught” because the Grand Jury didn’t review the existing website. If it had reviewed the current website, Mr. Mitchell said the Grand Jury would have found “the information provided is exactly the content the Grand Jury was asking that the special districts provide” to the public.

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