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July 21, 2022

MSWD Directors Grasha and Duncan

Here's a link to the video of the July 14 study session.

This link is to the video of the July 18 regular session.

Director Randy Duncan has submitted his resignation from the MSWD board because he lives outside the district. Director Steve Grasha is under investigation to determine if he lives outside the district.


At the July 14, 2022 MSWD Board Study Session

The board was in a discussion of item 7 "RESOLUTION 2022-17 - AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2021-18; REVISIONS TO MISSION SPRINGS WATER DISTRICT PERSONNEL RULES AND REGULATIONS" when President Martin recognized Director Grasha for comments. Mr. Grasha responded "I have no questions on this, but before you move on to the next item I have a point of order and request for clarification from legal counsel on the standing of one former director that seems to be still sitting on the board in violation of the District Attorney's determination that he vacated his seat."

President Martin pointed out that district counsel was absent from this meeting, which was surprising to me because they had to have expected this issue to be raised at this meeting. Mr. Martin asked him if he'd be willing to wait until Monday to ask his question. Mr. Grasha said he didn't have a question, but was seeking clarification. He went on, "We have a letter here stating that the office has been vacated. It's declared by the District Attorney. Apparently there's been multiple acts of perjury that are associated with it that haven't ben charged, and I'm wondering if his continually sitting on the board will activate those charges and smear the reputation of this district. And I think it's time, before we continue on with this meeting to address that as a board, and not pretend that this is not an elephant sitting in the room. I find it offensive that this is happening right now."

President Martin said that since there would be no voting at this study session it was a moot point, and he could address the issue again on Monday in the regular session.

Mr. Grasha offered to read into the record the letter the DA sent to the board of directors. Mr. Martin said he would not grant him time to read the entire letter. Mr. Grasha began to read.

The Riverside County District Attorney's office has received a request to investigate a substantial violation by Director Randy Duncan of his residency requirements of the Mission Springs Water District Board of Directors pursuant to water code 3050A. The complaint alleges that Mr. Duncan no longer lives in the division he was elected to represent. Such a violation may jeopardize the finality of actions taken by the board since the violation occurred which is nearly two years ago. According to the Mission Springs Water District website, Mr. Duncan was most recently appointed to the board in October of 2014 after having served on the board for a few years prior. The website also mentions that Mr. Duncan has lived in Desert Hot Springs for more than 25 years. Our office recently learned that Mr. Duncan no longer resides within the Mission Springs Water District, having purchased a home outside of California. While Mr. Duncan used to live in Desert Hot Springs within the district, we determined that he sold that residence upon purchasing a new home out of state. We also discovered that Mr. Duncan stays with a friend in Desert Hot Springs about four days a week, but that friend's residence is not within Mr. Duncan's water board district. Mission Springs Water board of directors must reside within their respective divisions. If the director moves out of their division, they are deemed to have vacated their position if they fail to establish proper residency within 180 days. This is codified in water code 3050A. If a director's place of residence, as defined in section 244 of the government code, is moved outside the district boundaries or outside the boundaries of the director's division where elected from a division, or within 180 days of the move of the effective date of this section, the director fails to re-establish a residence within the district or within the director's division, it shall be presumed that permanent change of address has occurred and that vacancy exists on the board of directors. A place where one remains for labor or special temporary purpose does not qualify as a place of residence, and a person may only have one residence. Therefore, neither Mr. Duncan's out of state residence nor his temporary stays at a friend's residence that's outside the district would constitute qualifying residence for purpose of compliance with water code section 3050A. Without a qualifying residence within the district, Mr. Duncan vacated his position as Director of the Mission Springs Water District, according to government code 1770. Mr. Duncan's position became vacant when he ceased to be an inhabitant of the district for which he was appointed and within which his duties of his position are required to be discharged. Based upon the facts as we understand them, our legal analysis has concluded that Mr. Duncan's current position as a Mission Springs Water District board member constitutes a clear violation of 3050A water code. The District Attorney of Riverside County is committed to the objective of insuring that the board of directors of public agencies are qualified to hold their position of office and uphold the integrity of the board's actions. To that end, we respectfully request the board comply with the law by officially vacating Mr. Duncan's position as of the date he moved outside his district which was nearly two years ago. We also request the board review prior actions that were taken during the violation period and to insure that you are in compliance with [unclear] majority requirements set forth in water code 30525 and 30523. Failure to appropriately remedy this matter may result in further action taken by the District Attorney's office.

President Martin said he wanted to make two points. He said Director Duncan had not been convicted of any offense, that these are just charges the DA looked at. Also, Director Grasha is facing a similar investigation from the Attorney General's office for a very similar offense.

Much later in the meeting, President Martin recognized district counsel Peg Battersby who was not present in the board room. She said she had been involved in the Duncan matter. She read the announcement that was made after the closed session at the board's prior meeting in June: "There was a motion in favor of filing a motion to initiate quo warranto proceedings on behalf of the district with respect to Director Duncan and Director Grasha to determine whether they satisfy residency requirements within the division that elected them." She said the documents for that would be brought to the Monday (July 18) meeting.

During Director Comments at the study session, Mr. Duncan had this to say:

Two things. This is, I think, installment chapter number four in my ongoing quest for a new home. Despite the best efforts of two very mentally ill stalkers, Diane and I have been able to stick to our plan, very methodically comb through the Coachella Valley, gosh I couldn't tell you how many times now, bumper to bumper through the valley, Fourth of July we found - and this might be good news/bad news - like I said before. Fourth of July we found the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood, at the perfect price. So we are now getting ready to be homeowners again, okay. That's the good news. Bad news is this house is in Rancho Mirage. So I will be leaving the board. We're scheduled to close August 16, and despite Director Grasha's comments I will welcome the board to continue verifying my address within my division right now, because I do live within my division, and always did.

Second thing, and I'll make this statement and then I have a question to ask, so with all this I'm leading up to a question. My wife and I have owned property in Idaho for a very long time. It's never been an issue. In the year 2000 we bought a brand new boat. Since then, we've been going to Lake Havasu, spending most of the summers there. Sometimes renting a home; sometimes leasing a home long-term. Never been a problem. This last year in October, the developer or builder finished our house. We have a vacation home in Arizona which is totally legal, totally above board, didn't hide it from anybody, but we own property in Arizona. Director Grasha and Russell Betts got wind of it and decided to make it into something that it's not. They have complained, filed complaints, called every news agency, every political advocacy group, the DA's office. They have filed complaints with everyone they know of. I could personally care less. I know I'm in the right. The problem is every time a complaint is filed, every time a news report goes out, whatever the case may be, Mission Springs Water District now gets letters and phone calls which we turn over to the attorneys, and staff time. So what I would like to know, and this is not just for my own benefit, I think our customers deserve the right to know this, I know you can't get it by Monday, maybe by next board meeting, if you could tell me how much Steve Grasha and Russell Betts have cost this district on a wild goose chase that has gone nowhere, I would like to know that please.


At the July 18, 2022 MSWD Board Meeting

An item 17 was on the agenda for this day's meeting: "RESOLUTION NO. 2022-21 - RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF MISSION SPRINGS WATER DISTRICT, DIRECTING THE DISTRICT’S GENERAL COUNSEL TO PREPARE, SERVE AND FILE APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO SUE AND COMPLAINT IN QUO WARRANTO ON BEHALF OF THE DISTRICT, BASED ON THE VERIFIED STATEMENT OF FACTS OF THE DISTRICT’S GENERAL MANAGER [STEVEN ALAN GRASHA]"

President Martin announced that the board would deal with all the other items on the agenda, then go into closed session, then come back and deal with item 17 in open session.

After item 6 (HUMAN RESOURCES REPORT) and before item 7 (RESOLUTION 2022-17 - AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2021-18; REVISIONS TO MISSION SPRINGS WATER DISTRICT PERSONNEL RULES AND REGULATIONS) Director Grasha requested permission to make a statement. President Martin said it was okay. Mr. Grasha said:

I wanted to put some fears at rest that members of the public might have over concerns raised by this board and their allegations that have already been investigated in detail and I'd like to read to you a statement from the Riverside County District Attorney in regards to the allegations that you made against me recently.

President Martin said this was not the appropriate time. Mr. Grasha insisted that the audience came only to hear this. As a member of that audience, I can assure you I did not go there to hear a self-serving statement from Steve Grasha. Mr. Grasha argued that his imaginary audience should control the order of the agenda. He kept trying to talk over President Martin until Mr. Martin ordered his microphone to be shut off.


Item 18. ACCEPT RESIGNATION OF DIRECTOR DUNCAN AND DISCUSS APPOINTMENT PROCESS TO FILL VACANT SEAT

President Martin read the resignation letter from Director Duncan:

Dear President Martin,
After today's board meeting I was told that my comments were either unclear or confusing to a few people, so I would like to clarify my announcement. As of Tuesday, August 16, 2022 I will be resigning my position on the board of directors for the Mission Springs Water District and vacating my seat due to moving out of Mission Springs Water District's service territory. I hope this clears up any confusion.

Director Grasha moved to accept Mr. Duncan's resignation effective June 13, 2021, "as outlined by the District Attorney's letter." The motion died for lack of a second.

Mr. Grasha then moved to accept the resignation as of August 16, 2022, and to direct the General Manager to determine how much the district had paid Mr. Duncan since June 13, 2021, and to try to recover that money from Mr. Duncan. That motion also died for lack of a second.

President Martin moved to accept Mr. Duncan's resignation as submitted. Director Duncan seconded. Approved 4-1 with Director Grasha voting against.

According to Attorney Pinkney, if the board decides to appoint a replacement, they have 60 days after the date of resignation to do so. The board must provide 15 days notice to the public before they appoint a replacement. Anyone appointed would serve for the remainder of Mr. Duncan's term; that is, until December 2024.

If the board decides instead to call an election, they have 60 days from the date of resignation to do so. The election would be on "the next established election date" that is at least 130 days after the date the board called for the election. I'm not completely sure, but that sounds like it would push the election to November 2024.

Director Grasha had a comment:

It should be clear to the public that this charade is all occurring so that the board of directors can avoid calling for an election as filing for this seat would have opened this morning. [It's only 113 days from July 18 to November 8. To get on the November ballot the board would have to have called for an election before July 1. - Ron] We would have had time to get this on the ballot for the November election and allow the electorate to decide on who should fulfill the obligations of Mr. Duncan. It's unfortunate that this board is up to shenanigans continually and it never ends and here we are going to be forced with another hand-picked successor picked by Nancy Wright and the regime. Thank you.

Mr. Grasha said the board could put this on the ballot in November 2022. Mr. Grasha can't count. He moved to put it on the November 2022 ballot. This died for lack of a second.

Director Duncan moved to choose the appointment process. Seconded by Vice President Wright. Attorney Pinkney pointed out the agenda item called only for the discussion of how to replace Mr. Duncan, so the motion was withdrawn.

When they got to item 26, Director's Comments, Mr. Grasha had something to say:

I wanted to take a moment to allay any concerns the public might have about these outlandish allegations raised for the third time by this board. These allegations were investigated thoroughly by actual law enforcement and I want to read you the statement that they issued in regard to those allegations. "The Riverside County District Attorney's office special prosecution sections received a complaint against you alleging residency violations based on your position as a board member of the Mission Springs Water District. Whenever we receive a complaint against a public official our office is obligated to determine if it is appropriate for action by our office. The public integrity unit investigates and, if appropriate, prosecutes criminal misconduct by an elected or appointed official in accordance with our legal and ethical responsibilities. To that end, our office conducted an investigation into your residency claims made against you. At the conclusion of that investigation we determined there is no evidence of criminal activity on your part. We have not filed any criminal charges against you and we will not take further action on this complaint. We hope this letter provides clarification as to the status of this investigation of this claim at this time. Please contact our office if you have any further questions."

President Martin said that Mr. Grasha missed the main point of the letter. The DA was investigating criminal conduct. The quo warranto procedure is a civil, not criminal, matter.

In his comments, Director Duncan said "I have to give just a word of caution - or, not caution - I don't know what the right word is. To any new hires that are still listening to this board meeting with the childish outbreaks, the crazy accusations that are going on, this is not the normal procedure for Mission Springs Water District and it will change as of November."

I don't know what meetings Mr. Duncan has been attending, but the behavior seen at this board meeting is normal and has been since Steve Grasha was elected.


Item 17. RESOLUTION NO. 2022-21 - RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF MISSION SPRINGS WATER DISTRICT, DIRECTING THE DISTRICT’S GENERAL COUNSEL TO PREPARE, SERVE AND FILE APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO SUE AND COMPLAINT IN QUO WARRANTO ON BEHALF OF THE DISTRICT, BASED ON THE VERIFIED STATEMENT OF FACTS OF THE DISTRICT’S GENERAL MANAGER [STEVEN ALAN GRASHA]

Attorney Pinkney first reported on closed session. Both Directors Grasha and Duncan recused themselves from closed session.

The attorney explained that an application will be filed with the Attorney General's office. Notice will be given to Mr. Grasha who will have 15 days to respond and provide evidence, then the district will have 10 days to reply. Then the attorney general will make a determination as to whether there are grounds to proceed with the filing of a lawsuit in quo warranto.

He read a summary of allegations against Mr. Grasha:

  • On June 17 the district received a complaint from Russ Martin which he had filed with the DA in November 2020 regarding Mr. Grasha's residence.
  • When Grasha was elected he did not reside within the district.
  • Grasha gave an address of 14200 North Indian Canyon Drive.
  • That address is Two Springs RV Resort which prohibits permanent residence.
  • On January 24, 2020, the district was served with a wage garnishment order against Grasha giving his address his address as 1015 St. Lucia Circle, Palm Springs.
  • The garnishment order was served at that address.
  • Grasha owns two motor vehicles, one of which is registered to a post office box in Kneeland, California. [Kneeland is in Humboldt County.]
  • Grasha maintains a post office box in North Palm Springs, but he received all his mail at the St. Lucia Circle address.
  • Grasha's mother owns 1015 St. Lucia Circle.

The attorney also listed some of the documents that will be submitted with the complaint to the Attorney General:

  • Desert Sun article from November 13, 2018 "Desert Hot Springs elects Steve Grasha, a man with history of angry, sexist, racist tweets, to water board."
  • Two articles from "Ron's Log blog" in 2018. [I have no idea what these could be, since the only original content I have on Steve Grasha was the video of the board workshop where then-President Duncan called the police to have Grasha removed.]
  • An L.A. Times article from 1987 "Tossed in Jail for Contempt of Court: He Slams a Door; Judge Does, Too" [The 27-year-old Grasha, who now lives in Palm Springs, was charged in 1985 with four counts of perjury and one count of filing false statements on nomination papers. He was accused of falsifying his address on papers filed for the November, 1985, election. At the time, he allegedly did not live in Buena Park.]
  • Another L.A. Times article "Buena Park: Candidate Grasha Will Be Tried in Perjury Case" from 1986.

The attorney said the district's records reflect the following:

  • Grasha does not sign for mail delivery at his supposed North Indian Canyon address.
  • Grasha has attended no board meetings in person since February 2020.

Vice President Wright then read some of the lowlights of the 2018 Desert Sun article. I don't know why she chose this time to do so. That information has been available to everyone, including Ms. Wright, since 2018. She has had years and many opportunities to attack Mr. Grasha on his many faults, but she (and the other directors) have held themselves back. Now that we're nearly at the tail end of Mr. Grasha's term when her criticism will make no real difference, she decides to open up.

If you can't read the Desert Sun article, I have it copied here, on Ron's Log.

Ms. Wright encouraged Mr. Grasha to do the right thing and resign.

Director Duncan had comments:

You know, Russell Betts and Steve Grasha have been chasing me around because I own property out of California. It's not a sin; it's not a crime; not even fattening. It's okay to own property out of California. But the hypocrisy of what Grasha is claiming I do - I don't know why they think I live out of state because I own property out of state. They both are such hypocrites. I agree with Nancy. I think Grasha should resign now. He'll never get re-elected to this board. There's only a few months left. Save the money for this "quo wanto" I can't pronounce that phrase, but save the money for that.

Mr. Duncan did not explain what Mr. Betts's hypocrisy is in this matter.

Mr. Grasha was no longer attending the meeting.

President Martin agreed that it would be in the best interests of the district if Mr. Grasha would resign, saving the district money spent on attorney's fees.

Mr. Martin recognized Russell Betts who wanted to make a public comment.

I just wanted to explain a couple things here. My involvement regarding statements made against me by Randy Duncan. And my inquiry into this started with a simple public records request to the board, or to the district, asking for all the home addresses of all the directors. Which I don't think somebody who's doing a public information request should be referred to as a "stalker." That's a pretty darn bad attitude to have towards what is a legal and proper process in our system. The information that came back was that Randy Duncan, and all the directors' addresses came back. The district responded very quickly. But Randy Duncan's address came back as on Mission Lakes Boulevard where I know he doesn't live because he and I used to - I used to drive by and we'd occasionally talk, found he didn't live there anymore. So I asked the board about that and the response I got back was "we rely on the director to determine where they live." And I even talked to the attorney Pinkney, and he said, well, basically I'll get back to you, but we just rely on the director. And I said, well, I'm letting you know now that he doesn't live there. And the reply was "Well, we consider your public information request closed and nobody was interested in that." Now, Mr. Duncan most certainly does live in Arizona because that's where his license plate for his vehicle is, and you don't move to a state and change your license plate, unless you live there. You certainly have all kinds of indication as to why...anyhow, so I want to say when I found out that there was this discrepancy I did as i should have done and let the District Attorney know about it. The District Attorney looked at it, made their determination, and it is quite clear from the District Attorney that Mr. Duncan, indeed, does not live in the district and not once has Mr. Duncan - I invite him to tell us now - what is your address in the district? You told the District Attorney, apparently, that you were staying with a friend. [President Martin tried to cut him off as he had reached his 3-minute limit.] If I could just wrap up quickly. I'm following what is the legal and proper process for public record request and to be called a stalker because of that, I understand it's not nice to have to resign your position, but the public information process is a very integral part of our system of transparency.

I think his point about the plates on the vehicle is pretty weak. If Duncan keeps a vehicle in Arizona, there would be no requirement to license it in California. Now, if Mr. Duncan had gotten an Arizona drivers license or registered to vote in Arizona, we'd have something. But Arizona plates on a vehicle in Arizona indicate nothing as to residency.

Director Duncan said he called Mr. Betts a stalker not because of the public records act. The form provided to Mr. Betts was Mr. Duncan's campaign filing statement which was filed in June 2020. He still lived on Mission Lakes Boulevard in June 2020 and in November 2020, the date of the election. He sold his house "well after that." The truck with Arizona plates mostly stays in Arizona. He said he called Mr. Betts a stalker because he saw him filming MSWD directors and staff as they were leaving through the gate. Mr. Betts then followed Mr. Duncan for several blocks. Mr. Betts also copied a photo from the Facebook page of Mrs. Duncan showing their property in Arizona. He said Mr. Betts posted that photo and a photo of downtown Prescott, Arizona. Mr. Duncan said he didn't own any property in Prescott.

Suddenly Mr. Betts's voice re-appeared saying "It's outside Prescott, Randy, it's not in city proper." President Martin called him out of order.

Mr. Duncan continued saying Mr. Grasha had been taken into court on a stalking case. Betts's photos of Duncan's vehicles and properties, sitting outside the district's gates filming employees. "Betts, if you ever try something like that again I will file stalking charges against you."

Betts's voice appeared again saying "Go right ahead."

Duncan: "Don't tempt me."

Betts: "So what? File it. I can't wait 'til you do. Do it. Do it, Randy."

Finally, President Martin ordered Betts muted.

Vice President Wright moved to approve the resolution as presented. Seconded by Director Sewell. Approved 3-0 with Director Duncan recusing himself and Director Grasha absent. Directors Martin, Wright and Sewell each individually called for Grasha to resign to save the district money.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Politics | permalink | July 21, 2022 at 10:30 PM

Comments

I do not know you have only one residence. I have never heard of the address 97 Moonlight Drive before reading your comment. I have not printed the results of any investigation by law enforcement into your residence. I have never seen the results of any such investigation.

If you post additional lies in any future comment I will simply delete your comment.

Posted by: Ron at Aug 6, 2022 6:39:16 PM

Hi Ron, I am grateful for your interest in my personal affairs and the affairs of our water district.

As you know, I have only one residence and that is 97 Moonlight Drive in North Palm Springs. The allegations you have raised have been investigated fully by law enforcement, as you know because you have printed the results of that investigation in your post.

Just to clear things up, some of the methods used to determine my status as an elector within the Mission Springs Water District was the use of interviews with neighbors, resort management and satellite imagery taken multiple times over the last decade that shows me and all my registered vehicles at my residence at 97 Moonlight Drive every single time, both before and after I was elected.

These investigations are taken seriously and are completely thorough as we all expect they should be.

Again, thank you for your interest.

Posted by: Director Grasha at Aug 6, 2022 4:58:48 PM

Being a bit slow, it has only just occurred to me that this action against Steve Grasha will have a more profound effect on his plans to run for the DWA board of directors than on his nearly completed term at MSWD. His plans were to use that address on North Indian Canyon to run in Division 1, but the address 1015 St. Lucia Circle, Palm Springs, is in Division 5. Here's the division map centered on the 1015 St. Lucia Circle address.

Let's see what address he uses when he files his candidacy, and then see what DWA does if he still claims the North Indian Canyon address.

Posted by: Ron at Jul 23, 2022 9:03:57 AM

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