Water board tables Acosta nomination, suggests Val Verde merge with agency

SCV Water Agency board members have tabled discussion of Dante Acosta’s nomination to the board until the new year, hoping Supervisor Kathryn Barger will consider merging Waterworks District 36 into the agency fold. After more than two hours of debating the character, experience and qualifications of former 38th District Assemblyman Dante Acosta, agency board members voted to regroup Jan. 7. “I would like you to take back the comments you heard here tonight to the supervisor,” board President Bill Cooper told Barger representative Stephanie English. “As another comment back to the supervisor, I would like to have her reconsider what Director (Tom) Campbell brought up — it’s up to the county if they would delete that position from the board,” he said, referring to the position representing Waterworks District 36. “It’s one that would save us $25,000 a year, and so over four years it would save us a $100,000 or more,” Cooper said. Hotly debated Whether Acosta was right for the Waterworks District 36 seat on the agency board was hotly debated — praise met with laughter, denouncement met with boos. A half-dozen attendees told board members they should reject the nomination while a half-dozen others described Acosta as a man of honor and service whose nomination should be accepted. Then, Acosta spoke up for himself. “I’ve heard myself talked about a lot by people who don’t know me very well,” he told more than a dozen board members and about 50 attendees. “When I received the call from Supervisor Barger — ‘Would I be interested to serve on the board?’ — she knew, frankly, that I had served as vice chair of the (Assembly’s) Natural Resources Committee, reviewing several water issues,” he said. Acosta cited the work he had done assisting legislation on the Oroville Dam crisis, noting he would be helpful in securing funding for water-related projects. And, he wasn’t without his supporters. Acosta supporters “The supervisor was wise in appointing him,” said Nancy Starcyzk, adding: “Dante is a man of service.” Richard Egan said of Acosta: “The water board appointment is a good position for him to be in.” John Musella, acting executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, said: “The chamber supports Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s nomination of Dante Acosta.” Kim Larsen said: “Dante Acosta has been nothing but great support for small business in the Santa Clarita Valley.” Gerry Banks said: “He has always been a proponent for what is good for the community.” Opposition Acosta’s critics — about a half-dozen — echoed the criticism sent to the board via email by more than two dozen citizens since Monday. At least 30 emails were submitted to SCV Water between 5:19 p.m. Monday and shortly before noon Tuesday were compiled by staffers and stapled to the agenda item as “protest letters.” Among those: Kevin Corcoran: “Mr. Acosta also routinely voted against water conservation bills when he was in the state Assembly.” Acosta was elected to the state Assembly in November 2016. He ran for re-election but was defeated Nov. 6 in a rematch with his 2016 opponent, Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita. Fran Fecske: “His history is not to support the people but to support big businesses. He does not live in the area that is being represented. Catharine Murphy: “I live in Canyon Country and was dismayed to hear this guy was nominated. Voters got rid of him last month because of his poor performance past two years. Do not give him another chance.” Kai Ellis: “Mr. Acosta does not have any experience in dealing with the important issues around water including the science or a general interest in preserving and protecting the environment and this valuable resource.” Term expires Efstathiou recently retired after 38 years of service with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. He is a board member of the Southern California Water Committee and the Urban Water Institute. Prior to his retirement he served as the acting director of Public Works. He retired as the chief deputy for the Department. His tenure on the Castaic Lake Water Agency — SCV Water’s predecessor — was from November 1992 to December 2017. He was on the board when SCV Water was formed this year, with his term set to expire next month.

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