DESERT HOT SPRINGS – Police were called to a Mission Springs Water District Study Session to escort Director Steve Grasha from the meeting after a discussion escalated into yelling, foul language, and eventually a call to law enforcement.
The heated exchange involved a consultant, Robert Deloche, who was hired to assemble a draft Board of Directors Handbook.
Grasha, in prosecutorial fashion, peppered Deloche about what other agencies he had worked with on a similar activity and what happened in each of those instances.
Specifically, Grasha questioned Deloche to ask if he had done work for West Valley Water District (Rialto). Deloche said he had.
“And what’s happened since then?” Grasha asked.
“They didn’t follow it,” Deloche said.
“Right. Is that right? Grasha said.
“Mmhmm,” Deloche said.
“Or, they did follow it and the place collapsed. In fact, the General Manager is dead and everybody in the agency was fired and then the Board of Directors nearly turned over 100% since then and …,” Grasha said.
Grasha told his fellow board members they could certainly pass the handbook
as written, but cautioned that “as i’s written it will turn one board member against four board members, and three of them are up for re-election. Let me promise you, as a result of this, it won’t be a pretty election.”
Then-president Randy Duncan admonished Grasha that he was going to stop the meeting until Grasha could compose himself. Duncan also warned Grasha that he was not going to take Grasha’s shit anymore.
“I’m completely composed,” Grasha responded. “I’m telling you what you have to look forward to as a result of this. OK? Now, carry on.”
Duncan told Uken Report he was “trying to keep the meeting under control,” so while he did not personally place the 911 call. It was made at his request. Duncan also said the video speaks for itself and declined to comment.
The purpose for the meeting was to review, correct, or approve/adopt an updated Board of Directors Handbook, which is available on the District’s website by clicking here under the Board Information tab. (Transparency–Agendas and Minutes–2019 Meeting Minutes and Agendas–Packet)
No vote was taken that day, as the handbook was sent back for corrections/changes.
Deputy City Attorney Tuan-Anh Vu denied Uken Report’s public records request for a copy of the 911 call.
You may listen to the entire unedited audio here.
Duncan is now suing Grasha, calling him a liar, according to Grasha. A closed-session item has been added to the Mission Springs Water District Board meeting on Jan. 21. The item refers to Duncan vs Grasha.
You may watch a video clip of Grasha being escorted out of the meeting here:
Desert Hot Springs City Councilmember Russell Betts has taken a keen interest in the fracas.
“My interest is in preserving the correct public process,” Betts told Uken Report. “I don’t see anything in that process that allows a Chair to remove a duly elected member of a Board. Only the voters have that authority and even they have to follow a proscribed process: recall. Absent physical violence or credible threat of violence, a Board member has as much right to be present in a meeting as any other member – no matter how disagreeable they may become. Imagine if our system of government allowed the majority to expel the minority and then carry on business without them. It does not work that way. The Chair has tools within parliamentary procedure to deal with contentious debate. Calling the police is not one of them.”
Grasha, known for his outspokenness, blunt candor and offensive Tweets, was elected to the Mission Springs Water District Board in November 2018 with more votes than anyone in the 70-year history of the Mission Springs Water District.
He claims MSWD is trying to take over Desert Water Agency to gain access to DWA’s recharge facility on Worsley Road, use it to steal Mission Creek Water, and sell it to Cadiz Water Project to reduce the Chromium 6 toxicity levels so the water will be worth more.
“I was elected to do the people’s business and I will do it,” Grasha told Uken Report. “My entire reason for making this stink is that I believe Ground Water Management can only and should only be handled by a regional agency and that is how every board going back to 1963 has believed as well. We created an agency to do just that and we in Desert Hot Springs will finally have two and possibly three directors elected from our community to manage our regional GSA. This was the same plan for nearly 60 years and MSWD only started objecting when they realized they would lose a seat to me. This is an irresponsible use of ratepayer funds and jeopardizes the health and safety of every single citizen in the Western Coachella Valley including Palm Springs Desert Hot Springs and Cathedral City.”
Grasha added, “It’s true I have been sloppy in framing the issue but it’s only because I was trying to force the truth out of the MSWD that was and continues to act only in secret.”
- Cops escort Grasha from Water Board Study Session: Steve Grasha