Steve Grasha seeks transparency at Desert Water Agency
PALM SPRINGS — Steve Grasha, a newly elected member of the Desert Water Agency Board of Directors, has not yet attended his first meeting or officially been sworn in and already he is doing what he does best — raising hell. He seeks transparency.
“I want to broadcast the meetings to keep everyone honest,” Grasha told Uken Report. “It puts nearly an end to the nonsense.”
Grasha, who came in first of three candidates to represent District 1, wants DWA meetings streamed live in real time. He just finished a four-year term on the Mission Springs Water District Board of Directors where meetings, even study sessions, are livestreamed and then available indefinitely on YouTube.
“DWA Board and committee meetings are available live online,” Mark S. Krause, DWA General Manager & Chief Engineer, told Uken Report. “For Board meetings, we typically post the link to view/participate the Thursday or Friday before the Tuesday meeting. ”
The next meeting is Dec. 20. The meeting webcast/participation link will be posted here: https://dwa.org/events/board-meeting-148/.
But that doesn’t go far enough, Grasha argues.
“Desert Water Agency meetings are only available to view live and you must register,” Grasha told Uken Report, “It’s not good enough. Citizens deserve the ability to view public meetings at their pleasure and convenience as is the case with nearly every other public agency in the desert including Coachella Valley Water District and even MSWD.”
Grasha further argues that meetings need to be held at a time when the public is available to participate.
“8 a.m. is the worst time for anyone other than those trying to determine the best time to be a complete inconvenience,” Grasha said. “It’s clearly an attempt to discourage public participation in public debate over the most important subject known to mankind, our drinking water. We need to find a way to be more transparent and encourage public participation,”
Transparency is especially critical since directors are about to decide the most expensive public works project in valley history, the $650 million Site Reservoir Project that when completed will still have no way to transport the water to our customers from the State Water Project, Grasha said.
“Let’s stop the nonsensical nuance and caustic rhetoric and take care of the people’s business without further division on this simple matter of inviting our neighbors to join the process,” he said. “It makes no sense to me why this was not done 10 years ago.”
MSWD’s board meetings are available live on the Internet through Zoom, a virtual meeting software platform. Video from sessions is captured by staff and later uploaded to the District’s YouTube page, Programs and Public Affairs Manager Marion Champion said. Business accounts for Zoom start at $200 for an annual subscription. MSWD began this process in the spring of 2020 after the start of COVID lockdowns.
CVWD livestreams its meetings, Director of Service and Communication Scott Burritt said. You can access meetings live or review videos of past meetings at: http://cvwd.org/151/Board-Agendas. On the day of the meeting, there will be a YouTube link to livestream the meeting. If readers wish to provide comment during a meeting, from the same link, click, HTML Agenda for that meeting, and there are instructions to participate via Zoom. The public is also welcome to attend our meetings in person.
“CVWD has livestreamed board meetings prior to the pandemic based on our commitment to transparency in governance,” Burritt said.
Sylvia Bermudez, CVWD’s Clerk of the Board, advises that CVWS has been streaming since early 2016. Prior to COVID, there was no cost for streaming. However, with the teleconferencing requirement to give the public the option to participate during the shutdown, the agency had to hire an Audio Viisual consultant to provide the service, because the system was outdated. CVWD currently spends about $2,000 a month (for 2 meetings), Burritt said.
Grasha is raising hell.
- Steve Grasha: Steve Grasha
- Transparency: Shutterstock