The annual shuffling of El Dorado Hills Community Services District board leadership and committee membership took place during last month’s meeting, roughly an hour before four of five directors voted to terminate their general manager’s contract.
The John Skeel firing will likely stand as the defining action of an embattled board that’s now facing an ugly lawsuit and open recall discussions.
Director Tony Rogozinski will replace Director Guy Gertsch as board president during the regular meeting on Jan. 12, with Director Billy Vandegrift replacing Director Noelle Mattock as board vice president. Rogozinski and Vandegrift also led the board in 2009.
CSD policy dictates that the board president and vice president comprise the Admin Finance Committee. Gertsch and Vandegrift will sit on the Parks and Planning Committee.
Directors Wayne Lowery and Rogozinski will sit on the Recreation Committee. Lowery joins Mattock on the Covenants Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R) and Franchise committees, which meet on an “as needed” basis.
Outgoing Board President Gertsch called the back side of 2011 a “challenging period,” with more hard work ahead in a recent Village Life letter to the editor. He portrayed the general manager transition as an opportunity to “take stock in the district, objectively evaluate and learn from past events.”
The decision to terminate Skeel was difficult but unavoidable, he said, because of “performance issues [that] could not be resolved.”
He pledged his board to finding “the right brand of leadership,” starting with hiring an interim general manager, while retaining recruiting firm to conduct a national search for Skeel’s replacement, which he hopes to hire during the first half of 2012.
He also promised a thorough and impartial review of the district’s management practices, succession planning, communication, accountability and operating efficiencies, with the initial planning stages to begin early in 2012.
Reached by phone, Gertsch said the board’s immediate goal is to get an interim GM seated “and moving the district forward at this point.”
He promised, “A lot will be happening in relatively short order,” and said the board plans to hit the ground running in 2012 with a special board meeting on Jan. 3.
Gertsch also make it clear that he’s done talking about the Skeel dismissal, at least for now, and doesn’t want to read any of his fellow board members’ comments in the local papers either.
“From a Skeel perspective, the district will provide no further comment at all from the board president or any of its members,” he said.
Mattock also weighed in with her own letter to the editor in December, expressing regret for having been “part of such a difficult period in our history” and promising to “work with my fellow board members to begin to heal the district.”
She apologized to the residents of El Dorado Hills and to the Skeel family for the “length of time and clumsy nature” of the decision to fire Skeel, admitting that the matter could have been handled better, but standing by the decisions of her board.
In response to “the cry for leadership and lack of trust in the current management,” she called for outside involvement in several key areas:
• A consultant to review management practices
• Interim general manager and parks director
• Professional recruiter to find a new GM
• Public involvement in the final GM interviews
• Open bidding to replace the district’s current legal counsel, Gold River-based Thurbon & McHaney.