Ramos takes seat on VVWRA
Move addresses perceived conflict of interest
HESPERIA • County Supervisor James Ramos, who represents Barstow, took over a seat on a local water board, resolving what some believed was a conflict of interest involving Supervisor Robert Lovingood.
The issue started when Lovingood took a seat on the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority board after his election to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in November. He inherited former Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt’s seat on the VVWRA, which represents the unincorporated wastewater jurisdictions of Spring Valley Lake and Oro Grande.
But because Lovingood’s company, ICR Staffing Services, has had a service agreement contract with VVWRA, Lovingood designated Jeff Rigney, the county’s director of Special Districts, to serve as his alternate to avoid a conflict of interest.
Some still raised concerns, resulting in a stalled resolution between the VVWRA’s member entities for amending a joint powers authority agreement. Victorville City Council members pushed the matter to the state Attorney General’s office for advice.
The conflict concern was finally settled by the county’s Board of Supervisors, which appointed 3rd District Supervisor Ramos to sit on the board, according to VVWRA General Manager Logan Olds.
Ramos then designated Rigney to continue as the alternate, Olds said.
The same man is still sitting on the board, but the seat officially belongs to Ramos instead of Lovingood.
The board discussed the move last week and “that apparently resolves the issues,” Olds said.
Though officials and city attorneys of the four member municipalities mostly agreed that no conflict of interest legally existed as long as Lovingood used an alternate on the VVWRA board, the appearance of a conflict was enough to concern some members.
The four member entities — Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville and the county — considered an amendment to the joint powers authority to allow the county to appoint a designee to the board who does not reside in the territorial boundaries of the authority.
All member entities had approved a resolution for the amendment except Victorville, whose council members decided to table the item until an “opinion letter was received from the attorney general,” according to the minutes for the June 18 meeting.
Olds said the county Board of Supervisors has the authority to appoint whoever they see fit to represent County Service Area No. 42 (Oro Grande) and Area No. 64 (Spring Valley Lake) on the VVWRA board.
“So by doing this, the residency requirement is not necessary — and by appointing Supervisor Ramos to the board, it addresses the issue of residency,” he said by phone Monday, noting that the residency issue was first raised sometime after Lovingood was elected.
County Public Information Officer David Wert also confirmed on Monday that no residency amendment was required.
“It’s not a first district supervisor seat,” Wert said. “The seat is a county seat on the (VVWRA) board, and the county can appoint anyone to that seat that they want.”
Jim E. Winburn can be reached at email@example.com or at 760-955-5468.