So, I went onto Facebook and was informed of my "notifications". Four of those notifications were for the water company's Facebook page (it took about 3 months, but we're finally getting a couple of likes). So I went and took a look at these comments from some random person whose name I didn't recognize.
The first one I went to was a post that I put up on Tuesday. I had a picture of Libby and was being a bit silly with the post and in all honesty, who doesn't enjoy a random dog picture? Apparently the woman commenter doesn't. (I'm dog-sitting for my parents this week while they are away for their anniversary).
Come on, who doesn't love a cute dog pic once in awhile??
"Libby's Random Water Fact: There are over 59,000 community public water systems."
This woman's comment was, "Dogs Like Water Toooooooo......."
Well, yes, they do. Just like us they need it to survive. I was a bit weirded out by her comment but I moved onto the next. The next post she commented on was from earlier in July when I posted a friendly reminder about a board of director's meeting that night.
"Friendly reminder - our regular monthly Board of Director's Meeting is tonight at 7pm at the Community Center on Blah Street."
Her comment was, "Is everyone invited? Maybe not......"
My response was, "The regular monthly meeting is open to the general public for comments, questions or any concerns; however, business and any voting is done by shareholders. The next meeting is August Blah at 7pm."
Now, prior to the current board/staff, not all board meetings were public. They also weren't always posted publicly. For the record, as a Mutual, we are governed slightly different than a normal water company. I've done some homework. It appears that anyone who wishes to attend a public board meeting is supposed to RSVP. Seriously. They are supposed to call in advance and let us know they plan to attend. Also, we don't have to have public meetings. However, we want our residents to be better informed of what's going on. They all believe they know more about the system, how to deal with the issues, how to replace the 60 year old infrastructure and in what order, yadda yadda yadda. What they fail to realize is that they are part of the problem. In the past 60 years this system has been around, no one has ever invested anything in the infrastructure. Anything that was repaired or replaced was done because they were absolutely forced to - as in, they had no other choice. Here's another picture: For the past 15 years (or more) one of the two river pumps has been broken. They've never replaced it because they had a working one. What they failed to realize is that if that good pump had failed, they wouldn't have been able to deliver water to their customers in the summer. Also? Similar situation with one of the two pumps at the treatment plant - one works well and the other one leaks oil like crazy, so we can't use it. If the good pump failed - again, no water would be delivered to customers in summer. We've replaced both. Well, one of them is at a pump shop, but the one is already replaced and working well.
Anyway, only shareholders are allowed to conduct business at the meetings. But we do open the regular monthly meeting to the general public so they can ask questions, share any concerns they have, or comment on what's going on. And, the agendas for the meetings are now posted one week in advance in 4 locations, plus it is now in the newsletter I started up and began putting in with bills in July. Can't tell me people aren't notified.
Moving on, the next post she commented on was the one the day after the board meeting. The meeting got a bit out of control. The meeting had garnered a lot of interest as I had started putting a newsletter in with the bills, we'd made some changes to the rules, and we were enforcing the rules. This had ruffled a lot of feathers. Residents kept interrupting with their questions so that it was difficult to get through the agenda. When we tried to move on, people would shout out, "We have questions!! We should be able to ask questions!!" Seriously. Even when we explained that would get to them at the end where it says, "Public Comment" at the end of the agenda. Then we'd quickly get off topic because one question would lead to another that would lead to another and so on. Even I had to shout to get people to be quiet. Once more than one person starts talking in that room, you can't hear anyone - it echoes horribly. Trying to decipher shit from the recorder was very interesting. Anyway, here's my post:
"We would like to thank everyone that came to the Board Meeting last night. We had an excellent turnout - approximately 25 people (which by the way is a huge turn-out as we usually have zero). While we understand all the topics discussed were "hot items", we would also like to remind everyone that those who come the meetings should always be respectful to everyone at the meetings - Board, Staff and Customers alike. All of us care very much about the Water Company and want only the best for it. Please remember that. We are happy to talk with any of our customers who have questions or concerns about any of the changes or problems with the Water System - but again, please be civil and respectful. Rudeness helps no one."
My reason for such a post was that folks were quite rude that night. I spoke with a couple customers the day after the meeting who were upset by how the meeting was handled - by everyone involved. I told them that yes, it could have been handled better and that I would speak with the board members about some basic rules of conduct for meetings and such and that hopefully, we can all learn from that meeting and move forward. They agreed and we very happy that I took time out of my day to meet with them and hear their concerns.
Her response was, "Civil....Respectful....I think that considering the circumstances a little rudeness may be appropriate here. I live in NC and already am aware of the lawlessness involved in the way you run this company. Go back on disability for heavens sake and give your community a chance!"
My response was, "We are not "lawless" as you claim. We're attempting to make up for things have not been done for 40 years. By getting things accomplished, we are ensuring that we can get grant funding to upgrade an ailing and aging system. We realize that all of us (board and residents) could have handled our last board meeting better. We can only move forward and hopefully become better. None of us are "going back on disability" because we weren't on it to begin with."
It took me a few minutes to wrap my head around this comment because the last bit really makes absolutely no sense. Firstly, I totally understand that the residents at the meeting had every right to be upset. What no one enjoyed was them trying to run the damn meeting, talk over each other, yell at all of us for something that happened two years ago when none of us were employed or on the board at that time, attempt to throw us under the bus for things previous board and staff did or didn't do, or tell us how to do our jobs. Now, not everyone was a "Negative Nelly", we did have supporters in the crowd. But the naysayers were the loudest. Granted, members of the board could have handled things differently . . . or better . . . but like I said, it's something that we can learn from and hopefully improve. The last dig about "go back on disability for heavens sake and give your community a chance!" - that's what is confusing. If we "go back on disability" (which ain't gonna happen), and leave, the company will go under. Without a licensed operator (Boyfriend), the state will more than likely step in and take over and their rates will quadruple at best. The board has told me that more has been accomplished in the 7 months since Boyfriend's been employed than in the history that they know of. They same the same to me about me in the 4 months I've been at the office. But just up and leaving, we risk condemning the company to utter failure and ruin. And we care too fucking much to let that happen. Also, the "lawlessness"? I'm the one that discovered our company had been operating without worker's comp insurance for a year and a half - previous board/staff allowed it to get canceled due to non-payment. I had to haul ass and fix that shit fast. We're covered now, just an FYI.
And my personal favorite. I had posted this on Monday - again, I'm dog-sitting and often when I have the dogs, I will take them to the office with me so they're not stuck at home all day (except for Wednesday, because I had to go to the other water office and I couldn't take them with me, plus I had to run to town for deposits). They make me get up every couple hours to take 5 minutes or so for a quick walk outside, but otherwise, they don't disturb me and prevent me from getting my work done.
Sleeping on the job. But they're cute.
"I have office buddies this week! So far, Libby has been a good "alerter" of knocks at the door, but otherwise, they're both kinda sleeping on the job! lol "
Her response was, "Hey W (meaning Boyfriend), or your girlfriend or your mother......Is this really what Lewiston CA residents pay you to do? Time to get back to business. Do you not realize or appreciate that your community is in crisis? Ummm...."
My response was, "Office buddies or no, things are getting done - business was not interrupted. If you're curious about the things that have been accomplished, we'd be happy to let you know. You're welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call."
I had warned Boyfriend of backlash from the community for hiring his girlfriend to be the office manager; although, she's not currently in the community. All of us (board, Boyfriend, me) were concerned about nepitism, but overall, it's turned out well. Boyfriend spends very little time in the office, so I'm alone much of the time to work at my pace. I've accomplished a lot in the office, even though some days it feels like I don't. About the mother bit - the office pays my mother mileage once or twice a month tops to come up and help me learn some of the ins and outs of running a water company; it's cheaper than paying her $20/hr. She's an excellent contact being that she worked for a water company for nearly 25 years. She's been a big help!
Now, I did a bit of digging. I didn't recognize the woman's surname, and by her own admission lives in North Carolina. So, unless she's from here and knows folks here, in our service district, she wouldn't know much. So I clicked on her friends list. And there it was - the office gal before me who up and quit in January with absolutely no notice. The same person who couldn't answer anyone's questions without changing the subject or crying or getting angry. The same person who flatly refused to work in the office and keep any kind of business hours. The same person who didn't want the company computer at the office, but instead she wanted to keep it at her house. That's where she's getting her information from. From someone who doesn't see the big picture and hates Boyfriend. From someone who makes shit up and spreads the word (people 'fess up that they've heard it from her).
Now it all makes perfect sense.
But I'm still pissed.
And some days, I just really want to tell folks what I think of them. Some days, it just makes me want to cry.
And then I remember what a PR nightmare that shit would be, so I keep my mouth shut.