Our Opinion: Why target Silva?

March 17, 2001

That the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors voted 4-1 to give district General Manager Jesse Silva a vote of confidence does not come as a surprise.

That one director, Rudy Maldonado, placed an item on a recent board agenda that seemed to call for consideration of the dismissal of Silva is surprising.

Maldonado hasn't told the public specifically why he put such an item on the agenda. If Silva is doing something so wrong that his removal as general manager should be considered, the public should be made aware of what he is doing wrong.

Maldonado thinks changes are needed in the way the district is managed. He may be right, but he wasn't specific about those needed changes, at least not publicly.


Maldonado put an item on the agenda, seemingly abruptly calling for the discipline, dismissal, release of a public employee, which we soon found out referred to Silva. If Maldonado has concerns about Silva's performance, the matter would be better dealt with as a performance evaluation. Considering the way Maldonado has dealt with the issue, we wonder if he is pushing some personal agenda — one into which Silva does not fit.

There also is nothing wrong in saying change is needed. If he does not tell us why change is needed, then he is simply grandstanding and that is not what it is going to make change for the better in the district.

We have a sense there was a great deal of closed-session discussion on the issue during the recent IID board meeting. The rest of the board felt the matter was serious enough to come out of closed session and express its support for Silva. Some on the board raised concerns that because the issue had been brought up in an article in this newspaper, there was a chance people might think there is division at IID. They said the goal of their vote was to show there is no division and that Silva has the board's support. But 4-1 says there is division.

The board is right. With critical power and water issues still developing, there are wolves out there that would use problems or dissension in the district to their advantage.

We almost never hear complaints about the conduct of Silva, despite his running a huge organization of people not averse to complaining. We do, though, hear complaints from IID employees about the conduct of Maldonado, who we would think would have substantially less contact with employees than Silva.

Silva has done a good job as an administrator of what arguably is the most complex government organization in the Imperial Valley. There are several key issues that Silva and IID staffers must balance and that is no easy task.

Does the IID operate perfectly? No. Does the district get the job done in meeting the power and water needs of the Valley? We believe it does, at least most of the time.

And one big reason for that is Jesse Silva.

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