Our Opinion: Better choices?

January 16, 2002

The folks in charge of the San Diego County Water Authority insist they are our friends, that they have no nefarious plans for our water supply.

That may be true, but if that is the message they want to send, they are not necessarily picking the best people to send it.

Rick Strobel was the first person hired by the SDCWA to be a liaison to the local community. While Strobel has lots of local ties and can be a charming fellow, he had long been a loud proponent of a water transfer that many felt would not benefit the community in general. Strobel, to his credit, seems to be keeping his personal opinions to himself and walking the party line when it comes to SDCWA matters.

Recently it was announced that the SDCWA had hired Grace Sesma and Jerry Gauna as its liaisons to the Hispanic community in the Imperial Valley. Both Sesma and Gauna have long histories of community involvement and both are engaging people. Both are eminently likable and have countless connections.


That is the good side. The bad side is both have been involved in huge public scandals in the Valley.

Gauna was convicted of bribery and perjury several years ago in connection with a scandal involving developers trying to buy off the Calexico City Council. He went to federal prison as a result.

Sesma a few years ago alleged that Imperial Valley College President Gilbert Dominguez had sexually harassed her in her duties heading the college foundation and settled out of court for a substantial sum. It was an ugly, ugly mess.

While Sesma and Gauna, and Strobel, too, have a lot to offer in many areas, we are wondering if these were the best personnel choices for SDCWA, which is still trying to reform its image in the Imperial Valley after the Bass brothers scandal in which SDCWA leaders and Bass officials were conspiring to fallow huge tracts of our farmland and sell the water that would go to that land. There are a lot of fine people in the Imperial Valley who carry less baggage who may have been better choices for an agency looking for a new image here.

SDCWA says these are new days with new leaders and we in the Imperial Valley should trust them.

We just wish they would start giving us reason.

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