Our Opinion: Stop delaying IID efficiency

April 23, 2002

It comes as no surprise that a professional study into the efficiency at the Imperial Irrigation District would conclude there are millions in savings ripe for the picking.

What's becoming a surprise is the amount of resistance to implementing — in a meaningful manner — the study's cost-cutting findings. More than $30 million yearly in district-wide savings can be found in the $1 million study. A total of $217 million in savings is estimated.

As we quickly approach one year since the study was done there is little to show in savings. We keep getting told how the money is going to be saved, but not a cent has been saved. It's time to move beyond telling the community that the plan is to save money by implementing steps A, B and C; and that under item A is 1, 2 and 3; and that under No. 1 is a, b and c; and that under a is i, ii and iii.


It's become clear the intention is to let the study die, but then it's been clear since well before the IID Board of Directors approved the study.

The opposition comes in the form of district employees and certain management. The last thing they want is accountability for their actions, how they spend money, and a modest reduction in force.

Those who fear a few job losses do so because they actually want more employees. More employees, combined with the at-large election of directors, will give the employees what they want more than anything: the absolute control of who becomes board members.

Once that is accomplished, the sky is the limit for pay and benefits. Today, IID employees earn 30 percent more than county workers. On average, IID workers make $50,000 a year. Every year they seek cost-of-living increases

We cannot understand why any group of employees earning that much money, and with a good group of managers for whom to work, have such low morale. Of course, we know many district workers are happy.

Regarding the efficiency study, we think it is in the wrong hands. Information Technology Manager Gabe Marcial is simply the wrong person for the job. Marcial is a nice guy and plays a crucial in IT. It comes as no surprise that a significant amount of the savings at the district are in his main area of responsibility. One would think his hands would be full there, and we know they are.

How can Marcial possibly implement across-the-board cost savings on fellow managers, many of whom have years of seniority over him? We don't think he can.

That leaves the efficiency study to be implemented by General Manager Jesse Silva. Who else? Silva is the head of the organization. He has managers who should be sufficiently trained to take orders and carry them out.

Director Bruce Kuhn is right. The study's savings methods should be implemented immediately. The district is wasting rate-payer money to continue with this wishy-washy training, reminiscent of other failed attempts to streamline large organizations by hiring outside consultants instead of turning to those with the most know-how: the employees.

Either IID management has the ability to do its job — and we know some higher-ups do — or it's time to find managers who do.

The Valley's rate-payers should demand nothing less.

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