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Grinnell out as TUD director

PUBLIC MEETING: Tuolumne Utilities District Board of Directors, 2 p.m. Tuesday, 18885 Nugget Blvd., Sonora. View agenda at tudwater.com.

The Tuolumne Utilities District could reach out for some new help as TUD heads into what could be contentious negotiations with the district’s employee union. But they will have to do it without former Director Jim Grinnell, who announced this weekend he is resigning from the district Board of Directors, effective immiediately.

Grinnell on Saturday sent an email to district officials announcing his resignation and confirmed it on Sunday with The Union Democrat. The new director cited health reasons, saying a broken ankle will keep him from board business during a crucial time.

“I think I can continue to serve the community in other capacities,” he stated in his resignation letter.

Grinnell was elected in November as part of a wave of change on the TUD board, joining Kent Johnson, Mike Sarno and John Maciel as brand new members of the five-person board.

According to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the TUD Board of Directors, the district is also looking to seek proposals from specialized law firms to help TUD handle labor talks for the 2013-14 year. The district used law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore during the 2010 negotiations. But a memo to the board from district General Manager Pete Kampa stated that the board “wishes to expand options.”

Members of the district Board of Directors have regularly advocated for cuts in employee compensation for the coming year. The employee contract is up in July 2014.

The negotiations will take place with the Northern California District Council of Laborers/Construction, Production and Maintenance Laborers’ Local Union No. 1130.

In what could be a related agenda item, the board will consider changing its meeting time from 2 p.m. to between 5 and 7 p.m. According to an attached memo, a representative requested the change to allow the working public an equal chance to attend the district meetings.

The board moved the meeting times from 7 p.m. two Tuesdays a month to 2 p.m. earlier this year.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

•  A discussion to possibly develop guidelines for better relations between board members, district staff and the public. Tensions have been high at recent meetings of the TUD Board of Directors and board-related committees, with outbursts and interruptions increasing. A recent example was a fiscal meeting that was cut short last month after committee member at the time Kent Johnson and members of TUD staff, as well as Johnson and members of the public, flared up.

• A resolution to award a contract for an interconnection line between the Big Hill and Columbia water systems.

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