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Ironhouse Ratepayers Should Request Their Money Back

Having pulled time sheets for Directors Doug Hardcastle, Michael Painter, and David Contreras, I am of the opinion that ratepayers should be demanding $46,580 in meeting stipends be paid back from its directors. Some abuse has been ongoing for many years and it needs to end now.

Reforms need to be created and implemented after an investigation is completed so this type of abuse stops immediately. While $170 meeting stipend may not seem like very much, it adds up pretty quickly. After reviewing the time sheets, this is what I believe should be paid back to ratepayers.

  • Michal Painter: $23,800 (up for re-election)
  • David Contreras $2,040 (up for re-election)
  • Doug Hardcastle: $20,740 (running for Oakley City Council)

*Note: I did not pull records on Directors Chris Lauritzen and David Huerta.

It’s clear that major reform and boundaries are needed internally within Ironhouse Sanitary District as to what should and should not be paid in the form of a stipend. Just because a Director can claim six meetings per month by state law doesn’t mean that six meetings should be claimed for the heck of it.

I am offended that check signings have been claimed and paid. Attending non-profit meetings such as the Delta Science Center, Almond Festival, Grand Openings,  Creek Cleanup’s have been paid.  Attending Oakley City Council Meetings have been paid–how is this fair to Bethel Island ratepayers?

Major reform is needed which includes a time requirement for each claim–for example, a 15 to 30-minute phone call should not cost ratepayers $170. Hour or two lunch meetings should never be claimed. I’ve found meetings that were claimed without dates being provided. Some meetings simply had the month listed. These should all be paid back. I can go on, but you get the point and the list is below.

There comes a point where some responsibility and common sense needs to be used to simply say “this comes with the job of being elected” and no stipend is required.

The following meetings should be reimbursed to the ratepayers.

Michael Painter:

His first time sheet  comes in at January of 2001. Painter should repay $23,800 to the District.  Painter has charged ratepayers to attend grand openings, teleconference calls, set-up/take town of Almond Festival, attending creek cleanups, attending non-profit meetings, and newsletters. These are all part of his job as being elected and should not have billed ratepayers.

Here is the complete list.

  • Delta Science Center – a total of 39 meetings. Cost $6,630
  • Check Signings – a total of 11 times. This cost ratepayers a total of $1,870.
  • Newsletter meetings were claimed 32 times = $5,440.
  • Pheasants Forever Meeting
  • Meeting with Tom Williams (2/27)
  • Grand Opening (10/15)
  • Agenda Meeting Tom Williams (3/28)
  • Jersey Island Tour w/David Huerta
  • Meeting with Tom on Board committee. No date is listed.
  • Meeting with Tom Williams on Committee Assignments (1/29)
  • Friends of Marsh Creek (12/17)
  • Meeting with Jim Frazier (11/19)
  • Mitigation Bank Tour (Sacramento Sept 2010) – no date and should be paid back immediately.
  • Delta Cruise – no date provided and should be paid back immediately.
  • Antioch Recycle Water Grand Opening (8/23)
  • Meeting w/Tom (8/31)
  • Delta Workshop (1/23/2010)
  • Meeting w/Tom (12/30)
  • Jersey Island Opening Day Patrol (11/14/09)
  • Roni & Tom PR Meeting (2/2/2009)
  • Delta Science Center Teleconference (12/16/2008)
  • Helicopter Tour Franchise Agreement + subcommittee (Aug 8. 2008)
  • Meeting at Oakley Chiropractor w/Roni G for Newsletter
  • Ironhouse Newsletter (March 13/29, 2001)
  • Garbage Committee Meeting – no date provided (Aug 2008)
  • Chamber Meeting (no date, July 2007) – was Painter a member of the Chamber?
  • Jersey island Pheasant Season Opening (Nov. 2005)
  • Tom, Dave Dal Porto , Re JI (No Date)
  • Set-up Almond Festival (7/13/2005)
  • Meeting with Tom Williams (6/16/2005)
  • Marsh Creek Clean-up (5/21/2005)
  • Meeting with Tom Williams (no date, March 2005)
  • Jersey island Opening Day (Nov. 12, 2004)
  • Teleconference (Lenny Byer, meeting Dave Baur), Nov. 24/30.
  • Jersey Island Trail  dedication (10/23/2004)
  • Jersey Island dedication meeting/Almond Fest (9/8/2004)
  • Jersey Island Trail Dedication meeting (10/6/2004)
  • Jersey Island Trail Signage (8/12/2004)
  • Signing Checks / Meeting with Tom (2/3/2004)
  • Telephone calls (11/27, 11/28/11/29 2003
  • Delta Science Center Tour/Site tour (2/19/2003)
  • Teleconference from Painters work office (12/230/2003)
  • Telephone calls to Delta Science Center (10/25/2003)
  • Randy Livingston OSC teleconference (4/3/03)
  • Delta Science Center Office telephone call (Nov. 6, 2002)
  • Tom Williams (meeting Nov. 21, 2002)
  • Pheasant Season Preparation/Jersey Island (Nov. 6,  2002)
  • Telephone call Tom Williams (Aug. 27, 2001)
  • Roni G. Website meeting at Painters office (July 29,2002)
  • Lunch w/Bruce Connelly (2/22/2002)
  • Delta Science center Meeting/Pat Anderson drat letter (5/29/2002)
  • Marsh Creek Restoration (12/20/2001)
  • Open House (12/7/2001)
  • Almond Festival set-up/take down (9/15/2001)
  • Almond Festival booth planning (9/10/2001)
  • Marsh Creek Watershed meeting (8/23/2001)
  • Helicopter Tour  (July 2001)
  • Editing/Writing newsletter (May 2, 2001)
  • Fact finding lunch with plant officials (January 11, 2001)
  • Tour of Sanitation Plant (January 11, 2001)
  • Tour of Jersey Island (Dec. 28, 2000)


David Contreras

His first time sheet made available came in May 2011 as he was appointed, not elected. The ratepayers should request a total of $2,040 be paid back by Mr. Contreras as 9 meetings coming from the Public Outreach and

  • ISD – Public Outreach – Ad-hoc committee meetings. In 14 months, he has had 23-meeting.  I am trying to figure out how one can have 23-meetings while Ironhouse has failed to improve its outreach in over a year. This so called meeting has costs ratepayers a total of $3,910.  Some reform is needed in future claims of this meeting as this should be the role of the Board. In the name of fairness, let’s say 1 meeting per month is justified which means that 9 meetings should be paid back.
  • Public Outreach & Lunch Meeting with Tom Williams (3/1):
  • Special Workshops: This could mean anything. He claimed $170 on both March 23 and March 29.

Doug Hardcastle

Aside from Hardcastle’s City Council and check signing claims, he was a bit less liberal on what he claimed on his time sheets. His total came to $20,740

  • City Council Meeting – a total of 101 meetings claimed at $170 a pop which is $17,170 to sit in the audience. Some of the older meetings combined the “planning commission” while there were a number of additional Planning Commissions on its own line item.  This number is actually higher than the $17,170.  Note, some of these meetings didn’t even list a date on them (it was either blank or it lists the month).
  • Check signings were claimed a total of 8 times in which none of them had dates—this also could have meant double payments on a single day since it’s unclear if another action was also billed on the same day. Either way, this is $1,360 that should be reimbursed.
  • Special Workshop (3/26 & 3/29), an additional 4 meetings were claimed for a total of 6.
  • Lunch Meeting with Tom Williams (2/28/2012)
  • Meeting with Tom Williams (12/28/2011)
  • Household Haz Waste Grand Opening (9/9/2009)
  • Meeting with Tom Williams – Haz Waste (3/29/2009)
  • Ground Breaking (4/22/2009)
  • Meeting/Dave’s Retirement/Conference w/Tom Williams  (2/18/2005)
  • Trail Opening (11/2/2004)

Now do I expect each of these directors to pay back 100% these stipends granted? Of course not. These are claims I believe should never have been claimed or have been paid.  However,  Directors  should pay back a majority of them that I’ve outlined above—especially the claims without dates! It’s simply the responsible and the right thing to do as all three men are running for an elected seat.

In Discovery Bay, a similar scenario played out which Directors were forced to pay back stipends that were previously paid—ultimately the legal team took responsibility and the issue was corrected while arrangements were made for taxpayers to be reimbursed.

AB 1234 (Government Code sections 53232-53235.2) from 2005-2006 is pretty clear on the requirements as well as the penalty which includes a loss of privileges and restitution to the local agency. Here is the full bill.

Which brings me to my next point as management needs to be looked at.

General Manager Tom Williams and the legal team need to be held 100% responsible for this oversight which has gone on for far too long.  This should be corrected after a full investigation and a reimbursement plan put in place. A public apology to ratepayers should also be issued as  this should have never happened in the first place  if he was running a tight ship since being promoted to the top position!

Depending on the findings, firing the legal team and Mr. Williams may not be out of the question as well as Board resignations.

For example, by not including a date and still being paid is grounds for dismissal at any place of employment. An employee would either be asked to correct their time sheet or be fired. Why is this any different?  This isn’t a private business, its ratepayer money!

At the very worst, I would hope the new Board of Directors will take a look at these stipends and come up with some type of reform to protect the ratepayers. For example, the following rules can be implemented such as:

  • Job Description: What is the Boards role as an elected vs. actual meeting. Expand bylaws which are vague.
  • Create a “No date No Pay” policy
  • Time: How long was ones attendance
  • Details: give a brief description of the claim because many on the time sheets are vague on what they really are.

There are simple reforms that could take place pretty easy if the Board decides it wants to be proactive. I am not saying eliminate stipends completely, but actions must be put in place to stop the excessive claims that should never have been allowed to be paid.

Time Sheets:

Request 1 M painter time sheets

Request 1 D hardcastle time sheets

Request 1 D contreras time sheets


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10 Responses »

  1. My god!!!!!!! Where the hell are the newspapers on this???????? I am in Antioch and this has me wondering about my Directors.

  2. Even if Burke is half right on some of these he pointed out (I’ve not gone through the time sheets), that is still a lot of cash that should be returned to ratepayers. I believe resignations or firing’s should be explored. This is just not right for any special district to allow this to go on as the law is pretty clear of what counts and what does not.

    Mr. Hardcastle claiming 101 City Council Meetings and he and Mr. Painter claiming check signings is just flat out wrong! I don’t agree with Burke very often, but this one is spot on! From my own experience, this takes time and good for him for bringing attention to this.

  3. Bethel Island ratepayers should be pissed as we are getting the short end of the stick. So we are paying a Director $170 to attend Oakley City Council Meetings? $170 to attend the Board meeting? Are you f—ing kidding me! Fireboard representation gets Zero!!!! Vote these bums out of office!

  4. Burk I must say thank you for your call on the reforms of the stipends and benefits. What is sad is Ironhouse pay is more than our Oakley City Council. If people knew of this pay and benefits available, Ironhouse would have a lot more candidates than city council has because of the money. I can assume by you calling out these meetings above, you will not claim them either if elected?

  5. While I agree reform is needed, to ask Directors to pay back what they earned is going to far. Mr. Williams and legal should be in some hot water and I would only hope that the newspapers pick up on this story. Some compensation is needed, but not on this level.

  6. I don’t think paying back ill gotten gains is going too far. $170 to sign a check! Come on Lori, are you related to one of them?

  7. @Lori,

    This is not your money, this is not the Board money, this is RATEPAYER MONEY! If they were paid money that does not belong to them, they should pay it back! I believe Burk is onto something with this and will encourage the papers to dig even further into this.

    I agree here, check signings for $170???? Hardcaslte just lost my vote for City Council for what he has claimed. Anyone with an “Incumbant” next to their name is a no vote for me!

  8. I can honestly say Mike Burkholder is the only candidate actually looking out for ratepayers in exposing this type of information which would have otherwise gone ignored and continued. He has my full support. I do not agree with him on other issues and he is too outspoken for me, but I feel he would provide us with actual represenation. In reading this list, I would ask for the Board to begin a course of corrective action to ensure this does not continue.

  9. this a sad but true thing….but just like most of the lies and stealing that seem to go hand and hand with most if not all public office and or politicians nothing is done because i feel that not enough voters of even the public care to make a voice loud enough to be heard. though mr. burk has taken a stand, i feel he will be alone more than not on these issues and that is a shame, point in fact…one day and only 9 replies and now mine and as we all know mr. hardcastle made the city council……so we only have us to blame,for not taking a louder stand ….i hear more on the right of bike lanes than this kind of thing

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