Kelvin Wade of the Daily Republic has been following the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District board much like I have been following the Ironhouse Sanitary District so it came as no surprise he questioned the Board as to why they would send three members of the Board to Esmeralda Renaissance Resort and Spa in Indian Well at a conference put on by the California Association of Sanitation Agencies.
Seeing this, I offered the same question to Tom Williams, General Manager of the Ironhouse Sanitary District. Williams confirmed last night in an email that both he and Director David Contreras attended the conference.
Just doing a quick search today for Hotel rates at the resort, rooms range from $169 per night to $399.
According to Wade, the conference ran last Wednesday through Friday at an estimated cost of $2,000 to $2,500 per person, but we won’t know until we get the receipts. Fairfield Mayor Harry Price, Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez and Suisun City Councilman Mike Hudson attended. It is unclear whether or not any staff from the Sewer District attended as well.
When compared to what is transpiring at the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District, I can live the idea of sending 1-director and 1-staff person to the conference but would prefer that only one-person attend conferences and bring back the information for the rest of the staff and board to review. The good news is with the National Conference next month in Washington DC, Tom Williams states he does not anticipate anyone attending.
Looking at this with a glass half full here, at least Ironhouse is using decent judgement and not going overboard by sending multiple directors like they had done in the past.
Well, I guess we should be grateful that they’re down there at this stunning resort nestled against the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains to attend this conference and obtain information that could be learned nowhere else on this planet.
I don’t want people to get the idea that elected officials go to these conferences for the amenities. First of all, it’s not suntan weather down there. They have to deal with 77 degree temperatures with zero clouds to shield them from that desert sun. With such a mild temperature, it’s improbable that they’d be frolicking in either of the two giant zero-entry pools that come complete with a man-made sandy beach.
The Spa Esmeralda outdoor garden area is closed until Jan. 31, so we know that they’re not down there luxuriating in that paradise-like setting. And even if our representatives were inclined to a little massage and manscaping in the midst of the smooth marble floors, gleaming glass and tile, plush furnishings and water trickling from a stone fountain, it would not be part of their reimbursed expenses.
It does make one wonder if they will dine at the lake-view, highly rated, award-winning Italian restaurant Sirocco. Perhaps they’ll have the sumptuous Raviolini D’Aragosta, which the website describes as “a house-made ravioli with lobster and Dungeness crab meat drizzled with an unforgettable shrimp lobster brandy sauce.” Mmm.
Of course they will have an intense schedule of seminars and classes without much time for golfing on the two golf courses or getting in any tennis on the night-time lit tennis courts. It’s not a vacation, after all.
When you think about it, dropping six grand from the sewer board’s budget to send three representatives to Southern California to bring back exclusive information on recycling water, bioenergy and renewable resources could be a bargain. It may pay off in some way that’s unfortunately never explained to us.
The only thing I worry about are the three Suisun City and four Fairfield members of the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District board who didn’t go on the trip. How are they going to benefit from this exclusive information and be able to do their jobs on the board if they didn’t go down for this essential conference?
Oh, maybe when the three who went down there come back, they can brief the board on the secret knowledge they obtained. You know, if three people can bring back this essential information, I bet two could do it.
All-expenses-paid secret knowledge hunters
3 sewer board members to attend state conference