Thursday, June 7, 2007

Casitas Board Names New General Manager

By Daryl Kelley
The Ojai Valley’s principal water agency searched the state for a new top administrator before settling this week on a homegrown engineer as its permanent general manager.
After winnowing an unusually large field of 54 candidates, and interviewing seven, Casitas Municipal Water District directors offered interim general manager Steven E. Wickstrum the agency’s top job on Thursday.
“I’m thrilled,” Wickstrum said. “But I’m also saying, OK, here we go now. I know there is a lot of work to be done. I know the problems, so it’s just a matter of diving in.”
Wickstrum said he had to review the details of the proposed contract, but hoped to reach terms with his longtime employer within a few days.
Casitas was expected to offer base pay of between $160,000 and $170,000 a year, a sharp increase from Wickstrum’s current wage of $144,000 annually, but far less than the $211,000 a year veteran chief executive John Johnson made before retiring three months ago.
Pay was reduced after a water district study found Johnson’s wage, one of the highest for a public official in Ventura County, was too high for a new general manager. The posted salary range was between $157,000 and $193,000, depending on qualifications and experience.
This would be Wickstrum’s first stint as a top administrator. But he has gained good reviews as Casitas’ second in command and as interim general manager.
Wickstrum, 52, has worked at Casitas for 23 years, since graduating from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo in 1984, and has been the agency’s principal civil engineer since 1991.
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Anonymous said...

Too bad they did not choose someone from the outside. The biggest problem at CMWD is they are all members of the good old boy club. This guy says he knows all of the problems that exist already. Seems like they should have chosen someone who could be more objective.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I’ll go you one better. I applied for the position never really expecting to get it but fully thinking I’d at least get interviewed. I’ve been a supervisor for over 15 years, a Commissioner at our local water utility (with full authority to hire/fire personnel, set rates, interact with the PSC, etc.), and an MBA.
I got a rejection letter stating something to the effect that I “didn’t meet all the qualifications” they were looking for.
Sounds like the typical “good old boys network” to me and that they already had their man. Like they were just going through the motions.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I think the place should be audited to the point that they find out where every last penny spent has gone. And WHO decided they needed bullet proof glass? What IS it they are so afraid of? I think the whole place is corrupt. I think the OVN should do some HEAVY investigative reporting on the whole mess. Talk to anybody who has worked for CMWD and they will tell you that it is a who-you-blow kind of organization