Holzmeister won’t alter resignation plans | SierraSun.com

Holzmeister won’t alter resignation plans

Patrick McCartney
Sierra Sun

The air went out of a special meeting Friday of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District board of directors, when General Manager Peter Holzmeister declined to attend and discuss his announced resignation.

Holzmeister informed the directors in a letter Tuesday of his plan to retire on Aug. 16, and remain on the payroll until his accrued vacation time runs out on Dec. 1.

In the letter, Holzmeister referred to animosity expressed toward him by ratepayers during heated negotiations over a proposed coal power contract as one reason for his early retirement. Holzmeister also mentioned “unspoken concerns” by board members that became clear to him during an April 4 public hearing on his requested pay raise.

“The comments made by the public were difficult enough, but the comments of the directors clarified for me the extent of the problem,” Holzmeister stated in the letter to the board.

Before going into closed session on Friday, board Vice President Pat Sutton said the directors had asked Holzmeister to consider staying on until the end of the year, but Holzmeister replied with a memorandum restating his intention to leave in August.

“I have thought about these options and must decline to entertain either,” Holzmeister wrote. He added that he would not attend the meeting because he had planned to be out of town.

In the public comment portion of the meeting on Friday, ratepayers sparred with the directors, a few blaming the resignation on a lack of civility and the divisiveness of the battle over a proposed coal-power contract that was ultimately rejected.

“The coal contract was settled; you guys won,” said Jody Sweet, referring to the anti-coal advocates. “I thought the battle was over, but apparently it wasn’t.”

Sutton read aloud a letter sent the board by past district Director Jim Maass, in which Maass accused two unnamed directors with sowing “the seeds for the ultimate demise of the district.” He predicted that other district staff would also resign.

Director Joe Aguera seconded Maass’ comments, and accused opponents of the coal contract with focusing on a single issue.

“Maybe other people will leave, key people,” Aguera said. “We’re going through turmoil.”

Sutton responded by saying she was confident the district, about to observe its 80th anniversary, would have a long future.

But one district employee, billing supervisor Lauren Schaake, told the directors that their actions embarrassed her.

“I’d like to be treated with more respect, and that you treat each other with more respect,” Schaake said.

The board will address the issue of hiring a new general manager at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday.