Our View: Truckee PUD change isn’t a bad thing | SierraSun.com

Our View: Truckee PUD change isn’t a bad thing

Combined, the journalists in the Sierra Sun newsroom have logged hundreds and hundreds of hours sitting through meetings of county supervisors, city councils, special districts and the like inside and outside of California.

With all that observational experience, it’s not a stretch to say that the Truckee Donner Public Utility District’s board of directors is one of the most challenged bodies we’ve seen in action. The tangible animosity amongst those who sit at the “top” of the district finally leached down, culminating in the resignation of the district’s longtime general manager, Peter Holzmeister.

In his resignation letter earlier in April, Holzmeister pointed at two board members who did not vote in favor of his pay raise as one of his reasons for leaving. That vote, however, was preceded by another vote over the 50-year coal contract that pushed the board, the district and a new player ” the public “to their limits.

Take the board’s dysfunction, the unveiling of the coal contract as well as the ensuing debate, and the questioning of Holzmeister’s salary into consideration and it’s no wonder he decided to hang it up early.

Clearly, this is not the Truckee Donner PUD Holzmeister managed 20, 15 or even 10 years ago. It’s called change, and it’s not necessarily a negative thing, even though it’s hard not to think that while watching a board meeting.

Holzmeister’s decision to retire somewhat earlier than planned came after about a quarter of a century at the district. An impressive run given the mostly unnoticed and thankless ups and downs that come with any senior management position. In that same time Holzmeister was involved positively in the civic life of Truckee that can only be commended.

It is easy now to look back over the years and pick at the questionable decisions made by the district ” the costly Idacorp contract buyout, the ongoing broadband venture, and the coal contract to name a few ” and criticize Holzmeister. Remember, there was a board of directors that made the ultimate decision on each of those items.

Perhaps it is more constructive for the board and management to look at the culture in which those decisions were originally cultivated and openly discuss ways to make the process more inclusive, such as the public committees now being considered.

And as the district begins its search for a new general manager it will behoove everyone involved ” directors and the public alike ” to find a candidate who has experience making every stakeholder a part of an efficient decision-making process.

First, though, the board must figure out how to make itself an efficient body.