The Santa Clara Valley Water District announced Thursday night that CEO Beau Goldie would be stepping down the next day, Jan. 15, following a number of controversies that put Goldie and other top water district staff on the defensive last year.
Goldie will receive a severance package equal to six-months pay based on his current $305,000 salary, as well as compensation for unused vacation and sick pay, according to water district spokesman Marty Grimes. In the Goldie's 2009 contract, it states that he is allowed up to six months of pay if his employment is terminated.
Following the Jan. 14 closed session meeting discussing the terms of the resignation agreement, board president Barbara Keegan described Goldie's decision as both a resignation and a retirement. Keegan thanked Goldie for his 31 years of service at the water district, including his nearly seven years leading the district as CEO.
"During his tenure as CEO, he brought stability to the organization and delivered high quality services to the people of our community," Keegan said in a prepared statement.
The water district's three chief operating officers will fill in the role of acting CEO on a rotation basis, starting with Chief Operating Officer Jim Fiedler, until an interim chief executive is selected by the board. The board is expected to fill the interim position from internal candidates.
Goldie's leadership has been mired in controversy following conflict of interest and fraud allegations last year, which eventually prompted an investigation into the water district by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
Emails written by one of the water district's engineers, which were published by San Jose Inside in September, indicated that the engineering firm RMC Water and Environment had billed the district for $350,000 for work that it had not performed on a project it was hired to do several years ago.
In a defensive move, district staff tried to assuage the concerns in a special agenda item in October, and said an internal audit of the district's finances revealed no discrepancies. At the meeting, it was revealed that RMC's work on the Lower Silver Creek Flood Protection Project in San Jose jumped from $375,000 to $1.7 million because of an unexpected "number of needs emerged."
The water district also came under fire for a undisclosed potential conflict of interest. One of the water district's high ranking officials, Melanie Richardson, is married to RMC co-founder Tom Richardson. Media reports contended that the "firewall" policies meant to prevent her from influencing contracts with RMC were weak and not well-understood by staff.
Despite these concerns, Goldie continued to seek out contracts with RMC. In April, the board authorized the CEO to negotiate and execute contracts to kick-start work on a $800 million recycled water program. Goldie awarded RMC a $1.3 million no-bid contract for preliminary engineering work on the program.
Goldie's relationship with the water district's employee unions has also been strained in recent years. A letter to the board by three union representatives noted that there have been more successful grievances, arbitrations and unfair labor practice complaints under the Goldie than any of his predecessors, and that negotiating contracts had a tone of "systematic devaluing" of the workforce.