Several employees of the J.G. Boswell Company were appointed to serve on Kings County water boards that make decisions on water delivery, flood control, and water conservation. Image Source: Kings River Conservation District

Documented by Josef Sibala

What happened: At their Tuesday meeting, the Kings County Board of Supervisors approved 27 appointments to water district boards — with 21 of the seats going to employees of the J.G. Boswell Co.

Mark Unruh, a Boswell Water Department manager who also runs the Tulare Lake Canal Co., was appointed to seven water boards, while Dominic Sween, a Boswell engineer, was appointed to nine water boards. Other Boswell employees appointed include: Gabe Cooper, Beau Howard, Justin Spellman and Carlo Wilcox.

Community member Claire Fitiausi spoke against the appointments, which were approved unanimously on the consent agenda, and asked that the positions be elected by voters rather than appointed.

“I think that corporations should not be handed control over the water that needs to service the citizens of Kings County,” she said.

County Counsel Diane Freeman said that the appointments in lieu of elections, “are not really discretionary acts by the board,” and that the supervisors are required by law to approve appointments when candidates run unopposed or when the number of candidates are equal to or less than the number of positions.

“When that’s the case you have essentially no competitors in the election,” she said.

Chairman Richard Valle said that appointments in lieu of election are also a cost-saving measure for the county and that all the individuals filed for candidacy on their own.

“Nobody just put someone’s name in the hat for an appointment today,” he said.

Boswell employees were appointed to serve on the decision-making bodies for Tulare Lake Reclamation District 749, South-Central Reclamation District 2125, North Central Consolidated Reclamation District 2071, Homeland Reclamation District 780, El Rico Reclamation District 1618, Delta Lands Reclamation District 770, Lovelace Reclamation District 739, the Salyer Water District, the Melga Water District and on the November 2023 Election Board for Tulare Lake Reclamation District 761.

There are hundreds of water special districts in California that are responsible for at least one of three specific tasks: water delivery, waste disposal and flood control and water conservation.

Up next: The Kings County Board of Supervisors will meet again Nov. 7.

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The Fresno Documenters are a group of local residents who are trained and paid to attend and take notes at local public meetings where officials decide how to spend public money and make important decisions...