UPDATED: 10:46 a.m. Brett Richards e-mailed Patch Thursday morning and confirmed he is the writer of his blog, Ross Valley Sewer Truth. “It is me. You may use as much of it as you like at will. No restrictions,” he wrote.
Brett Richards is a man with the answer to a $350,000 question.
And while no one yet knows what happened to a $350,000 housing loan the former Ross Valley Sanitary District general manager received from the district, many are about to learn more about Richards’ four years with the RVSD.
Richards abruptly resigned from his position on July 25 after the Marin Independent Journal questioned if he had properly used the loan -- a search of California’s county recorder databases yielded no evidence he owns property in the state.
For a while, it seemed Richards was living off the radar, especially after the Marin District Attorney launched an investigation into use of the housing loan.
That is, until posts were published this month on the blog Ross Valley Sewer Truth. The blog’s domain was registered in December 2011 under Brett Richards’ name, with a RVSD phone number and a San Rafael P.O. Box.
The blog outlines, in first person, how Richards became the general manager for the RVSD in 2008 with a $197,000 annual salary. The blog never mentions Richards’ name, but does call out several local leaders.
The blog is also full of jabs at the Central Marin Sanitation Agency and other organizations, including the city of San Rafael, which the blog says “was incredibly hostile and went out of their way to block us from several scenarios” before the district moved to 2960 Kerner Blvd. in San Rafael.
The blog has sections including “key players,” “first board,” “sewer stuff” and “Meet CMSA.” Many tabs include short biographies of local individuals with personal details such as a description of RVSD Board Member Pat Guasco’s fishing habits.
The purpose of the blog? According to the author, it will disclose, in the order of events, Ross Valley Sanitary District happenings between 2008 and 2010.
“In the pages that follow, you are going to learn about board members, mayors, councilpersons, lawyers, public employees, those who are willing to subject themselves to a carefully shielded power group, and what happens to those when they don’t. In addition, we’ll be talking about the better part of $300,000,000 [stet] because part of the story is who has and who desires the power to control it, what some will do to keep it, and what some will do to get it.”
It didn't take long for Marin leaders to begin passing the blog's URL from inbox to inbox.
“With some of the things that are written here, I would expect it is [Richards],” said Larkspur Councilman Larry Chu. “I don’t know what he intends to do with this, or if he feels some kind of injustice and needs to put his side of the story out there.”
The writer says the blog is an “invitation” for the public to be the jury.
“Am I crazy? I hope you’ll read on and decide for yourself.”
The Ross Valley Sanitary District, which serves Fairfax, San Anselmo, Ross, Greenbrae and Larkspur, is taking applications for an interim general manager, who will lead the district for three to nine months while the district’s board of directors search for a permanent replacement.
Resistance to Consolidation with CMSA
The first post on the blog, “My 2008 recruitment,” describes details such as the “portable trailer” in the back of the Central Marin Sanitation Agency (CMSA) property where the individual’s first interview for the job was conducted. The second interview had an atmosphere that “was very different, almost angry,” the blogger writes.
In that interview, RVSD board members focused on specific (but not identified) employee issues, the district’s “gold plated sewer system” and their concerns that CMSA officials were trying to take over the district.
“One could hardly imagine the obstacles and challenges which miraculously jumped in front of us as we struggled to relocate off of CMSA,” the blogger writes.
CMSA and RVSD have a history filled of fights over lawsuits, board voting numbers and how much they owe each other. However, as a recent article in the Pacific Sun suggested, that relationship may change now that new faces were elected to the RVSD board in June.
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