In a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the Virgin Valley Water District Board fired General Manager Ken Rock.
Board President Ted Miller said the termination is effective immediately.
Both Bunkerville representatives, Kenyon Leavitt and Rick Bowler, joined Miller in voting to fire Rock. Directors Karl Gustaveson and Sandra Ramaker voted against the surprise action.
Rock had just submitted a proposed re-write of his job description. Leavitt had noted it’s unusual for someone to write their own job description. And Bowler said it didn’t change the old description so why do it.
Rock said he had written all the other job descriptions for the rest of the employees and re-wrote his so it would be in the same format. When the vote came, Leavitt voted against the change; the other members voted for it.
Miller then turned to the next agenda item: a performance evaluation for Rock.
“This board serves by (the will of) the citizens of the community,” Miller said. “We serve at your will. The general manager serves by the will of this board. It’s this board member’s position on this item that I will only accept the termination of Ken Rock as general manager of the Virgin Valley Water District effective as of today.”
A short silence followed.
“Would you repeat that again” a visibly shocked Ramaker asked.
“My position on this item will only be the termination of Ken Rock as general manager of the Virgin Valley Water District effective at once,” Miller repeated.
Gustaveson told Miller his position needed some explanation. Miller noted when the public votes someone out of office, they do not need to give a reason.
But Ramaker noted that in Rock’s last evaluation it was found he had met all expectations.
“Personally, I think he’s done a very good job,” she said.
But Leavitt said a number of employees of the district had come to him with “complaints and legitimate concerns about the direction the water district is going.”
“I’ve had a different experience,” Gustaveson said. He noted the perception of the people in Mesquite might be different from those in Bunkerville. “I’ve had comment after comment after comment about how things have improved unbelievably.
“I think this community would be absolutely appalled,” Gustaveson added.
“I’ve had numerous people come to me – not just Bunkerville, from Mesquite,” Bowler said. “(It’s) not just rate-payers, contractors. I’ve had several contractors talk to me about the lack of credibility in the bid process.”
Then Bowler said, “The straw that broke the camel’s back to me was the insubordination, I felt, that happened over the water tank.”
In past meetings the board had rejected various proposals to paint scenes or designs on the water tank on the bluff to the west of Interstate15. But at the board’s Feb. 5 meeting, Bowler, although complaining, joined Ramaker and Gustaveson in giving the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce permission to again approach it with a plan to paint a “community value” message on the highly visible tank. Leavitt was absent from that meeting and Miller voted against the chamber request.
But all three were adamant Tuesday evening that they wanted nothing painted on the tank.
Leavitt said the point is, “What was done was what Ken wanted to be done; not what the board wanted… That’s been brought before us how many times?”
In responding to a statement by Ramaker that Rock is a forward thinker, Bowler said that he agreed whole-heartedly, but felt that sometimes Rock has an agenda: an environmental agenda. He added, “Is he a forward thinker? Yah, I think so. I agree with that statement. But is that what the district needs right now?” Bowler gave a small shrug. “I guess that’s up to us to decide.” (Editor’ note: This quote was incorrect when first posted. It was corrected on Feb. 24.)
Leavitt then moved for Rock to be terminated. Bowler seconded, followed by the 3-2 decision.
The next item was the hydologist’s report, followed by the general manager’s report.
Miller told Rock he wasn’t required, under the circumstances, to present his report.
Rock said he would let his written report stand. He then left the room, as did the three board members who voted to fire him.
Ramaker and Gustaveson lingered.
“This is what I feared,” Gustaveson told the MLN. “When we go to direct elections, Bunkerville will elect two directors and Miller will always side with them.”
It’s not fair to the people of Mesquite, he said.