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Unknown-1The criminal case against Monterey County water official Steve Collins ended some time ago with a no contest plea involving  conflict of interest in connection with a Cal Am desalination project. But Collins continues to plead his case in the court of public opinion. To that end, he has released a series of documents in an attempt to bolster his position that when he quietly took a side job with the project management firm, he was acting at the direction of other county officials, particularly supervisors Lou Calcagno and Dave Potter.

Last week he distributed a transcript of a prosecution interview with Curtis Weeks, who once was the county’s chief water official. Weeks acknowledged he knew about Collins’ double role almost from the start.

Then he released logs of Deputy County Counsel Irv Grant’s emails, which strongly suggest Grant was discussing Collins’ side job with outside counsel and others nearly a year before he claims to have learned of the situation.

Next, Collins released a transcript of a prosecution interview with Potter, who acknowledges that Calcagno was expressing concerns about Collins’ role early on.

Watch for more on this angle later. That isn’t what this piece is about, however. It’s about a side comment by Potter in that interview, a comment that doesn’t amount to anything of import but that his constituents might find intriguing. Or at least amusing.

Under questioning by then-Deputy DA Stephanie Hulsey, Potter was discussing the difficulties Collins was having working with Peninsula interests and how he was more comfortable dealing with Salinas Valley types.

“… In order to get those wells that were needed,” Potter said, “uh, you know, for a Peninsula project, really, really was a pretty heavy political lift, because there’s no love lost between the ag guys in the valley and the citizens of my district, a very effete, light, you know, affluent community versus the hard-working we-toil-in-the-soil, don’t-tell-us-what-to-do ag community.”

What he meant by effete and light, I have no idea, but I looked up effete. Here’s the first entry that popped up.

Eff-ete

adjective: effete

  1. (of a person) affected, overrefined, and ineffectual.”effete trendies from art college”
  2. synonyms: affected, pretentious, precious, mannered, overrefined; More: ineffectual; informal la-di-da, “effete trendies”
  3. No longer capable of effective action.”the authority of an effete aristocracy began to dwindle”
  4. weak, enfeebled, enervated, worn out, exhausted, finished, drained, spent, powerless, ineffectual “the fabric of society is effete”

So there you have it, Potter constituents in effete Carmel Valley, light Monterey and affluent Pebble Beach. Or vice versa.

By the way, I’m not able to link to the transcripts, but if you’d like to see them, shoot me an email, calkinsroyal@gmail, and I’ll be glad to send them along.

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Man's Hand Resting on a Stack of Bibles, Isolated Background

Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter and former county water czar Curtis Weeks are among those expected to testify in the trial that pits the Marina Coast Water District against the team of Monterey County and California American Water.

The trial centers on the failed regional desalination project, which was a partnership between the three agencies that are now fighting over responsibility for millions of dollars in bills paid and unpaid. The trial is scheduled to start today in San Francisco Superior Court and to last about a week.

Potter and Weeks are included in the county’s list of expected witnesses. Lawyers for the county also plan to introduce videotaped testimony from Steve Collins. He is the former county water official whose side job with the project manager helped lead to the collapse of the project. After a long investigation, Collins pleaded no contest to one count of conflict of interest but maintained that everything he did was at the direction of Weeks, Potter and another county supervisor, Lou Calcagno. Collins is also expected to be called as a witness for Marina Coast.

Key issues in the trial are who was responsible for Collins’ paid relationship with RMC Water and Environment, the project manager, and when the county and Cal Am learned of his double role. The timing of their knowledge is critical to determining whether the county and Cal Am acted to void the project agreements in a timely manner or waited until contractual deadlines had expired.

Though Potter was heavily involved in the desalination venture on behalf of the county, he has said in depositions and in interviews with investigators that he did not know about Collins’ paid work for RMC for close to a year. According to lawyers for the county, he’ll be repeating that stance this week.

Perhaps the most interesting witness on the county’s list is Weeks. He was the chief executive of the county Water Resources Agency while Collins was an active member of the agency’s board of directors. Around the time Collins went to work for RMC, he and Weeks formed a partnership, a consulting firm that had visions of taking over management of the desalination project.

Under some amount of pressure, Weeks left the county position after Collins’ double role had been publicized. At one point, according to Collins’ lawyer, Weeks was considering seeking whistleblower protection and testifying on behalf of Collins. Things changed when the county offered him half of his contractual severance pay and he went to work for an environmental consulting company that has been working for the county under a series of contracts. That arrangement led to speculation that the county had essentially bought his silence.

Also among those on the county’s list are Cal Am President Robert Maclean and Lyndel Melton, a principal with RMC.

Jim Heitzman, former general manager of the Marina Coast Water District, is expected to testify about his role in helping to arrange for Collins to work for RMC, which eventually paid him $160,000.

Two lawyers are on the county’s list, outside counsel Dan Carroll, who represented the county throughout the troubled desal project, and Lloyd Lowrey, former general counsel  for Marina Coast.

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