Press Banner Editor Barry Holtzclaw spent the bulk of 2017 following the labyrinthine activities of the the publicly elected board of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District and their documented attempts to: defend a former board member from prosecution of using his influence to profit; abandon that defense, paid by ratepayers’ money, months later; creatively interpret open meeting laws; stop the public from commenting in meetings; and, engage in shouting matches with ratepayers over pesticide use.

His relentless reporting led to an ongoing Grand Jury investigation, the firing water district’s attorney and the revival of a citizens group called San Lorenzo Valley Watchdogs.

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San Lorenzo Valley Water District ratepayers will continue to pay former director Terry Vierra’s legal fees, now pushing $70,000, after the Jan. 24 decision by the board to appeal a ruling that he violated state conflict-of-interest laws.

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San Lorenzo Water District's legal bills defending former director Terry Vierra are getting close to $240,000, and could double if the district decides to take its appeal to a higher court.

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The San Lorenzo Valley Water District on Tuesday March 21 filed a Notice of Appeal in the Terry Vierra conflict-of-interest case.

The case now heads to the Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose, which observers say usually takes two years to process appeals. All legal expenses in the case continue to be paid by district ratepayers.

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Plans under consideration by the San Lorenzo Valley Water District to use a carcinogenic herbicide, glyphosate, in a protected watershed area in Felton has ignited a firestorm of opposition.

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When District Manager Brian Lee officially announced the board action to eradicate weeds in its Olympia Wellfield, he mentioned only three of the five provisions, leaving out the decision to begin cutting some French broom plants with no herbicides.

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Rejecting pleas for leniency, Gallagher ruled after a 15-minute hearing on June 16 that Terry Vierra must pay $116,647.47 in legal bills owed by Bruce Holloway, the successful plaintiff in a conflict-of-interest lawsuit that Gallagher ruled on six months ago.

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Social media sites roiled with confusion and questions after the district decided in late July to mail 23,000 letters to the 7,900 SLV water district ratepayers. Many property owners who received multiple letters were confused about what to do if they wanted to protest the water rates.

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The day after Smallman’s comments were published in the online version of the Sept. 1 Press Banner, Margaret Bruce went after Smallman in a post to hundreds of members of a private Facebook group

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