Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wilde Effect & West Texas Water

On December 18, 2007 the City of San Angelo gave Tom Green County farmers a Christmas present.  Water Utilities Director Will Wilde personally benefited from the agreement authorizing the use of Twin Buttes water for the Tom Green County Water Control and Improvement District #1.  I assume Will Wilde and TGCWCID Manager Yantis Green negotiated the deal.

Below is the area served by the Water Control District:

Did Mayor Lown or any Council members know of Will Wilde's apparent conflict of interest in this matter?  Will Wilde has a 300 acre "hobby farm" near the head of the irrigation canal.  The image below roughly corresponds to the yellow box above.  The yellow X's show where the canal crosses Highway 765.  Will Wilde's cotton farm is adjacent to this crossing.
The public certainly wasn't made aware.  City Manager Harold Dominguez wouldn't put his name on the agreement, instead deferring to the Mayor.

Fast forward to 2012 for Yantis Green and Will Wilde.  TGCWICD Manager Yantis Green plead guilty of embezzlement.  Here's how that story broke in August:

The FBI takes material from a local water district after district manager Yantis Green is terminated. In a letter to the district board, Green admits he had used a district credit card for personal expenses. After his termination, he also gives up his seat as a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

October found Yantis giving up his other public service position, after Green admitted stealing from his former employer 1,000 times..

Yantis Green resigns his position as a Tom Green County commissioner. He stole almost $63,000 from the Tom Green County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 while he was manager, a federal court document states. He later pleads guilty in the theft case and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Will Wilde had a difficult October as well.  A similar consent agenda item hid the fact Will's Water Department purchased and installed $100,000 in furniture without required Council approval.  If Wilde counted on the same luck he had in 2007, that wasn't the case.

Wilde threw rotten egg on his new boss' City Council debut.  City Manager Daniel Valenzuela promised an investigation into the Furniture Fiasco.  Within weeks, the public learned of another Wilde conflict of interest.  Will's son Blake had been fired by the City for cause and wasn't eligible for rehire.  Lo and behold, Blake got on with the firm contstructing the Hickory Water pipeline, rumored to be making a multiple of his former salary.  Fortunately, the Wilde's weighed in, assuring the public of no conflict of interest.  Council never addressed the issue publicly.

By the end of November a stone faced Will Wilde resigned. Items contributing to his demise included poor customer service, bizarre water bills, the Furniture Fiasco, Son Blake's firing and rehiring for Hickory, and how Will responded to these issues, publicly and internally.

Rest assured, the Wilde's aren't done with West Texas water.  Will joined Blake at Wilde Engineering. 

I'd venture their firm will get back in on Hickory and other projects.  As long as its done through a contractor, the public will never know.  How might the Wilde's join the other father/son water team, Stephen and Chuck Brown?

If not for the stroke of luck in removing the furniture item from the consent agenda, Will's water dynasty would likely be intact.

As for the fourth estate holding leaders accountable, The Standard Times looked at all the above and decided the Water Department does not need an investigation. I disagree

The next issue is reclaimed water, which the City considers re-purposing.. There was zero chance of that under Wilde.  Have the odds improved with his resignation?

Carollo Engineering is in a unique position.  Surely, they are grateful for the $30 million in engineering business from the city from the current spate of projects.  Will Wilde won't hesitate to remind Carollo who steered the business their way.  What will Carollo recommend on reclaimed water?  The answer will be a sign.

Update 1-29-13:  Judge Sam Cummings sentenced former TGCWCID Manager Yamtis Green to one year in federal prison (Big Spring boot camp), two years supervised release and a $3,000 fine.  Green has until March 1 to show up for his sentence.

Update 11-19-23:  Wilde Engineering received 2nd Place in the Development Corporation's business plan competition.  The firm includes Will and his son Blake, who was fired from the city Engineering Department.  The prize for 2nd place is $20,000.

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