Mountain View Voice

News - July 9, 2010

Water board member's loyalty questioned

Santos may have conflict due to Alviso holdings, grand jury says

by Nick Veronin

The director of a subdivision of the local water district "has failed to uphold his ethical obligations," according to a recent grand jury report.

Richard Santos, District 3 director for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, "has significant property interests in Alviso" — an area of North San Jose within his jurisdiction — "that greatly limit his ability to ethically participate in SCVWD projects in Alviso," the report by the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury stated.

The report filed June 18, "Is a Conflict of Interest Guiding the Santa Clara Valley Water District in Alviso," said that "Santos has focused his efforts primarily on enhancing Alviso ... less than 1 percent of his constituency."

Santos is a part of several community action groups focused on improving Alviso and owns multiple properties in town.

It is unclear if water services in Mountain View have been or would be adversely impacted by projects supported by Santos, a spokeswoman from the grand jury said. District 3 does not cover Mountain View. However, money used to fund projects that may benefit Santos, his holdings and his family's holdings would come out of funds available to all cities and areas within the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Santos denied the implications of the report. While he admits to owning property in Alviso, he said that his holdings in no way prohibit him from faithfully executing his duties as a water district board member.

"Just because I own property there doesn't mean I'm in conflict of interest," he said. Santos said he only acted in the interest of helping the community and his constituents.

"I vote for everybody," he said. "There is no conflict. It is a perception."

"I don't know how you can say that's a perception when the facts are in front of you," said Angie Cardoza of the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury.

The jury's findings can be viewed online at www.sccsuperiorcourt.org/jury/GJ.html.

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