Holley Navarre Water: A house of cards

We have been part of many professional boards in our 17 years of existence, and we have never seen anything like this. The cover-ups, deceit and outright lies leave us wondering what will become of HNWS when it all comes to light.

The Holley Navarre Water board of directors is made up of the president, Bien May; vice president, James Calkins; secretary, Gaius Bruce; and directors Brian Kelly, Troy Bossier, Robert Coley and Ricki Desantis. Did you notice there is no treasurer? Brian Kelly serves under “Finance” however he has no signing powers – he just reads the reports. The president has all the power.

The president denies his own board member access to information and makes it known that he will have a harassment complaint lodged against him “if he keeps it up.” And then later tells the same board member to “shut your mouth, shut your mouth.”

The same president, May, tried to silence the directors from speaking to the media after Ricki Desantis wrote a letter to the editor. He did so because May clearly made the statement (we have it on audio) “Outside we cannot be transparent. But we are being transparent right now unfortunately.” Desantis made a case for transparency in his letter. And we agree with Calkins, who told May “I have a right under the first amendment to speak and say anything I want as long as it is true.”

May has relatives that are and were employed by HNWS – against the spirit of the rules of being a board member. He lied when he was asked in a meeting if he had relatives working for the company – he said “no.” Bien May is related to a 1996 board member,  Michael Krueger, his wife’s uncle, who was named a suspect in the arson that burned down the Holley Navarre Water Department in February of 1996. Krueger was never convicted of the arson but served time in a halfway house in Houston, Texas for tax evasion discovered during the ensuing investigation. Krueger is paying restitution to the government in the amount of $148,700 for the Federal Case, and still has other IRS liens. Our current board president is related – by marriage to both prime suspects. The other suspect is a great uncle. Of all the people that live in Holley-Navarre, one would think we could come up with a board member that was not related to two of the two suspects in the unsolved arson of 1996. And, as you might have guessed, the two suspects were related. You can read all about it at https://navarrepress.com/history.

In the September 2016 meeting, they approved five sets of minutes (that had to be recreated) without a word in the meeting, other than, “has everyone reviewed the minutes for approval?” That is underhanded if you ask us.

In the words of Albert Einstein “The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.”

This board has faltered time and again. They have a contractor on the board, Bossier, who owns Cajun Contracting – who pushes capital improvement projects that aren’t budgeted for. Wonder why?

Sometimes they invoke Roberts Rules of Order, when it is convenient and other times they operate however they like. When they need it they have their attorney assure the board that they have always operated under Roberts Rules for the 20 years that he has been their attorney. Otherwise it is every man for himself.

And remember those platinum benefits packages they handed the staff? Who could forget the fully funded health packages for the employees and their family members, not to mention the health savings account payments that doubled?  Well that just wasn’t enough. They did a little wage study of the region and decided to bring every employee up to a certain pay level and raise the starting pay for new employees. And, if that is not enough on the premium pension plan, some employees have the option of a lump sum when they retire.

These things are just the very tip of a large iceberg. When will the members say “enough?” How long will they close their eyes to the lack of transparency, the deceit going on and even the lies? If they lie about the “little” things, what else are they lying about? If they don’t want you to see inside – what are they hiding in there? There is one way to find out – go to the meetings on the third Tuesday at 6 p.m. (pre-meeting) and 7 p.m. (regular meeting). As one Holley By the Sea board member said at the last meeting, “This makes our meetings look like a cake walk.”

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