Departing MID general manager finds new work

gstapley@modbee.comNovember 9, 2012 

allen short

MODESTO BEE

— Allen Short, the Modesto Irrigation District's outgoing general manager, has landed a job as executive director of a new coalition of six water agencies whose members include the MID.

Short already had been leading the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority since it was created in May. His hiring formalizes the arrangement, though his salary has not been determined, said Doug Elmets, spokesman for the authority.

Short's annual MID pay is $240,507. He was not forced out, he and some board members said last week, though they acknowledged biting public criticism in recent times and some dissatisfaction at the board level.

The San Joaquin Tributaries Authority combines the MID with the Turlock, Merced, Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts. San Francisco, which gets drinking water from the Tuolumne River, also belongs; the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers drain into the San Joaquin River.

Short, 59, last week announced his Dec. 31 departure from the MID, saying he would "retire to pursue other professional goals." The next day will be his first with the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority.

The authority wants to protect water rights against mounting pressure for other river demands, including more flows to restore fish habitat. It is governed by a board of commissioners composed of elected representatives from the agencies.

The authority cited Short's extensive experience, including 22 years with the MID, the past 19 at its helm.

"His leadership skills, strong command of state and federal water policy and track record of getting things done are a perfect match for our organization," the OID's Jack Alpers said in a release.

Short's critics decried his unsuccessful plan to sell water to San Francisco, the botched construction of a treatment plant for Modesto water customers, delivering power outside the MID's core service area and steep electrical rate hikes imposed in recent years.

MID leaders are expected Tuesday to discuss a procedure for appointing an interim successor who could serve for a year or longer. The district's five-man board could change dramatically with the election of two or three board members next year, and a permanent successor could be chosen after.

Tuesday's MID board meeting will start at 9 a.m. in the district office, 1231 11th St., Modesto. The board will review organization structure and an annual budget, with a final vote expected Nov. 27.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at gstapley@modbee.com or (209) 578-2390.

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