modesto -- Modesto Irrigation District leaders promoted a longtime employee to be the district's top lawyer.
On Monday, Joy Warren will become general counsel, a position previously contracted to an outside firm.
Warren has worked 22 years for the MID, previously as a staff attorney, sen-ior staff attorney and, for the past six years, the district's regulatory administrator. In that job, she managed the MID's compliance with laws regarding water and power on local, state and federal levels.
General counsel advises district leaders on all matters and sits with board members on the dais during public meetings.
Warren's appointment marks another step in a top-level makeover that began with the election of board members Nick Blom and Larry Byrd in late 2011. They recently ascended to board chairman and vice chairman, respectively, and the other three directors are not expected to run when their terms expire in November.
The board dismissed former general counsel Tim O'Laughlin in the fall, and Alan Short, who had been general manager for 19 years, left at year's end.
"We're just about done cleaning out the old barn," said Byrd, who has pushed for change in the district. Internal disagreement culminated in the board's September rejection of selling water to San Francisco, an idea pushed by Short and O'Laughlin.
Both retain strong ties with the MID through the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority, a partnership of six water agencies joined to fight erosion of water rights. O'Laughlin does its legal work, and Short was hired as executive director.
Roger Van Hoy, an assistant general manager under Short, succeeded him in an interim capacity; a permanent replacement is expected to be chosen after the November election.
The MID has not had in-house counsel since 2007. An executive recruiting firm chose 18 applicants and the board interviewed five finalists before selecting Warren.
She will manage a paralegal and a $708,000 annual legal budget. Her pay will be $161,158.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2390.