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MID reprimands apologetic Serpa

A contrite Mike Serpa apologized this morning for making abusive comments toward a Modesto Irrigation District employee.

In a subdued meeting, the remaining four MID directors unanimously adopted a resolution formally warning Serpa that “his actions toward staff” had violated the district’s “mission vision, core values statement and code of ethics.” Serpa stepped away from the dais during the discussion and vote. The employee involved, Pat Mills, the secretary to the MID board of directors, left the room before the board considered the item.

The resolution instructs Serpa to “treat all district staff with professionalism, courtesy and respect.” Additionally, the remaining board members instructed General Counsel Tim O’Laughlin to come up with a code of conduct for the board.

A board resolution approved April 10 instructed staff to remove the names of all district directors from the after-hours code-access list. That policy limits the access of directors to the board office and documents to “normal business hours” — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“Director Serpa became upset,” O’Laughlin wrote, “raised his voice and repeatedly asked of Ms. Mills, ‘Who do you work for? Do you work for the board or does the board work for you?’"

Witnesses, according to the memo, described Serpa’s behavior as “yelling, verbally abusive and trying to intimidate” Mills.

O’Laughlin said Mills cited a similar incident in April.

This morning, Serpa said he was not sure the first incident happened after the board access was limited, but “that doesn’t excuse my behavior.” He also said he has apologized personally to Mills.