Concerns of a Retiree Traveler With IID Ties – Collateral Damages


letters to the editorIID management apparently believed IID needed a major change of direction within the energy department over a year ago. Maybe longer than that, but no one is saying.   With that decision the careers of loyal energy management and the planning staff were shattered. Six professional engineers were left without meaningful work. Four of them are still on paid administration leave while the IID management searches after six months to find a reason to terminate them.

That is sad enough. What needs to be said also is how this action by IID management has negatively impacted the present and future employees of the IID. In spite of what has been said by the new energy department management, those employees that have watched this drama play out are keeping their heads down and trying to look busy without standing out. Who could blame them? Their futures are no longer in the hands of career IID employees. Consultants have taken over their futures. That impact has sent shock waves throughout the IID, not just the energy department. Mistrust has replaced camaraderie and several highly qualified and talented employees like Esteban Martinez have left and others are sending out resumes and looking to leave the valley. Potential employees of the future will likely see the news items and social media sites. The talented employees the IID desperately needs to attract may think twice before they consider coming into this human resources debacle.

Successful companies and graduate business schools have long believed and taught team work pays off if employees can be trained to work better together and have combined with ethics training. As I recall on at least two occasions trainers were brought in at IID to help form a foundation for team work and trust. It was very noticeable in my recent evaluation study. Cronyism and silos of discontent had all but been eliminated. That teamwork foundation has now been severally impacted by the recent actions of IID management.

The sad reality is that IID is also in the early stages of losing many talented employees to retirement. The collateral damage of this action by IID management could cost the citizens of Imperial Valley dearly in the future.

As I write this note in an airport business lounge awaiting a delayed flight to South Asia to attend a board meeting, I hope IID management will do what is right to save IID for the employees, citizens, children , and their grand children. I cannot help but be troubled at what will happen in three years when the ZGlobal (ZG) contract expires. Succession planning must be done. But, with ZG filling key line management positions , where will a trained local management staff come from to fill the void left by ZG’s departure? Or, will IID somehow merge with ZG? I don’t think this was the intent of IID forefathers who established IID over 100 years ago under local control rooted in the Valley.


Arn Lahde





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  1. It is sad to hear that the IID has done this to itself. What parent would want to have their child get an education, go to work for IID, and then be treated this poorly by the IID. Why are the directors allowing this?

    • I agree with you. The educators talk about the STEM courses being a sure way to get a good job. Then one of the biggest “STEM” employers in Imperial County that has one educator and one former school superintendent on it’s board just allows the GM to trash 6 engineers and outsources the work to an outside firm. Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be IID employees!

      • Yes it disappoints deeply when we discover a person we’ve admired & looked up to as the key vote, has feet of clay & sold out the home team.

  2. Yes I agree that info can come from many sources. Good sources, bad sources who knows. Fraud, illegal and unethical behavior are some very strong allegations and if you have that kind of information and aren’t doing something about it then you might be in on it. But those are the kind of words that you can always find in the comments of anything written about the IID. The board members are elected officials so the only way to change things is get out there and vote and if you have all the answers then I and everybidy else would welcome that kind of change. New ideas are more appealing when they’re based on facts and you leave out all the name calling.

  3. No leadership was being done through biased words, reread the sentence. A true leader leads by example. The whole letter is moaning and groaning. A majority of the letter is a conspiracy theory primarily based on scuttlebutt and loosely based on facts. The harm in typing such strong opinions plays on fear and insecurity which creates dissension and closes the door to change.

    • Saw valid concerns from a forward thinker – no moaning & groaning. He mentioned no conspiracy. He didn’t close a door he opened it to change by pointing out the need for risk analysis to justify project selection, always a good idea, but in this case especially true to remove suspicion if selection made by consultant in line management might profit the consultant’s other clients. Succession planning mentioned because necessary and in this case you have a self sustaining relationship between consultant & IID by default when contract ends in 3 years.

  4. There are huge problems with being able to address the issues you bring up. First of all the IID Board did not hire a leader as GM- they hired a puppet to carry out their bidding. Thus the problem began by putting a puppet in place. That situation is compounded by the GM being unfamiliar with the issues at hand and thus no substantive ability to deal with those issues from a proper business standpoint. If one goes back to when the GM was first put in place he actually admitted to not being qualified in open session. One has to give him credit for being correct on that point. This disaster is further compounded by a complete lack of effective leadership skills. Ideally a GM has both highly developed leadership skills and an understanding of the issues but if not both at least the leadership ability. When he has neither you end of with where IID now stands. Leaders gain respect from who they are not the position they are in. The Board in general, by first hiring a puppet, and then by condoning actions that the GM has taken are no better. Any reasonable board would have fired him if they believed what they have heard rather than staff 6 levels below him. There is no reasonable way the GM or Board could have any idea of staff’s overall performance at that level and if they believe they do they have no idea of their appropriate roles. That in and of itself stinks to high heaven of politics and ulterior motives. Furthermore, because of the level of dysfunctionality of the GM and Board for staff and managers to accomplish what is needed takes 10 times more effort than it should. It is worse than trying to fly into the wind – it is like attempting to fly into a hurricane. This is compounded by the incompetence of the Chief Legal Counsel and a Human Resource Director both of whom should be policing these actions rather than condoning them either directly or via inaction. Until a leader is brought in and a board is elected that knows its role to be policy makers the foundation won’t be in place to put IID on a path to success. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be problems with staff at lower levels but those issues when they are properly vetted on a factual basis would be dealt with in a professional and effective manner because of solid leadership; not as was done here.

    • Very insightful. You should be leading the IID rather than the GM that currently has no respect from the employees or community.

      • If we could vote for a GM I would. Should we put in a petition to remove him from office and elect our own GM?

        • I say lets start by voting Kuhn out and see what we get from Calexico. The GM, ZG, and the OEM/Dive Team must go. Just with removing the GM and the two groups, IID will save millions per year……… Let’s get these non-working-wasting-rate payer cash-unexperienced-want-a-be’s out of IID ASAP! We don’t need these people employed here with us….

          • The dive team vote was 5-0, why blame Kuhn & not the other four? Give Kuhn credit for the only one to not vote for ZGlobal. Think how many millions that would have saved without ZGlobal!

  5. And I question the validity in those questions and the reasons for name dropping. The IID is full of outstanding employees from the bottom to the top. We’re all aware of how much Zglobal makes from contracts with the IID that’s no different from any other employee at any other company turned contractor. And to question if there is some type of succession plan for when the contract ends is silly at best. Three years is a long time and would allow plenty of opportunities to train or hire highly qualified individuals to fill any voids. The IID hasn’t been around for over 100 years because of poor planning. I have no idea what happened to cause those employees to be placed on leave or let go and it’s unfortunate. Risk analysis happens everyday with every job that the IID performs. But the word risk says it all, we’re all human and we make mistakes. Let’s not be foolish enough to think that the IID is immune to making mistakes. Maybe the IID is trying to right the ship and in doing so they had to make some very tough decisions. Anyhow the list goes on and on about what the IID does and doesn’t do it just depends on how favorable the situation is for the person in control of the keyboard.

    • What do you mean validity?
      Which questions?
      How do you know if employees are outstanding or not?
      Who is we? How are you aware?
      Which ZGlobal employees were former IID employees?
      Why do you consider succession planning silly or worse than silly?
      What voids need to be filled?
      How does being around for 100 years = planning?
      How do you know that risk analysis happens with every job the IID performs?
      What gives you the impression that the IID might be trying to right the ship?
      What do you mean by the last sentence?

      • Validity as to what motivates a person to type assumptions. Questioning the re-org of dept.
        I know plenty of outstanding IID employees.
        I’m not here to post somebody else’s resume, do your own homework.
        I don’t consider planning silly. I consider assuming that there isn’t a plan in place, silly.
        Any void.
        Being around for over 100 years did require some sort of planning. You can’t build power lines without a plan. You can’t build an irrigation system without a plan. You can’t support those systems without a plan.
        I know risk analysis happens because nobody in their right mind would consider working on a high voltage power line without understanding the risks involved with doing that work.
        Maybe IID is righting the ship, I don’t know if they are or aren’t I typed that because of something I would hear on the 1MC system when I was on a Navy ship and that was “Stand by for heavy rolls as the ship comes about” which meant we might hit some waves because we were changing direction.
        I think the last sentence is pretty self explanatory. But if I must I’ll say that it means people can be the most critical when times are tough instead of just being better.

        • It’s difficult to understand your example of risk anlysis and how it relates to what Arn is referring to. It is not personal safety like a lineman climbing a pole. Arn is referring to an engineering analysis of what could happen with the electric system under different scenarios. If you don’t understand the subject don’t make a laughing fool out of yourseld.

          • My example of risk analysis was for an earlier question as to how does IID perform risk analysis. You should hold on about not understanding the subject. If you had any idea of what it takes to operate the bulk electric system you would know that it is constantly being studied for any signs of trouble at 24 hours a day. So maybe I’m just doing the laughing because I’m no fool. Tread lightly before you start name calling because your very poor understanding of the subject could make… (You know the rest)

        • Your example of Navy experience is good. You of all people should have understood one of the points of the letter. That was the problem that was created by the sudden change in direction with no warning given. Six officers were suddenly washed out to sea and the remaining crew are paranoid.

          • Exactly my point. A sudden change in direction or the loss of personnel should never be a problem in the military or the civilian world. A well trained and knowledgeable employee would never become paranoid over a change in the chain of command. It might even open up a new avenue of communication for some different ideas to keep us all relevant.

    • How many contractors have made $11 million in the last 10 years from IID and never been accountable for a deliverable? And have a $9 Million contract performing IID line management on projects that that can hire other ZGlobal clients and further ZGlobal profits?This is neither ethical, nor legal. By the way, does ZGlobal have a deliverable for the additional $9M and who periodically evaluates their progress? Three years is short term planning for a succession plan, not a long time.

  6. Arn has questioned the lack of risk analysis for projects to be built and excluded, as well as a management plan that includes a succession plan. Succession plans include how to replace those leaving for better jobs, who are terminated, and those retiring. He mentioned that it should include

    • Continued – He mentioned it should include what happens when ZGlobal’s current $9 million contract expires.

  7. Typing words when you’re on the outside looking in is petty and does more harm than good. Knowing what’s going and acting like you know what’s going on are two different things. Moaning and groaning because times get tough accomplish zero. Instead of typing up IID conspiracy theories, how about giving some sound advice and maybe even have a plan. Be a leader through action not through biased words and opinions. I want to lighten things up a little to let you know that I did find this letter quite entertaining but that’s about it.

    • Your response indicates that you have some inside understanding of the situation and know what leadership is. What would your plan be?

    • What harm is being done?
      What is going on?
      What was the moaning and groaning?
      What is the conspiracy theory?
      What leadership was being done through biased words and opinions?

    • People get info from many sources. Just because they don’t work for IID does not mean they are not in contact with people who do. If you want to remain a ostrich with your head in the sand please continue to do so. It doesn’t take a genius to evaluate what is currently happening at IID and see what the future holds. Perhaps if you are the newspaper reporter GM or the board member receiving gifts you can overlook the fraud, the illegal and unethical behavior, – but I agree with Arn. This is not the type of behavior that makes a company strong, or draws people in to want to work for a company with these values.

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