New direction for IID



BRAWLEY – The Imperial Irrigation District board had a major sea change last November. The public replaced the solid 3-2 voting block of J.P.Menvielle, Stella Mendoza, and Anthony Sanchez vs Matt Dessert and Jim Hanks.

Granted, by November Sanchez had been gone for months with his resignation following a viral video of his hitting his step-son during a batting practice in his back yard.

The removal of Sanchez, by the video and eventual conviction, had rendered the board dead in the water with a 2-2 vote on most major issues. A spirited and hotly contested election was going to break the tie, and that it did.

The people asked for change. Menvielle and Mendoza lost to Bruce Kuhn and Steven Benson, respectfully. Sanchez’s seat was filled by Norma Gallindo.

The board now has voting blocs based on issues, not coalitions. Nevertheless, many times acting as one, the members have made changes, and they insist more are to come. Lawyers that represented the IID in court on water issues and other policies are gone, replaced by different firms with different tactical ideas for the QSA.

One of the many transformations, maybe not so much a transformation as recycling, are the consultants the board has hired to turn the ship towards their collective vision.

arn lahde
Arn Lahde

Arn Lahde is one of those consultants. Mr. Lahde is now a hired gun for companies that desire to streamline their managerial operations. He streamlines bureaucratic mazes allowing goods and services to efficiently move and arrive where they are intended to land in a timely, cost-effective manner.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Lahde worked in senior management for many Fortune 500 companies such as Westinghouse, Parsons, Bechtel, and at Disney Imagineering where he re-engineered their operations to design and construct large scale projects that would later be called the Disney Decade.

He came in on the ground floor as a strategic planner and created the business plan for Toons Animation India, which shot to the 3rd largest animation company in the world.

The work Mr. Lahde takes the most satisfaction with is the strategic plan he facilitated for the military during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He helped develop the supply chain management for all supplies, equipment, and parts for the Middle East campaign. Part of this included hot meals to the fighting men and women during Operation Iraqi Freedom. “Ten days after we signed the contract, soldiers overseas were getting hot meals,“  Mr. Lahde said. His work earned him a Medal of Recognition.

He has been hired by the IID before, several times in fact, and at least once declined the offer to serve when he realized the reporting policy had changed.  Mr. Lahde told the board back then, “That reporting relationship would be a waste of my time and IID’s money.”

He was brought in during the 1990’s as special assistant to the general manager and later served as assistant general manager to Jesse Silva.

Silva said, “Arn has been a valuable asset to me personally and the organization as a whole. Among his accomplishment, he helped craft a strategic plan, refined the budget process, facilitated public access to the fiber-optic network and headed the implementation of the SAP computer software project.”

Mr. Lahde’s concern with the direction of the IID has never waned. He occasionally wrote Letters to the Editor in The Desert Review which included criticism, encouragement, and suggestions to the board, depending on their latest policy decisions during the 3-2 voting bloc.

Now he has a chance again to use his skills and knowledge to assist IID management to reshape IID into a functioning machine that can fend off outside interests to serve the people of the valley and keep control local.


Frank Barbera
Frank Barbera

Another consultant, Frank Barbera, has also had a stint with the IID previously.  His time was longer and of a more permanent nature. He became employed with the electrical division in 1991 and retired in 2008.

Mr. Barbera is well known for his efforts promoting transmission reliability and facilitating access to affordable and reliable energy resources, including most recently renewable energy resources.


His work with the Control Area Networking and Discussion Organization (CANDO), the Public Power Initiative of the West (PPIW), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Western Electric Coordinating Council, the Western Governor’s Initiative and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) have been key to addressing the issue of diminishing transmission capacity in California and the western United States.


As chair at the PPIW, Mr. Barbera is credited with leading the effort to create, a web‐based regional transmission marketplace. was the first Super OASIS (Open Access Same Time Information System) to serve the Western United States.


The website enables transmission customers to acquire transmission capacity at one site from multiple providers. It assimilates the search for airline flight availability, routing, and cost from one location to another.


Among Mr. Barbera’s many other accomplishments are major and highly successful Substation

Automation projects, Telecommunications fiber and microwave communications projects as

well as management of several new Energy Control Center installations.


Mr. Barbera was also appointed by the governor’s office to be a representative on the Geothermal Task Force and the Transmission Task Force of the Western Governors Association’s Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee (CDEAC).


Mr. Barbera worries the IID is susceptible to losing their Balancing Authority. The Balancing Authority (BA) enables the IID board to control the energy and transmission rates, buy the most affordable energy be it nuclear, electrical or renewable, and passing the savings on to the ratepayers, their customers. It also has allowed the IID to find available energy anywhere on the Western Grid, thus preventing brownouts that plague the rest of California that rely on the CAISO grid. His goal is to shore up the BA for the IID for the next generation.


Additionally, he feels the IID can be the utility of choice by the renewable developers within its service area by providing access to various markets in the Western Grid, including the CAISO. He also sees the IID, its ratepayers poised to reap incredible benefits, in the form of reliability and cost savings, from the wealth of renewable resource synergies that the IID and the Valley offer.


“The renewable energy sources here are the jewels of the Imperial Valley,” Frank Barbera said, “they will allow us to preserve high electrical reliability and ensure lower rates to the people. The Valley needs to be in control of their own power. The finances have been inefficiently used, the IID is plagued with high debt, they lost their high credit rating, this makes it difficult, but not impossible to jump into the energy race of the 21st century.”


Mr. Barbera has been presenting a PowerPoint on his vision for the Imperial Valley to various groups the last several years. There is now a board in place that shares Barbera’s vision and believes he has the brain power and drive to be the energy technician that can bring the IID front and center, securing her future, independence, and destiny.


Both Mr. Lahde and Mr. Barbera believe now is a unique opportunity for the IID.


“The gates are open at the race track of power, the other players are moving. Now is the time for the IID to not only run the race, but lead the pack,” Mr. Barbera said.






  1. know-it-all- I don’t disagree with all that homeboy has to say….just the fairy tale parts. Homeboy was correct in his good, bad and the ugly post about the threat to our balancing authority and control area and our autonomy and that the loss of control would cost our region dearly in the form of higher electric rates. I agreed with him on that and thought it important to state that. When we agree we should be strong enough to state so. Just the oposite of “classic trolling-flaming”. I am a pragmatist know-it-all- I am not narrow minded or bound to support any cause or special interests but to the interests of the “ALL” the ratepayers and our region by advocating for the delivery of cost effective electric and water services to “ALL” our ratepayers and our region. Hundreds of millions of dollars continue to be lost, stolen and wasted. It can be fixed we simply need not to be narrow or small minded and be open in the process. Help be a part of a solution, participate with productive and well intended dialog and keep an open mind know-it-all.

  2. The good, the bad , the ugly = lots of 10% vocal minority politics, lots of fiction highlighted with just a few facts to give it a facade of legitimacy. If ratepayers really want to know the truth about the IID business operation and organization put the 280 page management operational efficiency report back up on the IID website that was put up on the website in 2009 for transparency and for the IID ratepayers to understand firsthand the costly operational inefficiencies of the IID business organization. The report strongly contradicts this fairy tale. If we truly want transparency and accountability to the ratepayers put it back up on the website for the public to see.

    Read it Arn- it cost millions of dollars to produce and was done so brilliantly in conjunction with an outside consultant, Jesus Nieblas IID General Superintendent of Business Improvement Services and IID’s business analysis department. No need to reinvent the wheel, waste a lot of time, spend more mpney or resort to reading fairy tales-this productive and collaborative report is the roadmap to fix the IID business culture and to reorganize the inefficient and ineffective business operation and it’s all public information. Put it back up for the public to read.

    • Tony Ramos has the real truth up on IVP as we speak.
      Big Farm and The Good Old Boy’s are putting on a circus for the 90% and 89% showed up.

      • Why don’t you send Arn a copy.If it was done so brilliantly why has it been ignored? I think Arn has his own ideas to improve the Energy Dept.

        • I would provide Arn a copy Jason but as you might imagine I’m not the most popular gal on the payroll and I’m down here hiding under my desk. I’m still waiting down here for the dust to settle after decades of 2-3 year executive management cycles and reorganizations. Believe me Arn can get a copy of the report. And the reason it has been ignored is likely because with all the unqualified executive level appointemnts around here we don’t have anyone that even knows what is says let alone knows how to implement it. God willing- Arn is our man. I’m rooting for you Arn- this poorest of the poor communities deserves to keep the hundreds of millions of dollars that are being lost, stolen and wasted working in our economy.

      • Tony Ramos is on par with conspiracy nuts as far as I’m concerned. The only reason I read anything he writes is for the entertainment value and laughter it provides. The man has a serious persecution complex.

    • If the Bray Bunch was so bad and Greg Broeking is part of the Brady Bunch why is he still at IID if IID has lost its triple A rating?

      • No matter how Barbera trys to spin it ie he was out of town or Brady Bunch this or Brady Bunch that or even George W. Bush did it- Barbera, our retread new consultant, is in large part responsible for the loss of IID’s triple A rating. And despite all of our very primitive tribal behavior to cut our own heads off- Broeking is still in the saddle because the Board ain’t as stupid as they look. Expertise and math skills. Let’s be a little less ignorantly tribal and evaluate people on qualifications and performance and not their past affiliations or who their friends are. STOP THE SENSELESS SELF DESTRUCTION AND CANNIBALISM TODAY !!!!!!!

          • Ese, por favor no mas estupido palabras. Pardon chillin- just another example of a labor market mentality not understanding the value of professional expertise. As previously stated, since unfortunately the Board thinks they are running this business operation, the Board is smarter than they look and they seem to know the value of Mr. Broeking. STOP THE IGNORANT SELF DESTURCTIVE TRIBAL CANNIBALISM AS WE ARE CURRENTLY OPERATING A FOUR WHEELED BUSINESS OPERATION WITH 3 WHEELS MISSING.

            God’s speed Arn- rooting for you all the way. hg

          • Don’t always agree with Homegirl’s opinions, but have always respected her honesty and abilities.

        • Cutting costs to just be cutting to meet quotas can reduce productivity if machines & equipment grow old & break down. Broeking’s staff is penny wise & pound foolish.

          • That’s why we need an experienced and qualified GM Billyboy- Broeking, the Board nor unqualified executive staff appointees are qualified to be analyzing, planning or making intelligent recommendations regarding operational productivity and future capital planning and expense. Uninformed and short sighted investment and operational decisions are all currently just shooting from the hip projecting to a budget number expectation. A qualified GM is the solution.

    • Don’t think Arn will let that happen. He cares too much for fairness to allow revenge and has too much experience to allow it. I trust him to protect confidential information.

  3. Agreed- electric bills will soar if these, last chance, consultants are not allowed to function with un tied hands by a micro managing IID Board and allowed to be responsible not just responsive(qualified by keeping a very very close eye on Barbera and his ties to long time IID consultant and hustler ZGlobal). An enhanced and enforced governance policy is the only permanent remedy to this recurring problem of the Board chaotically intervening in the business operation no matter what the political or philosophical make up of the Board. The Board is not qualified to run the IID business operation- it is the job of a “qualified” GM. We are at the tipping point and very well could be beyond it. Time will only tell if we can regain the financial benefit of our control area and balancing authority. Keeping our control will be a challenge- we must not passively react to the eminent and sizeable FERC fine likely coming our way. We must take them to court causing FERC to prove what they will call our role in the cause of the outage, in prolonging the outage, financial damages of the outage and make them prove our role and cost of such damages in court.

  4. HR is a problem, but Finance is worst and more dangerous to IID’s future. How about Brady’s boy Greg Broeking? He has made a wreck of finances and budgets. Follow the money to find the real problems. Without Broeking budgets Devoy wouldn’t have been so bad and IID wouldn’t have lost its credit rating and have so much debt.

  5. “Under attack by Big Energy”, there goes my Brunch. Big Farm must be enjoying these day’s.

  6. This is a brilliant blog and should be an editorial!!!!Thanks Homeboy. Why don’t we all know this? This should be common knowledge. We can’t afford not to know and repsond to this blog and protect our resources from outsiders. Spread the word!!This is very serious for our futures and our chldrens futures.Can this be put in an opinion piece, too?

  7. Thank God we have Carl Stills to thank for bringing Arn & Frank back. Carl is the best Energy Manager we’ve had and I only hope it isn’t too late. After Steiger, Federovich, Mario, Ajaghian,and Kolk, Carl is a refreshing breeze of honesty without a personal aganda.Carl knows what’s needed and we finally have some hope of saving the company.

    • Very very nice of Maria and that Carl makes her feel good. However the energy manager position is the most strategic position in the IID organization responsible for a very technical $400,000,000 plus dollar a year business enterprise. Education, technical expertise and knowledge, previous high level resource and distribution experience and more must all be qualifiers for strategic and sound management, decision making and direction. Like-ablity, loyalty, reverence, duration with the organization are all very repectable qualities but unfortunately not enough to cost effectively and strategically put the energy business organization together and sustain it moving forward. Consultants are fine but the energy manager must also be qualified. Carl would be a great implementer of change and a second in command to a qualified energy manager.

  8. Maybe Arn can figure out SpyGate or get us our refund? If your going to bring in a CHINGON let him do his thing…and maybe Morgan can get a haircut.

    HomeGirl, I need a clarification on the Dessert/HomeBoy mix up.

    • I worked with Mr. Lahde and he helped me a lot. He listened to our problems and did something about it. I’m glad he is back.We need his help. Thing are not so good after the Brady bunch and Kolk. He’s a nice guy and works hard.

    • Insider- I think in all fairness we ought to give the new and improved homeboy a shot at this question. Homeboy I will defer this question to you.

    • I was of the understanding that independent investigators had already looked into the “SpyGate” thing and basically found nothing. If they couldn’t find anything a year or two ago (I forget when this started) then there’s no way there’s more evidence now.

  9. Heck, here I was thinking Dessert WAS Homeboy. This Musical Chairs game is getting old. Now we have 2 conquering exiles coming back to milk the ratepayers and Electric for the benefit of Big Farm…any relation to Big Pharma.

    I feel Desert Review shifting.

    • Buddies with Carl Stills-this is a political sales promotion article as opposed to the IVP’s recent questioning of retreads. This is Energy promoting its need for consultants and justifying such with trumped up credentials. Very expensive to have unqualified caretakers in management positions as they need the expertise of consultants to get things done. It has always been that way and is a fact of life especially in this large rural “special district”. It’s called professional skills atrophy. If Arn gets the old management report out, as he and I have discussed in the past, and reads it and if he is indeed qualified to implement there could be some significant progress in terms of organizational efficiency. There is a lot of waste, duplication and lack of process and collaboration in the organization and operating costs could come down very very significantly. That’s a lot of ifs though. Go get em Arn- let’s see if you have it in you or if you’re just another retread at the trough. Business culture change all starts in HR Arn and morale will be raised simultanoeusly!

      • Sorry, Arn is back, but his arms are tied and Big Farm has the key. I’ll wash Arn’s car once a week for a whole year if he can turn it around for the benefit of EVERYONE.

        • Well if Arn is the man of integrity that he is claimed to be you’ll know quickly because he should walk away rather than collect ratepayer dollars while his hands are tied. That’s what all these other con artist phonies are doing- chasing their tails while paying consultants to do the work their supposedly “GROOMED” for. Nobody seems to understand the value of expertise and experience around here perhaps the result of a labor economy I guess. It’s all about being appointed, groomed, popular and pay day. What about professionally qualified and capable of doing the work?

          Arn-52 car washes over here as an additional incentive-Shine meester ? You’re on ese hand wash.

        • Better get your soap & shammy Insider. Arn quietly uses his intelect to accomplish tough jobs. It may not look like it , but he does everything with a purpose in mind. He’s also a kind person who cares about people. If I was a betting person I’d bet on Arn to turn IID around to meet 01

      • HR is there for Marcie to use for her family’s wishes. To date she has hired 25 family memebers and “old Dan” don’t know it. Arn probably knows though. Marcie was always afraid Arn would return and do a head count of her family, I think.

        • The business culture change and optimization all begins in HR with the transformation from a system of unqualified and unproductive family/local cronyism to one of policy structure and enforcement and merit based reward for performance. Morale will sky rocket and finally 95% of the good people here who want to be proud of where they work and rewarded for their performance in their careers will be.

      • How did so many unqualified managers get in place on Kevin’s watch? Mario Escalara was kicked ot of Water into Energy though everyone knows he is a bully. Marcie Rivera teams with Mario to over rule selection of best candidates. The list go ons. You are right Homegirl about the orgnizationl lack of process and efficiency.Morale would go up significantly with thought out changes.

  10. I hope Barbera and Lahde look at the moral which is very low because we have lost so may people and there has been a lot of outside managers like Campbel and Brady and Kolk who have lowered our grades and brought in there favorites. we have lost many good people and it isn’t fair to us who remain.

  11. I like Mike abbati’s letter in the IVP. It says it all. I can’t say that often about the IVP.

  12. Welcome home my prince. Informative, constructive and productive dialog. There are fatal flaws when it comes to the qualifications of Carl Stills and conflicts of interest of Frank Barbera. Welcome home.

  13. Its good to see Frank and arn back. I just hope they can help repair the damage by the Brady Bunch. Frank’s knowledge of energy is really needed right now so we don’t lose the balancing authority and so is Arn’s organizational, listening and people skills. Homegirl, give Kevin Kelley a break for having the sense to bring them back.

  14. Agree with bringing Frank & Arn in to help. Both Frank and Arn will put the needs of IID first and are very intelligent guys. Hurray!!Both can help Kelley & Kelley should be commended for bringing them back.

  15. The portrait of the future lies in the decision whether to extend Kevin Kelley’s contract for 2 years or not. Given that the Board seems to think they can effectively run the IID business operation while they also peddle political influence and help themselves through conflicts of interest with their hands in the public till- weak appointments to key executive positions are likely to continue. However- there are rumors floating around that a certain Board member would like to have a couple of years worth of big pay days and is willing to resign as a Board member to take his turn as interim GM and the big money before he rides off into the sunset. For every weak executive appointment there will be 3 consultants (few of them qualified most not) to support them to the tune of approximately $800,000 per position GM and AGMs……$2.4 million per year total. And still with zero expertise or progress toward the optimization of the IID business operation and the delivery of cost effective water and electric services to this poorest of the poor communities. Smoke, mirrors and a continuing tragedy to the ratepayers and our region.

    • Frank really know energy and will help keep IID out of trouble. Arn is very easy to work with and is a super person who gets results. He shouldn’t be underestimated. Both can be a big help to the IID.

    • Keven Kelley is there for his consistency – doesn’ know water, doesn’t know energy, doesn’t know business, doesn’t have a persoanality – perfect GM.

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