Water district remembers Mickey Luckman, promotes Mark Ban

JBWD staff placed a floral arrangment at Luckman's seat to honor her during their regular board meeting on Wednesday.

JOSHUA TREE — It was a night of transition at the Joshua Basin Water District Wednesday. JBWD Director Mickey Luckman died suddenly June 9 and a floral arrangement was placed in her usual spot on the directors’ table in her honor.

The board tackled the vacancy and also appointed a new interim general manager, Mark Ban.

“Tonight we’ve been talking about passages,” said board member Rebecca Unger. “A happy passage and a sad one.”

The directors kicked off their meeting by approving the water availability charges for 2019-20. These rates have been unchanged since the 1980s, so Assistant General Manager Susan Greer said the approval was a formality.

The board moved into discussion about the vacant seat.

“The task at hand now is to appoint the vacancy,” said legal adviser Gil Granito. “I’ll provide legal commentary with deep sadness, I might add.”

During the first 60 days after Luckman’s death, the board has exclusive authority to appoint someone to fill her position, Granito said. The board also has the option of calling for a special election but Granito and Greer added that a special election can be costly.

“I’m certainly not in favor of that cost,” said Director Mike Reynolds. “Historically we’ve done the appointment. I see no reason to change.”

The directors found themselves in a similar position in March 2017 when board member Victoria Fuller died. At that time they appointed a former member of the board and the citizens advisory council, Tom Floen. Floen spoke at Wednesday’s meeting about how an appointment would allow the district to focus on current projects.

“At least for the last two years I’ve been telling the district that we need to get going on a lot of things,” Floen said. “I can’t see how the ratepayers would benefit from that kind of long delay. I think we have to proceed.”

The board unanimously agreed to make an appointment. The water district will post notices informing the public of the vacancy and the board will review applications at the July 17 board meeting.

The board moved on to appoint a new interim general manager, former assistant general manager of operations, Mark Ban.

“I have seen Mark come up through his career since he was hired at Hi-Desert Water District as a shoveler, as a grunt man,” said Reynolds. “I think it’s a great fit.”

Ban’s promotion will begin with a six-month probationary period. At the end of those six months, the board will reevaluate his interim title and if his work is satisfactory and he is happy with the job, he will officially become the new general manager.

Unger added that the board was unanimous on this decision and she is happy to see Ban promoted.

The board ended their meeting by dedicating it to Luckman.

“I met Mickey in 2007,” Reynolds said. “She was an icon in this district. Mickey, you’ll be missed.”

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