Aug. 22, 2003 – Robert Vodzack is no longer chief financial officer with the Water and Power Authority, WAPA Executive Director Alberto Bruno-Vega said after Thursday's lengthy board meeting.
Bruno-Vega also announced several other changes in the authority's top echelon of management, which were approved by the board Thursday.
Lorelei M. Farrington, who most recently served as the interim executive director of the V. I. Housing Authority, will replace WAPA general counsel Cathy Smith, who has served in that position since January 2000. Farrington previously had been legal counsel to the V.I. Housing Authority board.
Smith now will serve as deputy counsel. In the interim, attorney Sharmane Davis-Brathwaite will serve as acting general counsel, and Maurice Sebastien, WAPA controller, will be acting chief financial officer. They will serve in these positions until the positions are permanently filled.
Nellon L. Bowry, who was director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Schneider administration and more recently was CFO of the Juan Luis Hospital on St. Croix, has been named by Bruno-Vega as WAPA's new CFO.
Also, Veronica Rollins, the WAPA board's executive assistant, has been replaced by Renee Somme. Rollins resigned to pursue other career opportunities, Bruno-Vega said.
Bruno-Vega said Thursday afternoon that he was "not privy" to state anything beyond the new structuring in regard to the appointments.
In June, responding to what he called the "need for more engineers," Bruno-Vega submitted several organizational changes: What had been WAPA's engineering division has been merged into its corporate planning division. The human relations division has been moved under the corporate services division umbrella. Other restructuring that the WAPA board approved included:
— eliminating the position of director of customer services and placing those functions under the direction of the chief financial office;
— eliminating the position of director of communications.
Bruno-Vega said he proposed the changes "to have what I call checks and balances. Previously, too many functions of responsibility that should be separated were all under one officer. To have proper controls, you need to segregate different functions so that they do not provide even an appearance of any conflict."
Under the reorganization, he listed the following slate of executive officers' duties: chief executive officer (Bruno-Vega), chief operating officer (Glen Rothgeb), chief financial officer (Vodzack), director of corporate planning and engineering, director of corporate services, and general counsel (Smith). (See "WAPA restructuring is for 'checks, balances'".)
Vodzack was hired in October 2002 by then WAPA executive director Joseph Thomas. Vodzack, from Marysville, Pa., was described by Thomas as a "an innovative financial officer with a strong background." Thomas served as executive director from May 2001 until April 2002, when he officially returned the reins almost a year ago, citing "management problems" between himself and the board.
Under Vodzack's watch, WAPA received the highest bond rating it has ever had. At a May board meeting on WAPA's $70 million bond issuance, it was revealed that WAPA maintained its BBB rating from both Fitch and Standard and Poor's and received a Baa3 rating from Moody's. This is the first time in the utility's history that it received ratings from three major agencies.
Bruno-Vega, at the time, called the news a "significant accomplishment" and said it would make WAPA eligible to receive bond insurance and help to lower interest rates. WAPA board member Andrew Rutnik said then, "Three or four years ago, this would have been a dream." He complimented Vodzack and Bruno Vega on their efforts.
After a several-month search, Thomas was replaced by Bruno-Vega, who had previously held the job from 1989 to 1995, and was described as knowing WAPA's shortcomings, its strengths and its political vulnerability. He began work in December 2002 on a three-year contract.
Smith locked horns with the WAPA board this February over her alleged knowledge of an "unauthorized" $2.2 million purchase of property adjacent to the utility's Richmond plant in Christiansted. At the time Smith said she had only been with the utility for a few days when the deal was finalized, and she had no reason to question the provisions of the contract because she had not been involved in its negotiation. (See "WAPA board looking to lay blame for purchase.")
Neither Smith nor Vodzack were available for comment.
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