Silicon Valley water director hires attorney amid investigation
Valley Water board member Rebecca Eisenberg is pictured in this file photo. She is currently facing a gender discrimination investigation. File photo.

    Months after workplace complaints surfaced against Valley Water board member Rebecca Eisenberg, an investigation into her behavior is ongoing with no clear end in sight.

    Eisenberg, who hired her own attorney last month, said the investigation is retaliation after she raised concerns of sexism at the water district and that it’s only meant to derail her.

    “I hired a lawyer for two reasons. One, so I don’t have to deal with this. Because I believe the purpose of this is to distract me and derail me so I don’t succeed,” she told San José Spotlight. “The other reason I hired a lawyer is to make this go away. Because it’s a waste of public money and a waste of everyone’s time.”

    Documents previously obtained by San José Spotlight accuse Eisenberg of gender discrimination and making inappropriate comments to workers. Eisenberg is being accused of discriminating against men and belittling Valley Water officials, according to a Jan. 23 letter from Valley Water CEO Rick Callender to board chair John Varela and Carlos Orellana, the district counsel.

    Valley Water officials said the investigation is being handled by an outside attorney, Camille Hamilton Pating, selected by the board’s ethics ad hoc committee. The investigation started in February, according to district spokesperson Matt Keller.

    There’s no estimate for when the investigation is expected to wrap up or how much it will cost the district, Keller said.

    Eisenberg claimed Callender has a history of pursuing investigations against board members and staff as a means of control and retaliation, which he denied.

    “The accusations are wrong and untrue and are not even worthy of comment,” Callender told San José Spotlight.

    Callender said he is “committed to diverse representation of our workforce, inclusivity in our work environment and equitable access for all employees,” but could not comment on a personnel matter or an ongoing investigation.

    Eisenberg is still confident the investigation will vindicate her in what she said are “ridiculous” allegations. She said she doesn’t plan to sue the district nor has she threatened litigation.

    The investigation into Eisenberg is the latest chapter in a series of dysfunctional moments that have occurred at Valley Water. Eisenberg unseated former longtime board member Gary Kremen in the November election after he was investigated and found to have bullied, verbally assaulted and threatened district workers.

    Varela and Barbara Keegan, board vice chair, did not respond to requests for comment. Board member Jim Beall declined to comment.

    Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.

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