An email to all 2,376 California water board employees promising a “ safe space ” to discuss Derek Chauvin’s conviction ultimately sparked a storm of response – all emails as staff members accused management of “ caving to the crowd ‘and’ kindling the flames of division ‘.
The mass email chain, which was obtained by the Sacramento Bee via a request for public records, was sparked on April 21 by a single message from an unidentified State Water Resources Control Board employee.
That employee, who is a member of the council’s Racial Equity steering committee, had emailed all employees inviting them to a virtual “ employee support lunch ” where they could discuss Chauvin’s conviction and the recent police killings of other black Americans.
“First of all, we want to acknowledge how hard the past few weeks have been on everyone’s mental health with the senseless murders that have taken place all over the country,” read the original email.
The massive email chain, which was obtained by the Sacramento Bee through a request for public records, was sparked by a single message from an unidentified State Water Resources Control Board employee (above) on April 21.
The employee, who is a member of the council’s Racial Equity steering committee, had emailed all staff to invite them to a virtual “ employee support lunch ” where they could discuss Chauvin’s conviction and the recent police killings of other black Americans.
‘This event is intended for employees who feel emotionally touched by current events in the country; it is not a question and answer session.
“… we can support each other and you can share your feelings with your colleagues in a safe space.”
The State Water Resources Control Board, one of six divisions under the California Environmental Protection Agency, has five full-time members who are appointed by the governor for four years and approved by the state Senate.
Governance is there to “ ensure proper allocation of water resources and efficient use ” – or, in other words, to decide who can use water and how much – important in a state like California, much of it in a desert lies.
The email, which the recipients did not blindly copy, but stated everyone’s individual name and email address, resulted in a storm of emails for the employees to reply to.
Some wondered why the relatively obscure body – charged with safeguarding and supplying water – was involved in such a political issue at all.
An engineering geologist was the first to reply with a long message.
Murders happen every day in the United States and not all of them are reported … The fact that the water boards are doing this now is just a sign that they are giving in to the crowd. Rome was also once a great nation before it caught up with the crowd.
“Intra-racial murder of African-Americans is much higher and more significant than white cops who kill African-Americans unnecessarily.”
An engineering geologist was the first to answer everyone, saying the sign ‘plunged into the crowd’ before being asked to be removed from the ‘racially biased’ mailing list
“I don’t appreciate being forced to think of my fellow Americans as incapable of solving their own problems, and I detest the implication that it means I have the power to change their lives.”
The engineer asked to be removed from the ‘racial’ mailing list.
Respondents’ names were redacted from the emails returned to the Sacramento Bee in her public records request. Since the employees are public employees, their email communication is also public.
Another employee replied, “Emails like that are not appropriate or professional for the workplace. They are offensive to anyone who is not racist. ‘
The State Water Resources Control Board, one of six divisions under the California Environmental Protection Agency, is managed by elected officials, including Govin Newsom
One wrote, “I refuse to apologize or fall victim to immutable traits over which I have no control.”
Another employee went on to defend the police by listing several officers who were killed on duty, saying, ‘These are real people who have chosen a life of service, willing to put themselves in danger on a daily basis to protect ALL who did not. can. protect themselves.
They added, “Shame on the water board’s steering committee for fanning the flames of division in this way … How extremely inappropriate and unfortunate to spread such blatant propaganda in this way.”
Multiple employees all responded with a request to be removed from the mailing list altogether.
Among them was an employee who wrote, ‘Remove my name from this mailing list. I refuse to apologize or fall victim to the immutable qualities that are beyond my control. ‘
One employee then informed everyone that the emails were being sent to all employees, including board members and executive management.
The board’s IT department eventually disabled the email response feature, the spokeswoman told the Sacramento Bee.
The spokeswoman said the board’s executive director, Eileen Sobeck, planned to send a message on April 21 acknowledging the Chauvin lawsuit and “ emphasizing the importance ” of the board’s racial equality programs, the report said. Bee.
Instead, the unnamed employee of the council’s “ Racial Steering Committee ” defeated her with the email that sparked the firestorm.
After that firestorm, Sobeck later sent a company-wide email addressing the long email thread.
“Unfortunately, the message was sent in such a way that some could inappropriately use the Reply to All feature,” Sobeck said.
She said she supported employees to use their personal time to “provide their colleagues with a caring place to share thoughts and feelings.” She said workers should seek help for mental health and crisis situations, if needed.
Sobeck’s total compensation in 2019 was, according to Transparent California, which tracks the pay of government officials.
Regarding the emails, Sobeck said, “The replies that were sent reflected a range of views, and some replies did not reflect the courtesy I expect in work-related discussions.
However, this discourse emphasized the importance of continuing our conversations about racial equality – to ensure that race is not a predictor of life outcomes in California – and how that work benefits us all.
Another agency spokesman, Nefretiri Cooley, declined to say whether employees had been subject to disciplinary action.