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TRPA selects leader

Decision makers for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency agreed Wednesday that Greg James, an attorney and the director of a California county water department, should be the next leader for the bistate regulatory authority.

The TRPA Governing Board agreed to pay James up to $100,000 for the executive director position. Negotiations are expected to be concluded by May 1.

The decision is the culmination of a several-month search that drew in more than 100 applicants.



“I am very pleased with the offer and flattered that out of so many people I would be given the opportunity to work with the agency,” James said.

An attorney from Bishop, Calif., James has been the director of the Inyo County Water Department since 1981, managing a 15- to 25-employee department consisting of scientists and technicians.




James also has served Inyo County as legal counsel during that time.

Inyo County had a nearly century-old battle with Los Angeles over water resources and the environment of Southern California’s Owens Valley. A negotiated settlement was reached in 1991, and, as the county’s attorney, James was a key advisor and coordinator of that agreement.

TRPA’s 14-voting-member governing board decided on James Wednesday after interviewing three finalists.

The others were Carson City resident Pam Wilcox, the Nevada administrator of the Department of State Lands, and Utah resident Bill Allayaud, a principal planner in Salt Lake City.

The top three had been narrowed from a list of nine by a subcommittee of the board.

“In Mr. James, I saw a maturity and a polish and a seasoned individual, which I felt could make a credible and smooth transition for the agency,” said Kay Bennett, the Carson City appointee to TRPA’s board.

The new director will guide the bistate agency as it tries to implement its Environmental Improvement Program, thus organizing the construction of $900 million dollars worth of restoration programs that experts say are needed to save Lake Tahoe’s famed clarity.

Jim Baetge, executive director for five years, left in January for health reasons.

Baetge’s salary was $85,000. And while what is being offered to James is substantially more, board members Wednesday expressed beliefs that a person in the position should be paid more than the historical wage.

The acting executive director, Jerry Wells, has announced he will be leaving May 26 to take a position in Oregon. He had been the 10th finalist for the permanent position before the announcement.

James, if he takes the job, said he would try to work part time in May, coming periodically to Tahoe to get better acquainted with the job before Wells leaves.


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