Angela Valles is back to work at the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA) with a new title. Four months after being placed on paid administrative leave, Valles returned to VVWRA as the Director of Finance earlier this week.
Valles was the subject of a number of complaints by co-workers and subordinates who claimed she was creating a hostile work environment, bullying and participating in other unethical activities on the job, including using her position to further her political career. Employees say she was unprofessional, falsified time sheets, and refused to properly train subordinates even when they asked for help. Several claims against the agency and lawsuits have been filed.
Valles began her career with VVWRA in 2005 as the Director of Finance. She worked her way up the ladder to become the Director of Administrator where she supervised or was responsible for overseeing a large staff, including human resources duties. She has now been demoted to her original position as Director of Finance and supervises far fewer subordinates.
As with any governmental employment matter, most of the details of Valles’ demotion are confidential. Clearly, based on her new title and job description listed on the VVWRA website, she received a demotion in position and duties. What is not so clear is if her salary and benefits were reduced commensurate with the new title and responsibilities.
Valles claimed from the time employees went public with their complaints that she was being targeted because she held employees to a high standard. She also thought there could be a political motivation behind the complaints.
Valles formerly served on the Victor Valley College Board of Trustees and the Victorville City Council. She is considered to be a contender against First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood next June when he is up for re-election. Valles is an outspoken critic of Lovingood.
Valles raised a conflict-of-interest issue against Lovingood because he co-owns ICR Staffing Services with his wife, which until last year, had a contract with VVWRA. Additionally, ICR filed a $3.62 million claim against VVWRA when the agency went with a lower bidder during the open-bid process.
Lovingood has a seat on the VVWRA Board of Commissioners but was never seated. The Director of San Bernardino County Special Districts, Jeffrey Rigney, is appointed to that seat due to Lovingood’s conflicts of interest. It should be noted that as a department head, Rigney is answerable to Lovingood in his county position, making him less than conflict-free.
So far no statement or press release has been issued about the outcome of the investigation against Valles. The fact that she was demoted suggests that investigators substantiated some employee complaints against her. The investigation was conducted by the San Bernardino-based law firm of Mundell, Odlum and Haws.