It may come as a surprise to Gov. Gray Davis, but an Alleghany gold mine has added the state's top elected official to its board of directors.
Michael Miller, president and chief executive officer of the Original Sixteen to One Mine, said he would write a letter Monday to Davis informing him of the appointment.
Davis was not consulted prior to the appointment, which was ratified at the mine's annual shareholders' meeting Saturday. The mine is publicly held, but its stock is not listed on an exchange.
Miller, 60, said he is serious about the appointment, and said it would be a good thing for the governor, the state and the mine. The Original Sixteen to One claims to be the oldest continuously operating U.S. hard-rock gold mine, in operation since 1896.
"If he accepts this, he will become a better governor for the state of California," said Miller.
He denies that the appointment is a publicity stunt, though he said legislators told him he should try to publicize his troubles with state water quality regulators rather than expect help from elected officials.
The mine has battled with state regulators over discharges of water that flow into Kanaka Creek, a tributary of the Middle Yuba.
Miller said the mine's water discharge permit issued by the state requires more than 1,400 tests that would cost $60,000 a year - a difficult burden for an operation which is already struggling to meet workers compensation premiums and utility bills and hasn't been able to pay its seven miners for three weeks.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a cease-and-desist order in March that requires the mine to meet new federal drinking water standards for arsenic by 2005.
Miller is also unhappy over being named on the permit as the discharger, which he said sets him up for criminal charges over the discharge matter.
"I thought it's only fair play," Miller told shareholders Saturday during the annual meeting at the mine. "I figure while Mr. Davis did not ask to be director, I didn't ask for my name to be on the permit."
Steve Maviglio, the governor's spokesman, said Davis doesn't serve on company boards. That would be a conflict of interest, particularly if the company did business with the state.
All but one of the mine's shareholders who attended Saturday's meeting voted for the six-person board slate that includes Davis. The board meets four times a year and pays directors about $5,000 annually.
Duane Frink, an Auburn shareholder, said he voted against the Davis appointment for a practical reason.
One of the directors named to the board is ill, and since Davis probably won't be attending the meetings, that could leave a four-person board subject to split votes, said Frink.
Ken McNeil, a San Antonio Heights shareholder, said he thought it was an excellent idea because government officials are too isolated from the problems of the business world and don't see the impact of laws that they pass.