Oceano manager refuses to disclose phone records
November 27, 2012
OPINION By JULIE TACKER
Oceano Community Services District General Manager Tom Geaslen entered into a contract with the OCSD last April. The contract included his $126,000 salary through the end of the year, mileage reimbursement and health benefits and a $69 monthly cell phone allowance he said wouldn’t take.
The district failed to remove the items he said he “wouldn’t take” from the lucrative contract and you guessed it, on October 10, the cash disbursements presented to the board of directors revealed a request for $414.00 for six months of Geaslen’s cell phone.
The board could have fought Geaslen’s request, the statement made in public and to the press saying he wouldn’t take cell phone reimbursement constituted a verbal contract that the board should have held him to.
Despite the record, on video tape and comments to the press, when asked why he had reconsidered the reimbursement, he said, “because of all I’ve been through.”
Insinuating he’s entitled to it due to the pressures of his job. Many “pressures” he clearly brought upon himself. Geaslen then claimed the record is “personal,” going on to say that the $69.00 was “just a stipend” and didn’t cover the entire cost of the cell service. Geaslen suggested that the records were not public if the entire cost of service was not covered and went so far as to tell me he had “checked it” with several attorneys.
Geaslen apparently didn’t “check it” with anyone versed in the California Public Records Act. Section 6252(e) defines “Public records” as “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.”
Since the district has paid for the cell phone, the calls are now a matter of public record. Several records requests were made for the cell phone records, these requests were promptly denied. Sixty-nine dollars a month should be adequate for cell phone service, any ‘bells and whistles’ that would escalate the monthly bill to $220.00 per month, as he claims it is, would not be reimbursable with public funds anyway.
Simply put, cell phone records include “information relating to the conduct of the public’s business” and they should be accessible to the public. More importantly, they should be accessible to his Board who Geaslen is answerable to. They need to monitor his work and just exactly what “business” he has been up to.