Oceano manager refuses to disclose phone records

November 27, 2012

Julie Tacker

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.

 


42 Comments

  1. Turgilsa says:

    For the record, I wish people would stop saying “….constituted a verbal contract…”

    There is no such thing as a “non-verbal” contract. A contract is either oral or written. The word “verbal” merely means “through the use of words.”

    I know, I know, I’m being overly picky. At least I haven’t gone off on my opinion of the word “snuck” instead of “sneaked.” Now that would have been excessively verbal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. Pelican1 says:

    People who live in glass houses should NOT continue to throw stones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  3. soccermom says:

    Oh those that have a little knowledge do tend to think they are capable of interpreting the law. Thank heaven the public doesn’t have to pay for your Legal Services…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  4. moderator says:

    Please focus your remarks on the opinions of the writer, rather than the person of the writer.
    some comments removed by admins
    (snip) if your comment is on topic it will appear

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 9

  5. Kevin Rice says:

    I respectfully disagreed with the conclusive determination of Mr. Babek Naficy, Esq.

    I believe the question remains unsettled law at this time. An appellate court decision regarding access to personal email records of a councilwoman (Tracy Press, Inc. v. Superior Court, 164 Cal. App. 4th 1290, 1294 (2008) (dismissed on procedural grounds the newspaper’s attempt to have appellate court overturn the trial court’s decision), the Court wrote, “[i]f [the councilwoman] had e-mailed from the City’s offices, discussing City business, it is undeniable that the records would be ‘public records’ that must be produced. But this proceeding presents a novel and important issue: whether personal e-mails sent without using the City’s resources but discussing the City’s business are ‘public records.” (Id., at 1300.)

    If the question identified by the Court in Tracy Press (Ibid.) can be extended to personal telephone records, in that calls discussed OCSD business, then a conclusive answer does not appear to be settled as of yet. However, I doubt Ms. Tacker has the resources to overcome the district’s mettle in denying her request, thus, the question won’t be answered here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11

    • MaryMalone says:

      Kevin, I respectfully disagree with your opinion that “the question remains unsettled law at this time.”

      Your opinion appears to be based on the Tracy Press, Inc. v. Superior Court case. This case is far different on important points, when compared to the Gleasan case.

      Press discussed city business in personal emails (for which payment by the City had not been made), and it appears the content of the emails were also requested for disclosure.

      In the Gleasan/OCSD case, OCSD has paid for Gleasan’s cell phone use, and paying for the cell phone use is part of his contract with OCSD for his general manager position. The content of the cell phone conversations is not, at this time, being requested; it is simply the phone records themselves that are being requested.

      Therefore, because the Press and Gleasan cases are more dissimilar than they are similar, your opinion is invalid because a valid comparison between two such dissimilar cases cannot be made.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

      • Kevin Rice says:

        You are essentially agreeing with me, in case you hadn’t noticed…

        Except you are taking a hard-line stance, whereas I only took a skeptical stance. I doubt you can show your opinion is any more valid than anyone else, however.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

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