Coincidence? You be the judge

March 26, 2013
Tom Geaslen

Tom Geaslen

OPINION By LIN HILL

Oceano Community Services District General Manager Thomas Geaslen appeared on the March 6 episode of Charter California Edition.

Hosted by attorney Brad Pomerance, this show broadcasts locally on cable channel 41 and statewide on the California channel. The video is also available on youtube.com.

During the nine minute interview, Geaslen stated to Pomerance that upon Geaslen’s hire, he had “indoctrinated the staff,” put in a plan, and “righted the ship” with regard to the district’s financial health. With audits still delinquent, it is unclear if “the ship” is upright or if Geaslen is only indoctrinating his board and the public with fluff and puff. Recent financials show the district continues deficit spending.

When Pomerance questioned Geaslen about the no-outside-sale water initiative spearheaded by Oceano citizens in January of 2011, Geaslen spoke affirmatively saying, “When the Board changed, that Board immediately put in a provision that said we would not sell water permanently.”

Contrary to Geaslen’s claim, the agendas posted on the District website do not reflect any such Board action by resolution, ordinance or policy since “the Board changed” in May 2011. Any such “provision” would be a public document and should be readily available. When asked for a copy of this alleged document, Geaslen said that when the Board elected not to sell water to Pismo Beach, that was the action he referred to. When challenged further for a copy of the “record”, the story changed again with Geaslen saying it happened before he was hired (June of 2011). Flustered by public interest in actually obtaining a copy of this nonexistent record, Geaslen said he would have his staff find it.

Geaslen then sent a letter, dated March 12, apparently attempting further indoctrination. Instead of delivering an adopted board document, Geaslen explained “policy” and “knowledge measurement” and referred to the May 9, 2012 OCSD Board meeting where the required election procedures for the water initiative were discussed.

The fact is there no valid provision prohibiting OCSD from selling water on a permanent basis. The May 9 action did not implement anything other than what is stated in the resolution, putting the measure on the ballot, and even though the ballot initiative passed by an 84 percnt margin, the initiative has no legal force to compel OCSD compliance. The OCSD can sell water, permanently or temporarily, to whomever they want.

What Geaslen’s letter fails to mention was the board’s lengthy discussion on September 26 where district legal counsel Molly Thurmond confirmed that if the board changed from its current makeup, the ballot initiative may be challenged at any time. The board’s discussion included consensus that the ballot initiative was illegal. Vice President Mary Lucey said, “If it passes, we can all cry together.”

Despite the public’s perception that this board would not sell water on a permanent basis, Geaslen personally attempted to sell water on a “temporary” long-term basis to Nipomo CSD on January 25 of this year. He stood before the NCSD Water Alternatives Committee and said that the Oceano initiative was, “very, very ambiguous” and “there would be some technical and legal challenges to it.” The Oceano initiative can be overcome, Geaslen suggested; the OCSD Board, OCSD legal counsel and the county counsel’s impartial analysis all agree that the initiative has no legal effect. Sale of Oceano water is an administrative matter not within the power of the voters to control.

Gealsen’s proposal to NCSD included a “10-year contract with multiple five-year extensions.” At least 20 years tying up Oceano’s water could hinder development of the community in favor of development in Nipomo (which by interesting coincidence is Geaslen’s home) instead. By further coincidence, Bob Blair, a long-time mentor to Geaslen, was just re-elected to the water-thirsty Nipomo CSD Board. As a Nipomo property owner as well, I am also interested in that community’s water pursuit and wonder who would be asked to pay for the $14M-$18M in infrastructure to “temporarily long term” supply only a fraction of what is needed. Would Oceano residents have to pay for their end?

Oceano CSD has been plagued by General Managers that could not properly account for district funds, as reflected in a series of incomplete or inconclusive audits. Geaslen was handpicked by OCSD Board members who had approached Nipomo resident Supervisor Paul Teixeira (another coincidence!) asking for help for the District. That help resulted in a bogus selection process that allowed only Geaslen, Teixeira’s 2010 campaign manager, access to the district office over a series of Saturdays ahead of the interview process. It is unclear if he was bonded at the time or how the district’s sensitive files were used to develop Geaslen’s “plan.” The potentially illegal advance access at least gave Geaslen an unfair advantage over as many as five better qualified candidates. Geaslen seems to be carrying on the unfortunate OCSD tradition, while outsourcing many of the duties he was hired to perform.

Geaslen should avoid attempting to rewrite history and be more responsive with actual public records. Being more transparent about his attempts to secure Oceano water for Nipomo would be another positive step.

Lin Hill is an Oceano property owner.

 


24 Comments

  1. westcoasthag says:

    THE ISSUE WAS, AND STILL IS – PROHIBITING THE SALE OF “WATER RIGHTS” wether on a permanent or temperary basis. The issue is NOT about SELLING WATER! It is about RIGHTS.! ? # get it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  2. cry-me-a-river says:

    Poor, poor pitiful lin hill. She just can’t stand it that the district did not go under when her husband walked out. Oh, the phone calls, the wringing of hands, the vicious remarks, the plotting with likeminded persons with nothing to do. Poor, poor, pitiful lin hill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7

    • DennySLO says:

      Mr. Hill, is that you?
      Are you spiraling out of control? Can we get you some medical assistance? Please be safe and try not to hurt yourself

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

    • MaryMalone says:

      Either the opinion stands on its own, or it does not. What is it about the opinion that you don’t agree with?

      The author of the opinion is irrelevant…unless the ad hominem attack is the only way you can refute the opinion.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  3. MaryMalone says:

    A continuing oddity is the OCSD’s Board of Director’s complete coddling of Geaslen, who is driving OCSD towards a trainwreck.

    Was there some kind of resolution passed that indicates that a member of the OCSD BOD must be missing a backbone?

    Geaslen is making himself look like a first-class nincompoop by the actions he has taken since he became GM, but the members of the OCSD BOD come in a close second in the racy to the nincompoopery-on-parade finish.

    Geasling goes running around the county, without a clue about what he is doing. Does he ever think first before he just blunders off into nincompoop land? It sure doesn’t look like it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 11

  4. StatusQuoJoe says:

    In response to both Jonathon and westcoasthag:
    The sale of water to Pismo for $2M (to be paid to the District in 2011; plus hook-up fees once developed) was an attempt to prevent the water rate increases that Oceano has seen each year since. If not for Hill, Montemurro, the GM at the time (with Dave Angello’s blessing) was willing to sell it for $50,000, now that’s a pittance.
    Oceano’s water is the most expensive in the South County and still climbing (April first it will go up another $1.11 per month). Ironically, the new high priced GM is spending the increases on salaries verses real infrastructure improvements (he’s been painting and polishing the yard, buying new chairs and painting the board room 2x in a year, but has yet to replace pipes).
    The Arroyo Grande agreement is running out, Oceano rates will have to go up again without that revenue.
    As for the audits; financial information had been missing for years before Hill was elected in 2004. Under the watchful eye of Barbara Mann, the same person on the OCCI and Senior Center Board’s whose books were also mismanaged. OCSD Books had to be closed by Jim Hayes, the auditor, in 2002 (a practice that auditors don’t do and couldn’t find $200,000). Hill was the only Board member who pushed for decent financials, the others wouldn’t know how to read a Financial Statement if it hit them on the head.
    Ousting Monte: Ask one or all of the three current Board members why they wouldn’t support Jim and Carol in firing him. These same three are letting Geaslen drag them around by rings in their noses.
    If there are any “kickbacks” to be had they will come from Nipomo and go directly into Geaslen’s pocket.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

    • Justducky says:

      Go get ‘em Joe! But I don’t think Geaslen can count on any kickbacks from Nipomo. Don’t think anybody there, but his adoptive Daddy, takes him seriously. He’s proven himself to have somehow acquired the same “fool” gene.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

      • MaryMalone says:

        There are other ways besides “kickbacks” to pay back a political favor.

        No local government agency is above corruption and greed, including the Nipomo CSD.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  5. Justducky says:

    I think you have that backwards. Tex is the goose stepping minion. You give the Supervisor too much credit for brains. You need to come to grips with who is the puppet and who is the puppeteer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

    • StatusQuoJoe says:

      Behind every man is a woman. In this case, the woman is behind both Tex and Tom. The “puppeteer” is Deb Geaslen.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 9

      • Justducky says:

        Well, you’re in the know, Joe! Would be nice if others were.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

      • MaryMalone says:

        Ah, the connection between Geaslen and the County Board of Supervisors. I knew there had to be a reason OCSD continued to get a free pass by the County.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

        • Justducky says:

          Mary, If you’re still listening, to my knowledge CSD’s are out of the jurisdiction of the County BOS. No free passes here, just some influence, probably, with the OCSD Board on the part of one particular Supervisor.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

          • MaryMalone says:

            Are you nuts?

            Local CSDs work very closely with the BOS. The BOS and its staff will have meetings with a board member, their staff, or other SLOCo departments (especially Planning) for input and draft proposals for County policy and regulations.

            If CSD’s don’t do what the supervisor for the CSD’s district wants them to do, that supervisor can make the CSD’s life miserable.

            In one case, Katcho “told” (in so many words) the water purveyors on the Nipomo Mesa that, if they did not get their act together and get the supplemental water deal nailed, and got the Technical Group ordered by the court up and running, and got going on water conservation, Katcho would start working to strip the Nipomo Mesa of its County benefits. He implied that the cuts could very well be “surgical”…in other words, if one water purveyor didn’t get it together for their customers, county services and favors could be strategically cut for that purveyor, leaving services intact for the rest of the county.

            In addition, there are “under-the-covers” benefits for illicit sexual liaisons between CSD board members and County supervisors or others placed well in the county power structure.

            At least one board member of the Los Osos CSD has had/is having an affair with Pavvo Ogren. This CSD board member, while issues important to Ogren’s legacy with his “sewer vision” for Los Osos, on a regular basis would strut herself up to board and committee meetings where she (as a CSD board member, mind you) would praise Ogren’s sewer vision.

            So, while it is true that CSDs may be technically “out of the jurisdiction” of the County BOS, in reality the CSDs will always be beholding to the Board of Supervisors, which can so easily make the jobs of CSD’s BOD and GM either ever so much easier, or ever so much more terrible.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

            • Justducky says:

              I will agree that it is nice to have your local Supervisor on your side when you are a CSD and need to have the community behind you. However, most of the community has this vision that the BOS rules over the CSD’s which is simply not the case. CSD’s as you well know are a separate entity and cannot be told what to do by their local Supervisor. The instances you mentioned must have had to do with the “other” water purveyors not the NCSD. It actually took several years of “convincing” by the NCSD for KATCHO to accept that there was a Level 3 water issue in Nipomo. If Katcho was threatening to do surgery on anyone it sure wasn’t the NCSD as they were the ones who had to point out the water problem to him.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

            • Jonathon says:

              Usually when people interject sexual references as constantly as Mary Malone they are sexually frustrated. I don’t think I’ve ever read so many references to sex as in her postings. What about the opinion piece has anything to do with someone elses sex life.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. Pelican1 says:

    Hamana-hamana-hamana-hamana

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  7. StatusQuoJoe says:

    Whoa, DemandTransparancy! Geaslen is not who he says he is? Why am I not surprised. Just checked on Titan Lending, Corp. It’s SUSPENDED again! He wriggled out of any action by his Board back in January after the CCN story, but here again, suspended.

    “Knowledge Measurement” ? WTH? Geaslen, only knows how to measure his own paycheck. Rates will rise again next week, the annual April incremental rate increase on both sewer and water in Oceano, don’t think he won’t hire more people (to do his job) or to grab himself a nice raise.

    While selling water to his hometown of Nipomo sounds self-serving, it is more about SELF serving, clearly any increased revenue will go in his pocket.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 9

  8. Disgusted says:

    All I can say is that these board members, as well as Tom Geaslen, work together and care about the community of Oceano. They don’t act like children by sniping at each other, as with the previous board.
    There aren’t signs draped over the panel, no accusations against each other etc. Mr. Geaslen stepped into a mess and is slowly cleaning up what seemed like an impossible task.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 17

    • StatusQuoJoe says:

      With enough money Geaslen can fix almost anything (except his own blunders). He’s hired countless accounting consultants costing the district not only his fat salary, but about $100,000 in needed cash to do the business of the district.

      Geaslen has indoctrinated his board with Koolaide. They don’t ask any questions, there are no staff reports for them to learn anything and they let him run away with the show, the checkbook and the water.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 10

    • Jonathon says:

      Responding to Disgusted,

      I agree Oceano has made tremendous improvements since Mr. Geaslen became the GM. The community is happy with how things are progressing. They aren’t happy with the time and money distractors cost the district. The obstruction from them and the opinion writer appears to be mostly sour grapes.

      You are also correct in stating the current board don’t act like children by sniping at each other. One of the low points was Jim Hill, board President, holding his fingers to his forehead in the shape of an L, to indicate someone there was a Loser. Oceano was known as The Jerry Springer Show. Very little was accomplished at these long and drug out meetings using the peoples time and money finger pointing and name calling.

      Jim Hill led the battle to sell Oceano water on a “permanent” basis for a development in Pismo most Pismo residents don’t want and for a very small amount of money. He was giving a tv interview minutes before the meeting adamently saying how Oceano had to sell this water. Only after the people’s initiative was presented did he cave in and vote no. Much to the shock and surprise at the two board members he had convinced to vote yes with him.

      Mr. Hill led the fight and was sucessful in removing Mitch Cooney. Yet he resigned after he lost control over Montemurro. If he could remove Mr. Cooney he could have surely removed Montemurro who had but one supporter on the board dozens of alienated residents. The question is why and what leverage did Montemurro have?

      Everyone rails about the audits not being up to date yet. They didn’t get years behind overnight. Who was board president when they got behind? It has taken a long time now to correct the many, many errors entered into the overpriced computer program. Not bought on Mr. Geaslen’s watch. Years of incorrect information had to be corrected and redone before the audits can be brought up to date.

      Mr. Hill was willing to permanently sell our water for a pittance because we were facing bankruptcy on his watch. Yet now we have money.

      Does anyone understand the idea of selling water on a temporary basis is because we pay for it whether we use it or not? That this is a logical and fiscally responsible?

      Meanwhile the people of Oceano sit not so patiently and watch the road blocks being thrown up while the board and GM have to waste rate payers time and money tearing them back down. So who really cares about the people of Oceano?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 7

  9. DemandTransparency says:

    This is the same Geaslen who has been falsely representing himself as a licensed Enrolled Agent all this time? The guy who had his E.A. status revoked by the IRS back in April of 2009?

    I guess somebody doesn’t let facts get in the way of a good snow-job. Yet again it is Oceano that suffers.

    If you’re going to lie about your credentials (not a licensed Enrolled Agent and having corporations not in good standing (AGAIN!) with the Secretary of State of both Nevada AND California) clearly the concept of ‘transparency’ is foreign to your moral compass.

    For some, it is so much easier to ‘indoctrinate’ than educate with truths, facts and transparency. It’s a shame one of those indoctrinators is the General Manager of the Oceano Community Services District and Supervisor Teixeira’s goose-stepping minion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 13

    • Justducky says:

      Sorry, meant this to go here.

      I think you have that backwards. Tex is the goose stepping minion. You give the Supervisor too much credit for brains. You need to come to grips with who is the puppet and who is the puppeteer.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7

      • westcoasthag says:

        The issues she brings up are petty and vindictive. Where is the documentation of the negotiations with the developers and the Hills to sell our water rights? Who attended such meetings? In addition, why are they not calling for those types of documents, if it is such a big deal? Why bring up the particular issue of Oceano permanently selling our water Rights forever – in return for a one-time payment of a pittance of its value? There was nothing in the deal, which would benefit Oceano. (And the residents let it be known, we do not want to sell our Rights, at all) – So, IMO there must have been something in the deal to benefit the Hills. Why else is she hammering on this issue? –Maybe a kick back from the developer? (In my opinion, perhaps it was in the form of multiple properties in Price Canyon. (With a permanent water source). That is just one scenario. You Be The Judge.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

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