Oceano dumping television airings of board meetings

May 24, 2014
Matt Guerrero

Matt Guerrero

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

Following the hiring of a $200,000 general manager for its six-employee community services district, the Oceano Community Services District Board has started the process to eliminate television coverage of its bimonthly meetings.

Last week, the Oceano board hired San Luis Obispo County Public Works Director Paavo Ogren as its new general manager at a base salary of $196,000. The district, which is currently running a $170,000 deficit, is now considering canceling its contract with digital production company AGP Video as a cost-cutting measure.

AGP records the district’s bimonthly board meetings and produces videos of them that are broadcast on cable television channel SLO-SPAN multiple times a week. The district board has eliminated AGP video production services from the district’s draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year at a savings of a little more than $13,000, according to the budget.

“The draft budget does not include AGP video services at this time,” Oceano Community Services District Board President Matt Guerrero said in an email to CalCoastNews.

When asked if he supports the plan to eliminate video recordings of board meetings, Guerrrero said that he is not prepared to make a statement.

But, board critic Jeff Edwards said Guerrero advocated for canceling the district contract with AGP during an Oceano finance committee meeting on Monday.

“He said that they know how to audio tape and they can upload audio to their website and they’ll no longer need AGP,” Edwards said.

The district already records audio of finance committee meetings, and CSD bylaws require staff to post the recordings on the district website for at least 30 days.

However, when CalCoastNews requested an audio copy of Monday’s hour and a half meeting, Account Clerk Celia Ruiz said the district stores but does not upload the meeting recordings. Account Clerk Mario De Leon later said the audio is available for pickup by way of a flash drive, but it is too large to upload.

The district is currently in the fourth year of a five-year contract with AGP. Oceano can terminate the contract, though, on just one week’s notice and without incurring any fees.

AGP charges the district a $585 base fee for filming and producing videos of each meetings. Additional charges are incurred for meetings that last longer than three hours and for instances in which the district requests extra electronic equipment.

When the upcoming fiscal year begins in July, the district will begin paying Ogren’s 196,000 salary. Ogren will also be eligible for 2.5 percent raises after each of his first two years on the job.

Three years ago, the district paid its general manager a base salary of $87,500.

District staff drafted the proposed budget prior to the board officially hiring Ogren, but considerable debt still loomed at the time. Last year, the district water fund borrowed $770,000 from the general fund at 3.25 percent interest.

Additionally, a $129,000 loan from the solid waste fund to the water fund is proposed in the draft budget. Board members have already said they plan to raise water rates to offset the rising expenses.

Despite the looming debt, critics say the approximately $13,000 previously budgeted for televising board meetings is money well spent.

“It’s about transparency,” Edwards said. “The people who do pay attention are watching the video tape.”


28 Comments

  1. falconbh says:

    http://www.slocouts.net/grand_jury/citizen_complaint_forms

    Demand Justice In The Oceano Community Services District
    We need an Investigation , into the misuse of powers, financial mismanagement, and government corruption.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  2. Mike says:

    Sounds like income inequality to me. I don’t make $196,000 per year. Maybe I don’t have enough dishonest friends in high places. Looting will continue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  3. fishing village says:

    Well maybe if there is no TV coverage it won’t be so appealing to show up and spout off over and over again. Hummmm. maybe that’s the answer to getting more done in our Government meetings, eliminate the television ‘star’ episodes.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 23

    • Julie says:

      fishing village,

      If you think Jeff and I attend meetings just to be on TV, you can ask anyone at any government entity around the county and the state; we’re there whether there is camera or not.

      We attend because we are eager to learn, we don’t always speak, but when we do we believe we have something to offer. The board may not like what we have to say, but they do not have the luxury to pick and chose from who or what is said.

      To eliminate the television coverage hurts the public who doesn’t attend. When they can afford Ogren at $250K (benefits included) but they can’t afford $12K to include you, something is seriously wrong with their priorities.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 25 Thumb down 19

      • SanSimeonSam says:

        I do not believe you live in that district. I do not believe you are attending to be on TV. I believe you are attending to force closure of the airport so you can do that development that Mr Edwards wants and can make some big money. Politics as usual.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 7

      • Pelican1 says:

        Lets face it, your sole purpose for attending these meetings is simply to disrupt the proceedings. Your presence offers NOTHING positive, nor, as an outsider,are you and your input appreciated.
        More often that not, you have been warned about your rude, out of order behavior while others are speaking.
        Is your mission one that involves systematically attempting to destroy small beach side communities?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 9

  4. letsbhonest says:

    What a mess in Oceano! City of Bell all over again! How disgusting and utterly sad this little
    Town is about to get screwed up one way and down the other! And when the finger pointing starts who will it be pointed at first? I’ll SO miss the televised meetings but have complete
    Confidence in Julie Tacker to blog as much as she can and let us know what’s going on.
    KEEP US INFORMED JULIE…. we will have to rely on your comments after the meetings are
    No longer televised….please post everything that goes on!
    .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 12

    • Julie says:

      There is an under utilized facebook page called “Oceano Watch” that I might be able to post more there — I’d like to see others join in the conversations there.

      I’d really like to see people attending the OCSD meetings, the Board marginalizes me as an “outsider”. For an “outsider” I know more about what’s going on than most insiders. I study hard and ask questions.

      As hard as it is to participate in Oceano, I have been beating my head against the Brown Act wall for some time. Take a look at their agenda’s, they’re a hot mess. They don’t make a lot of sense and their public comment portions are haphazard throughout. They only “give” six minutes to any one person for the whole meeting, even if there are many topics to cover.

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. Feel free to contact me anytime. I’m in the phone book.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 15

  5. falconbh says:

    For the good of Oceano and the District, the four members who voted in favor of this Excessive Compensation Package of over $ 250,000 should resign their positions as Directors.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 29 Thumb down 6

  6. achillesheal says:

    All in favor of a $50k raise for all board members say “aye”‘. The ayes have it! Next order of business, Ogren says we need to create a job for his wife, minimum 6 figures.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 32 Thumb down 6

  7. justchuck says:

    See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil and televise no evil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 5

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