Know the facts before you vote

July 15, 2014

sewerOPINION By CASANDRA APPLETON

As election season nears, and more people are announcing their candidacy, I’m deeply concerned that several of the candidates who are running for various political offices may have “questionable” ethics.

I say this because a simple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request will reveal that the former Superintendent of the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District, notified all members of the district’s three parent agencies (Oceano Community Services District Board, and the Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach city councils) via USPS Certified Mail of the misdeads, mismanagement, and problems that had arisen as a result of District Administrator John Wallace’s conflict of interest.

This conflict of interest in his providing district work to his Wallace Group Engineering firm was verified by a subsequent San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury report.

Not a single notified elected official responded or even acknowledged this communication that was made several years before the massive sewage spill that occurred in 2010. A FOIA request will reveal that this list of elected officials who ignored this communication include John Shoals, Bill Nichols, Caren Ray and Tony Ferrara.

In addition, Mr. Ferrara and Mr. Nichols were long term members of the Sanitation District Board and met onsite at the sewer plant annually for budget review. It is a well-documented fact (again FOIA is your friend) that Mr. Wallace, Mr. Nichols, and Mr. Ferrara were personally shown the pull box by the former plant superintendent that would eventually flood and lead to the largest sewage spill in San Luis Obispo County history.

The State Water Resources agency then found former District Administrator John Wallace guilty of “mismanagement and neglect”, hence the $1,100,000 fine that has been imposed on the Sanitation District rate payers.

Ms. Caren Ray and all of the Arroyo Grande City Council were personally informed of the facts (via the City of Arroyo Grande website mail system. Again, FOIA is your friend) of the misdealings and apparent cover-up that was occurring with the Sanitation District administrator and board.

Again, our elected officials turned a blind eye and the results are evident. The good-old-boys network at its best. These emails can be obtained by requesting that the City of Arroyo Grande produce all communications to or from the South County Oversight Group.

I recently friended Ms. Ray and asked a few innocent questions on her Facebook page. I thought perhaps she would care to give a little more information on why she turned a blind eye on the Sanitation District Issue. Ms. Ray responded by deleting my question, “unfriending” me and “blocking” me from her Facebook page. I guess that’s one more name I can add to my list of “never vote for these people because they’re untrustworthy.”

I don’t think I’d vote for anybody on that list, (and I certainly wouldn’t vote for anybody who continues to support and defend John Wallace) but that’s just my opinion.

Casandra Appleton is a resident of Grover Beach and a tax paying homeowner.


18 Comments

  1. falconbh says:

    With the middle class virtually destroyed by the great recession the voters just do not have many options left. They must vote No on Tax and Rate Increases. Things have changed, wealth and security have been destroyed. Most of us could not afford to purchase the homes we now live in, our lives have been and continue to change.
    We want to support our communities, schools, and public employees.

    However it becomes very difficult to support excessive salaries, luxury benefit packages, and early retirements. For those of us who will retire on social security, have seen our jobs and salaries, either reduced or eliminated, purchase our health insurance from an exchange, and retirement is just a dream.

    When we see elected leaders telling us they want more Tax Increases to fund these items it just reminds us out of touch the City Councils, City Managers, Water Districts, School Districts, Sanitation Districts, and Cuesta College have become in this new economic era.

    Vote NO on Tax and Rate Increases In November.
    Vote No on all those leaders who supported automatic Water and Sanitation Rate Increases.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  2. doggin says:

    Cassandra, your opinion is not entirely correct in that Nichols was mailed a letter generated by the plants staff expressing concerns. One of the plants staff at the time told the others he believed Nichols would lend a open ear and help, where they ever mislead. Nichols arrived at the plant shortly after he received the letter and discussed the concerns with the former CPO. From there Wallace was brought up to speed and the head hunting began. Perhaps you should ask the former CPO why in the name of God did he turn his back on his staff when they themselves supposedly witnessed Wallace corner and threaten your husband with termination if he didn’t shut up about Wallace’s malfeasance. Strength in numbers, and working together the truth would have been exposed by all of the staff, with the exception of one back stabbing ass kisser who thought doing so would get him more money that is. Its a damn shame to this day the public is still paying for Wallace and his mess and the District lost some good employees.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

    • TheNekkidTruth says:

      I don’t know who doggin is, but if memory serves me correctly, Ms. Appleton was married to the plant superintendent. Perhaps she has “inside” information that other people don’t have. Of perhaps doggin used to work at the plant?
      Perhaps doggin was the shift supervisor who was eventually canned for workplace violence after he launched a screwdriver at the Hispanic janitor? (the shift supervisor was eventually FORCED to take “anger management” classes. Better hope it works cause that dude is DANGEROUS.)
      Or perhaps doggin is the Lab Tech who got canned when she got having sex with violent, mentally unstable shift supervisor who hated all minorities?
      Perhaps Ms. Appleton knows about certified letters that the rest of the Staff never knew about and knows how hard the plant superintendent fought to protect the staff members who were loyal to him, not just the ones who were trying to deflect attention away from their wrongdoings?
      Perhaps Ms.Appleton knows that the former District Administrator made ongoing and continous threats to the plant superintendent about “you don’t want to lose your health insurance, especially when you’ve just learned that your young son has a fatal, incurable disease”.
      Perhaps the Staff members who wrote the letter to Nicolls only did so after working at the District for years and years and only decided to make a commotion after they were found guilty of sexual harassment in the workplace and only then did they decided “it’s time to make a stand! (so hopefully everybody will forget about the things they did?)
      Perhaps anyone who want’s to claim to have “insider information” should be man enough to put their name on postings when they want to bash Ms. Appleton.
      But that’s just my opinion.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

      • doggin says:

        No offense intended to Cassandra if your suggesting it was my response that was offensive, although I fail to see where. Your question of who’s who left out one remaining possibility and that is that the poster in question is still employed at the sewer plant, you just never know do you ;) You comment about the CPO’s son and a fatal illness is terrible news, however does answer why he refused to stand up to the corrupt politics. He was in fear of losing his insurance, you indicated that yourself. Sounds like quite the rowdy bunch there. Attacking a employee with a screw driver? Would there not be a police record for such a attack with a potentially deadly weapon?Based off court documents,links and other postings, names were located to do some investigative research. I struck out locating anything on the multitude of websites that provide such services as criminal back grounds using the former Shift Supervisors or lab persons name. The lab person in fact has quite the track record of professional achievements as well as now being employed with a District attorneys office and going to law school herself. I did find an individual, similar in name as the former CPO, residing in Grover Beach no less, with allegations of assault, battery, domestic violence, one assault involving a on duty peace officer, multiple lawsuits. I was also told a rumor of being escorted our of an interview after he became hostile and very irrational in behavior. SWRCB charges to the District indicated he was also reprimanded for lying to state investigators, falsifying documents and attempting to shift the blame of his wrong doing to other of the staff. This done in light of the documents having his signature on them proving he was not being forthcoming. Wow, somebody needs to man up for sure. Similar charges were brought against another employee who was temporarily placed into the Shift Supervisors position after the others removal. it was found he too was falsifying documents and hiring non certified temps as operators.There was also documents related to OSHA violation in the safety category. Good thing nobody has been killed there as of yet, wheres the SEIU when you need them huh? I suspect he was terminated as well. Good thing they all had there day including Wallace. Looks as if he tried to hide that one by paying off the media and telling us he resigned, although numerous sources use the term “replaced” for questionable practices. We are fortunate to have Mr. Clemons on board who has cleaned up the mess.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

        • casappleton says:

          My name is casandra Appleton. who is doggin?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

        • kettle says:

          What?

          doggin says:” I was also told a rumor” “I did find an individual, similar in name” “I suspect”

          So anonymous comments, rumor’s, implied crimes and not a single link.

          You are not helping.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  3. dogeatdog says:

    I am so glad you mentioned Tony Ferrera and Caren Ray, surf riders brought up about the spills many times at city council meetings and they would invite the council to do something. The AG city council thinks John Wallace walks on water and can do no harm. I wish we had anyone running against Tony Ferrara as Mayor but everyone knows it will be a mud bath and so they don’t throw their hats in the ring.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 4

  4. Mike Byrd says:

    What is the status of the levied fine? I recall there being a concern about lapsed insurance at the time of the spill. The district was or was not covered?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

    • Julie says:

      As of May 28: “The District has appealed the levy of the fine to the State Water Board. The appeal stays the levy and consequently no money is due now.”
      Amy Simpson, SSLOCSD, Bookkeeper/Secretary

      The State has not chosen to hear the appeal, IF they do, they have the ability hear the matter all over again and the district could negotiate a settlement. The district chose NOT to settle prior to the September 2012 ACL hearings and spent nearly $750,000 defending themselves from a fine that could have been settled for a fraction of the cost of the legal bills.

      Mr. Wallace’s insurance as Administrator had been removed from the policy in 2009 by the insurance company, “without his knowledge.” Apparently he had renewed the policy automatically without checking its changes and did not know he was no longer covered until they tried to make a claim.

      The district is still covering his legal costs out of pocket. The district has retained special counsel from Andre, Morrisey and Buttery to defend Wallace from the suits filed by island neighbors against Wallace/Wallace Group. (These invoices are paid out nearly every month on the warrant register) But of course, they hired outside counsel to defend the district, too. The district also paid Wallace Group to help compile the record for the ACL hearing and paid for their expert witness from the Wallace Group to testify.

      Wallace got paid coming and going.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  5. falconbh says:

    November- We just need to elect some public leaders who will provide tax and rate relief in the next election.

    1. Sales Tax Increases-SLO-Pismo Beach-Atascadero
    2. Sanitation Mismanagement Bailout and State Fines + Legal Costs= Increase
    3. Luxury School Tax
    4. Cuesta College Buildings Tax
    5. Water Rate Increases
    6. Five Cities Fire Cost Savings Increase
    7. Sewer Tax Increases
    8. Property Tax Increases
    9. Rental Increases [all the above]
    10. State Retirement [CalPERS] Increased Tax Contributions For Cities and Districts
    11. Road Tax
    12 Federal Gas Tax Increase

    How many New Tax & Rate Increases Can YOU Afford $$$$$$$ ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 5

    • Julie says:

      The San Dist has hired Bartle Wells & Assoc. to do a rate study in order to estimate how high the rates must be raised to cover the next ten years of repairs, maintenance, expansion, upgrades and the fine for a total well over $10M. This rate increase is anticipated to go before the ratepayers (in a 218 protest process) sometime this year. It takes 50% + 1 of the ratepayers to make written protests to defeat the increase. This is a very high bar for the public to meet. The tri-communities would have to be very organized in order to defeat the proposal. With everything else on the upcoming November ballot; the ratepayers may be distracted from this issue. Hold your elected’s feet to the fire.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

      • falconbh says:

        We all know, that with a few exceptions in the state, it is impossible to win a 218 Protest Vote Election !

        What we can do is Elect City Council members in November who will reject Rate Increases for South County Sanitation District and the Oceano Community Services District.

        Just reading about these Two Districts will hopefully bring New Candidates and Motivated Voters that will bring fairness, integrity, and change back to the Democratic Process.

        Make a difference; Vote and Run For Office- Support Candidates who support Tax and Rate Relief.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. Kevin Rice says:

    Ms. Appleton— two things:

    (1) It would be nice if you provided the documents for us to view.

    (2) FOIA is a federal law which doesn’t apply to local agencies. You mean to write, “California Public Records Act” (CPRA), which is found at Government Code section 6250, et al:

    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=gov&group=06001-07000&file=6250-6270

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 6

Leave a Comment