Open letter to San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisor’s Chairman Bruce Gibson

July 23, 2014
Julie Tacker

Julie Tacker

OPINION By JULIE TACKER

Dear Supervisor Gibson,

Today, during my three minute public comment (for Items not on the agenda) and before you rudely interrupted me, I had intended to bring attention to the campaign season buzz words; “water” and “jobs”.

After suggesting that the county had a “water specialist” in former county Public Works Director, Paavo Ogren, whose $250,000 salary and benefit package at the Oceano Community Services District (OCSD) was setting precedent, I was chided for discussing items “outside the purview of the Board of Supervisors.”

My point, had I been allowed to make it, was that Ogren’s salary in his new job as general manager OCSD affects the county overall. But, you wouldn’t allow that parallel to be made, forcing me to make it here, in this open letter for the benefit of all.

Evidence of the rising salary trend among community services district general managers’ is apparent. The recent $14,000 raise to Nipomo Community Services District General Manager Michael LeBrun, makes him the second highest paid district general manager in the county.

Why does it matter to the county? Who does it hurt? The Ogren salary, with benefits, equates to $1,000 a day. This slap-in-the-face salary hurts the hard working loyal OCSD staff, including Five Cities Fire Authority firefighters, who have foregone raises and cost of living increases to enable the suffering district and fire authority to limp along. Persevering through management abuses and board missteps for nearly a decade the OCSD continues to decline. Moreover, it’s the Oceano ratepayer — the District 4 constituent — who also pays county property tax. This is where county purview comes in.

Funds to pay Ogren’s salary come primarily from OCSD water and sewer fees and then a fraction comes from property tax associated with the fire and lighting budgets. These funds spent on Ogren, prevent the district from providing cost effective services and long overdue infrastructure repairs.

Some 25,000 District 4 residents in Arroyo Grande and Oceano are affected by rising rates. The recent defeat of a fire assessment indicates these ratepayers are strapped. OCSD Board members are on record admitting rate increases are imminent and Arroyo Grande just completed a round of water rate increases. These are the same ratepayers starring at sewer rate increases to cover improvements at the wastewater treatment facility and the state’s $1.1 million fine levied against the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District.

Longtime Oceano residents argue that had the county public works staff, under the direction of Ogren, opened the flap gates of Meadow Creek on that fateful day in Dec. 2010; the 300,000 gallons of untreated sewage may not have spilled into their neighbors’ homes. The county is liable today, as no physical changes have taken place to prevent future flooding leaving the community, especially the “Island” neighborhood and the Sanitation District vulnerable to floodwaters again.

District 4, including the Nipomo boundaries, suffers some of the highest unemployment rates in the county. To give high paying jobs to just a few takes jobs away from others.

Ogren said it best in his parting speech on June 17, “Strong communities makes for strong counties.”

I don’t see District 4 being strong anytime soon. Beat down by higher rates does not instill confidence; it raises the level of expectations. We should hold everyone from the chair of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to the water meter reader accountable for safe services and reliable supplies of water, sewer, street lights, road maintenance, transit, flood control, health and human services.

The ripple effect of liabilities left by Ogren at the county will add to the cost of basic services is in the county’s purview. If you don’t see it that way, perhaps you should spend some time in District 4 and observe a very different perspective than the rose colored glasses you look through from the 4th floor of the county government center.


16 Comments

  1. falconbh says:

    Julie, last year the County-Oceano CSD put together a very detailed “revitalization master plan” for Oceano.

    I have been waiting for a one year progress report on what has been accomplished by the County and the Oceano CSD on the plan.

    Where is our County Supervisor[s] and OCSD Directors on this very important issue ?

    Vote For Change In November.

    *Still Want To Draft Bill S. for the OCSD. August 8 deadline.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  2. fishing village says:

    Julie, you aren’t in charge of what goes on at the Supervisor’s meetings, If you just follow the rules you get your time to speak (and you use it over and over again) so, what’s the problem? The Sheriff’s office always sends a deputy there….unfortunately as I think he has better things to do than listen to public comment by disgruntled Los Osos people saying the same thing over and over again. But, you all get your time! Whining when you don’t get your way doesn’t help the world. Give us a break! okay

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 10

  3. Pelican1 says:

    If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,
    It’s just a spring clean for the anti-sewer queen.
    Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
    There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
    And it makes me wonder……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

  4. MaryMalone says:

    Really? Gibson had to resort to police intimidation? How impotent is he, anyway?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 11

    • nurse1 says:

      Just watched Julie Tacker speak at the supervisor meeting. Ms. Tacker you deserve an AWARD!!!!!! Gibson is clearly a big ARROGANT JACKASS!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 29 Thumb down 12

  5. Pelican1 says:

    After a decade of embarrassing one’s self, why quit now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 13

  6. JB Bronson says:

    It is too easy to call Gibson an arrogant prick. It also wouldn’t be comprehensive enough.

    Gibson hasn’t figured out it is more effective for him, to let people have their 3 minutes and move on. Instead, he tries to shut people up, under the guise of “following the rules” which he does selectively at best, and thereby magnifying the discussion he was trying to stiffle.

    We may not agree with Meecham, Arnold or Ray’s method of doing their job, but between Gibson and Hill, what an embarrassment.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 76 Thumb down 14

  7. falconbh says:

    Are the residents of Oceano CSD still in the County ?

    I would certainly hope that the residents, county supervisors, LAFCO, state, and even the federal government should all be concerned about what is happening in the Oceano Community Services District.

    Deficit Spending, Having To Take Loans To Pay Bills, all during a period of Water Rate Increases, and Property Tax Increases is certainly a Red Flag for those giving fiscal oversight. The District is Bankrupt!

    Where is the County Grand Jury ? Where is the District Supervisors ? Where is the County District Attorney, Where is the State Legislative Audit ? Where is the Justice Department ?

    When we see Automatic Water and Sanitation Increases yearly without any plan or attempt to provide Tax/Rate Relief, we should all be concerned.[ Reminds me of the attitude before Prop 13]

    Unsustainable Salaries, Luxury Benefits, and Bankrupting Early Retirements need to be addressed at all levels of government. The number# of Tax Increases on the November Ballot has all voters concerned.

    We need some real leaders who will get spending and budgets under control.

    Recently, when employees and retirees voted to cut their pensions and eliminate cost of living increases in Detroit, a trend we will find increasing across the country, I thought one of the most profound statements was ” employees have to realize they work for the people and they are not guaranteed a job.”

    Lets make changes now, so we can keep our promises in the future. We need to work together and bring fiscal balance back into our budgets.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 49 Thumb down 9

  8. Pelican1 says:

    A recipe for perpetual ignorance is being satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 34

    • pasodowny says:

      The only recipe you desire is for Gibson Kool-aid. You have the key ingredient, ignorance, in abundance. Stir it up, drink deeply and amble on in your stupor. SLO County suffers every day Bruce remains supervisor.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 48 Thumb down 16

  9. Ben Daho says:

    I’ve been scratching my head wondering how this county can just allow ANYTHING that smells this rotten to just go unchecked. Is This King City? The city of Slo that hires family “that’s just how we do it” the board member of the OLD when asked why she didn’t pay taxes on her property replied “if you audit me, you have to audit everyone” boom. Silence. Geebus Christosh this is absurd.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 76 Thumb down 15

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