UPDATE: Employees accused of pilfering county vehicles

June 19, 2009


Randy Ghezzi and Max Keller remain on paid administrative leave while the San Luis Obispo County Human Resources Department investigates allegations the pair pirated county equipment, sources said.

According to multiple sources, road crew supervisor Keller was caught using county equipment for his own use over a weekend. Keller allegedly commandeered a county truck to transport wood, previously cut with the use of county equipment, to a relative’s home to be offered for sale.

“If you’re going to be running a scam like this make sure everyone is getting a cut,” said a source who has asked to remain anonymous.

Road Maintenance and Operations Manager Ghezzi allegedly approved the for-profit use of county equipment. His supervisor, Public Works Director Paavo Ogren, said he has been instructed by County Counsel not to discuss the reasons he placed the pair on paid administrative leave.

According to a June 10 CalCoastNews’ article, Ghezzi threatened to go after employees who divulged to the press he is on paid administrative leave.


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Member Opinions:

By: honest1 on 7/18/09

Kudos to Karen on the ongoing truthful revelations.(Please feel free to “borrow” a backhoe to dig deeper!)

By: starvingmexican on 7/1/09

What’s wrong with selling wood?

By: InTheKnow on 6/28/09

Paperboy, RE: your post 6/23 re: identity of sources, I agree with Scarlet.

The identity of a “source” could be life threatening. The information is given “confidentially” which means “in secrecy, private”. Information given by sources could contain “certain information whose unauthorized disclosure would be prejudicial to national, interest”. That’s from “Websters thesaures”. This is just little old San Luis Obispo County but this is big! No, to give up a sources identity would stop many from giving the information out of fear of reprisal.

We, the people have been pilfered by these “men” (and maybe a couple of “women”) the year” who were wolves in sheeps clothing. They were on the take and planning for years how to become rich off of the rest of us.When the time was right they grabbed the money and ran.

This will affect many directly and indirectly for many years to come.

As for the county worker who was caught using company trucks for personal gain, shame on them ,of course it is done, but it’s not OK. At the very least he misused his authority.

By: Use_it_or_Lose_it on 6/25/09

Hiya Karen- I’ll bet you never thought your efforts would be a launching pad for the finer points of grammar and the polishing of our vocabulary. Good on ya!

Now let’s all take on employees who steal by arriving late, leaving early, taking breaks and more breaks, and surfing the net for hours each week.

We are paying their wages AND their retirement and health and vision and dental and vacation.

My opinion in these hard times? Fire them. Plenty of people would be grateful for such a job and might actually want to do it well.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/24/09

Small town and small business owner, I can’t risk posting name. Really wish I could but I am to much of a wimp to risk it.

By: rogerfreberg on 6/24/09

oh, we’re a little off track here.

These guys did wrong and it is a big whoop.

But since someone let the TROLL out… local newspapers?, pleEeease ..

So, thank you Karen and company for providing a forum, the courage to do real investigative journalism and a brave voice to all of us.

Roger Freberg

PS. btw, it feels good to sign your name to your posts… try it.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/23/09

Paperboy mentions about the man getting reprimanded but not fired.

That has been my point. This will be a warning or firing but no jail here.

Good post Paperboy.

By: Scarlet on 6/23/09

Hey paperboy. I was one of the sources for the engineering dean story and I can tell you that I met with Karen and about 10 others in just one of many sit downs. Every one of us had something big to lose: our jobs, our livelihoods. It wasn’t a crock to any of us that Noori held all the cards – tenure or not. He wrote our evaluations and his cronies scheduled our classes. Don’t think for a minute that the few folks who did stand up didn’t suffer consequences on campus. Noori is still bad news, but – then again – we end up back at the “public trough” conversation.

By: paperboy on 6/23/09

The same thing happened to a guy with the Los Osos CSD several months ago. He borrowed a backhoe to do some work at his house on a weekend and a neighbor turned him in. He was reprimanded but not fired. The CSD board didn’t renew his employment contract so he’s now gone but not for backhoe-gate.

He WAS the department supervisor and didn’t clear it with his boss — the CSD general manager.

The LOCSD didn’t have a policy in place about this sort of thing, so the case prompted them to write and adopt one. The employee had a letter of reprimand put in his file (big whoop).

Seems a trivial thing to get fired over, but it is a breach of ethics and the use of public property for private gain is illegal, and it exposes the agency to potential liability should there be an accident.

And as much as I enjoy this web site, I have to agree with WISEGUY, Karen does use loaded words, and too many unnamed sources. I’ve been a reporter for 17 years and written tens of thousands of stories. In all that time I can think of just once having to give a source anonymity to protect their identity, and that was for her personal safety.

I’ve had lots of people tell me information ”off the record” and I tell them OK, but I’m going to take that information and get someone else to verify it on the record. That’s how I was taught in J-school. Get information off the record but get it verified so you can use it and still protect your source. Things have changed now.

Today, reporters in general cite anonymous sources all the time, to the point where it sounds like BS, especially the more outrageous the comments or accusations.

For years the little secret around the White House press corps was that absent any official information, the reporters would interview each other and then use the quotes under the guise, ”a source close to the White House says…”

Karen often claims to have spoken with dozens of sources for stories (the Cal Poly engineering dean comes to mind) yet she could not find one person who would go on the record? That’s a crock.

And the stories on this web site have a conspiracy theory feel to them which I find a little uneasy.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/23/09

Unions and civil service are two big back breakers. Yea try to get rid of a tenured teacher. Better chance of walking on water.

No I am not talking about layed off teachers, I am talking about getting rid of a teacher for an offence that might be a firing offence, in the private sector.

Or civil service. Ever try to get rid of a postal employee? Good luck.

There are numerous waste in the system. I don’t blame the employees. They are just doing what the lazy voters of this state have allowed. They vote for more bonds, more taxes, more this, more that but I don’t blame the worker. They are just taking what is for the taking.

We the people need to vote this out. Try and challenge the powerful lobbies. Have them stop creating more and more of these over compensated Government jobs.

Whats the diffence between a private job and a Government job? The private is a maker (of goods etc), the Government is a taker (they make nothing).

Again I am not blaming the workers. We are all to blame for letting it get to this point.

By: WILLPOWER on 6/23/09

The fact is that services don’t need to be reduced at all. But they do need to be outsourced! Outsourcing can save State and local governments at least 40% on all in house costs with no reduction is services.

In fact where these services have been out sourced service has increased due to competition…The same competition Obama is talking about in health care…so it can’t be bad right?

Outsourced services don’t carry the high retirement costs, sick leave costs, and a gravy train gold plated healthcare program.

What will keep them competitive and keep a high level of service is that they want complaints to be at zero. Therefore they will go above and beyond to help the people they serve.

They can also “turn” employees in order to keep pay rates down so they can get the contract in future years. (maybe they could even employ those poor illegal aliens and help get them off welfare!) After all…what is the goal? To best serve the public tax payers at the lowest cost or mollycoddle public trough feeders so they can retire on 90% of what they make for life? If you are confused by this question just look where you shop…the lowest cost for the same products wins in this man’s America every time!

The same goes for school vouchers. Liberals fear them because they know they will work and it will be the end to the teachers unions that have ruined American education.

It’s not rocket science folks. Competition is good and the tax trough needs a good dose of competition post haste!

By: rogerfreberg on 6/23/09

When the economy turns south, everyone begins to look at problems more realistically. Things overlooked in the past are now visible and we have to decide whether or not we want to see ‘business done as usual’ in our local governments.

Clearly, the county has become a bit ‘edgy’ with the fiscal pressure and they will be looking for every way to maintain or increase their income stream to maintain their lifestyles on the backs of you and me.

For example, I am always amused how we get our tax notices that state ‘by law… they have to raise our property taxes each year’. In truth this is not true… THEY are ALLOWED by law to raise our property evaluation 2% each year… but not required as they state.

Many state employees will be receiving ‘fur lows’ of 2 days without pay a month… but my guess the taxes folks will pay will be on the larger amount. Let’s see if this doesn’t happen.

Lastly, the bureaucracy will be maintained and the services will be reduced… but that doesn’t have to happen. For example, Cal Poly’s administration is huge… why not get some real use from them by putting them in the classrooms ( many have Ph.D.’s). Why hasn’t the CSU thought about having one administration oversee several schools… we are in a computer age… consolidation has worked in the private sector in times like these.

The interesting thing we all have to get our heads around is that our local and state governments are less interested in delivering services than in perpetuating the top jobs… or using state equipment and selling wood on the side.

Since some folks like quotes… here’s one that I think best speaks to this issue:

Honesty is not so

much a credit as an

absolute prerequisite

to efficient service

to the public. Unless

a man is honest, we

have no right to keep

him in public life; it

matters not how

brilliant his capacity

Theodore Roosevelt

Roger Freberg

By: getreel on 6/23/09

And you will be the first to complain about lack of services…

By: WILLPOWER on 6/23/09

Seems a nerve has been hit. Good. Tax troughers need to be awakened from their delusion. Especially now that the tax trough is all dried up. The Troughers can’t stand that California’s voters told them NO MORE MONEY!

Huge layofffs on their way…big time! Pensions cancelled, troughers fired and agencies closed, unions busted.

Let’s see how they deal with a tough dose of reality. I am sure the ones left will be much more humble and grateful.

By: getreel on 6/23/09

The truth is never far behind a moron. Slop is the appropriate word.

You need a butler, or a shrink better yet.

Your anti-government rant show everyone your fanatic attitude and mob mentality.

So, I guess you are the only one that works hard? And because of that, I serve you?

You are more than confused. I work for “the people” and work hard, thank you.

And I appreciate my job I have AND those I work for. I am not a slave to them.

These 2 screwed up and need to be held accountable. Beyond that you are merely making a jackass of yourself.

By: WILLPOWER on 6/23/09

A google search produced this result:

” Results 1 – 10 of about 1,170,000 for tax trough”

Wow! 1.7 million pages that mention “Tax Trough”. Seems a lot of people like to “throw around” that phrase. As they should, especially in the case of 2 cocky troughers that think the public’s property is for thier own personal use.

If they had out sourced these services (which they should) and the same thing happened somebody would be in the unemployment line today. It’s high time we all started holding these “Tax throughers” accountable. After all, it’s our slop they are piggishly gobbling up! Funny thing is, that when you remind them of that they throw some teeneage-like self righteous attitude.

Try a little humilty and say Thank you once in while. I work hard so you can get paid to serve me. Never forget that!

By: getreel on 6/23/09

You made my point BTDT…

In a world of unions and “employee rights” you better make sure that you cover your bases.

Speculation makes the facts murky and people start to clam up. Better to investigate, get it right and then go for the fullest extent to which you can punish.

If you go in with a hang em’ high attitude, you run the risk of blowing the whole thing.

And no, I don’t think this is how things should be, it is how they are. You can go with torches and pitch forks. Or do it armed with the facts and make it a slam dunk.

I thinks it it’s BS that paid leave is in effect. It’s really “unearned time” as far as I am concerned.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/23/09

Devil’s advocate on the last and trouble they are in. A little reach here for an example but I have watched news out of L.A. for a lot of years.

I have seen in almost every officer involved shooting that they pull someone to desk or paid leave while they investigate.

In the majority they have been found to be in the right.

In this case the point I am making is, is it possible that someone has brought up the question of improprity (obviously) and as a policy you have to put them on leave while you investigate?

This doesn’t mean a question of guilt. It means a question of investigating wether there is guilt.

By: Myself on 6/22/09

Getreel, that is the way Gezzi and Keller operate, they think they don’t need to answer to anybody, I don’t know where you think your wages come from if it isn’t from the taxpayer, I’d like to get in on some of that free money also.

And don’t the rest of you think that useing a pickup for delivering wood is not quite enough for the trouble these guys seem to be in, my guess is there is quite a bit more to this story.

By: getreel on 6/22/09

Here’s an idea! You get hired and become his supervisor and you can make the decision to fire him! Otherwise allow the established policies (that again, were adopted by officials that you- that pays every bodies salary-voted for) to deal with this individual and his breach of said policies. Maybe it will be suspension, demotion or termination. But again, it ain’t up to you.

I love people who throw around the “public trough” comments. They always need to blame someone for how pissed off they are, so they choose an easy target.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/22/09

WillPower. I do agree with you and the public waste. I remember back in the early 80’s taking a Polysy. class at Cuesta. We talked about the fact that at that time, the state legislature would spend enourmous amounts of money (taxpayer) on snacks, fast food, etc. brought to them in chambers.

The amount at the time? 4 million dollars a year! God only knows what it could or has grown to over the years. If anyone doubts this research it. I have read in mags. over the years, again talking of this issue.

That………. is disgusting.

By: WILLPOWER on 6/22/09

R.H.I.P = Rank Has It’s Price.

Randy was the boss, he knew what was at stake yet felt he was above the law. That’s the worst kind of criminal.

In any case his rank has it’s price and in this case it will be termination or radical demotion. The BOS has to send a message. On the other hand he has to deal with the DA on the legal issue of theft (grand theft) and that may come out a whole lot different than you or he would like. Power to the people!

PS: If you are feeding at the public tax trough then yep…you work for me and the rest of the public you serve. If you disagree, then it is that mentality that makes some think they are “owed” the truck for the weekend regardless of the rules. Sad day in America whe folks forget for whom they work.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/22/09

We need an update on the financial mess. This is about played out. :-)

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/22/09

Thanks Reel for keeping it Real. I respect his opinion, even though he and I will have to disagree. He thinks his is right. I mine.

I follow cases in the paper, magazines, news, etc. for years. I see people go to jail for little shit. I see people get away with big shit.

Could go either way. I believe in the end it will be a warning. Just my opinion.

Yes my point was and is, is that in a case of boses over employees, Judges over cases, etc. it will be based on what that individual feels the punishment shall be for the offence. That is what can make it go either way regardless of the written law.

I think anyone thinking that they will put Randy away for this, when he has no priors and this is so petty, is out of their mind. Again. Just my opinion.

By: getreel on 6/22/09

As a 20 year employee of County government I will say that there are personnel policies in place that could lead up to and including termination. However the typical progressive discipline policy would be up to the particular Department head, again based on policy.

These policies are approved and adopted by the BOS. If you don’t like the policies, see your Supervisor or vote them out of office.

WILLPOWER is absurd. If you think people like me work for you, send me your address and I will send you $1.59, your share of my salary.

And my pension isn’t even close to most cities, the state or the feds so shut your pie hole.

By: WILLPOWER on 6/22/09

First, intent doesn’t matter in a court of law. If you robbed a bank with intentions of getting your old granny some heart medication…you still robbed a bank.


Both men (that we know of now) we in management. Ghezzi was the Operations Manager and would know every rule and infraction there in.


”Private companies” is a totally different ball game. Taking the “company” truck, “It happens EVERYDAY”, or until that pick up hits and hurts someone (God forbid kill someone). The lawsuits would be so heavy the plaintiff would own the company. No small business owner I know loans company property or truck to employees on weekends because of the legal risks involved. (Poorly made point)


”Is it right. No, but unless we want to start firing all kinds of people, we have to decide on how big of infractions do we go after people for.”

I am amazed that you are in any way confused. We charge to the fullest extent of the law any crime committed, period. The County must answer with terminations post haste.

(As you may know a Marijuana pusher from Moro bay was just sentenced to prison for 5 felony federal charges…even though it wasn’t against State law.) And that is how it should be.

These clowns should be tried to the fullest extent of the law and then fired. They work for me, and the rest of “We the People”. Never ever forget that!

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/22/09

Again this is an infraction. Try them in criminal court with more money?? I wouldn’t want to waste my money on that, on something like this.

Maybe we should stick thumbtacks under their fingernails?

I say let the punishment fit the crime. This is a misdermeaner at best and not worth wasting time on.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/22/09

Well like a lawyer would do let’s move back into that gray area. Again. What was the intent here?? We don’t know. That will help when it comes out, to decide the case.

I do not know their intent, nor does anyone else here. We can only surmise.

As far as the law I could see with an individual but in a work situation the arguement can be made as I said earlier.

Was it wood that was available free?

Was it a case of sure use the truck but I don’t want to know about it.

I know of people that work for private companies that will use a work p/u. The boss will say I don’t want to know to cover his butt, but the person with access will use and replace gas. It happens EVERYDAY.

Is it right. No, but unless we want to start firing all kinds of people, we have to decide on how big of infractions do we go after people for.

By: WILLPOWER on 6/22/09

I agree 100%! These clowns need to be fired and then tried in criminal court! No more of this type of BS from the tax trough feeders! That party is over. The people have spoken.

By: WazzUp on 6/22/09

The law is black and white: 484. (a) Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall

fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, is guilty of theft.

But the real issue is intent. Prosecute, “No”. Terminate or discipline, “Yes”.

By: WILLPOWER on 6/22/09

CCN is fine just the way it is. It will seek it’s own course over time. The last thing we need are jealous out of work wanna-bees trying to take control. I like things the way they are. Perfect? no…Cutting edge? HELL YES!

Keep up the good work. We would all love more details on this article as soon as you get them.

By: R.Hodin on 6/22/09

Perhaps WiseGuy would offer his/her impeccable editorial guidance to CalCoastNews in the most effective manner — by volunteering his services to Karen, gratis. That way we could enjoy the fruits of the association in the articles, without the need to suffer the pedantry of the “wise guy” posts?

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/22/09

Thanks for the reply Myself.

I don’t know (figure they will investigate to find out) but if somehow this wood that was cut was out in the eastern part of county. It was going to be transported back to the yard in SLO and that this place the wood went was on the way.

Someone asked for and someone got the idea, hey what is the big deal if we do this after hours on the weekend. That way we are only using the truck and no man hours.

Also figuring hey they had to pickup wood anyway to bring back.

Not thinking it was a big deal but then find out that you should not have. Then that is why we are where we are and they are trying to sort out??

Just throwing out ideas as to maybe how this could have gone down.

By: Cindy on 6/22/09

I’m back to see what WiseGuy is going to do and or say next! I don’t know what he was high on yesterday but I’m still LMAO. For those of you who missed his (now deleted by George) post to WILLPOWER – well lets just say that he completely lost it! Wish I would have copied it so that I could share some excerpts. Somethings just shouldn’t be deleted, it deprives us of insight into how crazy some people really are.

By: WILLPOWER on 6/22/09

Amen friend!

By: Afriendindeed on 6/22/09

Wiseguy: Aren’t you the same joker who refused to resign from the Gazette newspapers when the truth came out about David Weyrich? Didn’t you used to be an editor at one of those crappy Weyrich papers?

If so, then shut your yap. You have NO right to criticize ANY reporting.

By: Myself on 6/22/09

Gennerally, what the tree crew does is cut the wood into manageable pieces and then leaves it by the side of the road the public takes care of the rest, the limbs and shrubs get chipped and piled at the county yard free for the taking, so if wood needs to be removed it would/should go to the county yard to be delt with from there, but I would imagine you would use your personal pickup for that not a county unit.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/21/09

Well then that brings me to my next question. For all the county roads we have and the trees that must fall here and there on them in a given year, what does the county do with the wood??

Does it sit in a county yard? Is it disposed of? Given away? Does anyone know an answer??

By: rogerfreberg on 6/21/09

… and maybe ‘everybody does it’ and we really shouldn’t be so shocked… ooou… maybe, if this is so common a practice then an actual procedure would be written down somewhere?

I think not, Katesh

Roger Freberg

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/21/09

P.S. Last should be Outloud. Not load. That could be confusing, given the story. ;-)

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/21/09

Just thinking outload. Is it possible that the previously cut wood was a downed tree (or trees) that the county was looking to dispose of? (Hence why county equipment would have been used to cut up)

Is it possible that someone then said, “hey can I have the wood.” Then the county instead of driving the wood to a disposal site, dropped off at said place?

Doing this figuring they don’t spend money to dispose of but also don’t charge or make money. They figure a wash?

I know that back in the early 90’s in Cambria during the freak windstorm (clocked at over 80 mph if memory serves) numerous trees where downed and I believe the county got rid of wood in this exact manner?

They do this in construction where people come and ask for scrap lumber all the time. It saves money transporting, handling and disposing in landfill. So again maybe county (Randy and others) where trying to save this??

Just wondering.

By: rogerfreberg on 6/21/09

In these troubled economic times, there is an easy solution and it’s called ‘accountability.’ Isn’t it time that the country re-examine whether or not county vehicles, county credit cards and such fit into our new economy?

In olden days, we used what was called ‘zero cost budgeting’… this meant that we started at the basics and justified the cost of everything we do.For example, volunteers or appointees need not be compensated. We’ve seen economic downturns in the private sector… this is going to be the first one to hit the public sector.

I hope the politicos don’t think this is a ‘temporary’ economic situation that can be weathered or certain ‘revenue enhancements’ put in place to ‘mitigate’ the budget.

BTW, planning for change today is better than facing drastic changes down the road.

good luck,

Roger Freberg

By: George on 6/21/09

Timeout. don’t feed the troll.

By: Cindy on 6/21/09

Somebody give WiseGuy a Valium.

This guy needs an editor. LMAO!

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/21/09

WOW. I got mine deleted a couple days ago and never even used language like this. ;-)

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/21/09

Well I guess the county heads will sort out what happened here and then we might get to the bottom of this.

That or half the people at the top in the county, are going to be home on paid leave. ;-)

By: Cindy on 6/21/09

To RatPartrol 1967

I HEAR YOU. Just the way your saying what your saying I find credibility in your words. These long time county workers act just like “some LEO” do. They are untouchable. Maybe there is a silver lining in this cloud of financial depression. Its time to ferret out the long time sapra/para sites

By: WILLPOWER on 6/21/09

shhhhh wiseguy…give it rest.

By: RatPatrol1967 on 6/21/09

Approx. 2 years ago, on a Friday after work, I was driving home on Creston Road heading towards Hwy.58 when a county truck came flying up behind me, as I was doing 65 mph. As the truck passed me over a double-yellow line with oncoming traffic, while talking on his cellphone, I reached out of my truck and flipped him off. Yes, I did! He was reckless in a county vehicle, driving illegally, and it was 6:30 p.m.-what was the rush?!? The county employee then pulled in front of me and slammed on his brakes. I layed on my horn. 50 yards ahead, at the Hwy.58-La Panza junction-we came to a stop sign. The county worker stopped his truck, jumped out, and started walking towards me in an aggressive manner. Not sure of his intentions, I drove around him and continued down Hwy. 58 west. The county truck was soon behind me, and passing again over a double yellow line to go around me. Finally, when it became clear I was writing down his license plate number, did he accelerate away to keep me from doing so. As I finally gained cellphone reception to call the C.H.P., I noticed the county employee driving up Branch Mtn. Rd. There is nothing up that road that a county employee should be maintaining during weekend hours in a county truck-so this was personal. After a few calls to the county-I found few answers. I did get a name-Randy Ghezzi. The department head I talked to said he had spoken to him and Randy knew there was a problem, and ‘probably’ wouldn’t do it again. WRONG! He leads by example. I just wonder how many have followed his lead. Time to get rid of some of these ‘senior’ employees and give the job to someone who really deserves the position and the responibility, and earns it. He’s got ‘family’ money, right? Shouldn’t hurt Randy at all then. Just call daddy.

By: Truthbeknown on 6/21/09

Without knowing all the FACTS of the incident, it’s impossible to make a judgment whether this was inappropriate behavior or not. The fact that Ghezzi and Keller were placed on administrative leave to perform an investigation indicates there is a possibility of impropriety.

As I stated earlier, the threat of retaliation to people Ghezzi supervises is the most disturbing thing to me.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/21/09

To any implying that Randy is pulling one over on his house in Templeton is absurd.

I have seen his house have you? I find it hard to believe it is 1 mil. I would guess around 800k.

I would guess build in 80’s and about 2300 sq ft. Properity is about five acres.

Now with that in mind paying 10k in properity taxes would be about right.

His family has some money. He also has invested just like other people.

I would be carefull implying what some are unless you know. I do. If you knew Randy you would not only like him but be suprised how average he is.

Also I would guess he makes a six figure income. Or high five. He has promoted up through the county over the years and now is in charge of about 88 people in the department he oversees.

Again like I said before. I don’t say look the other way but this sounds like a written warning. Not firing.

By: WiseGuy on 6/21/09

Let’s examine this story further.

Sentence three, the anonymous quote. First of all, because it is anonymous, the reader has no way of determining whether the reporter simply made up this quote to fill out a report so devoid of substance.

But let’s assume that the reporter found someone who actually said that. Why stoop to quoting an anonymous source for this? Does the quote contain vital information that would otherwise not be available to the reader? Answer: No.

Does the story give us ANY indication whether the person quoted has any special knowledge, or any knowledge at all of the alleged incident or any of the principals involved? Answer: No. This person could have been a random person hanging out at Farmer’s Market for all we know.

If a reporter can get away with using anonymous sources that may or may not have any connection to the story, it is really no problem to talk to enough people and get just about any kind of quote on the subject, and then choose the one that best fits the reporter’s motive.

What purpose does the quote serve, other than to try to make a four sentence story into five? Well, for one, it allows the reporter to add subjective, inflammatory and malicious statements into the piece. But by attributing the quote to an anonymous source, it helps the reporter give the impression that the sentiments are not hers, but someone elses.

The quote is morally ambiguous, in that we can’t tell if the speaker disapproves of the actions detailed in the story or is simply giving heartfelt advice on how he would go about doing the same actions in the hopes of not getting caught.

The quote, by including the inflammatory and likely inaccurate term “scam”, is a way to give some support to the mischaracterization of the incident in the headline.

The reporter, in other words, realizes her report is weak and on factually shaky grounds and thus goes out of her way to include an anonymous, questionable source to back up her questionable slant at the top of the story.

This is just another example of why this news story is such a horrendous display of terrible journalism.

CalCoastNews has been a showcase for shoddy journalism from the start. Fine. It’s a new venture, and SLO County could certainly use some fresh, aggressive and tenacious news outlets. And we assumed that things would tighten up as the months went on. But no, the quality is only getting worse and this latest story, in just five sentences epitomizes some of the worst sins a journalist can make.

It is shoddy, inaccurate and malicious work masquerading as community service. And what’s worse, is that mindless, uncritical readers don’t even have a clue as to how much crap they are being fed.

By: ajdury on 6/21/09

Does he have more than just the property on Frontier Way?


By: RatPatrol1967 on 6/21/09

So here’s a few questions regarding Ghezzi, how does a county employee own a $1 million house and pay just under $10k in property taxes every year? What else is he stealing? How much county equipment has he commendeered to improve his property on Frontier Way in Templeton? And if you all think that his yellow brick road ends at his million dollar house, you’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

By: RatPatrol1967 on 6/21/09

I have to agree with the use of the term “pirated” was incorrect. The term “rustled” would be more appropriate for these what to be cowboys. I have no doubt Ghezzi will get his due in the end, and it won’t be by the county. And now knowing the this dick is sitting at home, collecting a paycheck, it will make it even easier to take care of business. I guarantee that this pompous prick will not threaten anyone else, especially another man’s wife. Sleep tight Randy, I’m sure you’ll be seeing your maker very soon.

By: CitizenCane on 6/21/09

Assume that these men did allow the use of a county vehicle for non official use as described.

What would have happened had someone working in the wood hauling effort would have been injured or if the wood transporting vehicle would have been involved in a traffic accident where a 2nd or 3rd party would have been injured.

Anyone want to bet that lawsuits would be flying and guess who would be footing the bill for litigation?

Anyone think it might be the SLO County taxpayer?

If these men appropriated the vehicle for personal use as described, then discipline is warranted and corrective measures established.

All this other talk about the use of words like pilfer is smoke and mirrors aimed at steering the reader off topic.

By: Truthbeknown on 6/21/09

Since you like quotes:

“Willpower is the ability to eat one salted peanut.”

By: WILLPOWER on 6/21/09

TBK said:

“The correct use of words is essential! ”

I say:

so is the amount…

We get it. Move on.

By: Truthbeknown on 6/21/09

Velie wrote: “Randy Ghezzi and Max Keller remain on paid administrative leave while the San Luis Obispo County Human Resources Department investigates allegations the pair pirated county equipment, sources said.”

pi·rate (prt)


1.a. One who robs at sea or plunders the land from the sea without commission from a sovereign nation.

b. A ship used for this purpose.

2. One who preys on others; a plunderer.

3. One who makes use of or reproduces the work of another without authorization.

4. One that operates an unlicensed, illegal television or radio station.

v. pi·rat·ed, pi·rat·ing, pi·rates


1. To attack and rob (a ship at sea).

2. To take (something) by piracy.

3. To make use of or reproduce (another’s work) without authorization.


To act as a pirate; practice piracy.

Good job of holding the reporter’s feet to the fire, Wiseguy! So many of the bloggers here are nothing more than puppy dogs who faithfully follow their master around without questioning or testing what is written.

The correct use of words is essential!

By: WILLPOWER on 6/21/09

“We can learn much from wise words, little from wisecracks, and less from wise guys”

William Arthur Ward

“To become wise, one must “wish” to have certain experiences and run, as it were, into their gaping jaws. This, of course, is very dangerous; many a wise guy has been swallowed.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

Benjamin Franklin

By: WILLPOWER on 6/21/09

No, not at all.

By: WiseGuy on 6/20/09

You’re determined to have the last word aren’t you “WillPower”?

But I get the impression you’ve come to appreciate my point.

If you want peace, BE peace.

If you want rest, REST.

Why should I rest when I’m having so much fun? But I’m certainly not going to be waiting breathlessly “to let Karen fill us as things develop” on this incredibly over-blown story.

It seems to me Karen is going crazy with this story in response to Mr. Ghezzi having the audacity to refuse to grant her an interview to provide her with extra ammunition to cause he and his family more grief.

Yep, the message is clear: When CalCoastNews comes calling, bow down and speak…or else the entire power of this website and its rabid, gossip-monger, kick-em-when-they’re down sycophants will come down on you without mercy!

By: WILLPOWER on 6/20/09

Let’s all rest now and let Karen fill us as things develop. If there is to peace it will have to start with us.

By: WiseGuy on 6/20/09

Nice try, Clemintine. But you’re wrong again. I’ll wager you any amount you wish that neither of these two men will be prosecuted with any charges of theft of “pilfering”.

And why are you so eager to lynch these two men in the press?

As far as the few facts in this story tell us, this entire controversy has to do with a man asking to use the company truck to move a load of firewood and his boss allowing him to do so.

So I”m all “hung up” on semantics? Well, isn’t this a news site that uses WORDS to try to convey information? Is it too much to ask that the writers use as accurate and appropriate words as possible in the attempt to inform?

While we’re at it, let’s examine this story further. The writer tells us “Keller allegedly commandeered a county truck…”

“Commandeered”? Technically, that may or may not be true (especially to someone who cares little about “semantics”) but it certainly doesn’t give an accurate impression of reality.

“Comandeered” makes it sound like this was like a scene out of an action-thriller movie where the rogue culprit chases down a truck, rips open the driver side door, yanks the driver out and throws him to the ground and speeds the truck off in a cloud of dust.

Might I suggest the writer have used a simpler, shorter, more accurate word? A word known as “DROVE.”

But I have to give the reporter credit. In a story of just five sentences and a headline, she managed to give enough i hackneyed writing, misleading information, a lame and meaningless anonymous quotation, and sensationalistic over-reaching tone to give a journalism instructor a week’s worth of lecture material on what NOT to do if a reporter wants to maintain credibility for herself and the news outlet she works for.

As for “WillPower”…you “needed” to know about this “pilfering”? Yeah, right.

You didn’t “Need” to know any of it. You WANT to know about it because you enjoy gossip and having reasons to lash out at people and government to give you some illusional feeling of control. You think THIS is some big important story in the scope of things?

And you disparage ME for standing up for truth and accuracy and fairness in the media?

It seems to me what most people get out of stories like this is nothing but more fodder to gossip about, more reasons to beat up on people they hardly know regarding situations they have only the most basic facts about, leading to absolutely nothing but more grief all around.

I think the point I’ve been trying to make is at least as valuable and worthwhile as anything anyone else has written in response to this story.

By: WILLPOWER on 6/20/09

It doesn’t matter. We all get what happened and we needed to know. Thank you Karen.

The next move is to see what the county will do and what the investigation will show.

All of this bantering over a word proves so inane in the face of what is going on in our County, State and Nation.

For the sake of all, try to stay focused. Remeber, “The main thing in life is keeping the main the main thing.”

Be at peace and enjoy this beautiful weekend.

By: Clemintine on 6/20/09

Once again, Wiseguy has demonstrated an illogical argument. Wiseguy is so hung up on semantics that he can’t see the trees from the forest.

The issue here Wiseguy (I use the term loosely) is that there is an allegation that county resources were used for an employees personal reasons and beyond the scope of his employment. If these incidents were repetitive, then yes, it can be argued that pilfering (cost of vehicle fuel for instance) did take place.

Pilfer does not immediately translate to crime of petty theft as you have indicated. If the repetitive nature of the thefts exceeds a certain dollar amount then felony theft can be charged. Same goes with crimes of embezzlement.

The issue and argument here isn’t the use of a word. It is the allegation of impropriety that is of concern to the taxpayer.

Based on their posts I think that WILLPOWER and WAZZUP get it

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/20/09

I don’t like that officals may use stuff in this manner but does anyone really think this is a one and only time by just a couple people?

Doe anybody think this doesn’t happen at the State level? Federal level?

Look at the post by the gentleman saying he used county properity back in the 50’s

This probably goes on more than any of us will ever know.

So do we fire everybody? It would be nice that we could bring salaries back in line with reality and get rid of some unions but that isn’t going to happen.

Has anyone here every used the internet at work when not on break and should be working? You are stealing money.

Borrowed the fax or Xerox?

Remember about living in glass houses.

By: Cindy on 6/20/09

To AnneB

Karen has never printed a so called “rumor” or “gossip” that didn’t turn out to be true. So she is obviously investigating these “rumors” before she prints them as FACT.

If I were to caution her on something it would be about getting on the radio (like she did on Thursday’s Congalton Show) and expounding her so called knowledge about law. She was entirely incorrect. I’ve known her to argue legal points in the past (with me) and on both occasions it turns out that she was 100% wrong.

By: ANNEB on 6/20/09

Why is it you all seem to spread rumors or gossip ? real news does not need this sort of silly stuff. Stay focused and stay on the FACTS, these many different stories some have no facts just splashy headlines without substance. If your to succeed and I do hope you do, please provide verification to your stories no more gossip or rumors, your not the ” Globe” or ” Star” and if you continue on your current path all you will get is silly talk, silly false and rumored stories without any facts. Be a real reporter not a rumor monger. My friends at CMC are starting to loose faith in your ability to report truth and justice. Be above the others and stand for something solid and honest.

By: OLDMANOFSLO on 6/20/09


By: mccdave on 6/20/09

Easy, kids. I’m sure Velie just didn’t know what the word “pilfer” means. Wordstar ’88 doesn’t have “meaning check.” This site is full of poor writing.

Or there may have been a scene like the famous one from “All the President’s Men,” where Woodward counts down from ten waiting for a source to confirm something with his silence. “I’m going to count down and if there was pilferage, say nothing.”

This is all just a sign of how PC picayune government has gotten. When I was a county supervisor back in the 1950s, I would use the county board chamber on weekends to auction livestock. So what.

By: Black_Copter_Pilot on 6/20/09

“Stay on top of this story Karen. Both of those clowns deserve to be fired!

Some days it takes all my Will Powers to keep it together.”

Will Powers should know, given his history and resultant state action.

By: Truthbeknown on 6/20/09

Well said, SLORider!

An unrelated aside, Ghezzi is a past president of the County’s employee union, SLOCEA.

By: SLORider on 6/20/09

I too am sick of catchy headlines. The appropriate legal term is MISAPPROPRIATION — the intentional, illegal use of the property or funds of another person for one’s own use or other unauthorized purpose, particularly by a public official, a trustee of a trust, an executor or administrator of a dead person’s estate, or by any person with a responsibility to care for and protect another’s assets (a fiduciary duty). It is a felony (a crime punishable by a prison sentence).

Pilferage typically means small thefts of things. Theft does not imply using and returning.

Small points are important. See if you consider a few “faux pas” insignificant when it’s your reputation being discussed in public.

FYI– Paid administrative leave is the only legal due process means of termination. You can’t execute without a trial.

By: George on 6/19/09

Some comments deleted, focus your opinion on the story or another comment NOT the person making the opinion, civility counts spelling not so much.

By: hotdog on 6/19/09

One of my favorite quotes is: “Its better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/19/09

One last. I said it before and I’ll say it again. The button at the bottom of the page says POST OPINION. I think that is what people are doing.

By: WiseGuy on 6/19/09

See what happens when reporters do sloppy work: Now you have people like Wazzup and WillPower and who knows who else making public statements implying that the two county workers stole county vehicles. And thus the wild rumors begin to run rampant and truth is lost in the wake.

Let’s get back to reality. Those two men are accused of using a county vehicle to transport a load of firewood. And now they are being described here as car thieves!

Have any of you heard of the term “gossip rag”? It’s sloppy, sensationalistic reporting that inspires such designations. I would think that CalCoastNews and even its most ardent fans would want to rise above that, if possible. And I think it is possible, but not if lazy minded readers continue to defend the indefensible and act as enablers for sloppy work.

OK, I’m done. You folks can get back to the typical kick-em-when-they’re-down gossip mongering and ridiculing now.

By: hotdog on 6/19/09

One thing no one has commented on, and it relates to this article. It concerns ‘pilfering’ resources from the public. It could be the so called wood, unauthorized use of county vehicles (or was it? maybe permission was given); or the more pervasive and probably common waste of our money by spending one’s time on non county business while on the clock. Such as doing personal business, idle chat, harassment, or any other non county business item an employee might undertake while racking up their hours. Looking back at the Edge deal and the many police issues pointed out by CCN (not to mention the fortune our crummy Kounty Kop Hedges blew on persecuting Lynch)-how much time and money has been blown by these clowns while ‘on the job’? We pay these people to do a job, not hang around the water cooler making jokes and creating news for CCN to uncover.

I think the dept heads (Police Chiefs and others) whose underlings have wasted time and money fiddling around should be called to account for all this. I hope the ongoing investigation of the Edge/Wilcox saga will explore this issue.

And it’s aggravating as hell to contemplate a bunch of suits that are coming down the pike when we had nothing to do with it all. Could cost us a bundle for lack of oversight, just like with our financial disaster here in SLO County.

I wonder just how productive and valuable these top people are. I wonder if almost anyone with a decent mind could do these jobs, for a lot less. Financial wizards across the land have proven their incompetence, many of whom should be pushing a broom in Federal Prison somewhere. Why are we paying our local jokers so much, and sometimes getting so little?

By: Truthbeknown on 6/19/09

I agree the headline is senstionalistic, not factual.

I’ve heard no mention of the wood that was given to relatives to sell. Is that considered County property?

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/19/09

Well I will comment on the story as that is usually the point of.

While they did borrow a county vehicle without asking, if this is first offence I don’t think firing is in order. Maybe a written warning.

We let public figures have leased vehicles all the time for take home use. Yes it is a little more than but I don’t see firing.

I don’t see where it is any different than most people moving or something and asking the boss to borrow a large vehicle.

Again warning yes. Firing no.

By: WazzUp on 6/19/09

Hey WiseGuy! If I take your car (without your permission) to give my kids a ride to school and then return it; did I steal it or just borrow it?

By: Cindy on 6/19/09

WiseGuy – I do agree about the word “pilfer”. I immediately thought that the two employees had literally stole a county vehicle when I saw the headline. No one ever said that Karen is the greatest writer, IMO she is more of a tenacious investigator and excellent at it. It’s great to get the facts here at CCN and who cares about a few faux pas (sp?). I’ve noticed that the TT is starting to compete and that’s something we all need. No question that we can thank CCN for that.

By: Scarlet on 6/19/09

Hey WiseGuy. I mean you Ryan Miller. I see you let up on Karen in the New Times’ Shredder this week – first time in a month. But now, unfortunately, you’ve found your voice here.

I also see pilfer as: to take from another without right or detection. You would probably say this doesn’t apply b/c they were, in fact, detected.

Enough with the preachy sermons.

By: WILLPOWER on 6/19/09

I don’t mean to be a sesquipedalian but here are some other words you can insert to help your reading pleasure.

steal, embezzle, annex, appropriate, borrow, cop, crib, filch, liberate, lift, moonlight, palm*, pinch, pluck, purloin, requisition, rip off*, rob, scrounge, snare, snatch, swipe, take, thieve, walk off with

By: WILLPOWER on 6/19/09

Sounds like somebody needs a hobby or a good non profit to volunteer at, or maybe that’s a job application…in any case…

Thanks for the story Karen; the audacity of the tax trough feeders never ceases to amaze me. It’s a lesson for all those that serve and work for the public. Sometimes they needed to be reminded that I paid for part of that truck they stole for the weekend, and if I can’t use it to make money they can’t either.

It’s some sort of epidemic now days…Like all the democrats in Obama’s cabinet that don’t pay their taxes…what has this world come to?

Stay on top of this story Karen. Both of those clowns deserve to be fired!

Some days it takes all my Will Powers to keep it together.

By: WiseGuy on 6/19/09

Seriously, no offense, but SOMEONE at CalCoastNews needs to have an editor or at least become familiar with a dictionary. Once again we have an inaccurate story that mischaracterizes an alleged crime.

Check out the headline: Employees accused of pilfering county vehicles”

“Pilfer” means to STEAL, specifically “petty theft.” As far as I can tell from the body of this story, the suspects are being accused of using their employer’s equipment for personal purposes. They are not being accused of stealing the equipment. BIG difference.

Call me a “nit-picker” if you want, but I think any ethical lawyer would be the first to say there is a clear distinction that should be made here. When someone “pilfers” (again a hokey term) something, he doesn’t intend to return it. I don’t think anyone (except CalCoastNews) is claiming these men stole the county equipment.

Journalists and editors make mistakes, sure. But the continual pattern of mistakes at CalCoastNews is troubling, especially to people who are falsely accused in headlines.

If CalCoastNews can’t even use a word like “pilfer” correctly, how can we trust it on other things? Instead of being so eager to have a story before other media, it might be better to try to have the facts straight even if that means posting a story a few minutes later. At least that is the way I would prefer it. But, of course, I’m a nit-picker.

But when you are talking about people’s lives and reputations, and there are repercussions that can affect entire families, I happen to think spending a few minutes with a dictionary and making sure you know what you are writing is a nit worth picking.

By: Cindy on 6/19/09

What? They are on paid administrative leave for using taxpayer equipment for personal use!

They should be terminated and not getting another free ride. I can’t wait until Sept 2 to listen to why 130 county employees have 24 hour use of tax payer vehicles. While the BOS is at it are they going to address the LE that was found in one of our vehicles late at night in Templeton who had to be escorted home? No one else seems to be addressing it. How long does this investigation take? Why was the LE driving a county owned vehicle and why was he considered unable to get himself home? This is Bull Shit and the people need to demand transparency regarding our paid servants.