Hill explains Oceano resignation

April 28, 2011

OPINION By JIM HILL

Jim Hill

Several Oceano residents have asked my reasons for leaving the OCSD Board after 6 years. Details are in my resignation letter, available from the Oceano Community Service District as a public record. The most important is that, despite a unanimous Board vote to have staff turn the 2008-2009 financial records over to the certified public accountant for audit by March 11, that was not done.

If staff won’t cooperate with unanimous Board direction on this most critical issue, and the Board majority finds that acceptable, there is really no point in even having a Board. The current manager took issue with the chronic failure of previous staff to finish audits cleanly and timely and has meanwhile provided continuous assurances they would be completed immediately, even promising last February 9 that a draft audit would be provided by March 23.

During my tenure, we eliminated health insurance benefits and cell phones for directors paid by ratepayers, eliminated director stipends for committee meetings, got the Board meetings televised so residents could follow issues, brought the fire service to first class professional status with the Five Cities Fire Authority and raised rates sufficiently that the district will, if properly managed going forward, be able to carry on and build modest reserves.

I thank all Oceano residents for the privilege of serving and for their constructive comments and encouragement during my term. Residents should continue to develop their visions for the future and encourage dialog to bring out these ideas.

Former Oceano Service District President Jim Hill was first elected in 2004 and voted in again in 2008. On March 28, he resigned his seat citing disagreements with district manager Raffaele Montemurro over his accounting practices and failure to follow the board’s direction.


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28 Comments

  1. WiseGuy says:

    Mr. Hill, we know you are reading this, and we would like a better “explanation.” You’re statement so far, implies that new OCSD board Director Matt Guerrero would vote to support Mr. Montemurro. Yet, nowhere do we have any indication that is true. So, PLEASE, Mr. Hill, enlighten us on this matter, because, so far, your “explanation” is woefully lacking and does little or nothing to help the residents of Oceano deal with this mess, and simply leaves us with more questions and a continuation of unresolved problems that came to a head during YOUR tenure on the board.

    Mr. HIll, Oceano citizens elected you in good faith, expecting you to represent their best interests. Within those interests is a vital need for TRUTH. We would appreciate if you would help us out here on this.
    Thank you.

    (-16) 36 Total Votes - 10 up - 26 down
  2. WiseGuy says:

    Mr. Hills statement, published above, explains little or nothing, and leaves huge questions remaining.

    Mr. HIll, if you are reading this (and I’m sure you will be), please explain why you couldn’t join with other OCSD directors and fire Mr. Montemurro, if he truly is such a problem.

    I don’t buy it when you imply that you would be on the losing side of a vote to fire him. First of all, in most of your board voting you have been on the same side of the vote as Angello and Lucey. And Mr. Guerrero, is new to the board and seems reasonable, so it seems reasonable that he might vote your way as well, if there was any good reason as you have implied.

    I’m sorry to say, Mr. Hill, that your “explanation” doesn’t explain much at all and still leaves the situation smelling “fishy”. How about you “explain” to us a little bit more, because I don’t think you’ve given us the the entire truth of the matter. I think you owe your former constituents some more detailed explanation of your surprising and questionable actions. Thank you.

    (12) 22 Total Votes - 17 up - 5 down
    • Catnip says:

      As much as I’d like a reasonable explanation for his quitting, I more just want him to be gone, and not hear from him again.

      He was directly responsible for getting rid of three competent general managers solely because they didn’t kowtow to him and his wife. Montemurro is the result.

      He did the same with staff members and board members. I would say that he and his wife were the most destructive force on Oceano politics in the last six years. This was mostly due to his unchecked ego. Hill just found out he wasn’t really in charge after all, and left. How does it feel Jim. To know you will go down in OCSD history as the biggest sucker ever.

      (5) 13 Total Votes - 9 up - 4 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        Sorry, Catnip, but your opinion is illogical.

        Hill can’t even get a majority to get Montemurro to do his danged job and follow the orders of the BOD to submit information for an independent audit for 2009-2010.

        Yet you want us to believe that he is so powerful he got THREE other GMs fired? All by himself?

        Also, Montemurro himself claimed (using it as an example of his way-savvy cost-saving skills) that he fired two long-time OCSD employees. So, on top of everything else, Montemurro is lying about his cost-saving skills as a GM? You mean, his only cost-saving skill is buying paper by the case?

        I believe your claim about the three past GMs being fired by Hill is a red herring to turn the discussion away from Montemurro’s inability–or refusal–to do as the BOD directed, and the fact that, despite this, the majority of the BOD (the ones who didn’t resign recently, Hill and Henson) think Montemurro is doing a great job and want to keep him on.

        I think it is more likely that the Remaining Three are supporting Montemurro because he is blocking an independent audit on 2009-2010.

        What do the Remaining Three have to gain from keeping the truth about the financial dealings of 2009-2010 in the dark?

        (-3) 13 Total Votes - 5 up - 8 down
        • Catnip says:

          I’m sorry Mary but I have neither the time nor inclination to educate you about OCSD politics. If you kept up, you wouldn’t be asking me these questions.

          (-1) 11 Total Votes - 5 up - 6 down
          • MaryMalone says:

            The issue is the illogical nature of your argument.

            (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down
            • Catnip says:

              Give me specific examples of why you object to what I wrote. The fact of the matter is I would testify to what I said in a court of law. As a starting point Mary why don’t you ask Cooney, Walsh and O’Reilly (the 3 former GM’s) what their opinions of Mr Hill is? How about proving your case instead of putting that burden on me? I haven’t seen an evidence given by you. Me, I’m waiting until you try. Then you belong to me. Eagerly anticipating you reply.

              (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      I guess you missed this part of Hill’s letter:

      “If staff won’t cooperate with unanimous Board direction on this most critical issue, and the Board majority finds that acceptable…..”

      It is very clear to me, and has been from Hill’s first statement about his resignation.

      1. Staff (Montemurro) won’t do what he is instructed by Board to do.

      2. Despite this, the majority (that would be the three left after Hill and Henson resigned) still approve of the job Montemurro is doing.

      A conclusion that Hill didn’t state, but seems pretty obvious to me, is that Mr. Montemurro NOT following instructions to get the financial information out to an independent auditor is actually in line with the what the remaining three board members want.

      I don’t know why those remaining three board members would NOT want an independent audit done for 2009-2010, but if I was to guess, the most likely reason would be they wanted to cover-up something the independent audit was likely to reveal.

      In other words, Montemurro is doing the remaining three directors’ bidding, to the detriment of OCSD and the community it serves.

      (0) 12 Total Votes - 6 up - 6 down
  3. r0y says:

    The only thing I know about Oceano is the Great American Melodrama! (Yeah, got tickets for tonight’s show!). I love that place.

    Oceano is in dire need of a flush – and I’m not talking about the “questionable” neighborhoods, either.

    (10) 18 Total Votes - 14 up - 4 down
    • WiseGuy says:

      What the heck are you talking about when you try to slander Oceano, calling some of the neighborhoods “questionable”? What, exactly, are you trying to say, other than stirring up prejudice and animosity?

      (-4) 16 Total Votes - 6 up - 10 down
      • r0y says:

        I was thinking along the lines of crime, not sure what prejudice there is… animosity? Maybe. I don’t like crime-filled neighborhoods, but who does?

        Are you looking for prejudicial comments? That would seem a strange and sad thing.

        Sorry I was not more clear for you.

        (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
        • WiseGuy says:

          Sorry, I’m not accepting your apology on this one., You’ll have to do better. What “crime-filled neighborhoods” are you referring to, specifically? I haven’t heard of it. Oceano, per capita, has LESS crime, than many, if not most communities in San Luis Obispo County. So, I think you’re way off base and don’t really know what you are talking about.

          You need to apologize to all of Oceano for your disrespectful, misleading public comments.

          (-2) 12 Total Votes - 5 up - 7 down
  4. mbactivist1 says:

    If he has not done so already, Mr. Hill should file a complaint with the State Attorney General. Only when enough citizens complain about this kind of nonsense will anything be done, and it is clear that our local so-called justice system will not take action.

    The complaint must state that the local D.A. and Grand Jury system have clearly, and without justification, failed to address this matter. The Attorney General is only authorized to investigate local matters when the local justice system has failed to appropriately address them.

    He should use this form, which can be filled in online or printed and submitted through regular mail.

    http://ag.ca.gov/contact/complaint_form.php?cmplt=PL

    (8) 20 Total Votes - 14 up - 6 down
  5. Disgusted says:

    It’s surprising that Hill let this matter cause him to resign. He should have fulfilled his obligation to Oceano residents. In the past, he has made rude accusations about other board members and never hesitated to criticize and harrass them. Why start now? I hope he has no plans for another office, as he was not a fair player when he didn’t get his way. That being said, his disdain for Montemurro seems appropriate.

    (3) 27 Total Votes - 15 up - 12 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      You’re right. My gosh he was so incredibly rude to Bookout, Dean and Dahl, he certainly never held back on them. He taped signs up insulting Vern, he did gang signs on his forehead in an odd gesture to insult Dahl. He told them on camera to quit. The list is long, he’s not afraid to speak his mind. So why was this same anger and frustration not directed at Monte if he was so frustrated. I watch those meetings, he never got in Monte’s face (sort-a-say) as he did with the others,,,why not? Is is intimidated by Monte, was he afraid of him? I didn’t see him tell off Monte, not once.

      If Hill thought that Monte was doing something wrong then he should have been man enough to finish his term and do something about him.

      Maybe when he stopped getting those benefits that Hill mentioned perhaps that took away his motivation to continue to serve out his term. I really just can’t imagine why he would just quit.

      (13) 25 Total Votes - 19 up - 6 down
      • Disgusted says:

        Well said, Typo!

        (10) 18 Total Votes - 14 up - 4 down
      • Disgusted says:

        Guess the Hills are moving…..

        (-13) 37 Total Votes - 12 up - 25 down
      • kitten says:

        Why should folks be P/C with respect to voicing their opinions? Gang signs, really? As far as calling somebody on incompetence or otherwise why not, particularly when it comes to politicians. They can fancy themselves however they like but as of lately common criminals fits the bill in many cases. If they cant stand the heat then they should get the hell out of the kitchen and in Hills case it wasn’t the heat, it was the more like the cock roaches and maggots took over and he ran for his own well being.

        (1) 13 Total Votes - 7 up - 6 down
        • Typoqueen says:

          I know it seems hard to believe but I was watching a meeting when Hill said to Dahl something to the effect of ‘this is what my grandson would say to you’ and he placed his fingers in front of his forehead made some gestures like gang signs,,I had no idea what they meant but was meant as some type of insult. He looked really stupid.

          I do believe that city/community leaders need to uphold decorum. You can’t get business done if they are calling each other names. Things just spiral out of control and Oceano is a great example of that. It’s okay for us in a forum like this but not when your are representing a community.

          (6) 12 Total Votes - 9 up - 3 down
          • Disgusted says:

            I remember Hill’s gesture….it was the “L” for “Loser.” My feeling was that he should look in the mirror. I believe one of the directors actually flipped an audience member off from the podium. Oceano can do WAY better than childish directors like these.

            (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
            • Typoqueen says:

              Yeah, he did the ‘L’ thing but he did some other hand gesture with it. Could you believe that, what a show he put on that day. I was embarrassed for him, if I were Dahl I would have burst out laughing at him, I know at home I was laughing.

              Oceano can do better, but it’s hard to get good people to do it. Not many people have the stomach to go in there and get yelled at by Lucey, manipulated by Monte, told off by the audience etc.? It’s such a mess and so much stress for most that it’s just not worth it.

              (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
              • Typoqueen says:

                Oh BTW I remember the flipping off, I believe that was pretty recent. That also happened in Pismo once a few years ago. One council member flipped off someone sitting near me, our jaws hit the ground.

                (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        “If Hill thought that Monte was doing something wrong then he should have been man enough to finish his term and do something about him.”

        My goodness, there are a passel of posters who simply cannot read.

        Hill has consistently said he resigned because:

        1. Despite being instructed by the BOD to do something (in this case, submitting financial records so an independent audit of 2009-2010 could be done), Mr. Montemurro failed to do so.

        2. Despite Mr. Montemurro being unable–or unwilling– to submit records for an independent audit, the majority of the BOD (that would be the Remaining Three, or the ones who are not Hill or Henson) were happy with his work and wanted to keep him on.

        There is liability for board members who go along with other board members’ wrong doings, and it looks like the Remaining Three may be trying to help coverup financial improprieties done in (at least) 2009-2010.

        I don’t blame Hill for resigning. If the Remaining Three are going to aid and abet a GM’s covering up financial issues from 2009-2010, Hill should look out for himself and leave the board to the ones who approve of Montemurro’s shady refusal to submit information to straighten out the 2009-2010 financial issues.

        In fact, anyone who would become part of a board that approved of their GM refusing to perform as instructed, especially when it comes to an independent financial audit, is nuts because they are leaving themselves wide-open for liability when the truth comes to light.

        (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
        • Disgusted says:

          Hill was upset that the other 3 members were not willing to call a “special” meeting to evaluate Montemurro. That does NOT mean that they don’t want audits or approve of the GM. After the fact, the three appeared to be willing to give Montemurro more chances, but Hill had resigned prior to those comments, hadn’t he? Hill was willing to let the GM pick a computer w/o going out to bid. He seemed quite content with the GM when Dahl and Dean were on board. I think Hill isn’t up to not getting his way, though that usualy just caused him to be more nasty acting. I hope his political career is over, whereever he goes.

          (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
  6. rallyraid says:

    Is it not true the Wallace group served as the OCSD administrator and engineer for many many years during the Cooney days? Who was OCSD’s legal council during this period why did they not see these problems brewing, where there no annual audits? Who was watching or supposed to be watching the hen house all this time? How can a general manager whoever that was who is in charge of all aspects of a municipalities functions not catch hundreds of thousands of dollars pull a dissapearing act unless their the ones doing it like the city of Bell just faced? Can somebody explain this to me.

    (9) 19 Total Votes - 14 up - 5 down
  7. undertow says:

    Hats off to you Mr. Hill as you served honorably in the best interest of those in the community, It is unfortunate the others don’t feel the same way. Best wishes to you in future endeavors.

    (16) 60 Total Votes - 38 up - 22 down
  8. As an ex OCSD Director, it is a shame that Mr. Hill would resign without repairing the problems created in Oceano since 2008!

    (-5) 65 Total Votes - 30 up - 35 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      What? That doesn’t even make sense.

      There have been financial issues at OCSD for quite awhile. It became clear the Remaining Three approved of Montemurro’s refusal to submit the information needed for an independent financial audit for 2008-2009.

      Yet you blame Hill for getting the heck out of Dodge before he gets dragged into the mess being done by Montemurro and his three BOD supporters?

      In the City of Bell scandal, there was one council member who actually wasn’t in on the fraud perpetrated against the city by the other four council members and other Bell staff. Yet he resigned anyway, because he did not want to have to help run a city with all of the animosity about the four council member frauds, and was already a target by local Bell residents, even though it had been widely published that he was not part of the scam.

      There are only so many hours in a day, and so many resources each person has to draw on. There comes a time when everyone has to decide for themselves it is time to cut their losses and move on.

      I think I would have left OCSD and its screwball GM, Montemurro, and his three unexplainable sycophantic BOD supporters a LONG time ago.

      (-10) 12 Total Votes - 1 up - 11 down

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