Arroyo Grande mayor criticizes grand jury report

June 19, 2011

The mayor of Arroyo Grande blasted a recent grand jury report critical of the South County Sanitation District, calling the conclusions “personally and professionally offensive.” [Tribune]

Tony Ferrara, one of three members of the district governing board, made the comments at the Wednesday night board meeting.

The report, issued June 2, following extensive reporting by CalCoastNews, concluded there is a conflict of interest existing between John Wallace, the administrator of the South County wastewater treatment plant, and his engineering firm.

The  grand jury also found that the district’s board of directors failed to recognize or eliminate the issue, and that Wallace’s contract is 25 years old and has never been evaluated, re-bid or modified.

“The reason it’s been there for 25 years is because it works,” Ferrara said. “It keeps our rates low.”

Ferrara also said the report was based on incomplete information. “You don’t make those kinds of accusations of someone unless you have hard and fast evidence to back it up, and they didn’t have that kind of evidence.”

However, Lori Angello, one of the three board members and president of the Oceano Community Services District, suggested at the meeting that Wallace should continue providing engineering or administration services — but not both.

“It might be wise to separate the two,” she said.



  1. rockhound1965 says:

    “Yeah, but Ferrara happens to be the a**hole who is the mayor of the city where I live, so his self-serving BS bothers me a little more”,

    Because I understand where you all are coming from on this issue, I will not make fun of your situation, or say something stupid like, “If you don’t like it, MOVE”…….like most of you do when this exact situation occurred in California Valley.

    So….when is SLO Co. going to get a D.A. that actually enforces the law, and doesn’t just hide??? In almost every CSD in SLO Co., there is some kind of graft or conflict of interest, or cronyism…but no one, NO ONE is the D.A.’s office seems to care or even notice. Even after the Grand Jury said Cal Valley should be dissolved because of its consistent and ongoing fraud, misrepresentation, deception, and misappropriation of money. Even with that nasty note, the CVCSD continues to this day to mismanage their finances without ANY oversight from SLO Co.

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
    • SLORider says:

      “the CVCSD continues … without ANY oversight from SLO Co.”

      CORRECT. Special districts are as separate entities. The county does not and should not have any regulatory oversight whatsoever. It is the People’s duty to provide oversight to their special district, city and county governments. If enough people cared, things would change. The status quo persists because people don’t care.

      The 1999-2000 G.J. report on California Valley is unavailable on the Internet. I’d like to read for myself if the jury actually reported the CSD should be dissolved.

      There persistently seems to be great misunderstanding about the powers of the Civil Grand Jury. They have little to none, except to make recommendations and demand a response.

      The D.A. isn’t going to step in either. Judges are loathe to override the People’s will (voting their representatives into office). Mismanagement is not a crime, and if the voters endorse it that’s what they get.

      The real answer is, if you don’t like it, change it yourself. Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand. Else, consider the possibility that the majority disagrees with you. It’s one of the two. Can you suggest a third?

      (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  2. WakingUpInOceano says:

    Be Careful what you wish for. The rates in this sewer district are the lowest of almost anywhere. The amount of the last rate increase for the Santa Maria sewer plant was more than the entire charge from our sewer plant. You don’t have low rates if there have been people ripping off the district. That plant is the best run plants on the central coast. Our rates prove it. Remember the lesson from the Oceano Community Services District. It was run well and had low rates. Someone (an outsider) with personal issues started making all kinds of false accusations. They got people to believe all kinds of things that were not true. It ended up causing the mess the OCSD is in today and much higher water rates. Be careful here everyone.

    (-8) 12 Total Votes - 2 up - 10 down
    • R.Hodin says:

      One thing can be said for Wallace Engineering and the purported “low rates”: The people of Oceano are getting exactly what they pay for.

      “The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

      Are you suggesting that when rates seem to be low, that things are working well? Have you thought about changing your handle to “NappingInOceano”?

      (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  3. Spirit Filled says:

    Out with the old, in with the new. Now what are you going to get? Here we go again. Why so many inept corrupt leaders? Just shows, individual power goes a long way. Their heads are big but their brains are like bb’s in boxcars. Oh well, someone that cares about the good of the people needs to step in. Flip a coin. Most good people are busy doing good works for others, not wanting a pat on the back or wanting to be in the limelight.
    Somebody with a heart needs to step up and take control. Where is be or she? We don’t want somebody to bitch about, just someone to get the job done.

    (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
    • r0y says:

      Sadly, it’s the people who do NOT want to run for office that are the best candidates. I mean, think of the self-serving ego required for an epiphany of “I must lead these people…”

      That, and whenever there is a TRUE outsider, s/he is usually personally destroyed by one or both established parties.

      “I can’t vote for *that* guy, he’s a !!” We’re all well trained monkeys.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
      • willie says:

        rOy, very very true
        When you go into law, you are trained to object and get away with what you can.
        When you are in politics, whether you are running or elected, you are trained to get votes.
        Most people who run for office have financial (rich family or special interest) backing but lack sincere strength of virtues. And really, look at their salaries and benefits, I had to work like a dog for 25 years before getting my pension and benefits, all they had to do was BS for 5 to 10 years and get 100% pension and benefits for life.

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
        • willie says:

          The will of the moral majority is now just a carrot morphed by the rich, powerful and cons. No Jesus or Buddha can survive in the existing morphed or “re-designed” system.
          The moral majority should keep wise to think about what will spill over into the forthcoming generations.
          It becomes more frightening when you metaphor the wide various factors contributing to the fall of the Roman Empire, especially the system that empowers it. No system design by man is fool proof.

          (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  4. bobfromsanluis says:

    Mayor Ferrara’s comments sound very much like Kelly Gearhart when he was on the Dave Congalton show and vowed that everything Karen Velie had written was wrong and he was going to have his day in court to show that she was wrong; unfortunately for Kelly, his day in court will be as someone accused of committing crimes, not as a plaintiff in a civil case. As for Mayor Ferrara, he too will eventually find himself either being recalled or under indictment, or both. The sound of members of the GOB (Good ‘Ole Boys) network being caught doing their favoritism /nepotism /back room dealing squealing that they are offended that someone would cast dispersions about their conduct would be humorous if it wasn’t for the fact that what it is they have been caught doing is so offensive to the taxpayers who have had their trust shattered by that same conduct that has now be brought to light. Mayor Ferrara, you have it exactly backwards; you and your actions are what is offensive; your lack of humility is telling as one of those that apparently have felt that you would never be caught. My thoughts are that you didn’t start out as being corrupt, but most likely it started out very small, and as more unethical dealings went unnoticed you and your ilk usually don’t realize how far off the righteous path you have strayed. It is call the “public trust” because you are supposed to be trusted to do the right things, not the wrong things. Shame on you.

    (23) 25 Total Votes - 24 up - 1 down
  5. Vallybear says:

    Well, gee whiz! Ferrara is insulted! The only reason he is ‘insulted’ is because the directors were caught. Ferrera refers to” ‘they’ didn’t have all the information before ‘they’ went to the grand jury”. How does Ferrara know it was a ‘they’? Aren’t those who go before the GJ supposed to be anonymous? Was it a she, he, or they? How does he know?
    I think that Wallace, etal were tipped off by someone on the GJ because even before the GJ report came out, Wallace was already making plans to use someone else’s name in his business???????

    (15) 19 Total Votes - 17 up - 2 down
    • SLORider says:

      Valleybear, You misrepresent Ferrara’s quote. He says ‘they’ as in the Grand Jury, not as in the reporting party. At least that’s how it reads to me. I don’t see anything that implies he is aware of any complainant; but, there likely were multiple.

      Second, what do you mean they were ‘tipped off’ before the report came out? That’s silly! The board and/or Wallace were certainly interviewed by the GJ and, thus, certainly were aware of an impending report. The GJ doesn’t only interview one side.

      Slow down a notch.

      (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
  6. MaryMalone says:

    Ferrara is a joke. He pimps his position as AG mayor and as board member for the SSLOCSD facility, lies about it when caught, and then “blasts” the GJ who caught him.

    Ferrara is SLO County’s answer to the City of Bell’s Robert Rizzo: narcissisticly corrupt to the point of absurdity.

    (24) 28 Total Votes - 26 up - 2 down
    • whosays says:

      MM; Ferrara’s response is predictable. He’s one of the pea’s in Pavo’s pod. As is Wallace.There is a bunch a folks all up in that bed togeather in this county. [ water bed ] Not just miss Kelly.

      (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        Yeah, but Ferrara happens to be the a**hole who is the mayor of the city where I live, so his self-serving BS bothers me a little more than it does the other.

        (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
  7. r0y says:

    Kids always get mad when they’re caught. It’s human nature.

    (20) 22 Total Votes - 21 up - 1 down
  8. Bob says:

    I believe Tony Ferrara to be “personally and professionally offensive.”

    Wallace and Ferrara need to go before any kind of public trust can be restored.

    (32) 34 Total Votes - 33 up - 1 down

Comments are closed.