Sanitation district slams San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury

September 28, 2011

John Wallace

The South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District board fired back a response saying that the Grand Jury’s allegations of mismanagement at the district “were largely inaccurate,” which was posted on the Grand Jury website on Wednesday.

The South County Sanitation District provides sewer services to about 38,000 customers in Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and the unincorporated town of Oceano. John Wallace is the chief administrator of the district and also owner and president of the Wallace Group, a private engineering consulting firm located in San Luis Obispo.

The Grand Jury reported in June that the district board failed to recognize this conflict of interest and to eliminate or, at minimum, mitigate the conflict of interest and that Wallace’s contract had never been competitively bid as required by law.

The three member district board said in its response, “The grand Jury’s depiction of the Board of directors as being as being generally unaware is both inaccurate and offensive.”

The board found no reason to follow the Grand Jury’s recommendations to hire an independent management and to evaluate and compare organizational and operational alternatives for the district.

Members of the local Surfrider Foundation said the directors’ response was “incomplete” and “disrespectful.”

“By institutionalizing these conflicts of interest, the board of directors may have indirectly contributed to multiple sewage spills and frequent water quality violations at their sewage treatment plant that discharges only 600 yards from the coast of Oceano and near Pismo Beach,” the group says on its website.

On December 18, as the result of influent pump failures, as much as 3 million gallons of raw sewage was dumped into Oceano neighborhoods, beaches and the Pacific Ocean.

State regulators responded in May and served the district another notice of violation because of the December spill and conflicting sewage release numbers. Wallace answered the violation in June and is awaiting the state’s response which could include fines of up to $30 million that would fall on the communities and the rate payers, and criminal action against district officials if it is determined they responded untruthfully.


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MaryMalone

Truly, I cannot believe that State AG Chiang isn’t already investigating SLOCounty’s corruption. With the SLOCo in bed with SLOCSD, whose in bed with several CSDs because the Seitz brothers prey on gullible CSDs, then SLOCity’s psycho-firefighter fandango and the other local police departments’ psycho cops….Chiang has to be investigating the corruption here.


I’ve seen him go after much smaller fish. The thing is, the bigger fish, especially if there are complicated dealings, take longer.


I think I’m going to write him a letter. I already sent one complaint.


MaryMalone

MUWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!


I just saw this article on CCN: “Attorney General asked to weigh in on judges’ $235,000 benefits”


I really think Chiang is applying the heat. In fact, I think that’s why this John Wallace, Seitz-templated whine-o-gram was issued.


I bet there are already people approaching John Wallace, asking him why someone in the State Attorney General’s office contacted them.


bobfromsanluis

Mary: John Chiang is the State Controller, the Attorney General is Kamala Harris. Just a f.y.i. … :)


MaryMalone

Hey Bob from SLO, thanks for the brain check.


I got so excited over the possibility that the State is going to finally provide some oversight for SLOCounty that I got my good guys/gals mixed up.


MaryMalone

See, this is the deal, though.


While John Wallace and his sock-puppets on the SLOCSD “oversight” board are jerking around with this BS, more violations are piling up.


Unless the State steps in, WE–SLOCSD’s customers–are going to have to pay for those violations, too.


They need to be stopped now, before they leave a debt legacy like the one the criminals in the City of Bell’s city council and administration are leaving behind for their residents to pay.


smartmouth

Disrespectful at best . . .


easymoney

“Sanitation district slams San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury”

Nothing new here, every grand jury report that comes out has at least one non favorable and gets the same whining from the department being investigated…


r0y

Wait, so the Grand Jury said that the “district board failed to recognize this conflict of interest” with Wallace, but the Board fired back saying, “The grand Jury’s depiction of the Board of directors as being as being generally unaware is both inaccurate and offensive.”


So, they’re accused of NOT knowing the conflict of interest, but the board says “No, you’re wrong.” (as in, they DID know of the conflict and CHOSE not to do anything).


Wow, ballsy. Good thing the Trib isn’t all over this, or the 101 subscribers left (me included) might just be upset about it.


shelworth

This is what we in Los Osos have to look forward to….


Kevin Rice

Have become a paper tiger? The Grand Jury has always been a paper tiger. They have no enforcement power, and to a good degree they should not as their deliberations are secret. The point being, enforcement and trials need to occur in public view. Now, if the Grand Jury report is accurate, then the question is who is responsible to adjudicate malfeasance. I would guess the Regional Water Quality Control Board is the obvious next step. Then possibly the D.A. Not really sure.


Bob

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.


I believe it is time to start a recall of all three elected officials sitting on the sanitation board.


MaryMalone

I’m on board, and I have some time available, too. Ms.Mary.Malone at gmail-dot-com. I would post my email address directly but I’m still paranoid about the phishers.


LensCleaner

The problem with our Grand Jury system here is that they have become a paper tiger.


For Wallace and his cronies to slap down the Grand Jury in this way exemplifies the unfortunate status of their stature and power.


The jurors are for the most part, decent, and they have good intentions but the judges who have presided over them and the DA don’t seem to offer them the back up they need. Sometimes they have also become pawns of political agenda.


When was the last time a case of political corruption or malfeasonce was prosecuted here in the happiest town on earth?


I remember one Grand Jury report addressing the problems of leaf blowers, all the while “our bed was burning”


As suggested, one of the problems is that the Grand Jury is often used as a tool to justify someones political agenda. An example was the report on the Nacimiento Water Project. In my opinion the jurors were taken advantage of when they were recruited to shake the pom poms for those who supported the project.


I supported the project myself but didnt like the politicalization of the jury.


The Grand Jury has a meager budget and I dont know how they can afford investigators to assist them in complex matters.


In view of the latest fiasco involving the judges perks, perhaps that explanes the quality of services and budget offered our Grand Jury.


I think we need a new DA and we must demand that we have a body that represents our collective interest., particularly when our city and county officials stray over the line.


MaryMalone

I’ve been called as a witness for the SLO grand jury and I have nothing bad to say about the experience. They asked me, in advance, for records ahead of time, then asked for some more records, and I gave them what they wanted and I did it with a smile. When I actually appeared before the GJ, they were polite, asked reasonable and informed questions. I was there two hours, too.


I was shocked when I heard they have to commit 20 hours a week! That is not an easy job they are doing, and they all seemed very professional and well-informed.


What happens after the report is written and issued–I don’t know.


Anyway, that’s just my experience with them.