SLO County finds no conflict of interest with Ogren’s relationship
October 4, 2011
UPDATE: Find an audio of the altercation between Linde Owen and Adam Hill at the bottom of this article.
San Luis Obispo County’s top official said Tuesday his investigation showed Public Works Director Paavo Ogren having a dating relationship with former Los Osos Community Services District director did not create a conflict of interest regarding the Los Osos Sewer project.
In June, Supervisor Bruce Gibson asked County Administrator Jim Grant to look into allegations that Ogren and Maria Kelly were “conspiring to help push through a $200 million sewer project.”
Grant concluded that because the sewer was placed under county control in 2006 and Kelly was not elected into office until 2008, there was no conflict.
Nevertheless, the allegations of a conflict of interest were in regards to a vote Kelly made in 2009 that stopped a complaint and the possibility of the district taking civil action against Ogren for illegally backdating a contract.
In 2006, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Brown acknowledged that “falsification of a public record by a public employee is a felony,” and that a criminal act relating to the backdating apparently had occurred. But Brown declined further investigation by determining that a three-year statute of limitation had expired.
The 2006 LOCSD Board believed the district attorney’s decision was wrong because penal code Section 803(c) says the time limitations do not commence until the discovery of an offense and filed a complaint with the Construction Management Association.
The court stayed the complaint when the district filed for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Protection.
MWH asked the district to drop its complaint to the contractors’ association in exchange for MWH forgiving a $1 million bankruptcy claim against the district.
Meanwhile, Kelly ran for the board and was seated in 2008.
On Dec. 17, 2009, Kelly voted in favor of the MWH proposed settlement. County phone records indicate that Kelly and Ogren spoke twice the morning before the vote, once the day after the vote, and four times on Dec. 19, 2009.
Kelly’s vote to settle that particular case nullified Ogren’s culpability in ordering the back dating of the MWH contract.
Grant also said that Kelly and Ogren started dating in 2011 and were good friends for four prior years. Late night phone calls and allegations made by Kelly’s ex-husband to CalCoastNews and posted on the Razor support allegations the pair had dated for years.
On Thursday, the Tribune said it received an email from Gibson saying that he would announce the findings of his investigation at Tuesday’s board meeting.
However, Grant made his announcement at 9 a.m., causing a small ruckus shortly after 1:30 p.m. when attendees wanted to hear his presentation.
In addition, the notice of Grant’s investigation report was not placed on the meeting agenda as is the usual practice.
Audio: Linde Owen at the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting, Tuesday 10/2011