SLO County finds no conflict of interest with Ogren’s relationship

October 4, 2011

Paavo Ogren

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
(link)


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40 Comments

  1. Lynette_Tornatzky says:

    CalCoast says:

    “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.”

    Ogren didn’t backdate a contract – Bruce Buel did. Allegations can say anything, but to have credibility, something this allegation lacks, you need to correctly allegate!

    “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 persons referred to were Bruce Buel and a female administrator in the district – NOT Paavo Ogren who was not even working for the district then!

    If anyone wants a copy of the letter I reference here, written by CSD attorney Julie Biggs to Steve Brown, contact me here: sewertoons@gmail.com

    Anyone looking at the agenda could see the Grant report wasn’t listed, so addressing this AT THE PUBLIC COMMENT PORTION OF THE MEETING would have been the time to do it!

    (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  2. oto says:

    Having anxiously awaited the decision in the Gibsongate affair, and finding Paavo and Ogren innocent of colluding to deprive Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Brown of his paycheck, Steve Jobs has left the building, and is now on his way to The Thirteenth Floor. See you when we get there, Mr. Jobs….

    (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
  3. MaryMalone says:

    Well, isn’t this good news!

    Governor Brown signed into law AB 187, which will greatly broaden the conditions under which the State Auditor can launch an audit of a local government.

    However, more important than that (IMO), is this major addition to the State Auditor’s powers: “The bill would also authorize the State Auditor to consult with the Controller, Attorney General, and other
    state agencies in identifying local government agencies that are at high risk.”

    I wonder if the State AG’s office remembers the intervention in 2009 in the county department run by Paavo Ogren? I wonder how happy the AG’s office is to hear about Ogren having failed to take that investigation seriously and apply it to his own actions with Maria Kelly?

    The law takes effect on 1/1/2012. That’s just a few months away…

    ——————
    http://www.aroundthecapitol.co

    LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

    AB 187, Lara. State Auditor: audits: high-risk local government
    agency audit program.

    LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

    …..This bill would, subject to specified conditions, authorize the
    State Auditor to establish a high-risk local government agency audit
    program to identify, audit, and issue reports on any local government
    agency, including any city, county, or special district, or any
    publicly created entity that the State Auditor identifies as being at
    high risk for the potential of waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement
    or that has major challenges associated with its economy,
    efficiency, or effectiveness. The bill would also authorize the State
    Auditor to consult with the Controller, Attorney General, and other
    state agencies in identifying local government agencies that are at
    high risk….

    ——————-

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

    It’s good to note that the board may have violated some open meeting (Brown Act) laws. Also Grant has replied to criticism about his handling of the investigation.

    (-3) 7 Total Votes - 2 up - 5 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      Link doesn’t work for me. Perhaps a URL?

      YEAH, no kidding they violated the Brown Act. You don’t just change the published time of a presentation, item or discussion unless you can give the appropriate amount of advance notification. If

      If Mr. Grant was incompetent to present the item at the time it was published, which was AFTER the closed-session discussion (which occurred at noon), then the item should have been cancelled until the next meeting where the issue would have been discussed.

      In addition, Grant said it would be after he gave the report to the closed session meeting. I see no notification that they would have a closed-session meeting before his new report disclosure time of 9:30 AM.

      I’m sure more Brown-Act savvy peeps can come up with other Brown Act issues.

      (-5) 7 Total Votes - 1 up - 6 down
  5. Typoqueen says:

    I’m surprised that no one has addressed Hill’s behavior on that audio at the bottom of the article. I don’t agree with the anti sewer gang but Hill is rude and unprofessional. I can’t stand COLAB but you also handled that issue in a rude and unprofessional manner. Your time is up, just walk away while you have a shred of dignity. Personally I don’t want you on my side, I feel that LO needs the sewer project, I don’t like COLAB but with friends like you who needs enemies. Do us a favor and just shut up.

    I know you read this Hill, from one lib to another, you are a disgrace.

    (1) 19 Total Votes - 10 up - 9 down
    • racket says:

      Ouch.

      (-3) 7 Total Votes - 2 up - 5 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      ITA. I didn’t realize it was Hill. What a pompous asshat. I was listening to the audio while working on something else, and so I didn’t see his face, but he sounded very smug–like it had been a personal victory for himself.

      And, of COURSE, it is a personal victory for Hill, as well as Ogren-Kelly, and Hill would very much want to keep the media away from Grant, considering Hill’s own shack-up relationship and dishonorable actions in a very messy divorce. And ESPECIALLY considering Hill’s own conflicts of interest in voting for funding issues for his shack-up’s agency.

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

      Well, I also heard the audio and saw the video. Adam Hill was clearly thrown off guard by Linde’s sudden outburst. His final comment about “bitterness” seemed overly harsh. I’m not defending the so-called “obstructionists” but they were told to expect Grant’s report at 1:30, which meant a chance to comment. For whatever reason, Adam and Grant shared the report in the morning instead and didn’t revisit it as promised. Dumb move. The outburst only brought drama and the spotlight to the issue they were trying to downplay.

      (-1) 9 Total Votes - 4 up - 5 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        I think it is is sad that Ogren-Kelly groupies like LT have so often dishonestly termed those against the Ogren-Kelly conflicts of interest and abuse of their positions as public officials that it is accepted by some as the truth.

        For the record, I think LO needs a wastewater treatment plant.

        I also think it is shameful how much the LO peeps will have to pay each month for the current version.

        In addition, I studied Los Osos soils at CalPoly, and I hope the current design of the WWT facility includes addressing the issues with liquefaction and native soil nitrates. If not, construction of the WWT facility may create more problems than it solves.

        (-1) 9 Total Votes - 4 up - 5 down
  6. MAD HATTER says:

    Chalk one up to the little guy. After all the slandurous rumors and gossip that spills out of this website, your all stuck looking, hmmmmm, well, you know what I mean. Idn’t wnt t gt th mdrtr upst.

    (-3) 19 Total Votes - 8 up - 11 down
    • rallyraid says:

      Like every so called investigation this counties goon squad does, this is just another circus act. Its really just a matter of time before they all get their “Ogren’s” cut off. Gee ya get it? Idn’t wnt t gt th mdrtr upst.

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

      Did mean you “don’t want to get the moderator upset”?

      If you simply did not make your opinions personal attacks on other posters, you would not have to worry about upsetting the moderator.

      (-2) 6 Total Votes - 2 up - 4 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      Grant himself abused the power of his office by arbitrarily excluding from the “investigation” key issues.

      He also gave a free pass to members of the board of supervisors to shack-up with anyone they want, and completely ignore the ethics codes (both of the county and the State of California), such as Adam Hill voting for funding for the homeless agency run by his current shack-up.

      (1) 9 Total Votes - 5 up - 4 down
    • Dave says:

      Not true, Hatter. The reporting by Karen Velie stands untouched and unchallenged by Jim Grant and his two-page “report.” Everything she reported has turned out to be true. Grant chose to ignore 90 percent of the accusations and merely focus on whether or not this personal relationship affected the outcome of the sewer project. Karen was the first reporter to connect the dots after the accident involving the kids. The divorce filing gave insight into personal behavior by Ogren and Kelly. The ex-husband spilled his guts and then tried to backtrack. We all know what happened here — don’t shoot the messenger.

      (-2) 14 Total Votes - 6 up - 8 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        I agree, Dave. Grant was so selective in the information and sources on which he based his “report.” Quoting Velie’s article:

        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.”

        (-3) 9 Total Votes - 3 up - 6 down

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