Oceano managers pay questioned

June 15, 2012

Julie Tacker

OPINION By JULIE TACKER

Oceano Community Services District (OCSD) will be “celebrating” the first anniversary of the hiring of its General Manager Tom Geaslen later this month. Geaslen worked for over eight months as “interim general manager” without a written agreement or contract, a risky move for both Geaslen and the district.

Geaslen was required, by nature of the position, to be legally sworn in and to file a Statement of Economic Interest (i.e. Form 700). Geaslen balked at the idea he needed swearing in, suggesting that his swearing to serve and defend the Constitution as a member of the Republican Central Committee would suffice.  It took Oceano CSD Legal Counsel, Molly Thurmond, to let Geaslen know that he was indeed required to be sworn in, the County Clerk did so in late March.

To date Geaslen has not filed the required the Form 700. These statements are due 30 days from assuming office, so what date did he “assume office?” Was it June 22, 2011, when he was hired as interim general manager? Was it when the board illegally hired him as permanent general manager in a February closed session — triggering threats of litigation for violating the Brown Act from more than one local activist?  Was it in mid-March when the OCSD Board considered the permanent position in public? Or late March when the board corrected the illegal contract that included a retroactive pay increase and PERS contributions calculated back to January?

Maybe it was April 1st when the term of the contract commenced? Or perhaps April 10 the day he finally signed the lucrative contract?

The question will be left for the county clerk and the Fair Political Practices Commission to consider once he does file the form. Late statements are subject to $10 a day fines.

Depending on when he actually “assumed office” it could be thousands of dollars.  Not to worry, Geaslen can afford any fine.  While Interim General Manager, Geaslen made $7,750 a month for the first quarter of 2012, he had accumulated $23,250 by late March when the board approved his contract. The contract provides that Geaslen will receive $144,540 for the period of April 1 through December 31, 2012 for a whopping total of $167,790 for the year.

Geaslen’s six-month severance package will cripple the district financially should it be necessary to exercise its clause before June of 2013. The five-year contract with subsequent automatic one-year extensions, the equivalent of a lifetime job, makes Geaslen the highest paid, with the least experience, general manager in San Luis Obispo County.

Geaslen talks a good game, but it’s clear he is out of his element, inexperienced and unfamiliar with government.  CSD law is particularly different than other municipalities; layers of complexity that take years of study.  Geaslen has made basic blunders that even a novice wouldn’t.  He has difficulty following board direction, the Brown Act, the California  Public Records Act and as stated above requirements of Government Code and the Fair Political Practices Act.

Municipalities around the state are facing budget cuts, layoffs, downsizing, reduced benefits and furloughs. Only after his hefty contract was secure, has Geaslen suggested shortfalls in the district’s funding.

He is now searching for revenue generating “profit”. Geaslen’s mis-characterization of the district’s bank accounts as “cash on hand” is patently false, most all district funds are earmarked for restricted uses, such as public facility fees, directly related to new development’s impact on fire facilities, and water and wastewater enterprise funds that can only generate what it costs to operate and maintain those services. The district’s water infrastructure suffers from years of deferred maintenance and important water saving projects are underfunded.  But Geaslen’s salary is secure.

This past April, OCSD ratepayers experienced the second increase of a five-year progressive water and wastewater rate increase schedule. Water and wastewater project improvements were identified as the reason for the increase and the district is bound by the 218 process that those funds related to that increase be used expressly for those purposes.

Geaslen’s 2012-2013 proposed budget numbers show no contributions to sinking funds for capital improvement projects identified in the district’s water master plan. However Geaslen continues to represent funds are budgeted for the capital improvement program.

In January, Geaslen told his Board, “Our server has been hacked, our website has been hacked, my personal computer has been hacked.” In a case of “the cover-up is always worse than the crime” Geaslen spent scarce district funds and an inordinate amount of time creating reasons for not completing tasks the board had directed.

Sheriff’s investigators did a forensic analysis of one computer tower and found that a couple of files had been moved, no damages or losses were realized, the “inactivated” investigation proved “no victim and no arrest.” For all practical purposes, the system was accessed remotely by the server for an update. No harm no foul. The Sheriff’s Department might not be so cavalier.

The districts past audits remain incomplete; the 2012-2013 proposed budget overstates revenues and underestimates expenses (giving a false sense of security to the board). Promises made to begin infrastructure repairs continue to be deferred; where is the money from the increased water rate going? Reducing office expenses by purchasing iPad’s for the board to save paper and ‘pie in the sky’ suggestions to shave utility expenses by incorporating solar and windmills to district facilities, really? Geaslen is no Don Quixote, or maybe he is.


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11 Comments

  1. falconbh says:

    The cureent Water Rates in the Oceano Community Service District are Illegal.

    Prop. 218

    ” Each notice shall include, in a Conspicuous place theron, a Summary of the Procedures applicable
    to completion, return, and Tabulation.of the ballots. Required pursuant to subdivision [d] Including a
    Disclosure Statement that the Existence of a “Majority Protest” as defined in subdivision [e] will result
    in the assessmet not being imposed.”

    The OCSD did not follow the regulations or rules of Propisition 218. As a voter I did not recive proper
    notification or information. We need a new democratic election in which all the people are allowed to vote on this important issue. It is time to Restore Democracy In Oceano!

    (-4) 12 Total Votes - 4 up - 8 down
  2. cry-me-a-river says:

    It soon became known that she was involved with a local developer Jeff Edwards who has always been one of the terrorist enablers with grand dreams of developing Los Osos to its fullest with himself leading the charge.

    Tacker had her own dreams of becoming wealthy and living in a mansion on the hill. Together with Edwards, their ambitions clicked and they were soon an item. She abandoned her family in favor of the Promised Land where she might finally crown herself Empress of Los Osos. But this Empress had no clothes.

    Initially, as an LOCSD Director with access to private information, Tacker had the ability to pass along info to Edwards. One thing Edwards did not want was a Proposition 218 vote, and Tacker did what she could to help make that a reality. Even though her constituents wanted a 218 vote, Tacker-Edwards believed it would not have been good for their plans.

    It was soon suspected that Tacker was on the Edwards payroll and, in 2008, she had to publicly admit it – but only announced she had just been hired. Of course it came with a disclaimer that she wasn’t making any decisions or passing information to Edwards. Right! Just like Les Bowker did not make decisions while seated on the RWQCB or pass information that helped his wife, ex-LOCSD President Rosemary Bowker, or the LOCSD.

    Unlike the married Bowkers, though, it was believed Tacker had been working for Edwards long before she was forced to publicly admit it and had been passing him closed session information and making decisions benefitting Edwards all along. The community recognized the conflict right away and that she had irreparably breached the public trust. Her downfall began to snowball.

    (22) 46 Total Votes - 34 up - 12 down
    • cry-me-a-river says:

      lososossentinel.com is the source for the above excerpt posted.,

      (0) 20 Total Votes - 10 up - 10 down
    • blacksmith says:

      It’s interesting to me that you always try to smear other people while avoiding the real topic. This is a pathetic attempt at subterfuge.

      How about taking on the issues for once (Gealsen’s Behavior) instead of trying to discredit the person that is making this known.

      Maybe this is because you have ties with Geaslen? Maybe you were the one who got him his job in the first place?

      I would avoid posting here again. FAIR WARNING!!!!!!

      (-11) 39 Total Votes - 14 up - 25 down
      • cry-me-a-river says:

        Ah, calm down. Just thought a little dose of “consider the source” was needed here.

        (14) 28 Total Votes - 21 up - 7 down
        • Bored Watcher says:

          “dreams of becoming wealthy and living on a hill”???? Now where would the documentation for that be? Mr. Sanford (developer of the website referred to) is the one living on a hill overlooking Los Osos.

          Tacker and Edwards’ position on the 2007 218 vote is well documented, because it didn’t include vacant properties. T&E were correct in their prediction, the developed properties will pay for the entire project. A $27 million “I told you so.”

          As for Oceano…it doesn’t appear that the residents there are paying attention to their CSD. Veile’s story earlier this week on the South County Sanitation District make things much more interesting. The same rate payers paying Geaslen’s salary will ultimately pay for Wallace’s defense and penalties for his mistakes and he will come out unscathed.

          (-8) 20 Total Votes - 6 up - 14 down
        • blacksmith says:

          This is the problem. You want us to consider to source. How about wanting us to consider the facts! You refuse to do this Linda. You use every type of smear tactic you can to draw attention away from the facts. Now, why don’t you come clean, and tell everyone that you have a vested interest in Gealsen, and stop pretending that you are just a unbiased observer expressing your opinions. Just look at her past posts and you will see a pattern of protecting Geaslen, using the same tactics you see here today.

          (-9) 27 Total Votes - 9 up - 18 down
          • cry-me-a-river says:

            Come clean?? Ha. You two need to come clean and tell everyone what your real motives are, except it’s not really necessary. Oceano knows what you are sellin’ and we aren’t buyin’.

            (9) 21 Total Votes - 15 up - 6 down
    • givemeabreak says:

      BRAVO…….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
  3. OnTheOtherHand says:

    I was recently looking for a house in the Oceano-Grover Beach area. I am glad I didn’t buy in Oceano because it looks to me as though the OCSD is headed for bankruptcy or worse. I am guessing that property owners in Oceano will be forced to bail out the OCSD and/or pay the fines assessed against it. This could be as expensive as the Los Osos situation and more unexpected for the majority of the affected people.

    While I am not sure that Ms. Tacker is totally correct in her analysis of the situation, even if she is half correct, the People’s Republic of Oceano is in for some rough times ahead. Is there any way that Geaslen’s contract could be voided as illegally formed?

    (11) 27 Total Votes - 19 up - 8 down
  4. Takara921 says:

    What a well written piece. Mrs. Tacker, a Los Osos citizen, knows more about OCSD politics than probably anyone in Oceano. Where were the informed Oceano citizens when this was taking place? Mr. Geaslens only qualifications are his ties to the SLO supervisor. (campaign manager) His contract of employment is a payoff for services rendered.

    The bottom line is that they know they can get away with anything in Oceano, because the citizens don’t care. They can’t be bothered. They are also struggling to survive, and have no time or inclination to be involved in OCSD’s dirty politics.

    Thank you Mrs. Tacker for being what I consider to be a champion of the people

    (-13) 49 Total Votes - 18 up - 31 down

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