Oceano board squelches public comment

July 2, 2012


The public comment period during last week’s Oceano Community Services District Board meeting was squelched after the board inaccurately determined rules barring elected officials from speaking about personnel issues also extended to members of the public.

Public comment audio:

Board President Matt Guerrero shut down comments from Los Osos resident Jeff Edwards during the June 27 meeting by stopping the meeting and calling the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office for assistance. Three deputies detained Edwards for about 10 minutes and prohibited him from speaking during the the public comment period.

Edwards was attempting to address his concerns about the management of the district and a supervisor who was on paid administrative leave after firing a disabled employee, an item slated to be discussed by the board in closed session.

The Ralph M. Brown Act, which established rules for public comment at government meetings, permits members of the public to speak on personnel issues slated for discussion in closed session. Board member Mary Lucey argued that speakers could not discuss personnel issues in front of her regardless of what the law says.

“Sir, you are not going to talk about people right to privacy,” Lucey said. “I don’t care what you think the laws is you are not going to disclose people’s right to privacy in front of me.”

Lucey and Edwards argued throughout much of the three minutes allotted to public speakers prior to each agenda item. During the exchange, Edward’s microphone was cut off, deputies were called and he was escorted from the board room.

Several board members said that Edwards had disrupted the meeting prior to public comment by speaking out of turn while not at the podium. In addition, board members voiced their concerns that Edwards often comments on district issues even though he does not live in Oceano. These comments, board members contend, extend the meetings at a cost to the district.

Nevertheless, the Ralph M. Brown Act does not allow board members to bar people who live out of area from commenting during meetings.

In addition, following the removal of Edwards from the building, the board reopened public comment and allowed former board member Barbara Mann to speak for four minutes on her respect for the board and displeasure with Edwards.

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Look, just let the people say what they want (as long as it isn’t a public safety issue).

The comments by individuals will reflect either good or bad onto the commentator’s opinions and positions.

We really don’t need to prop up the already pervasive City-of-Bell tactics used widely throughout the state by supporting elected government leaders to crap all over the Brown Act.

I reside in Oceano.

I’m currently amassing a small army of dedicated people that want to see change in Oceano.

4 of the 5 director’s on the board have not been elected by the people. Don’t let people that don’t share your morals or beliefs represent you.

Oceano residents, you have a unique opportunity this November to change out the entire board. It’s time to press the reset button.

The people that are trying to control the town are already running scared. This is why they are locking down public comment, demeaning people on this blog and others, ect.

If Oceano was freed from this oppresive yoke, it would right itself.

I take it you are going to be on the ballot?

I have no problem identifying myself. And you are who? I would be more inclined to respond to your queries if I know who you are.

I get it now. Linda, or one of her emmisaries has been courting you. (This includes Geaslen.) They want you to run for office, or rather slide into office because they don’t anticipate a contested race. If there is a contested race, they will run your campaign for you like they have done for others who they have installed. You appear to be a perfect fit because you seem very eager to protect their boy Geaslen, and you appear to be “on board” already with their other agenda of stifling dissenting views.

If you run for office, it will be contested. Whether by me or (hopefully) someone else is still undecided.

Then you get to tell the town with the majority of people well below the poverty line that you don’t see anything wrong with Geaslen’s six figure salary, despite having no experience and his employment was a result of a political payoff.

You can also tell them why you are not outraged by the Board stifling dissenting viewpoints.

My platform would be this. The GM takes an immediate 30% reduction in salary. If he cannot complete an audit within 4 months he is fired for cause. If he can’t produce a acceptable budget he is fired for cause. His current preliminary budget is not acceptable. If he treats anyone that walks into that office or who contacts him with anything but dignity and respect, he’s fired for cause. (I’ve already ran into people that have complained about his lack of respect.)

As a board member, if you can’t take three minutes of criticism from anyone, you should not be on the board. As a board member, you should be grateful that anyone shows up at the meetings at all, and therefore should allow them to talk before and during any item on the agenda. As a board member, you should listen very carefully to these people because you just might learn something.

I listened to the full audio of this meeting and was appalled by the director’s behavior. I couldn’t hear the speaker half the time because a couple of the directors were talking among themselves at the dias during public comment. Why didn’t you mention this?

Read my comments from your 7/7 kind comments to me.

I’ll be looking forward to your campaign. I would definitely run if I were you since you are not happy and want changes. I strongly believe a person should be willing to step up and be a part of solving the problem if they are going to be continually critical. For now since you are calling out writers by name and pointing out everyone’s faults until you use your real name and stop hiding it is difficult for me to respect you.

I have no intention of running for the board. I did try once to be appointed and was not chosen. This would not matter if I was unhappy with the current progress. However, I am unable to give it the 100% at this time I know the people deserve.

You asked me to expound on my opinions. Then certainly you will do the same. You must be able to back up your accusations with facts. Please explain the process of exactly with cold hard facts and proof this was a political pay off. If you can prove this to me then I am certainly willing to listen.

Another accusation that was made my Mr. Edwards, at the podium, is it was a lie that the computer was hacked. Perhaps you can follow up on that and provide the facts proving this also. I would be very interested. I am willing to have an open mind if I am presented with cold hard facts.

I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the cold hard facts to come forth substantiating his allegations, because there aren’t any.

Duh….. I’m quite sure he/she/it won’t respond.

And in this corner we have Blacksmith the undisputed teller of the truth. His opponent….. more of the SOS.

He is in a corner all right. Backed right in and won’t respond. Bawk, bawk, bawk.

He was speaking and making comments loud enough to be heard during the course of the meeting.

He and Ms. Tacker do this every meeting throughout the entire meeting. Every meeting they are asked by others in the audience and the board chair to refrain and please not be disruptive. They continue to do so. In my opinion they are purposely trying to antagonize people and cause trouble. Hoping to frustrate people into the scenario they created Wednesday night so they can now file a law suit and make money off of us. Watch it happen folks. They have already cost Oceano a lot of time and money.

I agree this last blow up could have been handled better. Their behavior is destructive and negative to those of us who actually live in Oceano and are there because we care about our community.

I don’t dispute what you say, however whatever happened at a different point in the meeting was not challenged so it seems the Board didn’t find it disruptive or failed to act.

What happened during the audio segment attached to this article is a separate issue and the Board was in total violation of state law and the state constitution. There is absolutely no right to be free of criticism or “negativity”, and calling anything “destructive” is simply a personal opinion. California’s constitution protects, and even encourages, critical speech and legislative bodies better learn how to lawfully handle such situation lest they be faced with a lawsuit.

Opinions about what is best for the community and how the Board acts vary. The law provides that all opinions be heard equally no matter what anyone personally thinks about them.

I note there are a number of “thumbs down” on the legal excerpts posted by myself and Cicero. That’s fine, but thumbs down doesn’t change reality.

Actually Kevin it was challenged. They were asked to quit being disruptive, while in the audience, or a deputy would be called to remove them. They told the chair to go ahead and call them. When the chair stopped the meeting to call they said don’t bother we are leaving and they left.

You are right, it is my personal opinion what they do is “destructive.” An opinion shared by many others. I am sure we will be faced with a lawsuit. In my opinion, and (again) others this is why they are there.

That occurred later in the meeting and was rightful. I have some issue with letting Ms. Mann speak after comment was closed, however, and she was allowed to make the same sort of comments that were proscribed by the Board when Edwards spoke. I don’t expect a lawsuit if the Board gets themselves up to speed with the law.

I don’t think any input can be very destructive unless there is a majority of the Board willing to support it. It’s just comment. I’m being a bit ACLU about this issue because I believe the Brown Act is an important right. I don’t entirely oppose your views.

If I thought Mr. Edwards and Ms. Tacker sincerely were doing these things out of their love and caring for the people of Oceano I would feel differently. Of course I believe in freedom of speech. I just hate that all this distention, in my opinion, isn’t for the good of the citizens of Oceano but for an ulterior motive and personal gain.

I am trying to look at what is best for the people and community of Oceano. In my opinion these two people are not in the best interests of our community.

Very well.

Sidebar: ‘Distention’ means to extend or swell. ‘Dissension’ means disagreement.

Oh, boy. I do know the difference just typed it wrong. Thank you for clarifying.

I figured that you did! :)

This is true. I will add to Cathy’s post by saying this: We are not against public comment, including people from out side the district. However, when the commenters return week after week and make disparaging remarks about staff and the District, it just gets plain old. Then to have all this negativity coming from outsiders trying to drag down a community is just too much. Quite simply, we have had enough. This Board has put up with their attacks for months, valuable staff time has been wasted. We are human beings that are proud of our community and proud of accomplishments for the betterment of the town and when those two come down and disrupt a presentation and make snide remarks after every word spoken by the Board, public commenters and staff, we just are not going to sit back and keep taking it.

Quote court cases all you want, I want to know what happened to old fashioned respect, common courtesy, and just plain treating people right, qualities that in my opinion are lacking in the two people whose presence is as Cathy put it “not in the best interests of our community”.

Seen the same sort of similar action during the Board of Supervisor’s public comment sessions. It is too bad that common courtesy, respect and a willingness to come to a consensus does not prevail at all public meetings – no matter what the issue may be.

I love this post! I have been trying for a couple weeks to expose cry-me-a-river, as one of the key figures behind not only the new GM’s hiring and huge pay, but also the implementaion of key players on the board, through active participation in campaigns.

Now I’m not against being politically active, or working for individuals that you feel can represent you in government.

What I am against is doing this for your own vested interests, and because you feel you are entitled to do so.

Look carefully at her post. She says “We are not against public comment, including people from out side the district. However, when the commenters return week after week and make disparaging remarks about staff and the District, it just gets plain old.”

cry-me-a-river is not a board member, and not a staff member. Who does she mean when she talks about “We”. What this statement tells you is that she feels she controls the district and can speak for not only the GM but the board as well. Unfortunately this is the case.

This is nothing new for her (L. A. (initials)) She appears to believe this is her birthright. I wouldn’t mind it so much, but why doesn’t she take responsiblity for all the terrible projects and board members she has supported in the past, and how what terrible shape the district is in now.

And what about her financial interests in the district. That is the key, and what I will continue to comment on until censored, because money and power are all she cares about.

This is really sad. To have that much animosity against someone you do not even know is not good for you. In trying to expose cry-me-a-river you have exposed yourself.

I didn’t know that a “chair” could stop a meeting. Isn’t a “chair” an inanimate object?

b. A person who holds an office or a position of authority, such as one who presides over a meeting or administers a department of instruction at a college; a chairperson.

A dictionary is an inanimate object which can be used to look up meanings.

There have been some pretty “astounding” comments made at government meetings around the state. Unless it becomes a public safety issue, however, commentators have the right to say what they want, as long as it fits within the guidelines of the government body holding the meeting.

The government body holding the meeting’s guidelines must fall within the Brown Act’s stipulations.

I think a government body like OCSD, which has used the Brown Act like it was toilet paper for years, if not decades, can and SHOULD BE SUED.

It’s like the SSLOCSD….when they continue to abuse the power of the authority they have, government bodies who pi$$ on the Brown Act need to be held accountable…and nothing like $$$ sends the message home.

Mary I truly understand your point and I have had a lot of issues with OCSD over the years.

My concern is in my opinion these people aren’t doing it because they are trying to protect the people of Oceano. They don’t live here and they are rude to the residents. I see them using these tactics to antagonize the board and the residents with the end result of suing for money. I honestly don’t understand why they are doing what they do.

It took so long for things to finally be getting better and now we have this to contend with.

Blacksmith’s remark that their behavior is nothing worse than went on in the recent past is true. I don’t understand the rationalization of that however. Just because it went on before (and the residents hated it) is no reason it has to continue especially by people who don’t even live here. It is a never ending nightmare for we residents.


I realize you have an issue with Edwards & Tacker. To be completely honest I never understood this airport project they were purposing. (cry-me-a-river is on the airport commission) Their behavior is nothing worse that went on in the recent past. Sad but true. You do remember the “Jerry Springer show” comments.

I have met both these people at an OCSD meeting, and although Edwards seems to have his own agenda I found Tacker to be extremely knowledgable on all things CSD. This includes government code for CSD’s, pulbic records law, brown act law, ect.

Now she posted an opinion letter about these same topics, which also included the new GM’s inflated pay as well as his lack of knowledge on above topics.

You seem to disagree with her opinion.

Would you care to be specific in what you disagree with and why?

Actually, no I wouldn’t care to be specific. I don’t think you really care what I think and it isn’t going to change how you feel.

They are not giving you information are they? That’s why you can’t get specific.

They are very happy to send you out on the front line to fight their wars however.

I’m so sorry to say that you are being played.

Although, you remain anonymous your remarks lead me to believe you haven’t a clue what I am like. Sorry, but no one is sending me out to fight their battles. If I have ever wanted information I have never been denied what questions I have. I have never been anyone’s puppet. I have spent many hours researching things on my own and what I say is from my lips (or fingers as may be the case). You would be surprised to know how I really feel about how some things have come about. Right now for the first time since I have lived in Oceano this board (whether I am a fan of each individual or not) is working together. And yes, I recall the Jerry Springer name OCSD had. I am happy that has stopped.

It is true only one person has actually been voted in. I realize Ms. Angello’s had no opponents when she ran. It should have been on the ballot anyway to at least offer the opportunity for write-in. I doubt if this would have changed the outcome but I did not agree the people did not have a write-in option. I agree the people of Oceano will have their opportunity to place their names on the ballot. If those currently on the board run and are elected how will you feel then?

Julie may be well versed in The Brown Act etc. She would be much more successful in dispensing her wisdom if she were not so nasty and used some diplomacy. I always go along with the old saying you get more flies with honey than vinegar. The last GM had zero knowledge, finesse or intelligence (in my opinion). He was over paid before the majority of three gave him the last raise he had. Mr. Geaslen is Einstein in comparison. It is my personal opinion he is worth it. You get what you pay for. If you believe he needs to learn more I see complete willingness on his part to learn.

Tolerance and listening to others ideas is something we can all do better.

If Edwards was ‘speaking’ and making comments loud enough to be heard by those in attendance during the course of the meeting that’s when he should have been asked to refrain or be removed. BUT NOT WHEN HE WAS SPEAKING HIS TURN DURING PUBLIC COMMENT!

What an excellent point and post.

The only thing I would like to add is that this audio is available in it’s entirety at http://www.slo-span.org/media.php?slo=3#OCSD Edward’s comments start at 21:50 minutes in and ends at 24:40.

Judge for yourselves.

Edwards was making legitimate complaints, and the board, especially Guerro couldn’t handle it. Most of these complaints involved the General Manager Geaslen.

The only person that was out of line was board member Mary Lucey, who really escalated the situation.

BTW, I criticized CCN for having an edited version of this recording on their website because the sound fades during some critical times and then comes back on. I thought this was edited. It may have still been, but not by CCN. This happens on the recorded version of this full downloadable audio as well.

Think we can all agree that a Brown Act Violation occurred at the last meeting.

Part legal, part frustration, and partly a misunderstanding on employee privacy law.

Speaking for myself and other residents who I talk with who live in Oceano. We have been proud of the overall direction of the Board. I think they would be surprised at how much support they have and is growing.

We watch and read as a lack of civility from a few people continues to distract our Directors.

It is time to reset the converation and focus on ways to improve the quality of life issues, expand the job

base, provide services at more affordable prices, and reject the new fire tax proposal.

The past is gone, it is time to move forward, build a stronger community, learn from our mistakes, and in

the end never allow ourselves to be held hostage by fear or intimindation by a few people.

You have said something I have been unable to put into words but know is felt by myself and others. In the end never allow ourselves to be held hostage by fear or intimidation by a few people. In thinking about this I realize intimidation is the only way they know how to operated. If only all that negative energy would be used for good.

Your statements are extremely logical and well stated. This is what my fellow residents and neighbors in Oceano feel. In my opinion the thumbs down are coming from them and their buddies.