OCSD misses election deadline

August 9, 2012

Julie Tacker


In January 2011, five Oceano residents, concerned about the Oceano Community Services District Board’s consideration of selling water to local developers or other cities, crafted an initiative petition.  In less than a week they gathered 577 signatures for a proposed ballot measure. Verified signatures set the wheel in motion and the Board formally agreed to place the measure on the ballot for the upcoming November 6, 2012 general election.

The ballot measure requires that any details of a proposed sale, including its effects on Oceano, be presented in a report prepared by a registered water engineer and a certified public accountant.  The report would be mailed to every registered voter in the district no later than 60 days before an election.

On May 9 in consideration of the upcoming election, the OCSD General Manager, Tom Geaslen corresponded with County Clerk Recorder, Julie Rodewald, asking her for the petition, its date and when to present arguments. That evening the OCSD Board adopted a schedule based on the strict time line of California Election Code Section 9310 and presented it to Rodewald.  Keeping to the schedule, Rodewald sent the “Notice Calling for Submission of arguments for or against” to the respective parties who were eligible to present their arguments related to the measure with a reminder that they need be returned by June 15.

A June 12 email to Rodewald, Geaslen asked, “Anything I need to do?”  Rodewald was unclear of the question and asked for clarification.  Geaslen responds “Analysis from County Counsel is due 6/15.  And I believe so are arguments?”

Rodewald confirmed saying “You only need to do something if the district is filing an argument.”

This correspondence was just days from the deadline. Geaslen had not taken the central question to his Board. Would the district file an argument? Would they oppose or support the measure? Would they agree with County Counsel? Are they prepared to challenge it? Do they intend to?

Both the citizens who spearheaded the initiative effort and the OCSD failed to respond by the June 15 deadline. Only the impartial analysis developed by County Counsel, Warren Jensen will be published in the voter information pamphlet (loaded on the OCSD website August 7, 2012).

Jensen’s analysis is critical of the measure, he points out the measure may be subject to legal challenge on one or more grounds, suggesting it “steps beyond the power of the electorate to enact because the legislature has delegated to community services district government boards the power to sell water. Additionally, because the matter of who or which entity the OCSD may contract to sell water is an administrative matter not within the initiative power of the voters.”

Nearly two weeks after the deadline for arguments had passed, Geaslen mentions the initiative to his board in oral report, saying he hadn’t “received anything from the county.” He wasn’t supposed to; it was he who was supposed to present the board’s arguments.

Unfortunately, the train has left the station, the board missed their opportunity to formulate a position and have it placed in the voter information pamphlet. Geaslen failed to agendize the question and/or make a timely recommendation to his Board.  Without an argument presented for the public, the community is left to decide without hearing from their elected and appointed officials.

The only remedies I see at this late date is to agendize a public hearing on the matter, come to a comprehensive opinion, establish a budget and spend the money to publish their argument on their website and advertise in the local papers for the voters to fully understand how their representatives plan to address the initiative.

Julie Tacker is an advocate for transparency in government who lives in los Osos.

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I’m trying to understand County councils objections.

He says “steps beyond the power of the electorate to enact because the legislature has delegated to community services district government boards the power to sell water. Additionally, because the matter of who or which entity the OCSD may contract to sell water is an administrative matter not within the initiative power of the voters.”

The problem I have is, the people elect five representatives from the community to sit on that board. These five people have the power to sell water, yet the people that voted them in have no power? This is false because the people have the power to recall any elected official that tried to sell water, and replace them with someone who would not sell water. These elected officials could also fire at will any administrator that would try to sell water on their own.

Mr. Jensen goes even farther. He say’s selling water is an administrative action. That means that the General Manager could make a deal to sell all of Oceano’s water and not even have to go before the board or the people. Does this make sense? Absolutely wrong! (Check out gov code 61000 – 612666, this is the code that governs CSD’s)

I would like to have Mr. Jensen draw an org chart to see if he puts the people above the local government agency which is supposed to represent the people, or below the government, which means you are a slave, a person that is only supposed to produce, pay money, but has no say.

The people formed the government! Now the government is saying the people don’t have the power to control government. This is how it’s going, and will be accepted practice unless the people stand up.

Thanks Blacksmith for asking the hard questions that pertain to the subject at hand and that the Board hasn’t considered.

What will they do now that the deadline has passed?

Why did Geaslen fail to take this to the Board? Did they tell him behind closed doors to “forget it?”

Does anyone know if it is true that Geaslen is associated with Tomkins and the development in AG?

Isn’t AG already asking for more water from OCSD? Perhaps he wants to keep the power to be able to “bring more revenue.” Seems like that’s all he’s doing these days, looking for revenue rather than manage the money the people have intrusted the Board with well. His self-serving salary is just an example.

What’s he chasing Oceano Dunes fees for? The FCFA should handle that themselves….two guys being paid +/- $150K to chase $20-$30K is wasting the people’s time/$.

As for Jensen’s opinion, that’s the Board’s job, to agree or disagree with it and make their position known, if they’d done it and their position agreed with Jenson, I bet we would have seen more candidates. Now all we have are the Status Quo (plus the embarrassing 6th Board member who won’t go away).

While nothing will change in Oceano until the community district is bankrupt I still appreciate that Julie is putting some sunshine on this issue. It take time to document all this.

Oceano is as bad as the city of Bell only on a smaller scale.

Quit buying in to Tackers vengeful attack on Oceano, just because she and Jeffie didn’t get what they wanted she is now hammering that board, if those people have such a problem wouldn’t you think that someone in Oceano would voice up and if THEY do then jump on the band wagon, if she is so wanting to help the poor citizens of some town where was she when the top cop flubbed up in Paso, or when the City of SLO had a problem with an employee dumping hazardous paints in the city yard, she just about single handed wiped out Los Osos on the sewer project, this lady needs to seek help.

Dear Myself,

“Vengeful attack on Oceano”? I don’t see it that way at all. You sound like Geaslen, unprofessional and the “great deflector” He has never done a thing wrong in his life, it’s always fault of someone else. Tacker seems to be the only one with the guts to stand up to the Status Que appointed Board and shed light on the issues that matter to us as citizens. This Board has spent the last 3 months dinking around with Policies and Procedures and Bylaw changes, wracking up hours and hours for the attorney with busy work. we went through $50,000 of “codification” and bylaw BS with Semas just about 2 years ago. The busy work has errors that will have to be corrected and we’ll pay for that too.

I appreciate that someone is looking into the questions we all have. I’m sorry I feel so helpless, I have to protect my small business and seldom step on any toes. If I had bigger shoes, I’d stomp on this Board’s toes and set them straight. A community this small, with this small of a budget, has no business paying big city rates for its management who screws up over and over.

Los Osos is lucky to have her.

I agree completely agree with you . What I would like to say is that Julie gets LOTS of space in CCN , I think too much . But this is her editorial and she does have a right to her opinions . Having said that , I find it very difficult to question this piece in anyway because CCN heavily and narrowly censors comments to protect their favorites like Julie Tacker . Julie is an expert at adding just enough truth to bend you to her propaganda and agenda . As you will see , Julie will have no choice but to run for an office in Oceano , because she will have a secret plan to fix everything cheaper , faster , and in less time .

The only one who is making a vengeful attack is you, against Julie Tacker. People in Oceano rarely get involved in OCSD business because they are afraid of retaliation. Those that actually step foot in that board room are treated with disrespect, not listened to, and realize that most items on the agenda have already been decided on prior to the meeting. So why show up.

I thank Julie Tacker for shedding light on this board, and the continued incompetence of this six figure General Manager.

p.s. StatusQuoJoe, The supposed $50,000 for codification was never spent. Former council Alex Simas never received a dime in compensation for this, and rightly so. He screwed it up big time. The only one who still propagates this information is Mary Lucey, and unfortunately she is using more than ever.

People go to meetings when there is something they are really interested in or affected by. they do not stay away because of fear of retaliation or disrespect. Isn’t that why everyone wanted the TV cameras, because people cannot always attend so they can watch meetings at home. People in Oceano are not afraid, if they were not happy you would be hearing from them and if they were to attend they would be treated fairly.

“Vengeful attack?” You funny. Vengeful my eye. This was a very thoughtful and informative article I have had the pleasure to read. Sure there was an opinion near the end of the article but it was neither venomous or hurtful. In fact Mrs. Tacker made some well thought out suggestions on how the OCSD could recover and move forward. The board member can make statements and find consensus on this issue. I don’t think this article has the content to be considered an attack. Now your comment… well it speaks for itself.

Seems to me that OCSD is just continuing in what has become a time honored tradition…..limiting the amount of information available to the public.

Why should they provide any information the public? It won’t really matter when it comes time to vote, no matter how positive it might seem. Most people are sheeple who’ll agree with the councils decision no matter what.

OCSD is… probably… smart enough to realize “any” information might be damaging and is therefore just trying to control collateral damage before it happens.

QUOTING THACKER: Only the impartial analysis developed by County Counsel, Warren Jensen…

“impartial”? You have to be kidding.

I would like to make a couple of points on this issue;

1. My biggest concern is the “pattern” of the Directors and GM in disregarding the will of the people.

It is just not this issue. It is this attitude of entitlement and they are not accountable to the people of


2. I have been critical of the GM’s pay for a small community service district with a lot of low income

residents. $ 145,000 + Benefits + Buyout, places us all at financial risk. They betrayed the residents

with rate hikes and then use the money unwisely in these difficult economic times. Sends the wrong


Back to my point- Why are we paying so much and keep making all these procedual errors meeting, after meeting.

Summary- I want the Directors and GM to be successful ! We want the community to grow and prosper.

Hopefully, we will see a surge forward focused on their strategic mission of providing,” low cost services

for residents” .

They need to reduce costs, reduce future rate increases,implement pension reform, be concerned about the cost of the fire merger and 90% pensions@50, and last they need to negotiate a new contract

for the GM, built on performance and accomplishing goals that improve the community and reduce costs.