Oceano under fire for Brown Act violations

April 25, 2013
Terry Franke

Terry Franke

By KAREN VELIE

One of the leading open government attorneys in California served the Oceano Community Services District with an order last week to cease and desist violating the Brown Act or face litigation.

The Ralph M. Brown Act, passed in 1953, guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies whose actions are to be conducted openly.

In the letter, Californians Aware attorney Terry Francke asks the district to stop curtailing public comment when its board does not like what is being said, provide records to the public as required by law, and to have district staff introduce an item before requiring public comment.

On three separate occasions, two of which the speaker was commenting on recently terminated for cause District Manager Tom Geaslen’s performance, the board shut down public comment.

On June 27, OCSD Board President Matt Guerrero shut down comments from Los Osos resident Jeff Edwards 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 public comment period.

Edwards was attempting to address his concerns about Geaslen’s 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.

“These interruptions lead little doubt that there are instances of viewpoint discrimination prohibited by the First Amendment even in non-public forums where, “the government may restrict expression only if the regulation is reasonable and the viewpoint neutral,” Leventhal v. Vista Unified School District.

The Brown Act requires that public records produced by a government entity and distributed to board members are made available to the public during the meeting.

Under Geaslen, records distributed to board members during meetings had to either be requested through a public records request, or found later on line or obtained through a trip to the district. The district’s attorney Molly Thurmond argued that the district did not have to have the documents at the meeting if they were available at the districts office even though it is closed during the meetings.

Franke has also asked the board to stop the practice of requiring public comment on agenda items with titles like “report of OCSD operations,” without any information in the board packet which “denies the public the opportunity to react to them,” he said.

Californians Aware wrote to Geaslen in Feb. 2012 that the practice of not proving sufficient information on agenda items is in violation of the law and needed to be changed. After receiving the letter, the board changed its practice but shortly thereafter resumed it.

“The board has 30 days from the receipt of this letter to provide Californians Aware with an unconditional commitment to cease, desist from, and not repeat the practices noted above,” Franke said in his April 17 letter. “Its failure to do so will entitle Californians Aware to file an action for declaratory injunction, and injunctive relief and for attorney fees and costs.”

Guerrero said the board plans to respond to the letter and its allegations within 30 days during a closed session meeting.

“As to the public comment, that is something being looked at,” Guerrero said. “As I am sure you are aware, we are in another period of transition. I expect this to be a period of growth for the organization.”

OCSD cease and desist letter


Loading...
hijinks

Jeff Edwards complaining OCSD is doing something sleazy? Now that’s really funny! Why’s he even down there, so far from his usual haunts in LO?


Pelican1

He, like his girlfriend, is nothing more than a carpetbagger.


MaryMalone

It may take awhile to straighten out the mess the OCSD BOD and its GM, Tom Gleasen, created for OCSD and its rate-payers. One of those is the significantly unethical and unfair hiring practices used to hire, in January 2013, Jocyln Hodson as in house accountant.


OCSD stands to make the situation far worse if it names her interim general manager, as has been discussed previously by the BOD and in committee.


1. The OCSD BOD never took under consideration creating a new in house accountant position. This takes on especial significance since Geaslen was required, as a condition of his with-cause termination, to reimburse OCSD $36,900. With Hodson as in house accountant, how was this allowed to occur? What role did she play in it?


2. In the summer of 2012 the OCSD BOD enacted office policies and procedures which included procedures for recruiting new employees, and then promptly did not follow them in the hiring of Hodson in January 2012. OCSD is an “Equal Opportunity Employer,” and the procedure guidelines state that the manager is required to administer and coordinate the recruiting process, is to publish an announcement for each position vacancy, and is to post each vacancy announcement on the website and in the lobby.


There was no announcement or publication of the vacant position, and the vacant position announcement was not placed in the lobby or on the website.


There was no opportunity for other qualified applicants to submit applications for the position.


Indeed, it appears that the position was created specifically for Ms. Hodson. The fact that CC&A is now again contracted with OCSD, with Hodson employed as in house accountant and under consideration for the interim GM position (despite the fact that she has zero experience administering a CSD), just begs for another scandal of impropriety of financial transactions (such as the one which left Geaslen having to reimburse OCSD $36,900).


3. OCSD continues to use Pressley & Associates (accounting, CPA), and OCSD has an accounting manager employee, which were present before Ms. Hodson was wrongfully hired as an in house accountant. With a CPA and an accounting manager already, why was the new accountant hired? This appears to be a triplication of accounting services, and a waste of rate-payer funds. Who did this benefit?


4. Ms. Hudson, as an in house accountant for OCSD, brings with her a striking conflict of interest, and if she is appointed interim general manager, it will just make the situation worse. Hodson was employed by Caliber Audit and Attest (CA&A) and left their employment very recently. To make it worse, in the last OCSD meeting, the BOD AGAIN contracted with CA&A for more than $18,000.


The Fair Political Pracitces Commission’s regulations, regarding the “revolving door” Post-Employment Laws, are applicable to the conflict-of-interest plagued relationship between Hodson, CCA& and OCSD.


As interim GM, and even as an in house accountant, Hodson will foreseeably have to deal with CA&A, and decisions she makes are likely to financially benefit CA&A. In addition, CC&A may exert self-serving influence on Hodson, to the detriment of the OCSD rate-payers. Indeed, the recent re-contracting with CA&A by OCSD may very well have been positively influenced by Hodson as the OCSD in house accountant.


———-


OCSD has gone through far too many scandals, GMs with conflicts of interests, and other improprieties to even appear to be failing to follow fair employment guidelines, ignoring its own procedural regulations when hiring an employee, hiring an employee with a “revolving-door” improper relationship with her recent prior employer, and setting up its rate-payers for another round of self-enriching antics by an employee or GM.


You would think OCSD would be trying to AVOID more problems of the kind it had with Gleasen instead of EMBRACING new problems of the same ilk.


It is time for OCSD and its BOD to STOP thumbing their nose at laws and regulations, and start rebuilding OCSD’s reputation.


MaryMalone

P.S. Pardon the spelling errors. It has been a long day and it is only 4:00.


StatusQuoJoe

OCSD needs to look at their legal counsel, how did so much go wrong without them catching it? As for Hodson, my guess is Geaslen didn’t report the hiring, he just did it. Just a bet, but Legal Counsel didn’t know new hires were in the office or water yard, and the Board was buffaloed into thinking they’d hit the jackpot with such a qualified person. Oblivious to any conflict.

Not one Board member has ever experienced a good GM. Guerrero is getting an education over at SSLOCSD with Wallace gone.

From what I witnessed none of them ever challenged Geaslen’s tall tales. Even Mary Lucy, the senior director doesn’t remember protocol and has a foggy memory of the past.

If anyone was teaching Geaslen to be a better Gm it was J&J’s hard questions that made him get better, but who found there was money missing? It may have been Hodson’s expertise that actually took Geaslen out.

No matter how it happened, it’s good he’s gone.


WiserGuy

Hey Joe, I appreciate your even-handed analysis and rational, constructive tone. It’s obvious you have something worthwhile to contribute. I wish “others” would follow your example, but I think their motivations and self-interest preclude that and thus Oceano suffers for it.


StatusQuoJoe

I’d like to know what examples you can point to that suggests ‘motives and self-interest’ are at the root of J&J’s involvement in Oceano. Surely they haven’t been welcomed by the Welcome Wagon. On the contrary, they’ve been harassed by law enforcement and t-shirt wearing cheer-leading troops.

In watching Ch. 21, I see Tacker is a government watchdog throughout the County. It must have been like watching a train wreck — couldn’t turn away. For Edwards, originally I’m sure it was the love of the airport land, but really he’s stepped into activist role, arguing funding, water and GM performance. I heard him tell a story once of how became enamored with Oceano, a neighbor of mine invited him to town to look at the airport for redevelopment. Because, really, it doesn’t benefit anyone who doesn’t own a plane. Over the years there have been accidents that could have killed innocent homeowners and been an impediment to developing hotels along Pier Ave., where the community could benefit from tax revenue. The airport exacerbates flooding for sure. so, while you may not like Edwards ideas for redevelopment, things need to be fixed down there by the island.


WiserGuy

You’ve answered your own question, Joe. It’s no secret that Edwards and Tacker want the Oceano Airport shut down and hope to play a part in development and land speculation in Oceano. Sure, they could make a lot of money if they are on the ground floor of that scheme, but there are plenty of RESIDENTS of Oceano who don’t want the congestion and other problems that will bring. Because Oceano is an unincorporated area, you can’t guarantee that Oceano would see any tax revenue from it. Besides, Oceano has everything it needs. If you want a lot of hotels, go to Pismo and Shell Beach.


If some people from out of town feel the need to place their development and business ambitions upon Oceano, there is plenty of room already set aside for that along Highway 1.


Not every beachside community needs to be gobbled up by business parks and multi-level overnight accommodations for folks from out of town. Oceano already provides literally thousands of places for tourists to camp and park their RVs and trailers, not to mention dozens of motel style accommodations. How much more does the community need to do to satisfy the development ambitions of people who neither live, work or play in the immunity?


StatusQuoJoe

Sorry WiseGuy, we apparently disagree. Oceano needs to be and should be so much more than it is. The airport is a dangerous impediment to our future.


WiserGuy

What kind of “future’ IS THAT? I suspect you mean YOUR personal future where you hope to profit off the “impediments” built upon others.


The airport is on a FLOOD PLAIN. The amount of infrastructure required to build a shopping mall or business park or high rise hotels in that location will cost taxpayers dearly. And don’t try to tell me the tax revenue will off-set the costs to taxpayers. That rarely happens, and besides, Oceano residents will suffer the results anyway,.


I susect you are just another real estate speculator who is not content with your current riches and must always be looking to the illusionary “future” where you imagine you will have enough riches to be happy and content.


Have you ever heard of BE HERE NOW?


Oceano already has areas designated for business development. If you are so dead set on development, do OCEAN a favor and build your dreams for riches there where you don’t have to destroy so much of the best aspects of Oceano’s character and the reason so many RESIDENTS love their town.


StatusQuoJoe

I was referring to the potential hazards related to the flooding forced into the island and airplanes falling from the sky. Both scenarios have played out in the past.


By the way, the district and the county would enjoy revenue from any new development, relieving some of the tax burden on you and me.


MaryMalone

QUOTING STATUSQUOJOE: “OCSD needs to look at their legal counsel, how did so much go wrong without them catching it?”


INDEED. The BOD should ask for a refund on what they’ve paid in attorney services since, clearly, their legal consultants were asleep at the wheel.


WiserGuy

“Mary”, your incessant use of straw man arguments, combined with your track record of insults, reprehensible and unfounded character assassinations and general and protracted ill-will against Oceano residents, and questionable motivations has so turned me off that I won’t take anything your write at face value. In my mind, and others, your credibility is shot.


You may attack me for this message and claim your usual “ad hominem” trope, but you have injected yourself so fervently and consistently into these issues, including threading, in your words “retribution” against Oceano residents, that YOU have become one of the issues in regards to the problems Oceano is contending with. Thus I feel it is legitimate and fair game to bring you up for discussion.


MaryMalone

Sorry. Attacking me personally is NEVER open to discussion.


Also, you don’t even qualify for making strawman arguments. You can’t seem to get passed ad hominem attacks.


“Wiser Guy,” I cannot understand why anybody is NOT outraged at the negligence perpetrated by the OCSD BOD. They have allowed a big, fat, expensive mess to occur on their watch, because they did not provide even minimal oversight to the GM that THEY decided to contract for thep osition.


I know some think poor Matt Guerrero is an innocent babe in the woods, and was tricked by Geaslen’s lies, but I don’t buy that excuse. Guerrero is president of the OCSD BOD. It is his responsibility to lead the BOD in its duties, which include ensuring the GM they approved for contracting is properly vetted and is not lying to them.


Guerrero is also an attorney. How can an attorney be so fracking gullible as to believe Geaslen’s load of BS?


Finally, the first time Tacker and Edwards brought up the Brown Act violation, as an attorney, Guerrero should have been on that like a duck on a june-bug, and AT LEAST investigated it…if he was not aware of the requirements from the start, which he should have been.


It sounds like the OCSD BOD just swallowed what the Geaslen dog-and-pony show, without question, and turned over OCSD’s keys and checkbook, with very little oversight.


If this was just the FIRST time a slick-talking GM had run roughshod over the OCSD BOD, that would be one thing. But, honest to God, it seems that the OCSD BOD, in all of its variations over the years, have made fracking CAREERS out of it.


As I said, they need to get their ducks in a row and start doing their jobs, which, unfortunately, includes deciding on the next GM and then providing oversight to the GM. It will take awhile to straighten out the mess, and only a fool would immediately trust that Guerrero and the BOD have changed their ways without a few years of them being able to run OCSD without a continuing slew of scandals.


hijinks

“The Fair Political Pracitces Commission’s regulations, regarding the “revolving door” Post-Employment Laws…” Huh? What you talking about Mary?


MaryMalone

For heaven’s sake.


Do an internet search for “Fair Political Practices Commission” and “revolving door.” You will be given a number of websites from which you can choose.


WiserGuy

The OCSD should be following open meeting laws and I have no problem with the OCSD being schooled on the details of the Brown act and being required to follow those laws specified in it.


I expect the OCSD board will learn from any mistakes and move forward as it continues to make significant headway in improving the operation of the district. I hope that the efforts of real estate speculators from outside Oceano and others who are calling for “retribution” do not burden the district and its taxpayers with legal fees and personal attacks on the very people who are leading Oceano to a better, brighter tomorrow.


The current board, under the leadership of Matthew Guererro, has made headway toward improving the operation of the district and looks to be motivated to continue the work required to keep the district on a positive, productive path. . It is a shame that a few outside agitators and land speculators don’t appreciate this and burden the board and community with disrespectful attitudes and personal attacks that have not done anything to better the situation and may, in fact, discourage current board members, and potential board members from stepping forward and being an active, positive force in the community.


It is quite clear to me that Mr. Guererro has the best interests of the community in mind. It’s terrible that some of the outside agitators are so motivated to publicly suggest otherwise. Perhaps worse is that they seem to relish the idea punishing the board in ways that could cost taxpayers in Oceano, doing more harm than good.


MaryMalone

To quote a line from the Aliens 2 movie….”Maybe you haven’t been paying attention to current events…”


Matt Guerrero is not the Baby Jesus. He and the BOD have failed in providing their duties and it has harmed the OCSD rate-payers and other members of the community. They did so for months and months, allowing more and more harm from Geaslen to accrue. So Matt Guerrero and the BOD have A LOT of work to do, and many months to go, before they can begin to be trusted with running OCSD.


During his tenure as head of the OCSD BOD, the Brown Act has been used as toiletpaper by the OCSD BOD and its GM. In addition, members of the public who took the time to attend the meeting and wished to speak their opinions were treated very poorly, and Guerrero did ZIP to stop it.


Matt Guerrero CANNOT “have the best interests of the community in mind” if he treats the members of the public who attend the OCSD meetings so poorly.


Matt Guerrero CANNOT “have the best interests of the community in mind” if he allows the GM to overpay himself–sometimes without even submitting his payouts to the BOD for approval–to AT LEAST the tune of $36,900.


Matt Guerrero CANNOT “have the best interests of the community in mind” if he allows the GM to fart around with the group backing the farmers markets when OCSD has so many other pressing problems.


Matt Guerrero CANNOT “have the best interests of the community in mind” if he did not lead the BOD to carefully research and vet all GM candidates before contracting with Geaslen.


Matt Guerrero CANNOT “have the best interests of the community in mind” if he did not take heed to the very important failures in following laws and regulations by Geaslen and the BOD and, instead, let it go until Geaslen was investigated for perjury and then, and only then, did Geaslen and the BOD deem it worrisome enough to take action.


And it does not look like Matt Guerrero and the BOD are going to clean up their negligent acts anytime soon, as they are discussing naming an accountant, who very recently worked for a firm providing services to OCSD (a clear violation of the “revolving door” ethics code) as interim general manager.


Here’s my suggestion….they would do FAR better to ask Mike Winn to be interim GM and, indeed, GM. Mike Winn is tres savvy in local politics, has years of experience during very difficult times for the Nipomo CSD, and knows the laws and regulations regarding the Brown Act. Most importantly, Mike Winn would be the last one to violate rules and regulations regarding how business at a CSD is supposed to be conducted.


I don’t always agree with Mike, but he knows what he is doing and would carry out his duties with dignity and diligence.


WiserGuy

You’ve gone WAY OVERBOARD, “Mary.” Anyone who knows Matthew Guererro knows he is a good man who is sacrificing to give his time and effort for the residents of Oceano. Mr. Guererro is a family man, liked and well respected by his neighbors. For you to suggest otherwise is REPREHENSIBLE.


It is becoming increasingly obvious you are part of a scheme to dissolve the OCSD in order to take control of Oceano away from its residents for the most selfish of purposes. This is scandalous and disgusting beyond most people’s imagination.


All I’ve done is ask you to be civil and quit with your mean-spirited, evil, disrespectful attitude and you respond with THIS?


“Mary” you have stepped over a line and its more obvious than ever that your motives are anything but pure. Oceano residents will rally behind Mr. Guerrero and protect the community from being ripped apart and shat on by the most evil and two-faced force it has ever experienced.


If any Oceano resident had any slight thought that you truly cared about the best interests of Oceano and its people, that illusion just died and will never come back to life.


I’m disgusted beyond words and call out to all residents of SLO County to stand with Oceano residents in standing up to the evil that you so blithely and eagerly represent.


MaryMalone

QUOTING WISERGUY: “Anyone who knows Matthew Guererro knows he is a good man who is sacrificing to give his time and effort for the residents of Oceano. Mr. Guererro is a family man, liked and well respected by his neighbors. For you to suggest otherwise is REPREHENSIBLE.”


Again, Matt Guerrero is not the Baby Jesus.


And, AGAIN, you do not offer any rebuttal to any of the OCSD BOD failings I’ve discussed here.


History is absolutely FULL of what were thought to be “nice” men, “family men” who were “liked by their neighbors,” who turned out to be heinous men. I’m not saying Guerrero is, but he surely has been negligent in his administration of his position of president of the OCSD bod.


Matt Guerrero is president of the OCSD BOD and, under his leadership, OCSD has been beset with scandal after scandal, impropriety after improriety–while he did NOTHING to stop it.


Indeed, he allowed the BOD to denigrate political activists who pointed out what was gong on. If anything, it appears he was, at the very least, allowing a cover-up to occur.


Now you attack me, claiming I am part of some scheme to dissolve OCSD. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, if OCSD cannot get its BOD to abandon their negligence in performing their duties, then something must be done to stop the resultant rampant corruption and mismanagement that the OCSD BOD has allowed to continue UNSTOPPED.


He is, indeed, a well-spoken man, but I don’t think a “nice” man would have led the rate-payers of OCSD down the path of scandal, or improper financial transactions such that the recently terminated GM had to reimburse OCSD $36,900. I don’t think a “nice” man would ignore the fair-employment practices required of OCSD and allow OCSD to enter into a strikingly conflict-of-interest laden deal such as hiring as an in house accountant a woman who, just prior, had worked for an accounting/auditing firm which contracted with OCSD. I don’t think a “nice” man would have shut out all other potential in house accountant applicants by allowing the GM to follow NONE of the fair-employment practices.


For the love of God, this man is an attorney and, as president of the BOD, he should be the last one allowing this crap to go on.


If you don’t like discussions about the corruption that the OCSD BOD, which includes Mr. Guerrero, to go on unchecked, then YOU GO TALK TO THEM ABOUT IT. But continuing to attack me, and being unable to rebut my opinions, is only making the situation worse for OCSD.


How DARE you criticize me for stating the truth and stating my opinions about it. Who in the flying **** do you think you are?


WiserGuy

I firmly stand by all that I’ve written on this issue and would encourage everyone reading this to read and ponder the validity of my other postings on this thread.


MaryMalone

And STILL no rebuttal of any of my opinions.


WiserGuy

I’ve rebutted YOUR STINKING, NASTY, DESTRUCTIVE , REPREHENSIBLE ATTITUDE AND TONE time and again.


You’re welcome to your “opinions” and if your credibility wasn’t shot, I might bother to address them individually, but what good would that do? Your attitude would still be stinking up this forum and Oceano and that’s the bigger problem in my opinion.


MaryMalone

Again, a personal attack.


It seems that there is not one person who can legitimately defend the OCSD BOD.


StatusQuoJoe

Maybe both women agree on the relevant issues? As does a growing percentage of the Oceano population. Oceano has seen its fair share of phonies.

Thanks again to J&J for shining the light. Thanks to the OCSD BOD, for finally taking their blinders off. Better late than never.


MaryMalone

SQJ, it appears that both Julie Tacker and I have in common our disgust with government corruption and being compelled to speak out against it.


StatusQuoJoe

By “outside agitators” you surely are referring to Geaslen. Right? He is the Teixeira plant from Nipomo who took advantage of Monte’s mistakes, blaming all accounting irregularities on the past management. All the while lining his pockets at over $10,500 per month.


Oceano residents seem to have forgotten Monte cut fat salaried (Gina & Phil) staff and district costs in an effort to not have to raise water rates. On the other hand Geaslen raised water rates, took the money from it for himself and puffed up the staff again to do his work, because he was too incompetent to do it himself.


Bye, bye $100K on accountants to complete the embarrassing audits. So embarrassing in fact, Geaslen wouldn’t let the auditor write the exist letters.


Red Flags for fraud dropped all over the field!


WiserGuy

Matthew Guererro courageously stepped into a difficult situation that had developed over the course of decades. His is a position that few if anyone wanted. Being OCSD board president meant stepping through a field of political and bureaucratic land mines as bad as anywhere in SLO County. Considering the situation, he has done admirably and I would venture to say far better than most people. He has the respect of Oceano residents who know that he is making steady progress in improving the governing of the community, Under his tenure Geaslen was removed and required to pay the district tens of thousands of dollars. Now it is time to move forward and it would be nice if people outside the community would respect that rather than continue to attack the very people who are doing the most to make the community a better place.


StatusQuoJoe

Then why did he hold on to Geaslen for so long? Warning to the Wiser Guy, do not make the GM your friend. Maintain a business relationship. Be objective, don’t buy BS as it is dished out. Guerrero has had a huge learning curve to overcome, he was learning and growing over at the San. Dist. which is also great of Oceano and the South County, but it too too long at home at the OCSD because he got too cozy with Geaslen (losing his objectivity).


MaryMalone

I agree, SQJ. That may have led to his negligence as president of the BOD. However, I still find it difficult to believe that an attorney would allow major Brown Act violations to go, unchallenged, for well over a year. In addition, there can be no excuse for Guerrero to allow the BOD to treat Tacker and Edwards so horribly at public meetings when all T&E were doing was standing up for the rights of the public by calling the OCSD on its Brown Act violations and other issues, such as the violation of the fair employment regulations for their “revolving door” hire, Jocyln Hodson.


He called the police on Edwards, not for any objective behavior, but because he and the BOD did not like what Edwards was saying about Geaslen.


MaryMalone

For those of us who have actually worked for CSDs or other local government agencies, we know what is required of CSDs and its officials, elected or contracted. Running a CSD is a complicated endeavor, but it can be learned, as many of us know from experience. A rogue GM can cause a LOT of damage and it can require A LOT of funds to clean it up. THAT is why it is vitally important for the BOD and its president to do rigorous vetting when selecting a GM, and then provide rigid oversight until it is clear the new GM knows what she/he is doing.


Geaslen had no experience as a GM for a CSD before. Indeed, he had not even ever worked at a CSD before, in any position. Yet the OCSD BOD chose HIM to be GM, and then gave him carte blanche to do whatever he wanted, without appropriate oversight.


StatusQuoJoe

Geaslen had never worked at a CSD before. If I had seen his resume, I wouldn’t have let him clean the toilets at the OCSD, he had nothing solid to stand on. titan Lending, EA, Starlight 55, all in suspended, default, terminated or fabricated.


Geaslen is a figment of his own imagination.


WiserGuy

i’m disappointed with you Joe. Why do you feel compelled to take such a mean tone and spew it over and over?


StatusQuoJoe

WiseGuy, Geaslen will cost us more than the $250K he already took home in the 21 months he worked for the dist. The fallout is untold. Mistakes, missteps, lies and broken promises in a district that can ill afford it.

“Suspended, default, terminated or fabricated”, the word fabricated is mine, the rest are on legal documents pertaining to Geaslen’s business practice. Just wait, the word “fined” is still to come.


WiserGuy

As I’ve written elsewhere, Joe, I appreciate your fair-minded, though sometimes harsh assessments. However, I do think it is worth pointing out that, if I’m not mistaken, the staff cuts (which, in the case of the two people you mentioned, I think were good and way overdue) were made upon the approval and/or instigation of members of the OCSD board.


One thing that should be noted in defense of the OCSD and its hiring and termination of mangers, is that nation wide there seems to be a shortage of competent and/or ethical municipal managers thus making recruitment, especially for small districts, very problematic.


I know of one city that went through 11 city managers in 9 years! I think this problem is more common than is generally recognized.


StatusQuoJoe

Is that Los Osos? Nine mangers in 11 years?


MaryMalone

While I’m at it, I’ll just bring up the negligent absurdity of the OCSD BOD allowing Tom Geaslen to waste him time playing bigshot to a cloying band of sycophants who want a farmers market in Oceano.


Every minute of a GM’s time spent on frivolous, self-agrandizing crap like a farmers market, when OCSD has so many other pressing problems, is a HUGE waste of resources, especially when the GM gets paid the absurd salary Geaslen received.


Really? ANOTHER farmer’s market? That takes precedence over OCSD’s other pressing problems?


I can understand Geaslen being clueless–he came to OCSD with zero experience and vastly overstated abilities–but the OCSD BOD should have a better sense of what is appropriate for a CSD, and they simply do not appear to have that. Otherwise, they never would have given Geaslen free reign, even to the point of breaking major laws and regulations for which OCSD will, in the next few months, face retribution.


WiserGuy

Perhaps if the outside agitators were more diplomatic and less mean-spirited and insulting they would be more respected in Oceano and do more good.


The name-calling is simply not necessary. There are some very good people on the OCSD board and the board is making progress in over-coming problem of the past. I have no doubt board president Matthew Guererro has the best interest of the community in mind and is working hard for his fellow residents of the community.


If people from outside the community truly want to help Oceano and its residents, they should show more respect and restrain themselves from acting so mean. I think they would accomplish more that way and be less divisive.


MaryMalone

QUOTING WISEGUY: ” Matthew Guererro has the best interest of the community in mind and is working hard for his fellow residents of the community…”


BULL$HIT. You keep spewing this claptrap and it does not make it any more real.


See my post above, at 04/28/2013 at 11:54 am.


“Mean”? It is time that people started speaking forcefully to and about the OCSD BOD. They have been negligent in their duties. They have NOT been seriously trying to clean up anything, as demonstrated by the many issues listed in my post at 04/28/2013 at 11:54 am.


Indeed, it is people like you, WiserGuy, who are aiding the OCSD BOD, including Guerrero, in their negligence. They have to be dealt with strongly because, clearly, over a year of being regularly notified by political activists that they were illegally conducting public meetings DID NOTHING to get the OCSD BOD, including Guererro, to do their job and straighten out the problem.


I have no faith, at this point, in the OCSD’s BOD and its president, to be willing and/or able to run OCSD correctly, in a manner that fulfills their responsibilities to the public. I certainly have no faith in their ability to choose a GM. They have a long row to hoe to convince the public that they are able to do much else than choose pi$$-poor GMs and then stand by mutely while their loser GM pays himself money he does not warrant, treats members of the public who attend their meetings in a scandalously disrespectful manner, and shreds the laws and regulations under which OCSD MUST operate.


They need to get their act together, or start discussing the possibility of dissolving the CSD and turning over the administration to the County. This is not, by any means, an ideal situation, but if the OCSD and its president cannot conduct OCSD’s business legally and without scandal after scandal after scandal, all a result of their NEGLIGENCE, then appropriate administration must be found for providing services to the community of Oceano.


StatusQuoJoe

Guerrero was lied to repeatedly by Geaslen. The lies clearly led to Guerrero’s disdain for J&J, triggering much of the BA violations.


Geaslen was an ace at blaming J&J for all his shortcomings, using them as his favorite scapegoats. He was paralyzed, missing deadlines, unable to write a decent staff report, letter or complete a single task as directed by the board. All because of J&J? I never bought that line of BS. If J&J were so wrong why would Geaslen feel the need to respond to their accusations. Sounds like Torres and CAPSLO, making excuses when the spotlight is on.


Geaslen was a sleaze, using sexist and racial slurs Geaslen referred to Oceanans inappropriately, in public, as “colorful” “deadbeats” “red headed step children” and who knows what else. I was embarrassed to think he was my “representative.”


J&J are “mean” ? They are professional, passionate and persistent, and in light of the current state of the district, it appears they were correct about Geaslen and how the district’s business has been mismanaged.


I look forward to a clean hiring process and a qualified professional GM coming in and cleaning up the house. Someone who is not interested in winning a popularity contest or turning Oceano CSD into the Chamber of Commerce on my dime.


doglover

So…what happenned last night when the restitution and final agreement between OCSD and Tom Geaslen was to be finalized?


Did he walk in with the $36,000? Is the District Attorney looking into this situation? If a law was broken, you cannot sweep it into a confidential termination agreement and not report it if the funds were the publics.


No news entity seems to be reporting on the progress of the termination and it’s consequences.


CherieMcKee

There’s a meeting tonight at 6:55pm a

Special Closed Session, looks like they’re covering the settlement. Please someone post here when they learn the outcome.


Niles Q

“…with an order last week to cease and desist…”

You’re right, they can’t issue an order to cease and desist. What they can do is file a claim against the district and demand that the district cease and desist, but only a judge can issue an order.

I think demand is the more appropriate word here.

That said, when did Jeff Edwards become such an activist and political gadfly? He used to be a developer, not a constant complainer. Maybe he’s been around Julie Tacker for too long.


MaryMalone

QUOTING NILES Q: “That said, when did Jeff Edwards become such an activist and political gadfly? He used to be a developer, not a constant complainer. Maybe he’s been around Julie Tacker for too long.”


Again, with the attacking of political activists who should be applauded for forcing the OCSD BOD and its president to deal with the loser GM they, the BOD and president, negligently chose and then did nothing to intervene when the GM continued the process of the prior GM…running OCSD into the ground while falsely enriching himself to, at least, the tune or $36,900.


Do you actually support corruption in government agencies? Is that why you attack the political activists who brought it to a stop? If this is the case, then why don’t you pay for the legal expenses OCSD has incurred in getting rid of their loser GM?


HarryMalone

Californians Aware is a private non profit. They can’t issue a ‘cease and desist’ order. Only a court of law can do that.


MaryMalone

Harry, you are confused.


A “cease and desist order” can only be issued by the court.


A “cease and desist letter” can be issued by anyone.


veritas

This is an honest question: What will it take for the likes of Ms. Velie, Ms. Tacker and Mr. Edwards to be satisfied with Oceano CSD enough to leave us alone? If the Brown Act violations are addressed, will that be enough? Will the hiring of a new GM be enough, or are Tacker/Edwards not going to be satisfied unless one of them are hired?

Honestly, are there not other, more pressing issues to address in our community than the constant drum beating against OCSD? Is Oceano truly the lone public entity in the County that has issues? It seems like it, judging by the amount of print seen here and the amount of energy spent by Mr. Tacker and Ms. Edwards.

Clearly, with the frequent discussions of “conflict of interests” on this website, it must be mentioned that Mr. Edwards (and by extension, Ms. Tacker) have expressed great interest in the past in developing the Oceano Airport. This is not an ad hominem attack, as it is relevant to the discussion. In other articles re: Geaslen, Wallace, Torres, Hill, et. al. there are regular discussions regarding their conflicts of interest, yet never any disclosure on the part of Cal Coast News, or Tacker/Edwards.

The community spoke clearly against the airport pipe dream…Are you just continuing to cause chaosas payback for this??? Can’t you just let it go and leave us alone? You have your pound of flesh…can you just move on?


SLOBIRD

I might be wrong, but I thought that most of CCN reporting comes from tips, key players, employees, and people involved in issues. So, I am sure CCN would love to report on a contribution from you or any other community member that presents issues that are of concern to the rest of us as a community. I think we have all become better informed on this site as to the manipulation of our local governments, who has the power, how our government agencies, paid with taxpayers money, are being run, and where there are still honest citizens and employees who still care about doing the right thing. Do you have a problem with this? Don’t read this site, because at this point in time, the rest of us still have freedom to read, write and say the truth and some of us want to know.


CherieMcKee

Whoops, meant to click “Like”.


veritas

SLOBIRD –

I was never questioning anyone’s freedom to do anything. I only wanted to know when enough would be enough and we could be left alone to do the work of the residents of Oceano and not some unnamed people funding it all behind the scenes (allegedly).


Tacker and Edwards (and by association, Velie) do not have the best interest of the people of Oceano in mind…They have ulterior motives but proceed under the guise of crusaders against corruption. If there were not history to show their true colors, I would welcome their assistance in ridding our community of corruption. However, we all know what they did to Los Osos, and it pains me to see them set their sights on Oceano next.


MaryMalone

Enough will be enough when the OCSD board of directors learns to follow the required laws and regulations, and when the BOD is able to run OCSD without scandal.


If you don’t like hearing about the nonstop problems at OCSD, then go talk to the OCSD BOD about it.


Alternatively, if you believe you can follow the laws and regulations applicable to a CSD better than the current BOD is doing, you might try running for the position of director (if you live in OCSD).


Whatever…quit attacking the messenger when it is the fault of the OCSD BOD and the self-serving fools it insists on contracting with for the GM position.


veritas

Your constant claims of ad hominem and “attacking the messenger” are, in my opinion, getting old as well. Are we to just assume that, whatever they claim, Tacker/EdwardsVelie are correct and out for the best interest of the community?

In short, “Who will watch the watchmen?”

If they don’t like being questioned about their motives, how about they answer those questions instead of just continuing to point fingers?

Ms. Tacker and Mr. Edwards, the quoted sources of this complaint, are doing all that they can to gum up the works in Oceano and it’s just not right. It honestly makes me ill. Believe me, I’m no fan of Geaslen and I think he should have been let go. However, I still believe that he had the best interest of Oceano at heart. As do the Board, as do the Staff…

Tacker and Edwards are so full of themselves and self-obsessed, they decided to crash the personnel committee meeting and, just to rub salt in the fresh wound, parked in the parking spot designated for the General Manager. There were plenty of other spots available, they were just being petty. It’s a perfect example of the type of people and the lack of tact and class that they have. They make me ill.


MaryMalone

QUOTING VERITAS: “Your constant claims of ad hominem and “attacking the messenger” are, in my opinion, getting old as well.”


When you quit attacking the messenger, I will have no reason to call you out on it.


CCN and Tacker/Edwards have a proven track record of being correct. You do not. The only proven track record you have is that of attacking the messenger.


It does not matter what anybody’s “motives” are. A statement stands as true or false, and an opinion stands as valid or invalid, on its own. So, if you have problem with a statement or opinion of another, address the statement/opinion with sound reasons for it being invalid. Because you are uncomfortable with the message, or you are afraid you might be part of the collateral damage in a scandal, are NOT reasons to attack the messenger.


MaryMalone

QUOTING VERITAS: “Tacker and Edwards are so full of themselves and self-obsessed, they decided to crash the personnel committee meeting and, just to rub salt in the fresh wound, parked in the parking spot designated for the General Manager. There were plenty of other spots available, they were just being petty. It’s a perfect example of the type of people and the lack of tact and class that they have. They make me ill.”


Well, your personal vendetta is getting a little more clear as you continue posting here.


Get a clue. Because you don’t like Tacker/Edwards and don’t like how they conduct their political activist work is not a reason to try to attack them into ceasing their political activist chores. Part of being a political activist is attending meetings.


Where do you get off attacking ANY political activist by saying they “crashed” a public meeting, which they had every right to attend.


Tacker/Edwards were right and you were wrong. Get over it, and move on.


CherieMcKee

Oh my Veritas,

Are you stalking J&J? Really? You note where they park their car, a 1990’s beater with duck tape holding the bumper on — clearly not funded by “backers” and “investors”. You catalog what meetings they attend? Julie is a well known activist. Jeff is a real estate broker and land use planner, they attend meetings all over the County. No one is surprised to see them at meetings in Oceano, Nipomo, Cambria, Atascadero, SLO and especially Los Osos, they are everywhere. They are well versed in the Brown Act.


Question is ‘where were you’? Where have you been? What do you bring to the table?


Excellent point Mary Malone, a public meeting can’t be “crashed” it’s open to the public, public are invited and gauging the interest in Oceano, J&J were expected at the meeting.


Niles Q

I wish this was American Idol and I could give you 50 votes…


CherieMcKee

Conflicts of interest? I have only heard/read commenters speak to conflicts as they relate to T&D Geaslen/Teixeira and they are valid in my opinion.

Edwards doesn’t hide his love for the airport, so where’s the “conflict”.

What community spoke “against the airport pipe dream.”? The only community conversation came from the elite pilot community that rallied to protect their little oasis. Have you ever tried to camp at the airport campground owned/maintained by the County? If you don’t fly in, you can’t stay. How is that a public benefit?

I like hearing Edwards speak about the airport; it does nothing for us now. The airport is in the way of the watershed, preventing the natural watercourse from heading to the ocean, causing flooding upstream. The property could be home to hotels, housing, shops, offices, a real library, or whatever…new uses will bring jobs to a economically depressed community. The County would enjoy the tax revenue from new uses of their property, and as I recall, Edwards was suggesting a 99 year lease, so the County would also enjoy the rental income.

As for Tacker, she’s pretty francke (pun intended) about her position. It’s all about transparency and following the rules. In light of recent events at the OCSD, clearly someone has not been following the rules. Hats off to Julie for shining the light.

Veritas, you are allowed your opinion, in fact I welcome it. It’s nice to know there is another beating heart in Oceano. Let’s help the Board get past the past and on to the business at hand.


veritas

Cherie –

I agree…Let’s move on. The purpose of my previous post was to urge just that. How can we move on if it seems like, no matter what we do, we will continually be picked at and on? I’m honestly of the OPINION that they will not rest until they have ground the CSD to a halt completely, sown enough discontent in the community to really divide the town (like Los Osos) and then hold on until they get to develop the airport.


The bottom line for Edwards is not helping the community…It’s lining his (and his benefactors’) pockets (in my opinion).


MaryMalone

We would love to move on….if the OCSD BOD could avoid–for at least a couple of months–avoid violating laws and regulations, and avoid contracting with a self-serving fool for GM.


However, until the current scandals are investigated and the public notified of what the heck is with Geaslen having to pay back $36,900, and why in the world the OCSD assumed it could use the open-meeting regulations as toiletpaper, then it will be difficult to “move on.”


MaryMalone

Veritas, if you do not like hearing about OCSD’s screw ups, then you need to go talk to the OCSD board of directors about it.


Insisting on attacking the messenger is quite transparent, and it is getting old.


Pelican1

Buzzards love to feed on wounded / dead prey. Don’t allow the OCSD to become that prey.


MaryMalone

Oh, please. It is the OCSD which has been preying on its rate payers, and that preying must stop. If you want to talk about “wounded,” talk to Oceano rate-payers about their ridiculously high rates, with little being done to address the problems with the infrastructure.


OCSD must run itself according to the same regulations other CSDs manage to operate. If the OCSD BOD cannot do that, then investigations must continue so that, eventually, OCSD will become a REAL CSD and not just a group of community avarists patting each other on the back and allowing themselves and a revolving door of self-serving general managers to run roughshod over the rules and regulations they must follow.


In general, I am not in favor of dissolving CSDs, but in the case of OCSD, I think they are reaching a crisis point where the County may need to step in and take back administration of the services. There have been different board members over the years, all from the Oceano community, and there has been a steady drum-beat of avarice and greed.


OCSD’s water rates are horrendously high, yet the infrastructure continues to be on the verge of dissolving into an environmental nightmare.


The OCSD BOD has to get its act together, get itself informed on the open-meeting and public-records regulations, get up-to-date on accounting necessities, or risk having the Oceano community go back under County rule—which would not benefit anybody, but at least laws and regulations would be followed.


surfdawg

I’m with Veritas on the Tacker/Edwards show that needs to roll up its circus tent and go back to Los Osos for an encore presentation. The community didn’t like the plan, thanks but go back already…


The District Manager was smarmy…glad the board took action. Interesting that the “expert attorney” is pictured speaking at a journalistic event, wonder where he was contacted?


Bottom line, adopt a decorum policy; the public has a right to comment, but the public has an obligation to remain civil…as does the elected board members. Volunteering for community service by running for CSD office (they aint’t gonna get rich on the board), does not obligate one to be treated like garbage…and those who are abusive should know better or have their mouths washed out with soap.


Again, I think Los Osos is looking for two of their peeps….please head north….


MaryMalone

QUOTING SURFDAWG: “The District Manager was smarmy…glad the board took action.”


Get a clue. The OCSD BOD would not have known about Geaslen’s highly inappropriate and apparently illegal actions as general manager if it was not for Tacker and Edwards.


I hope T&E continue to participate in Oceano’s politics….at least until the OCSD BOD and GM can go a couple of years without a major scandal.


In addition, OCSD deserves intense scrutiny by not only political activists like T&E, but also government agencies such as the State Controller and State Attorney General, and even federal agencies such as the IRS. The assistance of CalAware is greatly appreciated, and I hope they continue to remain active in dealing with the flaunting of open-meeting and public-record regulations.


I don’t like to see any local government agency sued because it does take up resources of the LGA. However, CalAware first warned the OCSD BOD and its GM, Geaslen, over a year ago, and they are STILL violating regulations, to the detriment of the OCSD rate-payers and surrounding communities.


So, if that is what it takes, then that is what has to be done.


DemandTransparency

Oh Mary Lewis, er, I mean ‘veritas’. When all the truth finally comes out, and you’ve lifted that yoke of Geaslen indoctrination off of yourself, I think you are going to be mighty, mighty, mighty surprised by all that you didn’t have a clue about, that was going on around you while you blindly goose-stepped to Tom’s beat.


Or not. Some people NEVER want to learn from the past and their mistakes – are you one of them?


StatusQuoJoe

Veritas is Mary Lewis? The Mary Lewis who fell under Geaslen’s spell and found herself on the wrong side of things when he was swiftly removed from his position? The same Mary Lewis who mistakenly thought Geaslen could come back if he just repaid his debt? This is the Mary Lewis who has lived in Oceano for 10 years, but just noticed the depot 5 years ago.

Poor Mary, if you love Oceano so much, pick up a history book and learn how that depot was the center of the community and a focal point in the county for nearly a century.

Oceano is rich with history and it doesn’t revolve around the Community Center debacle.

I shouldn’t but do feel sorry for you.

Geaslen used you and lied to you too.


veritas

No, I’m not Mary Lewis…not even close. I’m just someone who has been around here a long time and monitored things from a distance. I’ve spoken up when things were wrong, and commended when things were right. The best GM (and only REAL GM) we’ve ever had was Kevin Walsh. He was here on an interim basis and finally had enough.


That’s what really bothers me about the rabble rousing of Tacker/Edwards…Their petty, self-motivated bickering to the Board will drive off all the best candidates. Tacker and Edwards think they can do a better job…Los Osos would beg to differ!


I find it incredibly ironic that two commenters will come on here and criticize the current Board. One sued the OCSD and would LOVE to see the airport developed (Demand Transparency = Bill Bookout). The other was completely unprofessional in his tenure on the Board, leaving such dysfunction in his wake when he abruptly quit that the Board hasn’t really even recovered. (SQJ = Jim Hill). Jim and Bill both were a part of many bad, bad moves at the District, but now they want to point fingers at the current Board to explain away ALL the problems in OCSD. This Board’s not perfect, but none of them bring their wives to constantly complain from the audience (with Nina, her lapdog, at her side). None of them have sued the District, and they’ve yet to put up a completely immature, unprofessional sign in front of themselves during a meeting.


This Board is at least trying to maintain a modicum of decorum…They’re not perfect, but they’re doing the best they can. Cancers from the inside and the outside have hamstrung them from really attracting any top-level candidates for GM. Those same cancers want the Board to somehow attract quality candidates while paying them less than the going rate and expecting them to deal with all of this dysfunction. It’s a pipe dream and, until everyone can come together for the good of Oceano and remove all their ego-driven posturing, this will not get better.


CherieMcKee

Veritas, there were top notch candidates when Geaslen slithered into the seat of GM. The minutes reflect who was considered, several local experts (check June 22, 2011).


I would differ from you on past GM’s, my pick would be Douty, he was professional and had great experience. Walsh was good; when he was around. Sadly, the past is peppered with the Davis mess. Going forward from there, Monte and Geaslen couldn’t pull out of the nose dive of corruption — both giving themselves raises.


Where is the criminal investigation on the Geaslen’s? The Board must request one. Let me suggest they should sniff around the Tex campaign; make sure those funds were only used on the campaign and make sure the Geaslen’s are nowhere near the tills of the committees and boards they serve. It’s tough to be “guilty by association,” but if the shoe fits…it fits.


veritas

I disagree with the term “Davis mess”. They worked hard for the good of the District for years. By the end, sure, there were some issues with the way they did things, but it wasn’t due to a lack of love for Oceano…They were simply outmoded eventually, what with the increase in regulations, compliance, etc. They made mistakes, but I don’t think it was ever with any malice.

If you think Arnold Dowdy was the best, then why do you disagree with his praise for the Davises?


As for the top notch candidates, I agree that Hollenbeck would be ideal. However, I don’t know if he will reapply and, if he were offered the job, I don’t think they can pay him enough to hire him while avoiding all of the usual cries of overpayment. The fact is that, if you want qualified people, you need to pay for it. If you want qualified people that have to put up with the BS that has been going on in Oceano the past few years, you have to pay MORE for it.


Nobody worth a damn is going to want to put up with the Tacker/Edwards/Hill/Bookout crowd (who will never be satisfied unless THEY are the king makers). If they are willing, they will need to be paid to make it worth their while.


CherieMcKee

So what part of Geaslen was “qualified” to be a GM? Nothing he said was accurate. in fact, his qualifications can’t be verified to this day. Maybe someone needs to ask Dr. Bob if Thomas even graduated from high school.


Hollenbeck is an engineer, he managed the nearly $200M Nacimeinto pipeline project. He could do the work of District Engineer as well as GM, saving the district money, likely reduce costs overall. My only concern with him would be ties to Paavo and the County.


The thing is, the OCSD probably doesn’t know this, as evident by the legal counsel performance, those who apply are to be held in confidence, forever. Those names should never have been in open session. That’s the rule for personnel. So, if they do it right, we’ll never know who applied other than the person they end up hiring. Lucey has a confidence problem, often leaking Closed Session stuff. Geaslen’s agreement will only last a short while.


How do you know what the district can afford? Financials are so screwed up, the only thing we do know is we were flush enough to pay Geaslen, and then some.


A GM worth their salt will know how to handle the activists you mention, it is not uncommon to government to have people ask question. Look waht happened to those in Oceano who did, they ended up getting elected. The good thing you can bank on from outside participation is that they won’t be running for a seat.


Dowdy was good at getting the Davis’ to do what was expected. They were paid handsomely and took advantage of the public kiddy.


CherieMcKee

BTW keep guessing. On the comment participators here, you’re wrong about Hill and Bookout participating on these comment threads.


panflash

The correct terminology in that opening paragraph of the article is “cease” and desist- not “seize” and desist. Sheesh- c’mon- you’re better than that!


tomsquawk

Good Start