Oceano’s general manager terminated for cause

April 17, 2013
Tom Geaslen

Tom Geaslen

The Oceano Community Services District Board voted Tuesday afternoon to terminate its general manager for cause.

In closed session, the board voted 4-1 to terminate Geaslen’s employment, with board member Karen White dissenting from her room at a local care facility.

As part of a settlement agreement, former General Manager Tom Geaslen must pay the district back $36,962 by April 24. The board and Geaslen also agreed to not discuss the nature of the dispute or make disparaging comments about the other party.

Geaslen first started working for the district in June 2011, a month after his predecessor Raffaele Montemurro was terminated without cause. Geaslen’s base salary was set at $126,000 a year.

His termination comes amid a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department investigation into allegations that Geaslen committed perjury when he claimed he was an IRS-approved enrolled agent on his Form 700 statement of economic interest, which was signed under the penalty of perjury.

In the past, the OCSD Board of Directors has been supportive Geaslen amid issues such as failing to file required reports to the state on time, and operating a corporation after it had been suspended by the California Franchise Tax Board. The IRS terminated Geaslen’s enrolled agent status in 2009.

In addition, Geaslen’s consulting invoices with the district, in which he lists himself as an EA, are for several thousand dollars more than what is listed on his 1099’s for 2011 and 2012.


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MaryMalone

How “terminated” is he? Is he locked out? Computer access rescinded?


letsbhonest

who do you think was the one vote against letting him go?


kayaknut

Would the last name start with “T”? Wouldn’t the vote be part of a public record?


Cindy

It was Karen White.


MaryMalone

Who participated in the meeting from an offsite continued-care location.


Kevin Rice

It’s important to note that we can’t know why Karen White voted against the final action. It may appear she opposed termination, but it is also possible that she wanted a more extreme action and voted against what she felt was too lenient.


Kevin Rice

Huh? No one on the Board has a last name starting with “T”.


The record of a vote in closed session must always be announced and part of the record when it is a final action on a matter. See the Brown Act for particulars.


MaryMalone

Another thought….


Does this mean Julie Tacker and Jeff Edwards weren’t “detractors,” as Geaslen labeled them, after all? The could sue for defamation, no?


MaryMalone

Another thought…


So much for the friends in high places Geaslen bragged about. Of the things Geaslen claimed they would help him get done, getting him terminated for cause probably wasn’t one of them.


MaryMalone

QUOTING THE ARTICLE: “In addition, Geaslen’s consulting invoices with the district, in which he lists himself as an EA, are for several thousand dollars more than what is listed on his 1099′s for 2011 and 2012.”


Yikes again. This sounds like Geaslen either defrauded OCSD or the IRS. He better pray it was OCSD as they seem to be taking a more lenient approach to his termination with cause.


Cindy

I suspect, strongly suspect that it is the IRS that he defrauded. 1099’s are generally accounting system driven (within the accounts payable program) and he would have had to circumvent the accounting system standards to produce a 1099 that didn’t reflect all his contract revenues. It’s certainly easy enough to do but chances of it occurring by accident aren’t likely unless it’s a small amount that was confused with expense reimbursements.


I would assume that the board has directed the accounting manager to issue an adjusted 1099 and he will have to file an amended tax return if he reported his business income based on the erroneous 1099 ?


DennySLO

IMO, the IRS should scrutinize any tax return ever filed by this guy!


CherieMcKee

Cindy, Mr. Geaslen did not have a contract until he was hired on as an employee in April of 2012. Neither he nor the district had the protection of a contract, Tacker pointed this fact out over and over again and nobody with a brain moved to rectify the situation.


Cindy

Cheri, If he received a 1099, then he was working as a contractor for a period of time before he was hired as an employee. As a contractor, he would have billed for his time and compensation rather than been on the payroll where he was subject to payroll tax withholding.


DemandTransparency

That is indeed what happened Cindy.


In 2011 and 2012 Mr. Geaslen submitted invoices for payment of his contracted services (as interim General Manager).


Here’s where his house of cards started to weaken:


His invoices were from “Tom Geaslen E.A.” when, in fact, he was NOT a licensed Enrolled Agent at any time that he submitted those. In actuality Mr. Geaslen has not been a licensed E.A. since April of 2009 – two and a half years before he submitted these invoices and long before he lied (under penalty of perjury) on both of his Form 700s.


And here is where the house of cards starts to shake:


Those submitted invoices do not match the check amounts written from approved warrants.


And this is where the house of cards completely collapses:


There are many payments to Tom Geaslen, for his services, that NEVER made it into the warrants submitted for approval by the Board. Additionally, payments to Geaslen do not equal the amounts reported on the 1099 forms during the two years he was being paid as a consultant/contractor.


Here’s the hilarious part though. There is zero requirement to be an Enrolled Agent in order to be a General Manager of a special services district. None. There was zero need for Tom to keep perpetuating this lie about his status. If he hadn’t been SO squirrely and tried so hard to keep public information out of the public eye none of this would have probably even been noticed. Only because Tom can’t help peacocking did we ever see how ratty his peacock feathers really are.


He’s his own worst enemy. THAT is truly the ‘Geaslen way’. Mr. Texeira needs to distance himself from Mr. AND Mrs. Geaslen STAT.


And Oceano, once again, is left to pick up the pieces, financially and otherwise. Maybe now the Board will finally LISTEN to their audience members and constituents when glaring red flags are being pointed to, right under their noses.


Cindy

He attached an EA status next to his name on the top of his CV like it’s a title! That would be appropriate if he were soliciting tax clients but it’s certainly weird for a city manager position, regardless of the status of his license.


I suspect that his education might be lacking in other area’s. A course to obtain an EA license is completed in less than 2 weeks. If he thinks his EA credential is that important, them something is lacking somewhere.


Justducky

Cindy writes: ” If he thinks his EA credential is that important, [them] then something is lacking somewhere.”


How about his self-esteem? Those who feel the need to pad their resumes generally are not terribly proud of their academic achievement, in my experience.


His buddy Paul did the same thing when he was running for office by allowing the rumor that he had a Bachelors Degree from Cal Poly to appear in publications when he actually had not finished all of the credits needed. Close is not the same thing as having the whole banana, but sometimes the unknowing electorate will ignore those small details.


Cindy

I have to wonder what sort of checks and balances the accounting department follows. It seems odd that Mr Geaslen ran unapproved warrants through the accounts payable department and checks were issued despite the incomplete pay doc’s. Did he have the ability to issue his own checks or was a clerk honoring his lone signature without board approval? Also the 1099 issue combined with the unapproved payments sounds like embezzlement. The question is whether he accomplished this all by himself or if he had help.


Sounds like the board needs to write a procedure manual and hold all personnel responsible to “personally” adhere to it. Not even the top brass should be allowed to circumvent the accounting procedure manuals without signed board approval.


CherieMcKee

Cindy, Geaslen didn’t have a contract, a legal document that pointed out the scope of work, expectations, and/or the rate of pay. That was all verbal until the permanent hire in April 2012.


Cindy

He was terminated with cause and “As part of a settlement agreement, former General Manager Tom Geaslen must pay the district back $36,962 by April 24.”!!


Does anyone know what he owes the $36,962 for?


DemandTransparency

We can only surmise that is pertains to all the payments he made to himself that never went through the proper procedures. In many instances, warrants were not approved by the board during their bi-weekly meetings, yet Mr. Geaslen was paid.


That he has to pay back an amount of money that closely matches the amount he was paid via warrantless checks seems to point in that direction.


Strange days indeed. Gotta love the Freedom of Information act!!


My hat is off to Ms. Julie Tacker for her relentless pursuit of transparent procedure in our local government. My hat is also off to the OCSD board for making, I’m sure, a difficult but necessary decision that is in the best interest of the people of Oceano and not for those using Oceano as a political stepping-stone.


Today is a new day. I look forward to witnessing the OCSD Board obtain a new, transparent, experienced General Manager for Oceano. The residents deserve nothing less.


MaryMalone

Yikes. If Geaslen made payments to himself without going through the warrant process, he will be very lucky if he is not charged with embezzlement.


What a mess.


Where was Board oversight in all of this? If Tacker and Edwards had not pursued the open-meetings laws issue with OCSD, would enough light ever have shown on OCSD for the Board to have corrected this overpayment?


kayaknut

Maybe it was a $36,000 dollar cell phone bill


WiserGuy

The arrival OCSD Board President Matthew Guerrero is the best thing that has happened to the OCSD in decades. He is worthy of the support of the community.


Some people don’t seem to appreciate all the time, effort and stress it takes to be an effective OCSD board member.


Over the years in SLO County many public employees have been terminated, but rarely has one been compelled to PAY BACK money to the taxpayers. More often weak or unethical politicians authorize huge payouts to terminated top-level employees as part of their termination.


I have to assume Mr. Guerreros experience as an attorney is a great asset to Oceano and is already paying dividends.


falconbh

It is time to move forward and place the needs of the residents and local businesses first.


1. Hire a experienced manager.

2. Salary and Benefits need to be reduced.

3. Water Rate increases should be placed on hold.

[ Customers were told that increases were for infrastructure. All we have seen is Salary and Benefit increases.]

4. Audits- It is time to Stop Paying for costly Audits for years past. We all know that their was a lack of internal contols. We need to accept that fact and just move on.

5. Five Cities Fire Authority- We need to take a step back away from the Parcel Tax. Start our own lower cost department or contract with another agency. [ You promised it would save money ]

6. We need to reduce staffing and benefit costs.

7. Selling short term water to local agencies is Not a bad idea. We need to tie the sale to water rate reductions for local residents.

8. Need to adopt a ordinance that will make it difficult for the Mega Big Box Homeless Center to be built

in Oceano for all of SLO County. Stop the Dump on Oceano !


MaryMalone

In addition, it appears that employees were recently hired for OCSD, without the required advertising, etc., as required by regulations. The employment of those employees should be terminated if, indeed, they were illegally hired.


Pelican1

All in all…he’s just another brick in the wall.


CherieMcKee

Dear Deb,


You should distance yourself from Paul as fast as possible, keep your dirty laundry out of his hamper.

Go home and take care of your husband and family. Clean up your messes. You might consider packing your house up and leaving town, maybe Lompoc so you can be close to Tom.


This is mud all over our Supervisor and NCSD Director Bob Blair.


I can’t help but notice how many Supes are in hot water with the public — a Board majority.


nipomian

Deb is the “brains” (if you can call it brains) behind Honest Paul. Without Deb, Paul wouldn’t know how he stands on a subject or how to comment on it.


Justducky

One of the best ways to judge people is by the company they keep. There are those that want to look at Texiera as a big, innocent teddy bear boy who has been bamboozled by those wile Geaslens. It’s true that Texiera is not all that clever, but innocent, he is not. The four, Tom and Deb Geaslen, Texiera and Blair are all longtime friends/family members.


In the case of Bob Blair and Tom Geaslen the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Where do you think Tom learned all of his twisted ways?


ajdury

Justducky wrote “One of the best ways to judge people is by the company they keep.”


Funnily enough, I was at an OCSD farmers market meeting recently (Finance subcommittee meeting at Black Horse coffee shop on Higuera in SLO) and Tom himself told me I was ‘guilty by association’ because I had been on Dave Congalton’s show with Julie Tacker a week or so earlier.


It all makes sense now. Tom’s paranoia about Julie Tacker was born of true fear. Fear that she would (and did) expose his Emperor’s clothing.


The company I kept – Julie Tacker – seems to be on the side of truth and transparency. If that makes me ‘guilty by association’, I’ll take it.


Everyone that had fallen in line behind Tom’s lies and conceit are now the same ‘guilty by association’ folks that wanted to shame me for the air space I shared on Dave Congalton’s show. Isn’t that something.


tomsquawk

is this over?


CherieMcKee

How could it be over? There should be a criminal investigation into his business practices both in the public and private sector.


westcoasthag

i have been considering moving to Oceano for sometime. I have done extensive research to all the ups and downs of Oeano. from reading and watching AGP videos online,I have seen past boards members and current members operate. After reading CCN posting yesterday and to see press-release from OCSD this morning. I would recommend that anyone who claims to serve the people need to work with facts…what you printed yesterday appears to have NOTHING to do with what you reported. As reporters you do not have the luxury of ASSUMING,what the issues are. you were wrong,that is not sound reporting. You as a news source,should have set your pen-down and waited for the facts..

According to the TEMPERARY settlement agreement. It appears that the board did what the people of Oceano expected them to do as elected members.To oversee resources, and ensure good services. The vote was reported 4 for termination and one opposed 4-1 vote.. So as far as I can tell, they saw a problem,they researched it and took drastic action quicky on behalf of the people.. They did not settle and the agreemnet stated Geaslin has to come up with 37k in two weeks. That is not favortism nor a break. At this sight I have seen readers Bash Board and GM non stop. There is plenti of crow to go around for all of you…. My real estate agent continues to look for the right home for me in the area of Oceano. Good job Oceano board…. .


WiserGuy

Westcoasthag: Thank you for your rational and thoughtful comments. Should you become a resident of Oceano, the residents of the town should wish that you become an active member of the community and share your input with the OCSD, perhaps becoming a member of the OCSD board someday.


SLOBIRD

You got part of your blog name right, “hag”. Until you live it, maybe you should reserve your comments, unless of course, you are here already, which I suspect.


MaryMalone

QUOTING WETCOASTHAG: “At this sight I have seen readers Bash Board and GM non stop.”


What should posters responding to a GM being terminated without cause and owing OCSD over $36,000 respond with? Praise?


You are nuts.


In addition, your comments about what a news outlet should be printing is ludicrous. Are you in the news publishing business? Do you even read news media on a regular basis?


CCN printed yesterday, and today, what, after investigation, due diligence and vetting, it believes to be the truth. Today’s article vindicates CCN, and all of its naysayers.


“Facts” are subjective. Many people will tell you that if someone is convicted of a crime, that means they are guilty, and if they are not convicted, it means they are innocent. Then, if you say “What about OJ Simpson,” many times you start getting the “well, of course not, that was a ridiculous sham of a trial.”


So even after someone is convicted, or judged innocent, in a trial , it is not, indeed, a “fact” that someone was innocent or guilty.


But, even so, did that stop news outlets around the globe from publishing on the OJ trial 24/7 for months and months?


In an attempt to make a point, you hold CCN–with whom, at least on this issue, you obviously disagree–to a higher standard than any other news publication in the world.


Why is that?


MaryMalone

QUOTING WCH: “They did not settle and the agreemnet stated Geaslin has to come up with 37k in two weeks. That is not favortism nor a break.”


Oh, I see it as favoritism and a break, if the other option would have been “arrest and trial for embezzlement.”


tomsquawk

“what you printed yesterday appears to have NOTHING to do with what you reported” i think you meant to address your comment to Cal Coast News?