Oceano does background checks on activists

June 13, 2013
Tom Geaslen

Tom Geaslen

UPDATE: An attorney from the law firm of Hall, Hieatt & Connely explains why his firm ran a check through Westlaw’s PeopleMap at the bottom of this story.


Oceano Community Services District’s former manager Tom Gealsen ordered background checks on several people who questioned his management of the district.

Following two occasions when Board President Matt Guerrero shut off public comment from Los Osos resident Jeff Edwards and called the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office for assistance, Geaslen ordered a background check on Edwards and his wife, Julie Tacker.

Both times his microphone was turned off, Edwards was attempting to address his concerns about the management of the district. Tacker has spoken out during public comment and through opinions posted on CalCoastNews about Geaslen’s failures to follow laws in place to promote transparency.

The Ralph M. Brown Act, which established rules for public comment at government meetings, permits members of the public to voice their concerns about government officials.

On Feb. 14, the attorney firm of Hall, Hieatt & Connely did background checks on Tacker and Edwards and charged the district $67.50 for the investigation, according to district records.

Tacker says she feels violated and outraged.

“I am stunned that they would waste any district resources looking into us,” Tacker said.

In 2011, Giselle Naylor was escorted out of the building after she became incensed when district staff would not comply with her records request. While trying unsuccessfully to get a restraining order to keep Naylor out of the office, Geaslen ordered a background check on the Oceano activist.

Mary Lucey, a district board member, said she was unaware of the background checks that Geaslen had ordered.

“It did not go in front of the board,” Lucey said. “He did a lot of things on his own.”

In April, the district board voted unanimously to terminate Geaslen for cause.

UPDATE: The attorney firm utilized Westlaw’s PeoplesMap to look into the couple, according the firm’s bill. The program provides information on peoples’ property holdings, business relationships and criminal history.

Attorney Chase Martin said his firm had been asked to look into whether or not Tacker or Edwards owned property in Oceano.

“The PeopleMap function on Westlaw allowed us to confirm that was the case,” Chase said in an email. “The reason the research was done is the subject of attorney-client privilege but did deal with an issue affecting the District. I do not believe anything was saved or retained from that PeopleMap function; it was used to verify residence only.”



Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Isn’t Jeff Edwards the one who wanted to redevelop the Oceano airport into a retail and tourist hub?

As I have said before, I attended those meetings Edwards held and was impressed with his presentation. He explained, what we long time residents already know, that the airport serves very few, and those it does generally don’t live here or leave their money here.

Did you know the air strips are made of fill, they are actually higher in elevation than the land around it — physically impeding drainage water courses, causing other properties to flood. Also, it prevents other properties around it from developing into their full potential due to the airport land use commissions air zone.

While the community is focused on revitalization, we should be looking at revitalizing the airport too.

Edwards idea was to lease the land so the county would still own it and make millions over time. The County would also benefit from the hotel tax, several types of housing and shops he proposed. He even suggested putting the library and post office in it, so that the community could work and live there. The CSD would benefit from the water sales the sand dist. sewer hookups.

I felt the characterization of a sale was unfortunate, the guy took a lot of heat for proposing a sale, when he wasn’t proposing that at all.

His ideas do not warrant a background investigation of he and his wife.

Jeff, this is a bit too obvious……but nice try anyway.

Wrong Sam. My name is Joe.

Well of course your name is Joe. How foolish of me to think that Jeff Edwards would be so self serving to write the dribble you did about his intrusion into Oceano’s business. I won’t make the same mistake again jeff sorry for the confusion.

Ha! Ha! now that is funny and also so very true. Everyone knows SQJoe is Edwards.

Wrong again.

If I was a pilot and i’m not, i would want the Air Strips above ground. I flew to Costa Rica and landed in a cow pasture. oh, it was all the rage back then but a little more rain and we would have needed pontoons. I vote that air strips are to be above ground. Streets, curbs, homes, business etc. there’s even a phrase. “The business was underwater”which means not good.. Jeff/joe.

What does that have to do with Geaslen running background checks on two public activists?

If Edwards was involved into an area that would attract tourist, I say “more power to him.”

As the county property is currently used now, as an airport, it serves a miniscule number of county residents and does not turn a profit.

I would be very happy to see the county property turned into something EVERYONE could enjoy, and not just waste it for the benefit of a handful of residents.

So why does the attorney have to call the news outlet to get his comment in the story? This is really, really basic stuff.

The firm of Hall, Hieatt & Connely charged $67.50 for the investigation, that speaks volumes for their services. I guess you get what you pay for theses days.

but didn’t the OCSD pay big for Mr. Geaslen? shouldn’t that have made him near perfection?

The contract with OCSD’s legal counsel, Chase Martin, should be immediately terminated.

If what the OCSD board of directors says is true, and they really didn’t know Geaslen ordered the background search but went straight to Chase Martin, then Martin should have brought it to the BOD before he did ANYTHING on it.

It has been obvious for quite awhile that Chase Martin is not suited to be legal counsel for a CSD as the members of their firm seem to know almost nothing about CSDs and, indeed, act like they know nothing about the Brown Act and its requirements.

The response from legal counsel on this makes things worse than the original report. They clearly were looking into citizens. Citizens, like them or not, from here or not, citizens who take their own time and money to participate in our process.

This does correlate to when Geaslen had T-shirts made and went on his “Mad as Hell” rant. Geaslen said “there’s nothing to get” as though he was going to sue them for their property.

Now I’m Mad as as Hell! How dare they “Chase” citizens with my money!

BTW, there is no contract with legal counsel. That’s one of the things Giselle has been asking for.

I forgot about that. Thanks for reminding me.

And, unfortunately, that is not the only professional services being charged to OCSD without benefit of a contract.

Unbelievably negligent management.

OCSD what a mess they are!!!!and those board members showing up looking and talking like they are

“such an important piece of business” That Lucey or should I say ” Miss BIG MOUTH” is always sitting up

on that panel like a big bully just waiting to attack anyone who rubs her the wrong way. Angelo always

squawking about how sick she is always sniffling with kleenex in her hand and she rarely has anything

intelligent to say half the time it seems she’s not even paying attention. Guerrero seems like a smart man

but seems like he could be a snake when no ones looking. Felma and White sit up there looking like

they want out ASAP!!!! poor things. Well it’s friday the soap opera should be on tonight better run and

see if the popcorn maker is ready!!!!!

Isn’t the replay on Saturday nights on Ch. 21?

Hey, just noticed there is a Special Meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, morning at 9:00am to look at the budget.

I’ll be at the car show.