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.

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

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.”

 

 


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Nina

OMG! Using rate payer’s monies to run background checks on people that are doing “The People’s” job of making sure government is not in error or corrupt in its dealings is just as bad as Obama spying on those that don’t agree with his policies. Obama is a registered democrat and Geaslen is a registered republican, which proves the point that no matter which political party affiliation, it seems that any amount of power corrupts. (Remember that next election – BOTH parties are corrupt to the hilt.)


This incidence is such a bad, sleazy, and tacky reflection of what OCSD has degenerated into. And of course, Lucey is trying to distance herself from her “boy”, as if we’re all supposed to just forget her smug arrogance, her defiant outspoken assurances of her “man” in the face of facts, and how she terribly treated/s others who are now doing the job she used to pride herself in doing. If that isn’t a perfect presentation of how people are corrupted by a taste of authority, I don’t know what is.


And let us not forget the entire OCSD board UNANIMOUSLY voted to DECREASE public comment from 3 minutes to 1 minute (a 60% DECREASE in time); and now they want to raise Freedom of Information Act copies from .10/page to .25/page (a 150% INCREASE) – so who in their right mind is going to suggest that anyone on that board really does care about the community, that they want this to be an “informed” community, that they want our participation, wants to hear what people have to say so they can “represent” us well, and do the best they can for the community that supposedly they “love” and want to “give back” to? Hogwash! I’m tired of hearing the same ol’ worthless, shallow, feel-good sound bites that are supposed to pacify legitimate concerns as The People get reamed.


How much worse can it get at OCSD? I wonder if I’m on one of their “check lists” as well. I wouldn’t be surprised. And what would be the purpose of these background checks? What do they think they’re going to do with any of it? Blackmail the Tackers? lol – you really have to laugh at how delusional people get about who they think they are and what they think they can do. I guess since Lucey and former board member, Searcy, have records, Geaslen was hoping the Tackers had one also and would be able to do what with it, I don’t know. Again, small needy people do get delusional when they’re fearful and a little power comes their way.


As a resident of Oceano, I’d like to see the entire OCSD Board replaced asap. These people have had long enough to show us who/what they really are and I don’t like what I’m seeing. Karen White has conveyed to me that she won’t be running when her seat is up next year. I suggest next election, Oceano should not only fill vacant seats, but use the opportunity to piggy-back a RECALL of the entire board which would save the community some monies in the clean up of an embarrassingly bad “board of directors”.


Oceano residents who are just as fed up with an arrogant, out of control board that does everything but what it’s supposed to, should get together and come up with a solution to this disgraceful body as all I can see that they’re doing is wasting the rate payer’s money and putting the community in legal jeopardy that could cost us even more. My suggestion?


Cut our losses and RECALL THEM ALL ASAP!!


What’s your suggested solution, Oceano?


Kevin Rice

Don’t confuse FOIA with CPRA. They are not the same. FOIA does not apply to state and local agencies like OCSD.


Nina

Thanks for the clarity, Kevin. I think the point made is still valid – OCSD is doing what it can to thwart public access/input, and I don’t think that’s in the public’s best interest.


As the world turns

The activist should do their own background check on Geaslen. Of course, he will probably go work for Arroyo Grande.


CherieMcKee

Tacker did a helluva lot of investigating of Geaslen. She tried many times to reveal to the Board he was not who he said he was. She submitted the list below to the Board for their consideration when they went to Closed Session to terminate him.


(Attached to the minutes of April 15)


January 24, 2008 Titan Lending Corporation Suspended by Secretary of State, CA. For the record, Titan Lending Corporation was a still under suspension in 2011 (according to the CA Secretary of State website) and as such could not legally conduct business for the OCSD or anyone else.


April 10, 2009 Enrolled Agent status TERMINATED (in the midst of tax season). Office of Enrollment at 313-234-1280


June 14, 2011 Geaslen’s “plan” for OCSD is prepared, this was after he was allowed to enter the OCSD office and peruse files and sensitive records over several weekends prior to developing the plan. No other IGM candidate had the same opportunity. Geaslen was presumed a licensed EA.


June 22, 2011 Geaslen hired by OCSD Board in Open Session, no contract; local news agencies report Geaslen is Titan Lending Corporation, CEO/President and Enrolled Agent. All invoices submitted to OCSD for Interim General Manager services (from June 2011 – March 2012) are from “Thomas Geaslen, EA” with the suspended corporation Titan Lending email address as contact. Geaslen earned over $70,000 misrepresenting himself as an EA during those 8 months as IGM and reports the income as such on his FPPC from 700’s.


July 25, 2011 Titan Lending Corporation Fictitious Business Name Statement expired.


January 2012 1099 for 2011 OCSD IGM services reflects under-reporting of income to IRS. Eight invoices, totaling nearly $30,000, were paid to Geaslen between June and October of 2011. These transactions were not approved by the OCSD Board in warrant registers available online. To date, no documentation supporting Board approval for these invoices has been provided to Tacker via the CPRA


* February 2, 2012 Titan Lending Corporation (while under suspension) Geaslen writes two $99 checks to Debbie Arnold supervisorial campaign.


March 27, 2012 OCSD Board approves permanent GM employment contract, Geaslen tells Board and press he will not take cell phone and health benefits. (He later does.)


* July 6, 2012 Form 700 claims both Titan (suspended) and EA consulting (terminated) made between $10,000-$100,000 in 2011. Signed under penalty of perjury.


October 10, 2012 Geaslen takes $410 in cell phone reimbursement for previous 6 months, breaking his verbal contract with the Board.


January 2013 1099 for 2012 OCSD IGM services reflects under-reporting of income to IRS.


January 15, 2013 CCN article “Oceano manager under fire for operating suspended corporation”.


January 23, 2013 Suspension lifted on Titan Lending Corporation by CA State Franchise Tax Board.


January 23, 2013, Same day, OCSD Closed Session: Complaint or Charge against Public Employee Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957(b)(1). Board met for 20 minutes on this subject. No reportable action.


* January 28, 2013 Starlight 55, LLC. SUSPENDED Nevada Secretary of State reflects business is in DEFAULT as of April 13, 2013.


* February 1, 2013 Form 700 claims EA consulting (terminated) makes between $10,000-$100,000 admits Titan was “Suspended and claims no activity in 2012 . Signed under penalty of perjury.


February 19, 2013 All California special district’s Government Compensation reports were posted to the State Controller’s Office website. OCSD failing to file its 2011 salary and compensation report. Geaslen was repeatedly warned by letter, telephone and email; he was narrowly able to avert a $5,000 fine.


* February 28, 2013 Titan Lending Corporation Suspended (AGAIN) by the Secretary of State. Statement of Information had not been turned in since 2008.


March 27, 2013 Geaslen is approved for health benefits (breaking his verbal contract with the Board) claiming Obamacare requires he take it. There IS NO MANDATORY HEALTH CARE REQUIREMENT for the OCSD starting in 2014. Until there are 50 ‘full-time equivalent’ employees at the OCSD there is zero requirement for employer-provided healthcare under Obamacare.


April 13, 2013 (as of this date) Titan Lending Corporation suspension has been lifted (again).


Homer

Seriously, $67.50? Is this The Onion? Please tell me that’s a typo. That works out to 2 “background checks” in about 15 minutes. What, they googled their names?


SLOBIRD

I had someone run one once and within 30 minutes I had social security number, employment history, bank accounts and amounts, property owned and balances due and who held the note/and insurance co, address info for past 15 years, marriages, divorces, children and arrests, etc. And guess what, I paid $25.00 ad knew everything about that person. It was a legitimate inquiry and I signed a privacy form.


Homer

I suspect the Hall and Hieatt law firm is going to charge a bit more.


Homer

You probably didn’t know everything about that person.


StatusQuoJoe

It’s not really about the money, is it? It’s about the government looking for ways to thwart public participation.

Unacceptable!!!


MaryMalone

@StatusQuoJoe:


I agree…it is an attempt at intimidation the public into not standing up for their rights to be informed (Public Records Act). The only reasons for these investigations were Geaslen didn’t want his sleezy background to be revealed, and he was unable to deal with criticisms from the public in any other way but abusing his power as GM to coverup his past.


Geaslen had to stoop to investigating Tacker and Edwards because he could not rebuff their legitimate criticisms in any other way. He was looking for a few ad hominems to use as red herrings to distract the discussion from Geaslen’s slimy behavior and focus it on the backgrounds of Tacker and Edwards.


And he paid someone to do it! What a marooon.


You can go online and, depending on how much money you want to spend, pay for background searches. With a cost of $67.50, I doubt the agency actually did much more than that–paid for a background research by an internet source and then tacked on their 50% fee.


Worse…it is just plain creepy. With this info coming out so near to the Snowden/NSA documents being divulged, and the massive invasions of privacy, it throws an extra serving of paranoia and creepiness to what Geaslen did.


Finally, we have to remember that much of what Geaslen did would not have been able to be done if appropriate OCSD board-of-directors oversight was occurring.


Pelican1

Most everyone knows my feelings regarding the two who were investigated. However, WHO authorized such an action and why? What exactly is a “background check?” Did they pursue issues that were more than a matter of public record? If so, by who’s authority?

Whether you like them or not, this is not acceptable under any circumstances. They were not seeking a security clearance, or employment.

This is clearly a case of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer funds.


bigdaddy

Actually they did apply for the General manager job that Geaslen got. I believe the county holds their meetings they used to have at OCSD building at the sheriff office now because of some problem Edwards has had with county staff.


CherieMcKee

How s it that anyone in the public knows that they applied for Geaslen’s job? ALL personnel matters are confidential. There is no way for the public to know who applies for a job, unless the applicant has announced it somewhere. That rumor best not have come from the Board members.

If it’s true they applied, things probably would have turned out better for Oceano. J&J know more about CSD’s than anyone in Oceano.


bigdaddy

I seem to remember Julie Tacker was a board member in Los Osos. Someone so knowledgeable in the workings of CSD’s as you state Cherie (Julie). why is she not still serving the citizens of Los Osos and working for the benefit of her hometown.


ajdury

” . . . 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.” . . .


It sure did ‘go in front of the board’! Payments to that legal firm are only approved by the board, every meeting, when they ‘approve the warrants”. If they claim to be ignorant of what they are writing checks for, then they are not doing their job properly.


To claim “but we didn’t know” is a major dereliction of board responsibility, period.


Even more egregious is that Ms. Tacker spent much of her time informing the board of Mr. Geaslen’s continual missteps and their only response was to continually alienate and marginalize her at board meetings.


NOW Mary Lucey is saying “He did a lot of things on his own.”?!? Clearly she, and the board overall, LET Geaslen do all this stuff on his own. Not only let him, but vociferously supported him. I distinctly recall one board meeting where President Guerrero parroted Mr. Geaslen’s “mad as hell” stunting – lame t-shirts and all.


The Board should be embarrassed by their OWN inaction, not just the questionable behavior exhibited by the very man they were elected to oversee. The Board was absolutely part of the problem, instead of part of the solution. VP Lucey can only look to herself and to her fellow board members for this – yet another black mark on the Oceano Community Services District business practices.


Mr. Holly

Mr. Gealsen should add this to his resume and them submit it to the Obama Administration and would surely get a high paying job in either Washington or Chicago. It appears that he would fit in very easily.


winedude

You are one pathetic little man if all you can comment about the rather sad situation with the CSD is to try to tie it to President Obama. I didn’t vote for the guy, find him to be doing a mediocre job and worthy of plenty of criticism. However, people who seem to want to link everything that happens day-to-day to the President and his minions are nothing more than small, simple-minded individuals, ill worthy of any respect.


Willow

I’d say you are on pathetic little man if you can’t see the correlation between Obama’s NSA spying on everyone, especially those that don’t agree with his policies, and Geaslen fitting in with that m.o..


Apparently it’s a disease that infects people who think they’re above the law – Obama has it, as well as a host of others, including Geaslen.


I do believe Freedom of Speech allows for people to state the obvious, and is not relegated to just lies & propaganda.


Spacetrekker

Willow said, “Obama’s NSA spying on everyone”.


Funny and sad. It would be more factually correct to say, “NSA’s Obama”.


Willow

Obama is the head of the executive branch of the federal government. Congress may enact laws and policies, but it’s the executive branch of government that carries them out. He can DO SOMETHING to stop the NSA spying any time he wants to, but refuses to, because both he and the NSA are working for new world order moguls.


zaphod

The president doesn’t have that kind of power! he could order a review and inspection but he cannot put 250,000 people in the program out of work someone has to read the conversations flagged by algorithms overnight around the world everyday, it is part of global reality , much more fearsome is the power of a person to publish words and pictures instantly wirelessly with this ability we have a better chance of being a well informed electorate successful democracy is our raison d’être and where the real struggle remains


Willow

He doesn’t have to fire anyone. He can just put all 250,000 of them to work doing real “national security” along the borders and keep the CIA-backed drug/gun runners under control so they don’t kill any more of our own.


For those who may not know what that refers to, do an online search for “Fast and Furious” for starters.


Homer

You do understand this program started under President Bush, right?


zaphod

signals intelligence has been going on for ever nothing to be afraid of unless we the people decide to let it be privatized by the Bush Family or something but even then the new world order will be US


r0y

I actually worked SIGINT at NSA; this hits close to home with me. This is neither the time, nor the place for it, and to hear Obama! then BUSH! – well, you know what? It matters not WHO or HOW it started: HOW ARE WE TO END IT?


Willow

Yes, 911 was used to get the Patriot Act passed without Congress having read it. Much of the Patriot Act, including the part that gave the federal government the authority to spy on U.S. citizens, and/or enter their home/property, without a court-ordered warrant, was written years before 911 and had been waiting in the wings for an event to bring it forward and get it through Congress.


http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/12/ron-paul-“the-patriot-act-was-written-many-many-years-before-911-and-the-attacks-simply-provided-opportunity-for-some-people-to-do-what-they-wanted-to-do”.html


http://www.globalissues.org/article/342/the-usa-patriot-act-was-planned-before-911


It doesn’t matter who’s in the oval office, whether it’s a Demopublican or a Republocrat, it’s about time Americans woke up to the fact that what’s really running their country is a rogue government led by a bankster cabal with no allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, nor the American people, nor the concepts of “justice”, “equality”, “pursuit of happiness”, and “freedom” for all.


Let’s not lose sight of the big picture and what’s really going on, by focusing on the minute.


danika

You do recall both Obama and Biden stood before the America voting public and spoke AGAINST the program started by President Bush….


Homer

Quick to jump to conclusions, as usual. I didn’t say whether I liked the program or not. Yep, the president said he was against the program. I’m just saying the knee-jerk blaming of Obama is funny. (Like watching Sean Hannity praise the program in 2006 and now he’s all, “OMG, the Constitution, please, somebody save the Constitution.”)


SLOBIRD

Several times he made those statements…


zaphod

Hannity has to make a living .


Citizen

Fast and Furious, which allowed drug cartel members to walk guns across the border began under Obama. Wide Receiver was the program under Bush where guns were sold but intercepted at the border with the full knowledge and cooperation of the government of Mexico.


These were two separate programs and Fast and Furious was done in secret without Mexico knowing.


Homer

Um, you must have stumbled onto the wrong thread. Oh, and Eisenhower got the U.S. involved in Viet Nam before Kennedy. See? Makes no sense, does it?


MaryMalone

The timing of the release of documents and info from Snowden/NSA/etc., which revealed the massive invasion of privacy by the Obama administration, is what linked the two together.


Different levels of government invasion of privacy, but the same behavior.


zaphod

classic derail


StatusQuoJoe

Just thinking a little more about this; how does legal counsel think that this is a good use of district resources? Legal Counsel is as much to blame as Geaslen.


The Board signs the checks…the buck stops there.


The Board is ultimately responsible for the whole shoot’n match.


Scarlet

This is an outrage. I do hope that this is one of the reasons Geaslen was fired. But why would the board agree NOT to discuss this in the settlement agreement? They should disavow this practice immediately.


StatusQuoJoe

Geaslen’s background is the one that should have been checked.


MaryMalone

YES!


And it should have been checked BEFORE he was annointed by the OCSD BOD with the powers of OCSD General Manger.