Oceano needs to replace questionable board member

October 9, 2013

Jeff Edwards2OPINION By JEFF EDWARDS

Have you ever met someone who says such outrageous things that you scratch your head and question your own intelligence? For a while, I thought it was me; out of my environment and my comfort zone, but the more I participated, listened, studied and learned, the more I knew it couldn’t be me. It was her.

She is Mary Lucey, the Oceano Community Services District (OCSD) vice president. Elected in 2008, she’s served the longest on the board and is the only board member who was actually elected by the people of Oceano. The others were appointed after resignations for personal and political reasons and then skated through the most recent election with no challengers; likely because no one would want to sit on a board with Mary Lucey.

Lucey holds herself out to be the district’s water guru. She has served as the board’s liaison to the county’s Water Resource Advisory Council, Integrated Regional Water Management Planning Committee, Zone 3, Zone Tech 3, Zone 1-1A, and the district’s own water/sewer committee. She presents herself as the district’s foremost authority on all things water.

This summer she gave a presentation to her board explaining that they needed to buy state water “surplus” from the county.

She went on to explain, “The State of California buys most of its water from the Cascades up in the Washington State area, starts at the border and moves down, Oregon wasn’t as smart and they’re more like the wheelers, the state of Washington actually does provide a lot of water to this state.”

She must have missed the high school geography class that taught us all that California’s state water comes from Mono Lake, the Delta and the Colorado River. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I knew for a fact she was the core of the district’s problems.

When elected, the OCSD books were already a mess, audits out of date, and deficit spending was taking place, burning through the district’s reserves. Nine months into her term, Lucey was instrumental in hiring former General Manager Rafaele Montemurro and keeping him on when concerned directors Hill and Henson were ready to cut him loose. Montemurro, a man with no experience running a government entity, was successful at raising water and sewer rates as an alternative to controversial onetime water sales to Pismo Beach. But, ultimately he was fired without cause after giving himself an unauthorized raise. Montemurro walked away with two months’ severance or $12,408.

Lucey was also instrumental in shepherding in Tom Geaslen, another man with no experience in the public sector, then sidekick to Supervisor Paul Teixeira. Lucey allowed Geaslen into the district offices on weekends prior to his hire — giving him a leg up on other candidates. Under her watchful eye, Geaslen was able to convince the board that money was no problem. After finagling a fat salary of $126,000 annually and “overpaying” himself, Geaslen was fired and forced to return $45,242 ($8,000 more than was reported in the press) under the noses of his board.

Geaslen’s collateral damage continues to mount, including carrying over the salary; significantly higher than districts similar in size. Legal bills continue as the district defends Geaslen’s actions in wrongfully terminating a long time employee, and surprise invoices continue to pop up for goods and services purchased without the board’s consent.

The district is hiring another new general manager, and Lucey is the chair of the district’s personnel committee. At its most recent meeting she spoke about the district’s “at will” policy, saying, “If you can’t cut the mustard, a demotion will not get you more mustard,” implying government employees do not deserve employment protection. No one could muster the energy to correct her; the sound of eyes rolling kept me from wasting my time.

Oceano ratepayers incur the costs for Lucey’s missteps, paying wages over repairing leaky pipes. The OCSD water fund is in serious debt. Costs to recover from Lucey’s meddling will be compounded by the rash of rate increases coming from Five Cities Fire Authority (fire tax), South County Sanitary District (trash rate increase) and South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District (sewer rate increase) to cover the costs of mismanagement.

Two seats on the OCSD board come up for election in November of 2014. It’s time for committed Oceano citizens to step up or back a challenger that will counter balance the insanity and keep Lucey in check. Replace her as the community liaison on important committees and represent the ratepayers in getting the most for their money.

 


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hijinks

Edwards writes: “She must have missed the high school geography class that taught us all that California’s state water comes from Mono Lake, the Delta and the Colorado River.”


Right. Hopefully all of us except Edwards missed that class. State water comes from the mountains surrounding the Sacramento Valley, not from the above. Only one that’s close to correct is “Delta,” which is where the mountain water gets pumped out of the Sac River.


letsbhonest

what was the reason for the firing of carolann pardo?


ajdury

How do you possibly know her first AND last name?


Everyone knows her as the “sweet over-dressed lady” – not as her actual entire name, right?!


Well, except Casey. He’s all Pardo’d out, LOL.


letsbhonest

so whats your point?


bigdaddy

You jealous?


falconbh

I have to say the Ms. Prado was the one employee you wanted to work with at the OCSD when you had a problem and wanted to get it solved. She is the most knowlegable and customer centered person in the building. She will be missed and I wish her well in her future career.


Clearly with five employees in the office; one being a relative of one of the board member and then one that they brought in part time with a newly created job and given full benefits, and then hired her full time after she gained experience.


Ms. Prado is the victim of a inner office power play because her knowledge and ability created a threat to a couple of employees in the office. After removing her from the position they denied her basic unemployment benefits.


My opinion, is she should get herself a good attorney and begin legal action for wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, and working in a hostile work environment.


This type of action is one of the reasons why the district has so many financial problems.


Currently we have five full time staff members in the office, a new manager, cost unknown, and they are ‘still’ paying the former intreim manager, wow ! This is how they are spending our ratepayers money !


With seven staff members in the OCSD office we have only “two” employees in the field doing direct water services !


The buck stops with the “directors’ that have allowed this culture of reckless spending, poor planning, and mismanagement to continue year after year.


I can remember when they told us they needed the water rate increases for infrastructure improvements that have not materialized. Just more waste,fraud, legsl fees, bloated office staffing.


GVD

Jeff should get out more often. Mono lake does not supply any drinking water anywhere because it has very high levels of salts.


StatusQuoJoe

Mono Lake watershed does.


critizencane

Mary tells it like it is. She at least says something and questions the status quo. She can be a bit frank but someone needs too! After all everyone in Oceano would rather stay comfy at home, than come to a meeting and actually see what is happening for themselves.


And by the way, Guerarro was elected.


StatusQuoJoe

I think Edwards’ point is that all directors, but Mary, were appointed first.Then they ran for office and since NO ONE ran against them they weren’t even on a ballot in some cases. Karen White actually was the only one who had to compete for her seat last Nov., against our boy Rick, and to think she nearly lost to that clown says a lot about our town. Less than 2000 people voted and Karen squeaked out the win by just 89 votes.


Guerrero was appointed to fill Vern Doll’s seat when he gave it up to be on the school board.


As for Mary “tells it like it is,” like what is? She misses the point every time. I watch those meeting just to catch what outlandish thing she’ll say next. Last meeting they passed a resolution as not to run their meetings past 9:30pm, if she would just stop talking they could get out of there a lot sooner.


ajdury

I’m glad to see that Karen Velie fixed her ‘cut & paste’ butchery of Mr. Edwards’ opinion piece!


It’s amazing how absolutely intolerant of the public’s input Mary Lucey is as a board member, given how vocal, opinionated and flat-out confrontational she was as the public before her board membership.


Color me crazy but this looks to be a textbook case of that oft-too-frequent medical malady – “interested in dishing it out yet not interested in taking it”.


I wouldn’t call her a ‘bully’ though. Bullies actually frighten people. Mary does not even begin to be able to wield that sort of power over others. She’s much more a clumsy bear cub in a

third-rate antiques shop – she’s gonna break stuff in her carelessness, but will probably harm herself more than anything else.


The thing to be afraid of is her absolute assertion that she is any sort of pundit on special district issues. If she was honest, she’d admit that what she doesn’t know could fill a book.


A really big book.


A tome, really.


bigdaddy

I think I will just “color you crazy”


ajdury

You can color me crazy until the proverbial cows come home. It doesn’t change my perspective – as one of the few – the VERY few – who has attended every OCSD meeting for months and months and months.


Where have you been ‘bigdaddy’?


It’s easy to hide behind a keyboard my friend :) Step up – get counted – speak up – make a difference with your voice in life, not just on an internet page :)


StatusQuoJoe

I thought State Water came from Mexico.


Pelican1

Not yet. If Brown keeps signing legislation, it soon will.


Jorge Estrada

Ya, I heard about that. It’s called Brown water.


slowalker

On the Crucifixion of Mary Lucy:


You are incorrect, Sir. Mary Lucy did serve on one of the Zone committees where the first meeting she sat quietly, no hint of her boisterous, off-the-wall self amid those somber guys who meant business. She timidly asked one question, or made some small comment that was as out of place as she was. But she got better. As she transformed, the tv shows lost their appeal. It was the best show in town. I remember in her early days as a scruffy heckler in her amply filled raggedy jeans jabbing accusations about the budget to the board members from the her seat in the audience and from the podium where she was not in the least intimidated by the time limit. It took her a while to dress up (she is actually a beautiful woman), stop attacking (as rate payers might if they had the gumption) and to realize that from her board seat it was she who was responsible for the budget. She tried to even get a budget, since for years there wasn’t one. She loved Director Montemurro, who was as colorful and far out as she was, and told him during a televised meeting “I’ve got your back”. But that director position gets it from all sides, and nobody can survive it, especially the crooks and buffoons, hired by mostly self-interested in-over-their-heads coasters, who don’t read the agenda packets and show up to meetings with a hat and no horse. I go a long way back for the worst of the lot, and do acknowledge there have been good ones. Unfortunately for us who pay the water bills, many competent board members quit either before or after crucifixion. I think Mary Lucy is competent. I hope she does not quit.


letsbhonest

She is still a heckler! She does it all the time from her board member seat! She “loved”

Montemurro….oh please …..did he love her back when he got his walking papers?

“She was not the least intiminated by the time limit” meaning what? she was told

her time was up and she kept talking? funny how she gets irritated with Jeff when

he is not the least intiminated by the time limit either! BULLY thats all she is plain and

simple.


StatusQuoJoe

I remember when she told Geaslen, “I think I have a crush on you, thanks for the numbers.” Because he’d handed out an audit that had been long overdue. That was his job, to get those audits done. Too bad he had to hire real accountants to make it happen, I thought that was why he got the big bucks.

Greedy SOB, took more than he was entitled.


letsbhonest

How unprofessional telling your GM stuff like that! inappropriate any way you put it! I would never tell my GM that! how embarrassing. She thinks she is being

school yard cute! yuck! Wonder if her crush on Geaslen was worth all that $

he screwed Oceano out of.


StatusQuoJoe

I’m still stunned by Edwards’ revelation that Geaslen took off with $8,000 more than was told by the board and the press.


Did they get it all back, or just what was reported? What have they done to make sure it doesn’t happen again? How much did they pay to have lawyers write settlements and build in protection for Geaslen from Steve’s wrongful termination case? Why do we have to pay for that? Looks to me like the lawyers just enjoy the work. No one actually wins.


letsbhonest

Mary Lucey is nothing but a big bully! She always thinks and acts that whenever she states

her opinion or her disagreements she has such a demeanor of a “Bully” “Miss know it all”

Her voice is annoying and always has such a negative tone. I agree with Mr.Edwards, some

of the things she blabs out are jaw dropping! and no one on the Oceano play ground wants

to confront the bully. Yep she certainly thinks she’s an important piece of business! Jeff and Julie will always be the ones to stand up to her and call her out on her attitude or when she

tries to interrupt them during public commet talking under her breath, cause sadly her co-

board members will not tell her to “shut up and have respect for the public comment

speaker’s”. To Julie and Jeff, your my heroes!!!!!!!!


Pelican1

No matter ho much you want to play the role of a muckraker, having been rejected by the community of Oceano, the airport will NEVER be closed so you can redevelop the property in the name of “community cohesiveness”. Get over it


ajdury

“This summer she gave a presentation to her board explaining that they needed to buy state water “surplus” from the c smart and they’re more like the wheelers, the state of Washington actually does provide a lot of water to this state.”


What does that even mean? Looks like there are some crucial words missing from that sentence!


StatusQuoJoe

How about a clue to where the states water comes from? There’s some crucial brain cells missing there.


WiserGuy

I have to agree on this one.