Larry Allen enters battle against Forbes magazine columnist

January 23, 2014
Larry Allen

Larry Allen

By KAREN VELIE

San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District Executive Director Larry Allen fired back at Forbes Magazine columnist Steven Hayward Wednesday claiming none of the information in his “attack piece” is true.

For example, Allen claims Hayward misstated his base salary by about $100,000. Hayward wrote Allen was paid close to $250,000.

Nevertheless, the APCD’s fiscal year 2011/2012 salary projection listed Allen as receiving $240,119 a year in salary, benefits and fringes. At that time, of the district’s 21 full-time employees, 19 received total compensation of over $100,000 a year.

In addition Allen contends that his department does not permit tractors and as such the comment about a $13,000 fee to Cal Poly for permitting a tractor is incorrect. According to APCD documents, the cost for his staff to inspect and approve tractors is listed as an inspection fee, not a permit fee.

In Oct. 2010, the air quality district charged Cal Poly $13,215 for the re-inspection of a Caterpillar tractor, according to the Cal Poly district file.

Allen’s response to Hayward:

“Mr. Hayward – you ought to check the accuracy and credibility of your information source(s) before you publish an article in a national magazine. Absolutely none of the information you’ve published here in this opinion/attack piece regarding me and the San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Air Pollution Control District is correct.

“Contrary to your claims, local air quality would not be nearly as good as it is today without the efforts of our agency and our many partnerships with local business to help achieve and preserve clean air.

“We do and have implemented many successful programs that have significantly reduced emissions from local sources that are not directly regulated by the state and federal EPA. The residential wood combustion rule you mention was adopted in 1993 to ensure clean burning woodstoves are installed in new homes to reduce exposure inside and outside the home to toxic air contaminants from inefficient woodburning units. It was just one of numerous other measures that were developed and implemented as part of a very effective clean air plan that achieved significant local emission reductions with broad input and support from the business and community interests. Our plan was used as a model by the California Air Resources Board for other air districts to follow, and implementing that plan resulted in SLO County attaining the state ozone standard. I am proud of that.

“Regarding your statements on our budget and salaries, I am paid a $153,096 annual salary, not $250,000 as you claim. Of 23.5 total staff, only 4 others, our Division Managers, earn a 6-figure salary – $105,310 per year to be precise. You might also be interested to know that our staff size has not increased since 1993, a claim very few other government agencies could make. Our agency is extremely lean and streamlined in its operations. Our long-term fiscal plan, adopted by our 12-member Board of elected city and county officials, anticipated the closure and loss of revenue from the power plant several years ago and implemented numerous cost cutting measures to build reserves to cover that loss when it occurs. All of this information is included on the Air District’s website, an information source you must have not considered in advance of submitting your attack piece.

“Contrary to your statements, only 50 percent of our budget comes from permit and inspection fees, which are set by our Board in a public hearing, not by staff; less than 1 percent of our budget comes from fines. The other 50 percent of our budget does come from state and federal appropriations, motor vehicle registration fees and local property taxes. Regarding the alleged $13,000 fee to the university to inspect and permit a tractor: I have no idea where you got such a notion. We do not require permits for tractors, but we do provide grants for farmers to repower or replace their tractors to help them comply with state regulations – I’m guessing that’s what you must be referring to, with the notable correction that we are giving them money, not charging them fees. We typically provide over $1 million per year in grant funds to local business and other organizations to help them comply with state air quality regulations.

“I would hope that a national magazine like Forbes would hold its writers to higher standards than you’ve clearly been held to, and I will be contacting the Forbes editors to ask for a formal retraction and apology to be published by them.

“Sincerely,

“Larry R. Allen”

Hayward’s Wednesday response to Allen:

“Mr. Allen is correct that I have misstated his base salary. He and other public servants like him might help their case, however, if they did not deliberately render their complete compensation in opaque terms that seem designed for obfuscation rather than transparency. The 2012 salary information for the APCD (p. 41 of the budget document) sets Mr. Allen’s direct salary at $153,202, but then adds two curious lines: “Fixed costs: $12,082; Variable costs: $70,919; Total: $236,021.” (The 2011 total figure was $240,119.) There is no explanation or breakdown of either of these categories: how much of these figures are standard benefits (health insurance, etc.), and how much are other items that deserve to be considered compensation, such as pension contributions or especially cashable accrued vacation and sick days or per diems (the favorite trick of the state legislature)? And why is this table omitted from the current year budget document entirely, with no total annual compensation figure listed anywhere? I think I know why. (The 2011 salary schedule puts Mr. Allen’s “variable costs” of salary at $82,000.) The public ought at least to know what the commensurate figure for “variable costs” of Mr. Allen’s salary is this year.

“This opacity contrasts starkly with the way total compensation is reported for senior executives at public corporations, where direct salary, annual bonuses, stock options, and contingent buyout obligations are clearly stated and explained. If Mr. Allen wishes to be more transparent, he should restore that omitted table to the current budget, and offer more details about those mystery numbers. (I was, incidentally, the public interest representative on the California Citizens Compensation Commission in the early 1990s, so I’ve seen this circus before.)

“But Mr. Allen’s salary is entirely ancillary to the main points, about which he disputes two. Mr. Allen says “Contrary to your claims, local air quality would not be nearly as good as it is today without the efforts of our agency and our many partnerships with local business to help achieve and preserve clean air.” Leaving aside how many businesses in the county truly regard the APCD as their “partners,” I categorically dispute Mr. Allen’s triumphalism about the role of his agency in the air trends in the country. A close consideration of the data will show an insignificant difference in air quality trends between San Luis Obispo and counties that do not have special purpose air districts like the APCD. I suspect that Mr. Allen and his staff are unaware of these data.

“Second, Mr. Allen contests my criticism of the APCD deriving its revenue from self-determined fees and fines: “Contrary to your statements, only 50 percent of our budget comes from permit and inspection fees, which are set by our Board in a public hearing, not by staff.” I wonder, then, why the budget page of the APCD website reads as follows: “Most of our funding comes from fees paid by businesses and industries that cause air pollution,” and goes on to say that other funding sources are “minor.” So Mr. Allen disagrees with his own website? Perhaps he will see to changing this soon. But again this misses the point: whether the amount of revenue from permit fees is 25 percent or 75 percent, the correct amount should be: zero. Or at the very least the revenue should flow to the county’s general fund, where its use would be balanced alongside the full range of public interests.

“This gets precisely the heart of the problem. Mr. Allen repairs behind a convenient fiction that the board, not directly accountable to the people, is something more than a rubber stamp for these semi-autonomous, staff-run single purpose agencies, which have, please note, greater autonomy than the federal EPA. (Incidentally, proposals over the years in the state legislature to have local air boards directly elected have been stoutly opposed by air districts. Curious, that.) There is extensive academic literature, again likely unknown to Mr. Allen and his staff, about how single-purpose agencies like the APCD become increasingly zealous over time, and indifferent to wider balancing of public interests. This is why I conclude that the APCD as a standalone agency should be abolished, and its legitimate enforcement functions (enforcing conformity for equipment like diesel generators, for example) transferred to the county’s general planning department, where both decisions and oversight are by their nature required to balance competing interests in a way that the APCD does not. This is just a sound principle of public administration, which has been endlessly trampled by modern trends in administrative governance.

“At the back of all of this is the fact that our air quality statutes, both state and federal, are antiquated and badly in need of reform. We’re not living in the 1970s anymore. To be sure, it isn’t Mr. Allen’s fault that his single-purpose agency is an obsolete model, prone to the usual mission-creep incentives of bureaucracies everywhere to metastasize. But neither does he have any incentive to be a reformer. Quite the opposite. (It’s a separate issue for another time, but the infamous AB32 should be called the “Keep CARB and Local Air Districts in Business Forever Act.”)

“All of the forgoing propositions require considerable evidence and debate to substantiate, which is why I’m working on a book about the subject. But perhaps Mr. Allen will agree to a formal public debate with me about all of these issues after I return to the county later this summer? A public servant ought to be willing to offer a vigorous defense for matters of protracted controversy like this. I’m sure Cal Poly or some other civic organization would be willing to host such a public forum. Let me know.

“STEVEN HAYWARD”


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Kevin Rice

OKAY FOLKS. I’m going to start releasing some documents and information I’ve possessed for a while now… it’s all public stuff, but this seems to be a good place to present it all.


Let’s start with this, which I’ve previously shared:


SLO APCD Spends Thousands to Produce Rap Video


SLO_Johnny

These government officials reign over us like kings or princes. They answer to no one. We are powerless to resist them because they will simply take more tax money away from us and use it to defeat us, to control us. We work for them. It should be the other way around, it used to be, but not anymore.


SamLouis

My extension of Mark Twain’s famous quote:


“Never get into a debate with someone who actually works for a living, especially when they have at least 20 IQ points on you.”


Pelican1

I can’t wait for the Larry vs Steven debate (I know Larry won’t show up)…it should be priceless.


MarkJames

This article is going to be the subject of the KVEC Congalton Show at 5:PM.


Can’t wait to listen to Steven Hayward. He is gonna save us taxpayers from our county pick pocketing representatives in many way’s. Thanks Steve.


Also I hope the callers remember to complain about Karens banishment from KVEC.


Pelican1

Larry, Adam, and Bruce? Could it be?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTA6vjPyeoQ‎


SloHeadInTheSand

The following are FACTS based directly on a communication to:


TO: Board of Directors, Air Pollution Control District

FROM: Ray Biering, District Counsel

DATE: January 22, 2014

SUBJECT: Contract Extension for the Air Pollution Control Officer


FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

The current annual cost of the APCO position is approximately $153,096 in salary and

$82,916 in benefits.


PRIVATE VEHICLE USEAGE

SLOAPCD shall provide Employee with a vehicle allowance of $450.00 per month or

$5,400 annually.


TOTAL

$153,096 + $82,916 + $5,400 = $241,412


OTHER BENEFITS

Employee, as Air Pollution Control Officer, shall be entitled to

such other benefits which SLOAPCD may establish in the future for its employees.

Plus possible cost of living wage increases.


VACATION, HOLIDAYS, SICK LEAVE, and ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE

20 days vacation

12 days holidays

1 day personal

12 days sick leave

6 days administrative

51 DAYS TOTAL or 10 WEEKS (based on a 5 day work week)


ALSO

At the end of employment, employee shall be entitled to full compensation for all unused vacation and administrative leave, and shall be compensated at his most recent hourly ratefor 50% of accrued sick leave up to 1440 hours.


lakerhater

WOW, I’d fight to keep that job too. No doubt he couldn’t get that sweet package in the private sector……


Myself

If the apcd is a stand alone agency then do we consider them in the private sector or not,and if they are a stand alone agency how are they able to collect fine and permit monies,they would have no strong arm for this.


Kevin Rice

APCD is authorized by statute as a local agency. In their own words, “[APCD] admits that it is an agency established in California pursuant to Health and Safety Code §§ 40000 et seq. and is empowered to adopt rules and regulations…” (Rice v SLO APCD (Super. Ct. San Luis Obispo County, 2012 No. CV120035), Response to First Amended Petition for Writ of Mandate, at p. 2, ¶ 7.)


Larry Allen holds a degree in botany:


The University of Montana

M.S. Candidate, Botany 1977 – 1980


University of California, Irvine

B.S., Biology & Botany 1972 – 1976


Planning Division Manager

San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District

1990 – 2002 (12 years)


Environmental Specialist

Fort Peck Assinniboine & Sioux Tribes

1980 – 1982 (2 years)


I’ve worked in the air quality regulatory field for over 25 years. Much of my focus over the past 15 years has been on promoting changes in our land use development patterns to reduce pollution by reducing automobile use and increasing public transit, biking and walking in our communities. In recent years I’ve become heavily involved in climate change issues at the local, regional and statewide level and serve on a variety of committees and task forces at each level. I also give presentations on all the above to college classes, civic and community organizations and at public events.


My professional goals are to ensure public health is protected through improving air quality and climate protection; to ensure our regulated community is treated equitably; to lead our agency with integrity and purpose; and to always have a vision of where we’re going and how to get there.


Specialties:Knowledge: public policy; climate change; land use-air quality-transportation linkages; pollution impacts on public health; atmospheric dispersion.


Skills: Consensus building; negotiation; strategic planning; public presentations; technical writing


Kevin Rice

The taxpayer presently owes Larry Allen $58,000 in accrued leave time:


From: Kevin Kaizuka

Date: Jan 14, 2014 10:06 AM

Subject: Re: CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST (Ref. # 20131220)

To: “Kevin P. Rice”


Mr. Rice,


As of the date of your 12/20/13 public records request, Mr. Allen’s accrued leave was as follows:


Vacation leave: 279 hrs

Sick leave: 919 hrs

Administrative leave: 42 hrs


Kevin Kaizuka, Fiscal Manager

County of San Luis Obispo

Air Pollution Control District


Kevin Rice

SEVERANCE PAY

If Employee is terminated by the SLOAPCD while willing and able to perfonn the duties of Air Pollution Control Officer, SLOAPCD agrees to pay Employee in addition to any other amounts that may be due Employee at the time of separation of employment, a lump sum cash payment equal to four (4) months salary, retirement and insurance benefits covered by the contract, or continuation of salary and benefits for a period of six (6) months, the particular method to be negotiated at the time of separation.


SloHeadInTheSand

WHY in the world would anybody give this post a thumbs down. WHO?


These are facts that came from APCD’s own website that were merely copied and pasted..

There is NO commentary biased negative or positive… “just the facts mam”


isoslo

Larry Allen


Kevin Rice

Pesky facts can be so inconvenient.


OsosGrande

In discussing the ‘fees/fines’, a good example is the fee that Oceano Dunes(State Parks)has to pay. My understanding is that not one cent goes back to the Recreational Area to help offset the ‘blowing sand’ issue. 100% goes to APCD salaries.

At least the Water Board will send a portion of fee/fine money back to the offending agency to help them correct the offense. But not APCD,a t least on the Oceano Dunes situation.


rogerfreberg

This was on KVEC’s recent news…. I hope everyone can take it in and realize what a truly wonderful job the air pollution folks are doing to protect us. Larry, Larry ,Larry… what’s next? Do you plan to halt traffic due to huge levels of SMOG??


Does this seem a little convenient??


“The San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) and County Public Health Department are advising the public of deteriorating air quality, which is expected to continue throughout the week.


An Air Quality Alert has been issued for Paso Robles and Atascadero, where PM2.5 is forecasted to exceed the Federal PM2.5 standard. Stagnant weather conditions are allowing air pollutants to be trapped near the ground.


In the wintertime, when the weather remains stagnant for many days, air pollution can build up and pollution levels rise. Very sensitive individuals such as infants, as well as children and adults with existing respiratory or heart conditions may experience adverse health effects. The public is advised to consult a doctor if health problems are experienced.


For those affected, some relief may be gained by staying indoors, limiting strenuous activities and setting any heating and ventilation systems to recirculation. County officials will continue to closely monitor air pollution levels throughout our region.”


rogerfreberg

“SAVE LARRY’S JOB”… Step 1