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

SLO APCD $100,000 EMPLOYEE CLUB:


APCD Employee Salaries


Kevin Rice

LARRY ALLEN EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT:


2014 Employment Contract


Base Salary History (does not include perquisites):


2002 $85,320

2008 $138,977

2009 $153,427

2010 $149,346

2011 $190,494

2012 $161,765


PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS:


2002 Larry Allen Employment Contract

2003 Larry Allen Employment Contract

2008 Larry Allen Employment Contract

2010 Larry Allen Employment Contract


Pelican1

Here’s video from the last APCD meeting…Adam and Larry at their best…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTcRRaXV-fg‎


Kiler

While we are at it: How about the doubling of the annual backyard burning permit from $25 to $50 for doing absolutely nothing other than justifying their existence?


Kevin Rice

Cal-Fire strongly opposed that increase. Here are the correspondences:


Cal-Fire letters opposing burn permit fee increase


Cal-Fire stopped selling burn permits at their fire stations because they didn’t want the public to perceived Cal-Fire got something from the increase. To this day, the public now has to drive to SLO to get a permit.


AND THERE’S MORE:


If your burn permit is denied, you have to FILL OUT AN IRS FORM GIVING APCD YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER to get a refund!


APCD requires IRS W-9 form to get permit refund


Myself

I may have posted this story some time ago but I’ll do it again.


I won’t use names but a mid size company here in San Luis County is in an industrial area designed for companys such as this,salvage yards,recyclers ,garbage collection,this company bought a brand new piece of equipment early in 2013,the only one of its kind pretty much in the state,it is a portable unit,meaning you can move it with a truck to another local when needed,this machine is as the air rescorces board in Sac states, a portable unit,the local apcd extortion person stopped by this yard to present a bill for 800.00 $ for a permit because the local apcd doesn’t think it is a portable unit they tried claiming that it spends over half its time in one yard there fore claiming that it is stationary,needless to say they didn’t get a nickel and after an hour or so of arguing she left,most likely they’ll be back with another angle to extort some money from this company.

So what does extorting 800.00 $ have to do with air quality.


No_More_Anger

Why not name the names? Don’t you think that it is way past time to hold those named accountable?


SLOBIRD

Only if you want to be reported to other agencies, departments, divisions, and regulators for further harassment. Just look at what happened to Karen Velie (SLO PD, County Child Protective Services, SLO County Sheriff, etc.).


Myself

Let me clear this,I meant the name of the company that the apcd tried to extort, I didn’t want to name


achillesheal

Exposing corruption in government must start at the local level because by the time it gets to state and federal level the system is so entrenched in crime that it becomes to complicated to unwind.


These people are such a joke, too bad it ‘s costing us so much wasted money to have a laugh. People work in government because they can do nothing of value.


SLOBIRD

Not all government workers fit that category, at least in times past. The culture of government politicians and management has become so corrupt, decisive, partisan, polluted and regulated that people now really hate what their government stands for and the good service they use to provide (water, sewer, public safety, streets, etc.). Today, they have become greedy, self-serving, corrupt leeches. I strongly believe the unions have played a major role in corrupting and teaching to corrupt our political system. For all the good they once stood for and did, they have totally destroyed their reputation and clout.


achillesheal

amen brother.


standup

Sorry Larry, quit trying to defend your band of leaches who do actually very little for air pollution but are experts at,leaching of of us hard working businessmen. Intimidation and harassment are your favorite tools. I refuse to cooperate with your filth. Anyone who believes that applying fees to legitimate companies and using those fees to go after no compliant businesses has their head screwed on wrong. Charge the non compliant companies high fees rather than sticking it to us good guys. I have zero respect for what you do. How does it feel to head an agency who sucks the life blood out of our economy?


Kevin Rice

You must be one of APCD’s “partners”.


SLOBIRD

That is just too funny, Kevin. Great one!!!!


standup

Yes Kevin, I am. His staff has stopped my crews from working even though I had just renewed my extortion permit two weeks prior. Larry knows exactly who I am. He also knows on a personal level I hold no ill will against him. But on a professional level, he is no better than a gang leader extorting money out money out of LEGITIMATE businesses. After his last fiasco with us, he and his cronies are no longer allowed on the property where we stage our business. They do next to zero for the environment except pollute with their own vehicles.


Kevin Rice

I pray you’ll find the courage to share your stories with the board and public openly–despite the threats and intimidation of Larry Allen. Truth is desperately needed here.


NorthCountyGuy

Government bureaucrats are paid way too much for doing nothing.


Here are just three examples of how public employees now occupy a position of privilege well beyond that afforded to other equally hard-working American citizens. The reason for these unconstitutional laws is simple, public employee unions. Without them, elected leaders would have been able to balance budgets, use reasonable actuarial assumptions, and pay a fair wage, all without having to fear retribution from the unions. The enormous power of the public employee unions is destroying the unwritten social contract in this country.


How Public Employees Have Superior Rights and Entitlements

by BILL WHITE on JANUARY 23, 2014 ·UnionWatch.org

http://unionwatch.org/how-public-employees-have-superior-rights-and-entitlements/


falconbh

Currently we are faced with 5Cities Fire Authority using a Undemocratic Voting Procedure to Pass a New Fire Tax .


Those Residents who are ‘allowed” to vote in Oceano, Grover Beach, and Arroyo Grande

need to Vote No on the New FIRE TAX.


The Unions, Taxpayers Funded Fire Department Consultants, Managers, need to be defeated by the People.


We can no longer afford the 90% early retirement pensions, costlyretiree health benefits, and salaries that are breaking local budgets.


Increased State Sales Tax

We Need Increases To Bailout CalPers State Retirement

Local Cities ContinueTo Raise Sales taxes

Cuesta College wants a New Tax

Grover beach wants a New Road Tax

Taxes…Taxes…Taxes….


T


SamLouis

Because I suspect Mr. Allen reads this forum, I want to share a reflection from several years ago.


I remember watching the former Ziatech (once a computer/electronics designer and manufacturer) building being converted into the SLO APCD’s headquarters. It struck me as ironic that a facility that once housed a private company that actually created products people wanted to buy would now be filled with an unneeded and wasteful government bureaucracy. A bureaucracy that exists in part to stick its fingers in the eyes (and wallets) of such private companies.


The conversion of that facility was highly symbolic of the unsustainable changes that have taken place in the US, particularly in California for many years. It was terribly wrong to use productive floor space zoned for service and manufacturing to house an unproductive office. But you just had to create your HQ, right?


I was also taken aback at the number of “upgrades” necessary to make the building meet SLO APCD’s needs or rather desires. Given the fact that taxpayer money was being used for the remodeling, I wondered why it was necessary at all? A lot of people worked in that facility for a very long time without the upgrades deemed necessary by the head of SLO APCD. I suppose it’s different when it’s not your money — but it shouldn’t be.


Have you ever considered even for a moment the viewpoint I just related, Mr. Allen? I suspect you haven’t and that’s one reason why I want to see unneeded agencies like yours drastically downsized or eliminated altogether.


Kevin Rice

I like the electric vehicle charging station that charges the car of one lucky employee for free on our dime.


Ziatech made some really great STD-32 form factor embedded systems, and invented the CompactPCI bus standard. A very highly reputable company. Sad to see such inventiveness turn into an equal-and-opposite regressiveness. Newton’s law?


NorthCountyGuy

The public employee unions are destroying the fabric of society.


MaryMalone

Oh, for heaven’s sake. Look up “triangle shirtwaist factory” if you want a picture of life of the worker before unions.


Kevin Rice

The fact that unions have accomplished important things doesn’t contradict they are also destroying important things. Claiming “A” disproves “B” is logical fallacy. Each has its own merits.


godislanguage

Well if your going to the “Triangle shirtwaist factory” to validate the necessity for Government Unions, we should also extend it to the military service. They need protection! They shouldn’t be merely classified as property of the U.S. Government. They are living souls too!


Life should be fair!!!


NorthCountyGuy

Allen is a taxpayer-robbing prostitute of the public sector unions.


doggin

Allen and the rest of his crew are nothing more than fairy tale characters living in a fairytale land called SLO county. Isolated from reality with bloated story book salaries to perform a unneeded function in a place called paradise where everything is all about ones personal existence and being. In a place where the winds blow daily off the sea, bringing us our life’s breaths, to the in our faces buy more shit TV KSBY airs 22/7, to the endless ads in New Times to get new eyes,new skin,new looks a new body, a new car, a new existence in our society, its all smoke and mirrors here in “paradise” The public created this voting in self serving idiots like Hill who allow these agencies to exist. Besides in the words of Allen’s top agents, Dora Drexler, ” were saving your lives” by doing what we do.


MaryMalone

See my previous reply to your anti-union sentiments.