Oceano general manager fired with cause
March 14, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Editor’s Note: A video of Lonnie Curtis reacting to his termination is at the bottom of this article. Curtis tells CalCoastNews to record his remarks, then says it does not have the authorization to film him.
The Oceano Community Services District Board of Directors fired General Manager Lonnie Curtis Friday, just five months after he took over as head of the agency. Shortly after he was terminated, he flipped off an attendee of the meeting before driving away in his car.
The board voted 5-0 in closed session to fire Curtis with cause. By terminating him with cause, the board avoided dolling out $63,000 in severance pay.
Curtis’s firing marked the third consecutive Oceano general manager tenure to end with a termination. Prior to firing Curtis, the district board fired general managers Raffaele Montemurro and Tom Geaslen, who each overpaid themselves with agency funds.
Curtis faced frequent criticism since taking over as general manager on October 15. The board reviewed his performance three times in a six-week span late last year, then once more Wednesday night prior to firing him Friday.
Over Curtis’s brief tenure, board members had to instruct him to follow the California Ralph M. Brown Act and Public records Act and complained about numerous mistakes on meeting agendas. In recent weeks, the district overcharged development fees to property owners requesting water and sewer service.
“Everything is in a tangle — our minutes, our agenda, our rules and policies and even our goals,” Director Karen White stated Wednesday.
No board member would comment on Curtis’s termination Friday.
Curtis blamed his firing primarily on Los Osos resident and Oceano meeting attendee, Julie Tacker.
“She’s nothing but a hemorrhoid in this agency,” Curtis said. “She needs to go away — go far and go away.”
In addition to speaking at board meetings, Tacker submitted multiple record requests that Curtis ignored or delayed responding to. One record request revealed that Curtis plagiarized much of a PowerPoint presentation he used as a writing a sample when he applied for the general manager position.
Curtis was making $126,000 annually.
Curtis reacting to his termination: