Los Osos manager sidestepping duties

June 26, 2014
Kathy Kivley

Kathy Kivley

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The general manager of the Los Osos Community Services District has worked for the agency since last October but has only been sworn in to do so since earlier this month, a violation of the California Constitution.

Los Osos CSD General Manager Kathy Kivley waited more than seven months to take an oath of office and only did so when prodded by a district resident. District legal counsel Michael Seitz says the matter is of little significance, but critics point to a California regulation that indicates the lapse could cost Kivley thousands of dollars.

Article 20, Section 3 of the California Constitution lays out the rules public employees must adhere to regarding oaths of office. The section states that all public officers and employees, with the exception of inferior ones, must take the state’s oath of office. It defines public officers and employees as those working for the state or for any county, city, district or authority.

California’s Government Code elaborates on the rules set forth in the state constitution. Government Code Section 1360 states that officers must take the oath drafted in Article 20 of the California Constitution before beginning the duties of office. Government Code Section 1363 specifies that officers of independent special districts must take their oaths inside the office of the district’s clerk or secretary.

Kivley began work as the head of the Los Osos CSD on October 14. She took her oath of office on June 4, two days after Los Osos resident Tom Salmon pointed out the lapse in a letter calling for Kivley’s termination.

Seitz said Kivley took the oath of office strictly as a prophylactic measure.

In an email to Seitz, Salmon noted a section of the government code that states public officers cannot receive pay until they take the oath of office.

“No compensation nor reimbursement for expenses incurred shall be paid to any officer by any public agency unless he has taken and subscribed to the oath or affirmation required by this chapter,” Government Code Section 1367 states.

Setiz responded in an email saying that a California court decision overruled the provision of the state constitution requiring public officers to take oaths of office. But, Seitz refused to name the court case when asked to do so by CalCoastNews.

Kivley makes $90,000 annually in base salary. She would have earned nearly $60,000 in base pay by the time she took her oath of office.

A 1997 opinion issued by the California attorney general opinion appears to back the case that Kivley is required to take an oath. The opinion stated that, based on Article 20, Section 3 of the California Constitution, even an appointee to a county mental health board must take an oath of office.

Seitz said the opinion is not applicable to a general manager of a community services district.

Los Osos CSD administrative assistant Ann Kudart said no previous general manager of the district took an oath of office.

But, other districts require that their general managers take the oath. Recently, both Tom Geaslen, former Oceano CSD general manager, and Rick Koon, general manager of the Cayucos Sanitary District, took the oath of office when instructed to do so by staff members and the public.

Critics of Kivley say the oath of office flub is one of multiple signs that she is not the accomplished public administrator that her resume portrayed her to be.

When the Los Osos board hired Kivley last October, CSD directors praised her qualifications, which include a degree in public administration and a decade of experience in city management.

Prior to moving to Los Osos, Kivley served as the city manager of Atwater in Merced County. But, less than a year and a half into her four-year contract, the Atwater City Council fired Kivley.

Kivley left Atwater with a negative balance in the general fund of $3.7 million, according to the Merced Sun Star. A member of Atwaters’s planning commission told the newspaper that the termination of Kivley took a heavy weight off the city’s shoulders.

When Kivley applied for the Los Osos job, however, she checked a box on her application saying that she had never previously been terminated from a position. She signed the application, agreeing that all of her statements were true.

During Kivley’s hiring board members made no mention of the misstatement on her application.

Seitz said a board subcommittee contacted her former employers, including Atwater, and conveyed its findings to the remainder of the board prior to Kivley’s hiring.

“The board was fully apprised regarding Ms. Kivley’s departure from her employment with the city of Atwater,” Seitz said.

In Kivley’s contract with Los Osos, the district agreed to pay for her moving expenses.

The hire irked several residents who supported a candidate for the general manager position who lives in Los Osos. San Luis Obispo utilities manager and Los Osos resident Ron Munds applied for the position and would have taken a hefty pay cut to become the CSD general manager.

But, the board selected Kivley. CSD Director Marshall Ochylski said Kivley’s qualifications stood out among a good pool of candidates.

Kivley is now tasked with several challenging duties, which include winding down the district’s trek out of bankruptcy and managing the district’s dwindling groundwater supply.

Kivley did not respond to an email requesting comment. A CSD staffer said she is out of the office for the majority of this week an unable to respond to media inquiries.


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r0y

There is no legal problem here, let me quote:

“…all public officers and employees, with the exception of inferior ones, must take the state’s oath of office.”


That basically exempts most every bureaucrat and elected official that I’ve ever seen, heard, or met: they are all inferior.


zaphod

get elected, feel the love!


achillesheal

I do solemnly swear that I will utilize public funds to funnel money to those whom I am financially beholden, I will usurp and degrade the Constitution of the United States and will use my newfound power against all my domestic enemies, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to getting re-elected at all costs, and that I will well and faithfully line my pockets at every opportunity: So help me (I refuse to utter the “G” word).


Pelican1

Well, despite the fact that they were (are)incredibly wasteful, blundering, malcontents who ignored the law as well as the community, they also absconded with over $6,000,000.00 in low interest loan monies that belonged to the taxpayers of California.

Now it may have been cleverly disguised and funding needed to sustain the onslaught of lawsuits and enforcement actions due to their dereliction of duty, but they absconded with it none the less.


brettmx

Hey Josh, don’t do Julie’s bidding she’s quite capable on her own. This article makes you look like shill and not a reporter.


shelworth

We really get the cream of the crop, don’t we?


pasoparent5

Sounds like Los Osos picked a doozy of a city manager. At least Atwater was smart enough to fire her. I wish more Central Coast cities (Paso!!) would have the cajones to fire their incompetent city managers.


http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2012/09/11/2529517/atwater-city-manager-out-after.html


“Do I have hard feelings? No,” Kivley said…Financially, I’m solid… I just have to decide what I’m going to do, because I’m not ready to retire.”


But everything isn’t solid in Atwater as employees try to pick up the pieces from Kivley’s tenure, according to Planning Commissioner Fred Warchol.


“A heavy weight has been taken off the shoulders of Atwater with the termination of City Manager Kivley,” Warchol said in an email. “You can almost see it in the eyes of City Hall employees when they come to work now.


SLOBIRD

Is Seitz married to Christine? Did they go to the same law school of “Do it our way!”. How much did the district pay this idiot for his advice? Wasn’t he the attorney for the South County District working with Wallace? What a bunch of losers and we wonder why we are in trouble and debt is spiraling…


doggin

Yes, Seitz has been the San Dists council for the going on 30 years give or take. See a pattern of corruption and misdeeds do ya in that everywhere he is its FUBAR’ed with attitude to go.


achillesheal

Oaths of office are meaningless to public officials.


Our representatives in Washington take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Do they?


LameCommenter

Meaningless in Washington, meaningless in SLO, meaningless in SLO County cities and boards. . Yes. True. Look to our leader with “the pen”. I see where Obama lost NINE TO ZIP including his own extreme liberal appointments, in regard to ignoring the U.S. Constitution’s “congressional advice and consent” provisions with his lawless “non recess” appointments.


NINE TO ZIP. this isn’t a “nuance” or grey shading of law that the President happened to legitimately take a side on. Nope, it’s a clear cut ignoring of the Constitution.


With that kind of example, that sort of leadership, who can blame Seitz for making it up as he goes along? Nothing happens to Christine either. Gibson cuts off public comment in contravention of the Brown Act, and you don’t see him losing, being scolded, nor sent to the pokey for crass disrespect of the voters.


Pelican1

Kathy…take the oath! Then you can abscond with millions of taxpayers dollars, like the previous LOCSD did. Go for it!


LameCommenter

Point of order, Pelican. “Absconding” may not have the same meaning as “waste with incredible blunder, against the advice of everybody on the planet and against all common sense”.


If you are talking of Schicker/Tacker/et al, perhaps you meant to say “waste”. Or maybe you’re right, who knows. Los Osos CSD is such a hairball of stupidity in most of it’s year to year iterations, that it’s hard to find more garbled municipal thought.