Los Osos needs new leadership
October 8, 2014
OPINION By TOM SALMON
It has been 15 years since the formation of the Los Osos Community Service. In that period nearly $50 million dollars has been spent, wasted, fined or misdirected for nothing of value, this theft must stop. Only the residents of my community can put this horrible adventure in bad government to rest. Los Osos cannot afford this, but possibly this election we have the ability to slow the terrible government, which some of you voted to create.
In this election, a particular candidate is the newly appointed Los Osos Community Services District (LOCSD) board member, Jon Storm is not running for re-election, he was never elected but obtained this temporary position by default.
Storm touts his experience as teacher of religion and philosophy at Cuesta College and his work as an attorney as much of the reason he deserves your vote. But on his campaign literature his first discussion is a lie. He asks to be re-elected, how can that be if he was never elected? Truth is very important to me, but apparently not to Mr. Storm.
While I’ve never met the man formally, my first impression and only experience with him was in public comment at an LOCSD meeting where he, and fellow board member Marshall Ochylski, both interrupted and characterized my comments as “racist” and walked out as I criticized the LOCSD board (video tape available through AGP Video). The topic of my comment was that this LOCSD Board threw away 150 Million gallons for precious water, because they were afraid of Bruce Gibson. This same director now wants to fine you for watering your flower beds.
My point to the board, was that their letter to the Water Board, asking for intervention in the dewatering related to the county’s wastewater project, didn’t go far enough. The pump and dump of 460 acre feet of treatable drinking water into Morro Bay during an extended drought is unforgivable. This board felt a letter was all that was required form them.
Director Storm is the president of the Jewish Community Center Foundation, I find it very strange that he would interrupt my limited three minute comment to question my analogy saying, “Wasting water isn’t like the Holocaust?” and then walked out as I spoke.( LOCSD audio available)
Storm’s election website suggests the “Los Osos CSD board have worked tirelessly to secure Los Osos’s water future by firmly and strategically—but cooperatively—working with the County and other water purveyors in the Los Osos basin to provide for water security through the design and implementation of our basin plan.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The county has played games with our water, including Supervisor Bruce Gibson’s characterization of this precious dewatering resource as “trash water,” and now that water is gone forever.
The LOCSD, including storm, has allowed sewer contractors to steal water from hydrants without prosecution. Moreover, the LOCSD has not recovered a single dime for its ratepayer’s time and materials spent on the sewer construction; marking lines, broken water mains, water losses or damaged facilities.
Storm recently wrote a letter to the editor suggesting “Now is not the time to relitigate the long and divisive history of the Los Osos sewer project.”
Yet, he is on the LOCSD Board and has begun saber rattling; suggesting the neighboring water purveyor has not given fire hydrant flow data to the fire department. What has been given is a model of flows; hydrology that Storm clearly doesn’t understand. When Storm was challenged by a retired Los Osos firefighter at a recent committee meeting, rather than admit the fire department has things well in hand, Storm lost his temper, began arguing and flipped the man “the bird” and was subsequently told to leave by another board member who was chairing the meeting (audio tape available through the LOCSD).
As part of Storm’s campaign, he began beating the bushes trying to get people to sign a petition to embarrass them into submission. He dropped that approach only after this confrontation. This is an ill-advised tactic, as relations between these two primary Los Osos water purveyors are becoming turbulent. The ongoing litigation was on a recent Board of Supervisors closed session agenda and is always on the LOCSD’s closed session agenda.
Additionally, Los Osos citizens concerned with their high water rates have begun discussions of a ‘take over’ of the private water company during a nearly 10-year litigious relationship. Storm is a customer of that water district and continues to make inflammatory comments about the company. But, Storm fails to tell the voters that water rates in the LOCSD district will be going up sharply in the coming months and years. Baywood water has always been subsidized, to keep the rates artificially low.
Storm also suggests the 2006 Cease and Desist Orders levied against 45 random households in Los Osos be dropped. Storm moved to Los Osos in 2010, has no idea how those orders affected people’s lives, cost them time and money and sent fear into this community. For him to hold himself out as a champion for those affected at this late date is coat-tail riding at its best.
Had he actually spoken to a CDO holder, donated to their defense fund, attended a Court proceeding, Water Board, Board of Supervisors or Coastal Commission hearing related to the wastewater project or listened to the plight of a CDO holder, he wouldn’t be so cavalier.
Being an involved member of Los Osos for a very long time, it is surprising that Mr. Storm isn’t aware of the involvement of his constituents. Demeaning the people he represents shows a lack of understanding and respect for the public process. This candidate is a petulant child, ill informed and tantrum prone. Storm has refused to attend this Friday’s candidates forum, snubbing the competition and the community.
To conclude, I and many in Los Osos would like to envision the LOCSD be dissolved. Unfortunately, the county will fight us, and with extremely poor legal representation, this will not happen. Our legal counsel has been feeding at the LOCSD trough for a very long time, and won’t be of any assistance. But, what we can do is not allow Mr. Storm to make ill-conceived, under analyzed, selfish votes as our representative. Keep in mind he even lies on his election material, he was never elected by Los Osos.
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