Legal counsel battles board

January 19, 2015

sewageBY KAREN VELIE

Amid allegations he had repeatedly failed to follow board direction, the San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Board will review the performance of district legal counsel Mike Seitz on Jan. 21.

At a Dec. 17 sanitation district meeting, the board unanimously voted to direct staff to seek a mitigated settlement with the state water board and to place a discussion of the settlement on the next agenda. However, staff failed to place the item on the Jan. 7 agenda.

During the first January meeting, sanitation district board Chairman Jim Hill noted Seitz’ failure to expedite a settlement and asked to have a performance review of Seitz contract on the next agenda.

Nevertheless, officials from the state water board said they have not yet been asked to mitigate a settlement. Instead, on Jan. 13, attorneys for the state met with an attorney hired by the sanitation district at the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse for a case management conference as both parties prepare for trial.

Melissa Thorme, the Sacramento based attorney hired by the sanitation district to lodge a lawsuit against the state, said she has not yet been directed to work on a mitigated settlement. Nevertheless, she is slated to meet with the sanitation district board in closed session on Jan. 21.

According to the latest cash disbursement report, the district paid Thorme $8,937 for her legal work in November and Seitz $4,600.

During the past four years, the sanitation district has spent over $1 million in legal fees with the majority spent fighting the water board’s findings of mismanagement.

In 2010, 384,000 gallons of raw sewage flowed in Oceano homes and the ocean. The state later determined the spill was the result of mismanagement and fined the district $1.1 million.

At the suggestion of plant administrator Wallace, the district board then agreed to fund Wallace’s engineering firm and a team of lawyers to battle the fine and allegations of mismanagement.

On Oct. 24 of this year, the state water board rejected the sanitation district’s petition for an appeal of the fine. In turn, the district board voted to file a lawsuit against the state while multiple members of the public requested an investigation into Wallace’s management of the district.

But, following the November election, the makeup of the board changed with Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill and Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals joining Oceano Community Services District President Matt Guerrero. The board then voted in closed session to pursue a settlement of the state fine.

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11 Comments

  1. achillesheal says:

    This, ladies and gentleman is a fine example of gravy train government. Spend $1M in legal fees (so far) to resolve a $1.1M fine, which is not resolved and has no end in site.

    This is why reasonable people hate paying taxes. The gross mismanagement of resources by government entities.

    (16) 22 Total Votes - 19 up - 3 down
    • falconbh says:

      We need to get Sanitation District and Oceano C.S.D. spending and budgets under control.

      (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
  2. doglover says:

    And it literally keeps piling up.
    John Shoals must be dying. Um sure he wants no part of this mess.

    This is where we know Tony Ferrara will get caught

    Where the hell does all the money go?

    (21) 31 Total Votes - 26 up - 5 down
    • agag1 says:

      Ah, but remember….
      Shoals was part of this mess before Debbie Peterson started digging into it.
      Shoals and Ferrara, along with their buddy Wallace were ALL on the same team!
      I’m sure he is dying–he simply doesn’t want others to know what HE knew at the time.

      (14) 24 Total Votes - 19 up - 5 down
  3. debbie peterson says:

    The Sanitation District board meeting on Wednesday January 14th in Arroyo Grande City Hall at 6:00pm may be the most important meeting of the year. On the agenda:

    Operational/Forensic Audit
    Review of Counsel
    Explanation Regarding District Administrator’s Lack of Insurance in the 2010 Spill
    Mediation of Lawsuit that has Cost Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to Fight
    Answers to Questions Submitted by the Public

    You can see details of legal costs at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByLai3-tirayYjVZTDVGNXBjQkE/view?usp=sharing

    (18) 26 Total Votes - 22 up - 4 down
    • Julie says:

      Amazing math! No wonder the staff at SSLOCSD done all they could to hide these figures…they are staggering!

      (20) 28 Total Votes - 24 up - 4 down
    • snooky156 says:

      I hope the community comes to the meeting tomorrow night and endorses the value of true leadership and supports the new Board of Directors as they lead the SSLOCSD on a path of meaningful change. Many of the questions raised tomorrow should have been addressed years ago, except for the extreme sense of entitlement shown by many of the decision makers at the SSLOCSD between 2010 and 2013.

      How many times did Wallace tell the councils and boards of the district that SSLOCSD hasn’t had a violation in 25 years? How many times did we hear Nicolls and Ferrara say their non-sensical empowerment of the Wallace Group helped to keep rates low?

      That’s BUNK, and Seitz was in the middle of it all collecting his chunk!

      (17) 21 Total Votes - 19 up - 2 down
  4. Pelican1 says:

    Yeah yeah yeah yeah
    We gotta get Mike out of this place
    If its the last thing we ever do
    We gotta get him out of this place
    Arroyo, there’s a better life
    For me and you
    Somehow I know he’s got to go
    He’s gotta get out of this place
    If its the last thing we ever do
    He’s gotta get out of this place
    Arroyo,, there’s a better life for me and you
    You know it too

    (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
  5. Pelican1 says:

    Jim….break out the broom! It’s time to clean house, Happiness will be seeing Mr. Seitz in our rear-view mirror.

    (24) 30 Total Votes - 27 up - 3 down
  6. MaryMalone says:

    QUOTING THE ARTICLE: “Nevertheless, officials from the state water board said they have not yet been asked to mitigate a settlement. Mb>Instead, on Jan. 13, attorneys for the state met with an attorney hired by the sanitation district at the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse for a case management conference as both parties prepare for trial.

    ————————————-

    Yeah, baby! I am very pleased at not letting this Seitz nonperformance on directed action slide.

    Really, who does Seitz think he is, anyway? Either he has grandiose delusions of an epic proportion or he is absolutely sweating-bullets-desperate to maintain the coverup.

    (22) 34 Total Votes - 28 up - 6 down
  7. agag1 says:

    This is just another fine mess Tony Ferrara left behind.
    Gotta feel sorry for Hill,
    he inherited Steve Adams, Brisco Rd, the San Dist poo,
    and a plate full of other BS Tony didn’t want us to know about before the election.

    (38) 54 Total Votes - 46 up - 8 down

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