Sanitation district attorney under fire

January 8, 2015
John Wallace

John Wallace

By KAREN VELIE

After San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District staff failed to follow board direction and agendize the settlement of a $1.1 million fine with the state, the board voted Wednesday to seek a review of district legal counsel Mike Seitz’ performance and contract.

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 Wednesday’s agenda.

“I am going to insist that at the next meeting of this district on the agenda appears a status of the mediated settlement,” Hill said. “I also want to review the contract with our attorney. I am very, very displeased that this item is not on the agenda tonight.”

Seitz, who formerly worked as an attorney for the Wallace Group, has supported continuing the legal battle against the state’s fine. If the fine is paid, the district could then seek restitution from John Wallace and his engineering firm The Wallace Group.

In 2010, 384,000 gallons of raw sewage flowed in Oceano homes and the ocean, and 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 pay about $750,000 to 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.

On Wednesday, Hill became chairman and Shoals was selected to serve as the vice chair. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 21.


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agag1

For those who may be yearning for some the excitement the recent AG council meetings and election provided, may I suggest attending the sanitation district meetings?

Something tells me Jim Hill is just getting warmed up!


r0y

“However, staff failed to place the item on Wednesday’s agenda.”


So “staff” was fired? Reprimanded? What am I missing here?


OnTheOtherHand

In response to your last question: “patience.”


I can’t guarantee that Seitz will be fired but I get the distinct impression that Jim Hill would like to do so. However, governmental processes take time and this can’t be done on the spur of the moment. He also needs agreement from one of the other two Board members.


They will also need to find a replacement if they do relieve him of his contract because it is a necessary position and takes some specialized knowledge to do well. Seitz has that knowledge even if he has sometimes used it for the wrong purposes.


kayaknut

Given the norm for political type people, they were not fired or such but instead received a raise, increased retirement, extra days off, or such


hijinks

Hey, that’s the way it works in ecstatically-happy town, too. Staff can thumb their nose at the council again and again and again and just ignore what they’re told to do, and the council lets them get away with it. Did it again just this week. Lichtig must go.


Snoid

The word “staff” insinuates one of the Sanitation Districts employees is or was involved. This is purely semantics as “staff” in this case is a reference to Mr. Seitz, and not a district employee.


Snoid

For all of you that have stuck with this fiasco from day one ask yourselves this. If Seitz was acting as legal council for the Sanitation District which is”POTW” Publicly owned treatment works, then why does Seitz show up at every legal meeting,hearing, etc,etc with Wallace by his side defending him? Friends perhaps, enemies when it comes to protecting the public’s interest is the way it should be, yet they continue to collude hang on to each other like the Dist is a Corporation of some sort owned by Wallace, and Seitz is his Corp council. I call Bullshit, Seitz need’s to go. He is unquestionably as responsible for the wasted tax dollars in this mess as Wallace is and its time for change.


OnTheOtherHand

Do you have evidence to support your allegations that Seitz is still associating with Wallace legally and socially? If so, please post it here. I would love to see it used against him. However, I am a bit suspicious because Seitz seems too smart to expose himself that way. We do ourselves no favors making baseless accusations even when they are plausible enough to be believable. Stick to the verifiable facts and that should be enough.


Snoid

Yes there is and they are in the hands of the authorities. If you had attended any of the Districts Board meetings pre Wallace termination, you’d have seen just how obvious it was that Seitz stood on Wallace’s side and NOT, the tax payers who paid his bloated charges. The wheels turn slow, he will be Disbarred in time.


soccermom

You are so… so… full of sh*t… there is no so evidence, you can’t make something true just because you wish it. You sound an aweful lot like a disgruntled former sanitation district employee. Trying to stir up trouble for former employers. Making false allegations of theft and wrong doing is also punishable or didn’t you learn that from your past practices?


Snoid

Hum, I sound like a disgruntled former employee trying to stir up trouble for former employees? Who would those individuals be? Seitz and Wallace? there are not employees, they are at will contract service providers so get your sniveling straight. Must say you sound like a certain councilor or former administrators wife, and facts are facts.Proof is everywhere, read the Grand Jury report, talk to those who worked or still work there.Heres how its supposed to work. The council is paid by the public to protect the public and from corruption in public office,he did NOT. That on it’s face is criminal. Most people learn to be honest in life, being a crook isn’t, that’s punishable. BTW, now that the truth has been exposed and the um..well.. garbage taken out, rumor is both employees Wallace and Sheitz corroborated to fire are to be reinstated with back pay. Hows that grab ya?


Julie

Another significant action took place at the meeting last night, that was the make up of the board itself changed.


The people of the tri-communities should be pleased to know that AG Mayor, Jim Hill, in now the Chairman of the Sanitation District Board and GB Mayor, John Shoals, as its Vice Chairman. Additionally pleasing, former GB Mayor, Debbie Peterson has continued to stay engaged with the district — last night she presented a concise seven page history on some of the district’s finances, specifically the dwindling reserves. (Her document is available through the Public Records Act).


It’s time of the tri-communities to really focus on this district and make their concerns known and support their elect-eds.


aft50s

It is the current District Manager who dropped the ball on this subject, not the District’s attorney.


It is the responsibility of the GM to prepare the agenda, warrant register/supporting documents, and written communications etc.


MaryMalone

Different local government agencies handled it differently.


However, in my experience, the GM is supposed to take what the board wants and get it into that final form. In most situations, legal counsel is involved in the specifics of the board request. If the legal counsel does not get his part of the process finished and ready to publish, it can’t be published, and whatever measure the board instructed the GM to get done simply won’t be done.


The fact that they targeted Mike Seitz indicates, IMO, that he failed to fulfill his duties as legal counsel, and that is why they are focusing on Seitz now.


kayaknut

But would it not be the district’s attorney then who should have stepped in and brought up the legal problems with the GM not doing what he was told to do? So both need to go.


OnTheOtherHand

In this specific case, the District Manager was on vacation and the legal counsel was acting on his behalf for this meeting. I don’t know when the DM went on vacation but it is possible that he was unaware of what was done in his name in this situation. Given how much the District has improved in terms of both operation and finances since he came on board less than a year ago, I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt pending further evidence to the contrary.


Pelican1

Are we seeing the puppet master (Tony) at work here? By simply connecting the dots, it’s clear that we must follow the money trail in order to get to the truth because…..


They all live in a sewer submarine

Sewer submarine, sewer submarine

They all live in a sewer submarine

Sewer submarine, sewer submarine


And their friends are all on board

Many more of them live next door

And the band begins to play


They all live in a sewer submarine

Sewer submarine, sewer submarine

They all live in a sewer submarine

Sewer submarine, sewer submarine


Full speed ahead, Mr. Seitz, full speed ahead!

Full speed over here, sir!

Action station! Action station!

Aye, aye, Mr. Wallace, fire!


As they live a life of ease (A life of ease)

Everyone of them (Everyone of them) has all they need (Has all they need)

Sky of blue (Sky of blue) and sea of green (Sea of green)

In their sewer (In their sewer) submarine (Submarine, ha, ha)


They all live in a sewer submarine

Sewer submarine, sewer submarine

They all live in a sewer submarine

Sewer submarine, sewer submarine

They all live in a sewer submarine

Sewer submarine, sewer submarine…..


surferdude

Happy New Year Pelican!

Missed your soundtrack.


Mike Byrd

Unless an adequate explanation is forthcoming this may be reportable to the state bar. If a lawyer protects the interests of a former client to the detriment of a current client that is a big deal.


Reality Check

If Seitz formerly worked for John Wallace, what kind of loyalties does he have? Is it a conflict of interest for him to continue to serve as Sanitation district attorney? Not pursuing direction from the board causes me to wonder where his loyalties lie, Should he continue as the district’s attorney????


Rich in MB

It’s the perfect example of how much power Staff really has behind the scenes.

Forget leaving something off the agenda…what what about Staff Reports? That’s where the unelected Staff Agenda comes into play and corrupts the Democratic Process when the decision makers are given biased and slanted information. Forget buying off the elected officials….just buy off the Staff and you win!


MaryMalone

I can’t speak for how the SSLOCSD works, but in my experience working in a local government agency where the GMs and board members worshipped Jon Seitz, I can tell you this:


The way the system is supposed to work is the board of directors decide what they want in a policy, program or whatever, then it is referred to the GM whose job it is to implement it. The attorney is supposed to be available to ensure what the GM and his helpers are doing in developing the project are within legal bounds.


The way it works for agencies which worship the Seitz brothers and John Wallace is this:


The board decides what it wants, they hand it off to the GM to develop with his assistants, and the GM and assistants know they had better well make sure John Wallace gets the contract for whatever will be done in the new/changed policy.


So I am not surprised that Mike Seitz is playing mince-stepping toady to the best interests of John Wallace. Clearly, John Wallace is Seitz’s REAL boss at SSLOCSD. What the SSLOCSD board wants to accomplish only becomes pertinent to Seitz when it is the same thing John Wallace wants accomplished.


MaryMalone

It isn’t staff’s responsibility to ensure the Board’s directions are carried out. That is the responsibility of the GM and legal counsel. If either the legal counsel or GM fail in getting their part of the deal done, then it is up to the Board to deal with it so that the Board’s requests are carried out in a timely manner.


The Board directed an action to be taken and it wasn’t accomplished. The fact that they are focusing on Seitz indicates, IMO, that Seitz didn’t get his part of the assignment done in time for it to be published at the next meeting.


If Seitz didn’t do his job as legal counsel in fulfilling the Board’s request, they cannot (if they are smart) go forward with it until they can obtain legal counsel.