Attorney Michael Seitz performance again under review

February 1, 2015

sewerFollowing the release of documents that shows South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District legal counsel recommended legal actions that benefited his firm while costing ratepayers, the board will again review Michael Seitz’ performance and contract.

In 2010, failures at the sanitation district resulted in 384,000 to 3 million gallons of raw sewage flowing into Oceano homes and the ocean. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board then determined the spill was the result of mismanagement under former plant administrator John Wallace and proposed a $400,000 settlement.

However, the board, at Seitz’ recommendation, elected to engage in a costly legal battle, a fight that the district did not expect to win, according to district records. As a result, by the end of 2012 the board had already paid about $750,000 to the Wallace Group, Seitz, and a team of lawyers to argue against the allegations of mismanagement and the proposed $1.1 million fine.

In addition, when asked about a previous settlement offer, Seitz said the state had never offered a $300,000 settlement, though he claimed the district had made a substantially larger settlement offer to the state. A statement state officials said is untrue.

In 1986, the governing board hired Wallace as a consultant in charge of the district’s day-to-day administrative, budgeting and engineering operations even though he is not technically an employee of district. Over time, Wallace sent an increasing amount of the plant’s work load to his privately owned company and billed the district for these services.

Wallace resigned in Feb. 2013 amid allegations of mismanagement and conflicts of interest.

Seitz, the attorney for the sanitation district, has claimed he was not also an attorney for the Wallace Group.

However, in 2012, a receptionist at the Wallace Group said that not only was Seitz the Wallace Group’s attorney, he also sat in on the group’s board meetings,

In addition, at that time Seitz’s wife, Sharon Seitz, headed the Wallace Group’s Human Resources department.

On Feb. 4, sanitation district board members Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill, Oceano Community Services District President Matt Guerrero and Grover Beach Mayor John Schoals will again review Seitz’ performance. Guerrero is the only member of the current sanitation district board who was also the board during the 2012 closed session settlement negotiations.


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12 Comments

  1. agag1 says:

    Guerrero and Shoals should welcome transparency
    if both hope to use this board as a political stepping stone.
    If there’s nothing to hide, bring in the bean counters
    and let’s start countin’.

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  2. LameCommenter says:

    The title mentioning the performance of a long time insider agency lawyer while displaying a picture of a stinking gas digester treatment tank is a lovely and appropriate juxtaposition.

    (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
  3. justbeware says:

    It is time for Shoals and Guerrero to become part of the solution, and not part of the Wallace cover-up.

    Very glad to see Mr. Seitz’ performance on the agenda again.

    Get onboard Shoals, you are our best hope for the critical second vote.
    Join Jim Hill.

    (11) 13 Total Votes - 12 up - 1 down
  4. snooky156 says:

    Seitz is a symptom of the disease… plain and simple… and it is logical that the Board of Directors PROVIDE the public Legal Counsel who is representative of new, effective organizational changes.

    Seitz’s representation is of the past, a past that failed ratepayers on many levels, and there is nobody available to assure that Seitz will not perform as a Wallace Group mole and obstruct the District’s upcoming Management Review. Damage Control, plain and simple.

    Shouldn’t we expect Mayor John Shoals to follow through on the potential upside of making a change in the District’s Legal Counsel? Tell me, what is the downside?

    Mayor Shoals, tell us why you love Seitz so much. Without him in place, will the dominos fall?

    (25) 31 Total Votes - 28 up - 3 down
    • kayaknut says:

      Do you think you are asking too much from the same John Shoals who in the past sat on the board and let all these thing now being exposed happen and supported them. I trying to figure out which one Mr. Shoals is, “See No”, “Hear No” or “Speak No”

      (13) 17 Total Votes - 15 up - 2 down
  5. falconbh says:

    A good first step to restore public trust.

    The next Wallace is paavo ogren in the Oceano district.
    Watch him, listen to him, review the budget. Then decide for yourself.
    The lack of the division of functions, internal controls,checks and balances,all are paving the way for corruption.

    (21) 37 Total Votes - 29 up - 8 down
  6. analyticone says:

    If you want things to change, you can email, text, call or meet with your council or district representatives and by speak during public comment at Council and Board meetings:

    Grover Beach 1st & 3rd Mondays 6:30 p.m. 154 S. 8th St. Grover Beach (Feb. 2) JShoals@grover.org; Council@grover.org

    South San Luis Obispo Sanitation District 1st & 3rd Wednesdays 6:00 p.m. Arroyo City Chambers E. Branch St. (Feb. 4 & 18) Amy@sslocsd.org

    Oceano 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. 1600 Front Street, Oceano (Feb. 11 & 25) (no viable email address)

    …and you can call in to the Dave Congalton show (543-8830) Monday Feb. 2nd from 5-6 pm with questions/comments. KVEC am 920 or http://920kvec.com/listen-live/.

    (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
  7. taxpayer says:

    When will CCN do some investigating into what’s been going going on for the last 2 years in Morro Bay since Irons, Smukler and Johnson were elected? Look at the budget, look at the income versus outflow, look at the sewer, look at the proposed new water rates, look at the new building regulations being proposed, look at the new City Manager, on and on, etc., etc. Morro Bay is in a downward spiral and it won’t stop until some light is shed on the subject.

    (2) 18 Total Votes - 10 up - 8 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      The small special interest group thrown out of power in the 2012 election is obviously still mad about having a new City government that looks out for all the residents instead of just special interests.

      Prior administrations let the streets, sewers and our water supply deteriorate to a deplorable state. When residents pointed out serious problems, they were ignored. Past council majorities ignored a groundswell of resident demand for control over building in our neighborhoods, and let their developer pals build whatever they wanted. They ignored laws, such as Measure D, and let their pals use waterfront leases for unlawful purposes. Instead of using taxpayer money to benefit all residents, our past Council majorities used it to help their cronies.

      Finally, in the 2012 election, an overwhelming majority of residents threw the bums out, and started rebuilding City government. In the 2014 election, they once again rejected the special interest groups.

      Clearly, the people who were booted out in 2012, and once again rejected in 2014, are still hoping to get back into power. That is not likely to happen anytime soon. The improvements in City government are too big and too obvious.

      Our infrastructure is finally being repaired all over town. Government itself is being overhauled and streamlined to make the best use of taxpayer dollars. Stupid ideas, like putting a sewer plant in a flood zone, have been thrown out and intelligent decisions are finally being made. More and more, residents are being given a voice in government, and finally citizen advisory committees are being formed and actually listened to. What a concept.

      (2) 14 Total Votes - 8 up - 6 down
      • mb business owner says:

        It appears what taxpayer is looking for is a simple review or investigation of the oddities that have occurred in the last months in the city. it sounds to me like taxpayer is moving on and perhaps you could too. in looking at the midyear budget review it was frightening to note over 150K spent on attorney services in 6 months, so upwards of 300 for a year? also I have mentioned other odd things in previous posts that I won’t repeat again since it seems to have fallen on deaf ears in term of ccn and the city of morro bay. cheerio!

        (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
        • taxpayer says:

          Exactly. Also the City Manager’s statement that the City of Morro Bay could cease to exist if revenues don’t improve greatly over the next five years to continue to pay for services. If that doesn’t get your attention, how about the unilateral reorganization of the city managment with no public imput? Or how about the entire 4th of July committee resigning at one time and the possibilty that there will be no fireworks show in Morro Bay this year? And the list goes on and on. Meanwhile the taxpayers water and sewer rates are set to double over the next five years. Where does that money come from for people on fixed incomes? I would like to see an independent investigation of the things that have happened over the last two years under Irons, Smukler and Johnson.

          (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  8. marcusaurelius says:

    slo county where the dukes of hazzard is not just a show…..

    (27) 41 Total Votes - 34 up - 7 down

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