Oceano board members use Brown Act as toilet paper

February 6, 2015
Mary Lucey and Karen White

Oceano Board Members Mary Lucey and Karen White chatting during sanitation district meeting.


As he has for the last several years, Oceano Community Services District (OCSD) Past President Matthew Guerrero serves as the OCSD representative to the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District (SSLOCSD) in violation of code.

It was reported in an interview on the Dave Congalton Show with former Grover Beach Mayor and SSLOCSD board member Debbie Peterson that Guerrero struck a deal with then OCSD Vice President Mary Lucey that he would support her as president of the OCSD if she let him stay on the SSLOCSD Board. At the Jan. 14 OCSD meeting, Lucey was elected by her peers to the OCSD president seat. Section 4730 of the Health and Safety Code requires the “presiding officer” from the participating agencies serve on the sanitation board.

Thwarting the law, Oceano CSD’s General Manager Paavo Ogren and District Legal Counsel Jeff Minnery concocted a scheme in which Lucey would be appointed the SSLOCSD board as the OCSD representative, but Guerrero would actually serve on the SSLOCSD board under the guise of being Lucey’s “alternate.”

Minnery cautioned Lucey that she should not attend SSLOCSD meetings, or she would be expected to sit at the dais and represent Oceano. In fact, the OCSD bylaws expressly state, “An alternate member may be assigned by the board in advance for those meetings where a regular member is unable to attend.”

Yet, Lucey continues to attend SSLOCSD meetings. She has gone to the podium and stated her sexual preference, but hasn’t made it clear if she’s speaking as the OCSD board president or as Maryjane Q. Public in her attempts to influence the board. Clearly, neither Minnery nor SSLOCSD Legal Counsel Michael Seitz is policing the situation, nor enforcing the Health and Safety Code or the OCSD bylaw.

Both Lucey and newly elected OCSD Vice President Karen White attended Wednesday night’s meeting of SSLOCSD; their presence along with Guerrero constituted a quorum of the OCSD board.

The three OCSD board members in attendance at this meeting where interests of the district they serve were discussed was a recipe for a Brown Act violation. Lucey and White sat close enough to whisper to each other throughout the meeting and both directors took notes and made gestures that were participatory in the proceedings.

Also, while in the audience Lucey passed notes to a girlfriend seated near her. The two women went outside for a time, came back and when the friend went to the podium to speak and she referred to the notes she had collected during the meeting. This too is a violation of the Brown Act. The string of incongruent words read aloud was a dead giveaway as to whose thoughts were actually being spoken — classic Mary Lucey.

When White stepped to the podium; she failed to disclose whether or not her comments were her own or if she was speaking on behalf of the OCSD board. Her speech attempted to dissuade the SSLOCSD board from proceeding on the previously approved vote to perform a forensic audit.

Curiously, White is a resident of Halcyon whose waste is treated by a septic system and her home is served by an onsite well; she is not a ratepayer of either OCSD or SSLOCSD, so perhaps she was speaking on behalf of the OCSD?

What’s more interesting and perhaps most concerning, is the recent change in position Lucey has made since hiring Ogren at the OCSD.

Ogren, who has a long standing relationship with former SSLOCSD Administrator, John Wallace, was seen sitting with Wallace at a County Board of Supervisors meeting for a groundwater management item. The two men were friendly throughout the item and left the meeting early together. It would not surprise me one bit if Ogren has coached Lucey into backing down from her longstanding position roasting Wallace at every opportunity.



  1. falconbh says:

    Oceano Water Rate Increase- The board members and general manager have a unique opportunity to develop a new model for water service districts.
    First, we all need to understand that the current budget, spending,water conservation, prop.218 and debt, will bring new rate increases every year forever. It is a broken model that needs to be fixed.
    What can we reasonably afford in our community ?
    The current plan is increase rates. The plan will fail and brings with it a lot of moral and ethical questions.

    (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
  2. falconbh says:

    Water Rate Increases Oceano , the first option should be how do we reduce costs, salaries, benefits, Before we consider raising the cost of water on one of the most economically disadvantages areas in the county.
    Where is the shared sacrifice ? How do everything justify 250,000 for general manager and then rate increase ?

    (3) 19 Total Votes - 11 up - 8 down
  3. OnTheOtherHand says:


    Get off your high horse about Lucey’s sexual preferences. They are irrelevant to the subject and only serve to make people question your ability to make an objective analysis of what goes on at either OCSD or SSLOCSD.

    (-6) 42 Total Votes - 18 up - 24 down
    • citygirl says:

      Not when mary lucey walked away from the podium the meeting prior stating out loud” not bad for a lesbian”.

      so on the other hand tell ML to stop stating her sexual preferences which I did not know or care to know prior to the meeting

      (22) 38 Total Votes - 30 up - 8 down
    • marcusaurelius says:

      ml is one disgusting human being. disgusting.

      can someone print her qualifications and acheivements in life?

      (10) 28 Total Votes - 19 up - 9 down
    • Julie says:

      “Irrelevant” — completely agree.
      How does her bringing it into the decision making process for the SSLOCSD board help them? Or for that matter the OCSD board where she often refers to it?
      You’ll have to ask her how it helps discussions as they relate to the matters at hand; i.e. water, sewer, street lights, parks and fire services.

      (7) 23 Total Votes - 15 up - 8 down
      • marcusaurelius says:

        Truly, it is a sad commentary of today’s society, and more specifically ocsd, when someone of Lucey’s qualifications, can govern.

        this is a district where poverty and illiteracy reigns, less than 40% of the voters turnout, and people like guerrero and lucey use these facts to their financial, professional, and personal advantage.

        guerrero and lucey maybe rockstars in their own minds, but they are scumbuckets in mine.

        (6) 20 Total Votes - 13 up - 7 down
    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      I heard that comment as kind of “talking to herself as she walked away from the podium.” It wasn’t relevant when she said it but didn’t seem to be part of her public statement about the SSLOCSD.

      There may well be good reason to criticize her points of view and past activities on both the OCSD and SSLOCSD boards. Limit yourself to that — it isn’t much of a limit and makes you look more reasonable. I find much to agree with in your take on this subject but it bothers me when people lower themselves to unnecessary personal attacks over irrelevant subjects.

      (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
      • Julie says:

        I hear ya OTOH. Point taken.

        I did not attend the meeting doglover speaks of, but I did listen to the audio tape. I couldn’t say whether or not she was still at the podium, or “talking to herself.” Someone else told me she said it for the benefit of Otis Page.

        I was kind of blown away by the out of place announcement. Additionally, I have heard her speak to her “diversity” many times from the dais during OCSD meetings. So, I wasn’t all that surprised by what I heard, really it was just another Maryizm. What she should be clarifying when speaking at any podium is if shes speaking on behalf of her Board, failing to do so reflects her thoughts and antics on them all. (Kinda like Adam Hill’s actions reflect poorly on the whole BOS).

        I’ll tell you what blew my mind most recently was her statement at OCSD last meeting where she said the sentry well on Pier Ave. was one of the district’s “best producers.” Duh Mary! A sentry well is a monitoring well. It has no pump and is not a producer of anything but water quality samples. (Had me rolling on the floor in stitches). Statements like that (of which there’ve been many) as she holds herself out as the district’s water expert is what just kills me.

        Poor Oceano.

        (1) 9 Total Votes - 5 up - 4 down
        • bigdaddy says:

          When Mary refers to diversity she is talking about Oceanos water supply being diversified as in coming from different sources.
          Otis page referred to Mary at one time as a lesbian. Her comment was meant for him as she walked back from podium. Why you Julie felt it necessary to bring that up is beyond me.Mary knows what a sentry well. Have you not ever mixed up words or knew what you meant to say and said something else.Your constant criticisms of her only demonstrates loud and clear your short comings.

          (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
          • Julie says:

            Just watch the last meeting where Paavo has to correct her on the sentry well.

            As for “diversity”; she refers to herself as much as the water portfolio. I don’t know what, nor do I care, what Otis Page says to Lucey. I recall her demanding she be a representative on a committee former Mayor Ferrara set up after the cross burning in AG just a few years ago, because OCSD had a “colorful board” — as stated by ousted GM Geaslen.

            Constant criticisms? She’s an elected official, in the position of power. She makes financial decisions (many, many bad ones) that affect 7,200 people. To that end, all five board members had better have pretty thick skin, because they will, and should be, accountable for their actions (and their antics).

            (-3) 11 Total Votes - 4 up - 7 down
      • Willow says:

        Oh, please, if you think Lucey said that under her breath without the intention of having the audience hear it, then you’re really quite naive. Lucey prides herself on her sexual preference and loves to flaunt it in people’s face whenever she can. She’s a lost soul and a user – in every sense of the word. The citizenry of Oceano really do deserve a kick in the pants for allowing themselves and their community to be so abused by their district board members for so many years. The ignorance and apathy of that community is nothing short of absolutely shameful. Just like the rest of America, the people of Oceano have no sense of pride in themselves or their community, or leadership. Simply shameful and repulsive to watch.

        (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
  4. falconbh says:

    The Oceano Community Services District directors and manager have been running the district into bankruptcy at such a rapid pace through waste and fiscal mismanagement.
    Clearly Guerrero, Lucey, White, continue to game the system,block transparency,oppose forensic audits,and limit open government best practices.
    The questions we need to ask ourselves, is why are they working so hard together to block the audit and what are they attempting to hide from the ratepayers of the Oceano District and South County Sanitation District..

    (20) 38 Total Votes - 29 up - 9 down
  5. Kevin Rice says:

    I strongly disagree with Julie on several points:

    (1) Health & Safety Code § 4730 does not “require” Mary Lucey to serve on the sanitation board. Section 4730 provides that an alternate director (i.e., Matt Guerrero) may take the place of the regular director during absence, inability, or refusal to act. There is nothing illicit if Lucey “refuses” and cedes to Guerrero as alternate, especially if she believes Guerrero has more interest, knowledge or inclination to serve.

    (2) No statute prohibits Mary Lucey from attending and commenting.

    (3) There is no Brown Act violation in Mary Lucey and Karen White attending and speaking amongst themselves, or at the podium. The Brown Act makes exception for “the attendance of a majority of the members or a legislative body at an open and noticed meeting” (Gov. Code § 54952.2 (c)(4). The Brown Act continues, “…a majority of the members [may] not discuss among themselves, other than as part of the scheduled meeting, business…within the subject matter jurisdiction of [OCSD]”. Lucey and White are not a majority of the five OCSD directors, and the inclusion of Matt Guerrero when White spoke from the podium was business that was “part of the scheduled meeting”.

    (4) Karen White is not obligated to disclose that she is not representing OCSD when speaking at the podium. Such disclosure might be a nicety, but it should be presumed she is attending as an individual since this was not an OCSD meeting.

    (5) I see no “scheme” or “guise” in Matt Guerrero being appointed as alternate director. Many past alternate directors, such as Bill Nichols from Grover Beach have served.

    (6) Karen White, though not a water or sewer rate payer of OCSD certainly pays taxes to OCSD (i.e., fire, street lighting, parks) and has an interest. I’m disappointed Julie brought up this point given Julie’s complete non-residency in the sanitation district. Outside voices have an absolute right to make public comment, and Julie certainly knows that.

    (7) The referral to Mary Lucey’s “preference” was unnecessary. Mary’s quip was light-hearted and humorous. It made me giggle. It shouldn’t be brought up here as if it were seedy. It wasn’t.

    (8) I don’t feel this opinion does any favors for the many citizens hoping to get an audit of the sanitation district and seeking the termination of district legal counselor Mike Seitz (who has been too cozy with the dark clouds of prior management and doesn’t serve the public openly and transparently.)

    (3) 39 Total Votes - 21 up - 18 down
    • Julie says:

      Thanks for the counter point Kevin.
      I’m entitled to my opinion as you are to yours.
      Let’s just agree to disagree.

      (-7) 37 Total Votes - 15 up - 22 down
    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      Good points down the line Kevin. I tend to agree with Julie on a lot of general views about the SSLOCSD but she was off on the specifics here and it detracts from the credibility of her arguments when she does that.

      (10) 22 Total Votes - 16 up - 6 down
    • marcusaurelius says:

      lol at the catfight over who is the best activist.

      (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
  6. MaryMalone says:

    Great op-ed, Julie.

    We knew Ogren’s selection as GM for OCSD was strange…hell, we knew Ogren even being interested in being a GM for OCSD was strange.

    He didnt’ wait too long before showing his hand.

    Maybe a forensic audit is needed for OCSD, as well.

    (5) 39 Total Votes - 22 up - 17 down
    • doglover says:

      The OCSD cannot get rid of Ogren. If they do, that is proof that they are all crazy ( even Guerrero!)
      For a very small poor community to be paying him the salary he is provided is nuts.
      That alone should be an issue for the Grand Jury. (If only they too could grow some!)

      (11) 33 Total Votes - 22 up - 11 down
      • LovinLosOsos says:

        Okay let’s just get something clear. Ms. Tacker writes these articles under the guise of OpEds. She clearly CLEARLY is making noise to try and benefit herself and Mr. Edwards. She has the audacity to comment on the board member that lives just outside the Oceano community when she lives 25 miles away.

        There are numerous incorrect assertions in nearly all of her articles. There is no fact checking. Just because she read the FAQs on the Brown Act she runs around shouting “Brown Act Violation!!!” Even when there isn’t. How is this considered news when nothing she wrote indicates an actual Brown Act Violation?? Why does this even make it on this “News” site??

        My own short OpEd is that persons who engage in disrupting Public Forums for their own financial gain have serious lack of moral character.

        These shananingans only hurt the real members of the public who are seeking to achieve real progress.

        It’s her and Jeff’s antics that caused OCSD to burn through lesser qualified managers. They very much share the blame for Mr. Ogren’s rediculous salary of $180,000. The community of Oceano had no choice but to seek out a higher skill level than what is available at $90,000 dollars per year.

        Mr. Ogren dealt with the CSD-bankrupting-Tacker in Los Osos and so OCSD had to look to Ogren to deal with her greedy development seeking garbage here.

        Keep up the good work. I’m sure the county tax payer will soon have to bear the burden of inheriting another bankrupt CSD courtesy of you know who.

        Stop writing garbage Julie. Focus on real news. Stop using this forum to elevate yourself. If you cannot write articles that aren’t just serving your own personal vendettas, then don’t post anything.

        (10) 36 Total Votes - 23 up - 13 down
        • Julie says:

          Pretty much all of this is your OpEd — of which you’re entitled. If you’re looking for news, why are you reading OpEd’s? If you are going to fling out numbers, then it is you who should “fact check.”

          My participation in Oceano has included opposition to each and every one of these past 5 years of GM’s — mainly because all have been overpaid.

          Ogren’s salary is $196,000; plus the highest PERS rate due to his longtime status as a government employee, plus excellent medical coverage — about $250,000 annually.
          Ogren is competent in the position, but they simply cannot afford him. See this weeks rate schedule introducing increases to cover not only his salary, but just the beginning of funds to right the wrong of years of deferred maintenance resulting in 83K-134K AFY of State, Lopez and groundwater to leak from the distribution system (decades of incalculable losses to the OCSD ratepayer).

          Lesser qualified OCSD GM’s:

          Lonnie Curtis $126,000; plus the newer PERS rate and medical, about $160,000 annually. Collateral damage, about $50K.

          Geaslen salary and same benefits as Curtis; plus $45K he “overpaid himself” minus $45K he was forced to returned plus $28K to attorneys to handle the legal mess left on just this personnel nightmare…the collateral damage, lawsuits, consultants, settlements — incalculable.

          Montemurro: $87,500; plus the newer PERS rate and medical, about $127,000 annually. Plus the sick pay collected while being paid for working, $10K for attorney’s to get rid of him and $17,000 severance parachute.

          (1) 23 Total Votes - 12 up - 11 down
    • Willow says:

      The fact that Ogren is now GM for OCSD is astounding, considering his past track record is wrought with questions of collusion and integrity. All those on the OCSD board who voted for him to be GM should be immediately recalled on the basis of reckless and negligent conduct that puts the community at risk of being screwed by yet another deceiver.

      (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  7. justbeware says:

    Guerrero’s purpose for remaining on the San Dist board is two fold.

    He can continue to intentionally delay any action which would allow the ratepayers to seek restitution from his friend John Wallace.

    He can also squelch any attempt by board chairman, Jim Hill to shake things up in an effort to gain transparency, for the ratepayers.

    His motives and actions are self serving, and do not serve the residents of Oceano.

    (22) 48 Total Votes - 35 up - 13 down
    • justbeware says:

      Make that three fold.

      Don’t forget that judgeship Guerrero wants so desperately.

      The San Dist, and the backs of the Oceano ratepayers make a nice stepping stone.

      (19) 43 Total Votes - 31 up - 12 down
      • doglover says:

        or not??!

        (3) 13 Total Votes - 8 up - 5 down
      • OnTheOtherHand says:

        I don’t know if it is accurate since I got the info second hand, but the CCN article stating “Guerrero, a local attorney, recently applied to Gov. Jerry Brown to be appointed as a superior court judge.” was a distortion of fact — unless you consider 4 years ago as “recent.” I wonder if Velie fact-checked that and why she put it at the end of the article if she did.

        (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down
        • justbeware says:

          Perhaps it explains his unwillingness to terminate a fellow attorney,
          Mr Seitz, even though there is plenty of good cause to do so.
          Guerrero wouldn’t want to rock any boats, seems the same is true for Shoals if his eye is really on the BOS seat prize.

          If the confidential papers released last week were not enough, one must wonder what it would take for Guerrero and Shoals to let Seitz go.

          (14) 26 Total Votes - 20 up - 6 down
    • marcusaurelius says:

      guerrero is as slippery and slimy as the turds floating in the sewer system he oversees.

      (16) 50 Total Votes - 33 up - 17 down
      • justbeware says:

        At least the poop is honest to goodness, poop,
        and not pretending to be anything other than just poop.

        (17) 37 Total Votes - 27 up - 10 down

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