Oceano can’t afford Mary Lucey any longer

December 8, 2015
Julie Tacker

Julie Tacker

OPINION by JULIE TACKER

At the upcoming Oceano Community Services District Dec. 9 board meeting,  the directors will choose a new president to serve the district for 2016. The current board president is Mary Lucey.

Lucey will not be in attendance at this particular meeting, but has written a memo (included in the staff packet) to her board asking for their support for another term as board president. She compliments each of her fellow directors for their good work on behalf of the community. She goes on to pontificate over the “accomplishments” of the board during this past year.

The reality is the OCSD has accomplished very little this year, just as they have over the last six years

I’ve been watching their board. Lucey claims one such “accomplishment” this year was the implementation of a rate increase to offset the reduction in water use. Just like in many other communities, water delivery expenses are outpacing revenues due to lower consumption. This rate increase merely covers the cost of doing business and doesn’t repair or replace the districts failing infrastructure. This increase is just a bridge to the staggering rate increases that will be coming in the near future as projects are identified to bring the water system up to an acceptable standard.

Another “accomplishment” Lucey wrote, “we have allocated more grant money this year than we have in the past several years.” What Lucey doesn’t understand is that “allocating” grant money is not at all what her board has done. OCSD has applied for, and been selected, to receive grant monies. To date, no such monies have been received. Furthermore, the particular grants the district has applied for do not cover the districts existing infrastructure deficits.

One grant they were approved for was to rehabilitate Well #5 that has been out of service for many years. Once work began on the project it was deemed ‘too far gone’ to rehabilitate and was capped off. The costs to investigate the well were not covered by the grant and there will be no reimbursement for the work the district undertook.OCSD Board President Mary Lucey

Lucey also suggests that the district’s best producer, well number eight, was “refurbished” this past year. In fact, the well had broken down, its pump was replaced and the cost of doing so was unanticipated and paid for through a budget adjustment of district reserves.

Two additional grant applications that appear to be on track for funding are for projects the district never contemplated; a recycled water injections study, a low impact development study and leak detection management plan. Some $200,000 will be spent on these studies and plans, but none of the money will directly offset the high cost of water for Oceano residents.

Ultimately, these studies will identify infrastructure projects necessary to improve Oceano’s water supply, but all costs associated with implementation will be borne by the ratepayer. The coming year will identify millions of dollars in improvements necessary to bring the degraded water and sewer systems up to current standards; rate increases will be before the community shortly thereafter.

Lucey’s memo compliments fellow board member Matt Guerrero for his work on the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District, yet she, as the districts alternate, has served in the seat nearly as much as Guerrero has this year. That decision cost the sanitation district $1,500 to seek a legal opinion that allowed her to be the presiding officer at OCSD, but only an alternate for the sanitation board. Her continued participation at the sanitation district implies no such opinion was needed; she simply should have been Oceano’s appointee.

The number one item that has been on both district’s agendas over the last year has been the dispute that arose over a $22,000 annual charge the sanitation district was paying the OCSD to bill sewer service on their water bills. The battle went on for months, with both districts losing.

The cost of legal bills and staff time spent on rehashing the history and methodology for the cost to bill Oceano residents for the service provided by the sanitation district likely exceeded $10,000. Ultimately, the OCSD was removed from consideration as a billing possibility when Lucey, representing Oceano, refused to take the sanitation district’s offer of $18,000 for the service back to her board to consider.

Oceano loses, but the sanitation district ratepayers win overall, as the final decision the board made for billing will ultimately be far less for the district in the long run.

What Lucey’s fellow board members may not know is she wreaks havoc as an alternate on the sanitation district board.

She has been most unprofessional in her behavior, on more than one occasion she called out citizens as “racists,” including the nine volunteers that served on the committee to select an auditor to investigate past management practices. She recently, on Dec. 1, wrote a scathing email to Interim District Administrator John Clemons, chastising him for things she thought should be on the board’s agenda. But when you drill down to what she wanted, if she had simply read the staff reports or listened to the consultants present, many of her questions would have been answered.

Lucey’s memo talks about this last year being the best of the seven years she’s served on the OCSD board. She points to current General Manager, Paavo Ogren’s experience as a key reason for their turnaround.

Ogren has straightened some things out for OCSD, but he can’t perform miracles and the truth of the matter is, under Lucey’s leadership the OCSD has been through six general managers and seen five board member resignations. Additionally, the district has borrowed over a million dollars from internal funds to prop up the water department and due to the management uncertainties, the district’s employees joined forces with a local union to protect their jobs from Lucey’s whims.

All of these events have been very costly for the citizens of Oceano.

Lucey appears to be posturing for a run at a third term; the fact of the matter is neither Oceano CSD or the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District can afford Lucey any longer.

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22 Comments

  1. Julie says:

    The Board voted 4-0 to reinstate Lucey as their President. They also made her their primary appointee to the San Dist.
    It’s going to be another goofy year.

    (-9) 33 Total Votes - 12 up - 21 down
    • Pelican1 says:

      It will give you something to do with your time.

      (7) 17 Total Votes - 12 up - 5 down
    • falconbh says:

      Let’s just hope Mr. MPA, and other outstanding candidates step forward and give the Voters a choice for new leadership in the next election.

      (14) 22 Total Votes - 18 up - 4 down
    • doglover says:

      dumb asses!

      (6) 14 Total Votes - 10 up - 4 down
  2. Mr.MPA says:

    I’m curious…who does someone need to talk to or get with to run for a board seat? Oftentimes in small governmental agencies there is a strong cohesive “inner circle” that keep out those on the outside. I have worked both in the Public and Private sector and have my Master’s in Public Administration. Seems like there could be some new, fresh perspective and vision within the district.

    (35) 47 Total Votes - 41 up - 6 down
    • Julie says:

      To run for office all one needs to be is over 18 years of age, a US citizen and a registered voter residing in Oceano. The deadline to sign up to run for a seat is in August. It’s simply an appointment with the County Clerk’s office to fill out your paper work, verify you are who you say you are and that you are indeed registered voter in the district…Viola! You’re a candidate.

      This fall there will be three seats available. Mary Lucey’s, Matt Guerrero’s and Jennifer Blackburn’s terms are up for grabs.

      The “inner circle” needs to be blown wide open, new blood and fresh faces are needed on that board. Whoever runs best have thick skin, Mary Lucey is a classic bully and whether she’s on the board, or in the audience, she will be a menace to progress.

      (21) 57 Total Votes - 39 up - 18 down
      • Mr.MPA says:

        Thanks Julie. I looked at the last election (2014) and saw that for the two four-year term seats…they were run unopposed – it was simply the two incumbents running again (unsure what was going on there). I’ll have to come to a couple meetings soon just to observe the people and agenda items. Potentially, I might throw my hat into the ring and step out from the internet shadows in the coming months. :)

        (19) 31 Total Votes - 25 up - 6 down
        • Julie says:

          Feel free to contact me to discuss.

          I’m in the book.

          (-2) 22 Total Votes - 10 up - 12 down
    • doglover says:

      You have my vote!

      (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
  3. Freshlook says:

    Because of Mary Lucey OCSD cannot get a decent GM without payting anexorbinant salary. No self respecting GM would accept a position with a Board member like Ms. Lusey on it. Now she is trying to create the same problem at the San District by verbally attacking Staff, consultants and the general public. Just watch the meetings. Fortunately the SAN District has two other intelligent,well meaning, individuals serving on that Board.

    Because of Lucey trying to intervene in staffing at OCSD, the Staff (5 employees) elected to bring aboard an organized union to protect their job security.

    Lucey caused the most competent accountant(Joslyn) OCSD has ever had to leave that District. Now the GM announces that OCSD needs to hire an accountant.

    Lucey refused to accept $18,000 from the San District to collect treatment fees.

    Why are the ratepayers of Oceano paying for twice as much water as they can use each year?

    Why are there more office staff than operational staff at OCSD? (I guess shuffling paper is more important than fixing and maintaining infrastructure).

    What is the OCSD plan to repair and improve infrastructure?

    I am sure that there will be more “I Love Lucey ” episodes to report on.

    (17) 51 Total Votes - 34 up - 17 down
    • Julie says:

      Freshlook,

      Oh, but wait, there will be another office staff member starting by the next fiscal year. This weeks agenda also has Ogren recommending he give up the accounting job so it can be combined with the office manager position and he is willing to a $60K pay cut.

      Oh my, how will he survive on just $140K annually?

      He never did renew his CPA license as he promised…oh well, promises made, promises broken. Oceano, of all places, has seen many of those.

      (13) 51 Total Votes - 32 up - 19 down
    • Mr.MPA says:

      Freshlook – I like your take and perspective, you definitely seem to have a solid grasp on the outside looking in. Very interesting and, if all true, very disappointing on what’s going on.

      (9) 23 Total Votes - 16 up - 7 down
    • C.V. says:

      There are no Plans. NO, NO, NO, and NO,

      Financial Master Plan;

      Facilities Master plan;

      Engineering and Operations Master Plan; and,

      Water Master Plan.

      I guess the Board has this all figured out. As long as there are no Plans to adopt and follow they don’t,
      The Board will do as they have been doing for the past twenty years.

      PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE is what the citizens get. And by default that is what they are paying for along with an OBSOLETE Board of Directors.

      (19) 25 Total Votes - 22 up - 3 down
      • Julie says:

        No Local Hazard Mitigation Plan…leaving the community vulnerable to natural disasters.

        (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
  4. Pelican1 says:

    Pot, I believe you’ve met Kettle on a number of previous occasions.

    (8) 44 Total Votes - 26 up - 18 down
  5. HarryMalone says:

    Mary Lucey and Donald Trump have a lot in common.
    Both can’t keep their mouth shut.
    Both don’t know what they are talking about most of the time.
    Both are extreme attention seekers.
    Both are cry babies.
    Both have no business being elected to public office.

    (-11) 63 Total Votes - 26 up - 37 down
    • joseywales says:

      uh donald trump is a brilliant man….complete opposite of the dump that landed between ML’s ears.

      (2) 50 Total Votes - 26 up - 24 down
    • r0y says:

      More like she’s an Obamaite – just keep telling each other over-and-over just how hard they all work and how good there work is; repeat as often as necessary until everyone “believes” it, starting with themselves.

      The problem that public “servants” often have is, they believe their own bullshit.

      (-1) 15 Total Votes - 7 up - 8 down
  6. justbeware says:

    Oceano is in real trouble when the best they can get to represent them is Mary Lucey.
    She has absolutely no clue what she’s talking about more than half the time, but bloviates in an attempt to impress those who attend meetings.
    We are not fooled!
    Her behavior is abhorrent, it’s obvious she’s impaired as she slurs her words and at times can barely remain awake.
    More often than not, her comments are nonsensical, and utter rubbish. She is rude to the public, staff, and consultants alike.
    It’s obvious there’s an election coming up…she’s stopped dressing like a complete slob, got a haircut and has put some much needed effort into her appearance.
    Too bad it’s just lipstick on the pig.

    (51) 75 Total Votes - 63 up - 12 down
    • citygirl says:

      lipstick on a pig, what do you have against pigs? The are smart,clean and learn quickly. Mary Lucey is more like leach

      (20) 38 Total Votes - 29 up - 9 down
  7. citygirl says:

    It should also be mentioned how Mary Lucy is texting during the meetings. Who is she communicating with? Matt Guerrero? Is it a brown act violation. Try texting and listening to someone talk, you can’t. That is why she misses what is said during these meetings.

    She comes just looking for an argument, be it board members or the public.

    Maybe if she didn’t get so stoned before the meetings she could concentrate. She has come in just reeking of pot.

    I urge residents to either go to their local meetings at the fire dept in Oceano, or go to a sanitation meeting in AG at the council chambers, and watch her live. She knows when the camera is not on her, and she will flip people the bird. And her body language is just another wonderful thing to watch.

    She is a piece of work that gal is, and that is not meant in a good way.

    (42) 64 Total Votes - 53 up - 11 down
    • kayaknut says:

      “Misses what is said”?, maybe she just doesn’t care what is said.

      (31) 41 Total Votes - 36 up - 5 down

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