Sanitation district should not edit the audit

December 2, 2015


The South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Board owes the rate payers, who are financing the audit, the right to view the entire unredacted audit.

Earlier this year, the sanitation district board authorized the expenditure of $77,500 to perform a financial and managerial audit of the district from 2002 thru 2013, when the district was under the management of John Wallace. At the time of retention of the auditor Carl R. Knudson, there were no restrictions as to the direction or interpretation of discovery.

At the last meeting of the sanitation district board, some board members discussed reviewing the report prior to its public release to allow potential confidential personnel information to be redacted. Part and parcel of the audit is to review all acts of the individuals at the district, not their personnel information, unless, of course, there are issues of relevance.

The audit is to be part of a process which includes the complete Knudson’s report to bring clarity to the historic run away budget and what happened to the oversight by the board, the director, legal adviser and various abuses by personnel. In its entirety, the information would allow the ratepayers and board members the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and develop corrections to the system of oversight and operations. It was not meant as a “witch hunt.”

There are multiple allegations of questionable actions and inaction. If these issues and concerns are blocked from public view, how can there be anything gained from the report? It is imperative that the entire report be released, as written, without edit or redaction by the board under the guise of personnel privilege.

The board has recently adopted a rate structure that will include the $1.1 million fine imposed by the water board on the district. The board has already paid out at least $1.5 million in fighting this fine to date. As ratepayers, we have the right to know how our money was spent over the course of Wallace’s administration and what was discovered by the Knudson detailed audit so as to never repeat the district’s costly history.

Please join me in encouraging the board to hear the report in public as soon as it’s ready to be released.
The sanitation district meets at 6 p.m. on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday’s of each month at the Arroyo Grande City Council Chambers at 215 E. Branch St., in Arroyo Grande.

Mark London is a rate payer who has lived in Arroyo Grande for 21 years.

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Mike Byrd

The district board is on the cusp of regaining some credibility. It would be a shame for them to ruin this opportunity. Receive and distribute the report in public session then let it lead where it leads. Any attempt at further cover up will end badly. It always does.

Please it is time to clear my good name.

Make the report public with no redactions.

Big Tony

And my buddy Wallace!

JK Shoals and Guerrerro, oops! Stoned Lucey.

Stew Jenkins

A forensic audit of a public agency is done for the public’s benefit to reveal the financial and operational history of an agency and the agency’s public officials (including those employed by the agency). In considering whether to receive the full audit in private, instead of releasing it to the public, members of the board of the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District should do so in light of the simple, direct and overriding principals of the California Constitution.

Article 1, Section 3(b)(1) guarantees to the People the right to access “writings of public officials and agencies” in order to promote the People’s ability to “instruct their representatives” and “petition for redress of grievances.” This California constitutional mandate goes farther than the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment to give citizens the right’s to control the actions of local agencies. The provisions read as follows:

SEC. 3. (a) The people have the right to instruct their representatives, petition government for redress of grievances, and assemble freely to consult for the common good.

(b)(1) The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.

Mike Byrd

Why in the world would anyone thumbs down a recitation of the state constitution?


Great points! When the Knutsen report was authorized by the district’s board of directors, there was no limitation placed on public disclosure of the report’s eventual findings. As Mark London states, and as Mayor Shoals has stated, transparency has been the board’s objective from the start.

Without public disclosure of the entire Knutsen report, the district along with Shoals, Ferrara, Nicolls, Seitz, Wallace, and everyone else who has served on the SSLOCSD, will have a cloud of suspicion hanging over each and every one of their future public service actions.

Has the SSLOCSD’s Board of Directors really turned the corner? Just like the board’s unanimous support to fund the report, the public should expect the board’s unanimous support for full public disclosure of the report’s findings,


Well said. Thank you for being a watchdog for the community. I can’t wait to read this report and hopefully put this to bed.


Mark London, thank you for bringing this to the people’s attention. You are too kind, the one board member who suggested taking the matter into closed session was the one and only Mary Lucey, the Alternate to the San District board from Oceano CSD.

Who are you trying to protect Mary? You are on the record wanting Wallace to be held accountable for years of milking the district. Why the change of heart? Has Paavo’s longtime relationship with Wallace got your tongue tied? When did you start working for Wallace and stop working for the people of Oceano?


Tonight’s meeting of 12/2 has been cancelled for lack of quorum.

Next meeting scheduled for 12/16 @ 6PM.

Come learn why the board majority continues wasting ratepayer funds on litigation.


Why not state who the majority are that is having no problem continuing to waste ratepayers money, Grover Beach mayor John Shoals and Oceano rep Matt Guerrero.


Or, depending on who decides to show up, it could be Mary Lucey.

No one seems to be able to predict their tag team schedule.


Certainly, just like the public, the district should be allowed to review the audit. Any editing must NOT be prohibited. Redaction’s are not an option…this is why an audit was performed!

ANY editing on behalf of the district would compromise the audit and render null and void.

If the district members feel threatened or intimidated by such an audit….I suggest you scramble to hire lawyers.


Oops..MUST BE prohibited.


Spot on Pelican.

AG residents who follow the district will not likely tolerate another investigation being sanitized by those who only reluctantly agreed to it in the first place (Guerrero, Lucey and Shoals).

We’ve already been down this road with the Adams/McClish investigation. Taxpayers footed the bill, yet got no written report. Something contained in the report led the council to let Adams “resign”, but that didn’t stop him from suing.

We must continue to demand transparency, otherwise the cancer of corruption continues.

Whatever is learned will be the result of Ferrara’s removal as mayor.

Thank you Jim Hill.