Bob Cuddy, facts matter

March 25, 2016

Robert CuddyOPINION by JULIE TACKER

Not much has changed for the retired Robert C. Cuddy, former reporter for the San Luis Obispo Tribune, just as he often failed to check facts for his news articles, he failed to fact check his letters to the editor before sending them to be published. Mr. Cuddy, details matter.

In response to Cuddy’s New Times commentary “Leftover shoe goo.”

As a watchdog and regular attendee of Oceano Community Services District (OCSD) board meetings since 2009, I am fully qualified to respond to this paragraph in particular:

Cuddy says, “Maybe I’m expecting too much of Hill, a shaky choice to fix morale in Arroyo Grande. He only moved here a couple of years ago, and his chief previous governing experience was with the Oceano Community Services District, a notoriously dysfunctional agency until Matt Guerrero joined the board in 2010 and the highly experienced Paavo Ogren later became general manager. They and others are bringing long-missing stability.”

Fact: At a meeting chaired by then OCSD Board President, Jim Hill (the current Mayor of Arroyo Grande) on January 12, 2011, attorney Matthew Guerrero was unanimously appointed to fill the seat held by long-time board member, Barbara Mann, who had resigned months earlier, due to the rancor brought to the board by Mary Lucey.

Jim Hill and then recently elected Carol Henson resigned (March 28, 2011) from the OCSD board when they found themselves on the losing end of a 3-2 board that allowed a general manager to fail to cooperate with repeated unanimous board directions. The OCSD Board at the time was in sync – the entire board, expected the general manager to get three years of delinquent audits done.

To Hill’s credit, over the course of his tenure at OCSD, he eliminated health insurance benefits and cell phones for directors paid for by ratepayers, eliminated director stipends for committee meetings, got board meetings televised so residents could follow issues, and helped form the Five Cities Fire Authority. Under his leadership, OCSD raised rates sufficiently that would have, if properly managed, been able to continue service into the future — while building modest reserves.

Just after Hill and Henson’s replacements, Felma Hurdle and returning board member, Rick Searcy were appointed, it was Cal Coast News reporter Karen Velie who found OCSD General Manager Rafaele Montemurro, was overpaying himself.

The board, including Guerrero, had missed the over-payments going on right under their noses. The new board unanimously fired Montemurro “without cause,” even though he was stealing, and gave him a $17,000 severance.

That board then hired Supervisor Teixeira’s sidekick, Tom Geaslen. After a year and a half, with Guerrero as president, and mountains of evidence presented, the board finally fired Geaslen. This time, “for cause,” for — you guessed it (and it was going on under the nose of Guerrero), overpaying himself. Geaslen was required to repay the district $45,000. The districts legal bills associated with that fiasco were upwards of $30,000.

Then, only a few months later, President Guerrero found himself firing a third general manager, Lonny Curtis, “for cause,” who overcharged Oceano residents for water and sewer hook-ups.

All these hirings and firings cost the district plenty. Legal counsel bills were double their norm to protect the district from its dysfunctional self. Collateral damage from that time period continues to plague the district. Some examples include, the staff joining a union to protect their jobs; all got raises. While another quit, filed a claim against the district, and in order to avoid future litigation, the district settled, paying several thousand dollars more than the claim asked for.

As for those reserves Hill’s board had hoped for; they were spent by the Guerrero and Lucey boards.

The Guerrero board spent much of it on legal bills; raises for staff, and the embarrassing year-long sequence of buying a jetter trailer that was too heavy for any truck the district owned to pull safely. They then purchased a used truck that could pull it, but couldn’t stop when in motion. So, they then purchased a new truck that could pull and brake under the weight of the jetter trailer’s full load.

But, the spending associated with the jetter didn’t end there; they had to send their staff to driving school to get Class A driver’s licenses so they can legally drive the new truck with the jetter trailer. Now that these staffers have higher qualifications, the district has had to raise their pay in order to keep them.

Cuddy’s claim that Guerrero brought Paavo Ogren aboard has somehow rescued the district board from their dysfunctional-selves is poppycock. As long as Mary Lucey is on the OCSD board, dysfunction will reign supreme.

Ogren is only in Oceano because he’s paid over $250,000 a year. What’s saved in legal is spent on Ogren. Ogren made it clear from the beginning he was not interested in working for Oceano, overseeing six employees, if it paid less than his position at the county where he over saw 165 employees.

It is painful to watch Guerrero and company approve Ogren’s paychecks in a community where whole families live for a year on what Ogren makes in a month.

Fact: The Hill’s left Oceano and moved to Arroyo Grande in July 2011. So Cuddy’s characterization of the Mayor living in Arroyo Grande a “couple of years” is incorrect.

The fact is that Jim Hill has lived for decades within ten square miles in the south county. Hill is an intelligent nuclear engineer with a law degree. His tireless work as a board member on the Sanitation District, FCFA, and his comprehensive understanding of the complex water issues has been invaluable in his year as Mayor of Arroyo Grande.

Mr. Cuddy, you will not find a more thorough, conscientious and thoughtful public servant. Arroyo Grande is lucky to have the leadership of Jim Hill as its Mayor.


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horse_soldier

Ms. Tacker, please consider the source.

The faithful followers of Ferrara have not forgiven, nor have they moved on. Their pet projects no longer reign supreme in Arroyo Grande, their egos are not continually stroked, they have lost their self proclaimed significance…how dare Hill?

As I recall, Mr. Cuddy authored a similar hit piece shortly after Jim Hill dethroned Ferrara.

I suspect it will be a long time, if ever, before Cuddy acknowledges the positive impact Hill has had at the Sanitation District.

The residents of Arroyo Grande elected a fair, honest, and ethical Mayor.

We should all be so fortunate.


kayaknut

We just need to remove the remaining remains of Ferrara’s regime, Barneich and Guthrie at the next election and make Harmon a one term and gone.


surferdude

HARMON and her scripts must go!


I want a City Council person who can think on their feet. Imagine if our City was in an emergency and the 5 of them were left to make decisions. Jim Hill would be the leader and quick decision maker. KB would be calling home and Guthrie would want to study it for a while.


VOTE JIM HILL for MAYOR of ARROYO GRANDE


mej

Thanks Julie


freshair

I witnessed Matt Guerrero as a public defendent for a female friend of mine in 2007 do a reverse and support the prosecution, no matter how much evidence supported her claim. He’s so disgusting.


Slosum

I was sad to see the comedian Bobby Cuddy leave the Trib. He was the best humor columnist since Dave Barry… and Erma Bombeck before him. But now they have the hilarious slap your thigh yuk yuk Joe Tarica… so Bobby isn’t missed anymore.


Thomas A

Adam Hill posted Cuddy’s recent spin squaller/squalor on his Team Adam Hill FaceBook page. This man can not keep it positive for one week even when everyone is watching.

Fire Adam Hill!

https://youtu.be/-KSXeRo6WMI


Perspicacious

Bob Cuddy is an idiot. He wrote an article a few months before he retired. Someone I know wrote a letter to the editor, using a DIRECT quote from Cuddy’s article to impugn the character of one of Cuddy’s buddies. Cuddy then called the letter writer at work to accuse him of lying and twisting the facts. Cuddy told the letter writer that he[Cuddy] was always truthful and couldn’t stand people slandering and lying in their letters. Not sure how he got the letter-writer’s phone number…maybe by snooping at the email that was sent to the Tribune?


SloTownMan

I was so glad to see Cuddy retire, so tired of his liberal B.S. poo.


Kaiser Bill

Why is Julie involved in Ocean-with an-O?


I thought Julie was a Los Osos gadfly and erstwhile pol.


Mr.MPA

Regardless of differing opinions, having involved citizens on the Central Coast should be praised and respected. With such a close-knit group of citizens across SLO County, residents from other cities/towns joining in on the public process is outstanding. I enjoy seeing Ms. Tacker and many others at Council Meetings and Board Meetings throughout the County being involved and holding those accountable that need to be. Our communities are close, and the inter-dependencies are vast. I hope to continue to see residents such as Ms. Tacker show up and involved with the OCSD as well as other districts and communities.


Julie

Thanks Mr. MPA,


As you can tell from watching the OCSD meeting videos, I am often times the ONLY person (besides OCSD and AGP Video staff’s) in the room. I drive there 2x a month at my own expense and spend my personal time studying their agendas as to make informed comment.


I have been to more board meetings than much of the board.


I will not go away until I feel the community is in good hands — which I don’t see happening very soon.


Thanks again,

Julie


Mythbuster

Julie, did you forget that people who live in glass houses, as you did, should not throw stones?


How about the untruth you spoke just this week, accusing the County at the Board of Supes public comment period that you didn’t get invited to the Los Osos sewer unveiling party. Well, there was NO sewer unveiling party this Friday. Details matter.


As for spending on legal bills, Los Osos knows all about that.


Julie

I haven’t been invited. I was given an incorrect date for the coming ribbon cutting of the sewer plant, so I made a mistake. Contrary to the secret groundbreaking ceremony of the collection system in 2012, where only select individuals were invited and the photographs were “lost”.


At least it’s on record that we’re all invited this time. ~~See ya there!


BTW, I don’t live in a glass house anymore. Haven’t since 2009 when we moved into a tent for nearly a year. We have been fortunate to have modern accommodations since 2010.


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