Sanitation district deletes recordings from the Wallace years
April 9, 2017
By KAREN VELIE
During a contentious South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District board meeting on Wednesday evening, members of the public condemned the current administrator for eliminating recordings of tapes that documented former administrator John Wallace’s leadership.
In January 2016, the sanitation district board voted unanimously to take reports of malfeasance by Wallace to District Attorney Dan Dow, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Attorney General Kamala Harris. In April, the board hired Gerhardt Hubner as plant administrator.
In October, during a criminal investigation into Wallace’s administration, Hubner upgraded the sanitation district’s website. During the upgrade, all of the audio tapes of meetings going back to 2010 were deleted.
Hubner, who has admitted to knowing Wallace prior to his hiring, said his staffers failed to migrate the tapes over to the new site.
Earlier this year, after conducting a 10-month investigation into allegations that Wallace was funneling money from the sanitation district to his private engineering company, The Wallace Group, the district attorney filed two felony counts against the former administrator. Wallace is accused of having a financial interest in a contract that he made in his official capacity.
Wallace is also charged with two misdemeanor counts of using his government position to influence a decision in which he has a financial interest.
In response to a request Wednesday from sanitation district board member and Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill to hire an independent tech to recover the audio tapes, Hubner said he will get a letter from the webmaster noting that the tapes cannot be recovered.
Approximately 50 people attended Wednesday’s sanitation district board meeting. Of those, about 20 people spoke out against Hubner’s leadership while three came to his defense.
Hubner’s critics questioned why he placed two primary employees on paid administrative leave, the rising legal bills and plant expenditures, and why he selects only letters commending him for board packets.
“I think the problem is very clearly the district administrator, Gerhardt Hubner,” Ron Arnoldsen said during public comment. “Hubner is not a good fit for the job or the district. I urge the board of directors to seek new leadership.”