Sanitation district deletes recordings from the Wallace years

April 9, 2017

Gerhardt Hubner

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.

Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill

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.”







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27 Comments

  1. Pelican1 says:

    It’s time to flush the floaters, once and for all.

    (19) 19 Total Votes - 19 up - 0 down
  2. ajdury says:

    The things wrong over there are egregious.

    (23) 31 Total Votes - 27 up - 4 down
  3. mkaney says:

    There is no way that there is no copy of these remaining. There should be backups of the site, both by the district and by the web host. In the process of collecting and organizing and uploading files to a web site, many copies are usually made. In fact the less competent the people, the more copies are likely to be made and stored in all kinds of places. The chance that there is no remaining copy is very very small. Someone is lying.

    (37) 41 Total Votes - 39 up - 2 down
    • RonHolt says:

      I am beginning to wonder if the main reason that Hubner put John Clemons and Amy Simpson on paid Administrative Leave — without offering any justification for it — was to get them out of the office while he searched to be sure any such copies weren’t there. Or perhaps he has other things up his sleeve for which he wants no witnesses. The whole thing stinks and very little of it is from the sewage being processed.

      (14) 14 Total Votes - 14 up - 0 down
  4. Otis says:

    Every time I flush my toilet I think of the corruption it serves. Please DA, intervene and provide the facts that shed light on this effluent mess.

    (19) 23 Total Votes - 21 up - 2 down
  5. Frederick1337 says:

    This shocks anyone? CalPers holds 27 billion in real estate, city employees have a financial stake in keeping housing prices high, there is an ordinance that prohibits disabled people from sleeping, a housing authority that refuses to help house the disabled and elderly sleeping in thier cars, and this surprises anyone? Public corruption is the new norm in the United States, it is called privatization. Get used to it. The federal government is being downsized to accommodate this activity and the F.B.I. is too underfunded to do anything about it.

    (3) 21 Total Votes - 12 up - 9 down
  6. Pelican1 says:

    Let me see….I recall, President Nixon resigned (before he could be impeached) for the very same thing. Have we no morals, integrity, character, or sense of responsibility?
    Apparently not. Sad indeed.

    (17) 19 Total Votes - 18 up - 1 down
    • r0y says:

      I’ve always pointed to Nixon as the moral standard by which other politicians fail to live up to. That is sad, indeed.

      (9) 15 Total Votes - 12 up - 3 down
  7. Julie says:

    “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.”

    The three — Mary Lucey, Patty Welsh and Shirley ‘doesn’t know what to think’ Gibson.

    Wednesday night Mary Lucey took great pride in defending Hubner (again). She and Patty Welsh have both made claims that Hubner has 27 years of wastewater experience. Nothing could be further from the truth; unless you count his 7 years plunging toilets as a custodian at Disneyland — Hubner is a geologist.

    Lucey went so far as to say he managed the Ventura sewer plant for 4 years. Hubner turned as red as a beet and hung his head in embarrassment, clearly hoping no one noticed the lie — oh yes; we noticed Gerhardt. Mary Lucey is the last person you want vouching for you; right behind Patty Welsh.

    Below are links to Hubner’s resume and his LinkedIn profile.
    https://www.scribd.com/document/344632094/Hubner-Resume-plus-Addresses
    https://www.scribd.com/document/344632305/Gerhardt-Hubner-Linkedin

    Gerhardt Hubner has no training in wastewater. He has no credentials in wastewater. According to his LinkedIn profile his HR experience consists of supervising 20 in the watershed division of the Foxen Canyon Watershed Division of Ventura County…that doesn’t make him an expert in HR, it merely suggests he watched over work product.

    SSLOCSD received 10 resumes when hiring Hubner, the board only interviewed two of them. Surely someone had wastewater experience? Why weren’t others interviewed? Sure plays into the conspiracy that Hubner was hired to protect Wallace.

    (32) 46 Total Votes - 39 up - 7 down
  8. StakeHolder says:

    This is serious, folks. I would consider that tampering with evidence. I am sure it would not be difficult for a trained techie to retrieve those tapes, but I also sure Mr. Hubner will never allow this.

    One can’t help but wonder if Chairman Shoals is supporting these actions by Mr. Hubner, as the outcome of the Wallace investigation/trial may be bringing his name into the mix. How convenient to be in charge and able to deflect any investigations that could point out his prior involvement!

    In my opinion, Hubner and Shoals are protecting Wallace, be it for friendship or personal protection as well. This whole thing stinks (funny, coming from a sanitation district!).

    BTW, after all of this turmoil, Mr. Hubner should do the district a service and step down from his position. He is not qualified to run a smooth plant.

    (34) 46 Total Votes - 40 up - 6 down
  9. ajdury says:

    WOW. Just like that, he wiped the records away. I’d say “unbelievable”, but this IS the San District and Oceano we’re talking about.

    I went to the Wayback Machine but nothing from those audio url pages was ever archived, unfortunately.

    “Hubner said he will get a letter from the webmaster noting that the tapes cannot be recovered.” What an unfortunate stance of “no”, instead of “I’ll try”. “Hubner, who has admitted to knowing Wallace prior to his hiring, said his staffers failed to migrate the tapes over to the new site.” Nice job throwing his staff under the bus HE’S driving, to boot!

    John Clemons did such great work turning the San District around and Hubner took the District 50 steps backwards since coming on board. That guy has got to go.

    (31) 45 Total Votes - 38 up - 7 down
    • rukidding says:

      There are people out there who can get those tapes. We have all heard that these “missing” things are always in the computer and can be retrieved. I wonder if they might exceed 18 minutes?

      (34) 38 Total Votes - 36 up - 2 down
      • RonHolt says:

        If I heard right at the meeting, he is saying the old website was hosted on a remote computer run by a big company (Host Gator?). My expertise in this is limited but if they stopped using that remote computer, chances are that said company has either wiped out everything they have or over-written it on their system.

        Now, is there a backup or copy somewhere else? I don’t know. Why didn’t the audio files get transferred? Again, I don’t know. But it does seem suspicious given the totality of the circumstances. Mr. Hubner needs to go — before the commitment to life-time benefits kicks in. And the SSLOCSD needs to do a better job on the hiring process in the future.

        (22) 32 Total Votes - 27 up - 5 down

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