South County sanitation district need new leadership

April 8, 2017

Ron Arnoldsen


My 8th grade teacher Mrs. Goss had two favorite sayings: 1. The empty wagon rattles the loudest. 2. A wise man changes his mind and a fool never does.

There are people who rattle on and say nothing. And there is no humiliation in having a change of mind after getting more information on an issue.

The question is, is the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District better off today than it was just one year ago? I believe not.

A year ago, the ratepayers had only one complaint. They were asking the board to get out of the litigation business, while settlement talks had stalled with the water board.

The plant was running very well under the direction of Superintendent and Interim Administrator John Clemens. The district was conserving money.

Yes, we were spending less than we were taking in. Employees were working cohesively and were satisfied with their job and their supervision.

Fast forward to today. Employees have reached out to a union to protect themselves. Legal fees are out of control. The district is on the verge of fines for not reporting mandated information to state agencies in a timely manner.

In addition, we have two key employees on paid administrative leave without the notification of disciplinary action. The district is in jeopardy by operating without a licensed operator. The district administrator does not have a background in sewer plant operation or management.

Accusations concerning a board member have polarized the board of directors. There are a several ongoing investigations costing the district needless money.

The district has a list of projects that are not being implemented and there has been no work product by the district administrator to address these issues. Redundancy is far from being implemented. The district has a trailer that has been a major boondoggle. The district administrator is traveling the state on the district’s dollar on issues not related to the district.

Can you draw a conclusion here? What has changed in the last year? Management or lack of it?

The first step in solving a problem is identifying the problem.

I think the problem is very clearly the District Administrator, Gerhardt Hubner. 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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Ron Arnoldsen served on the Grover Beach City Council 1990-2002–and as its mayor twice. He also served on SLOGOG, SLORTA, APCD, ZONE 3, and the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District during his tenure on the GB Council.

And no doubt there will be more lawsuits from whistle blowers and employees. Good management and well run organizations do not have this level of employee and public problems. Red flags all ’round. Again.