Sanitation district lawyer accused of conflict of interest

January 15, 2020

Gilbert Trujillo


South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District legal counsel Gilbert Trujillo announced plans to terminate his contract with the district shortly after he was accused of failing to report a conflict of interest in a timely manner. The board of directors is slated to discuss replacing Trujillo in a closed session meeting on Jan. 15.

At the sanitation district’s Dec. 4 board meeting,  Trujillo asked the board to waive any conflict of interest he may have by representing the district while at the same time working for the firm of Carmel & Naccasha, LLC.

The firm has represented the City of Arroyo Grande, a member agency of the sanitation district, since 2004. Both the sanitation district and the city are engaged in a proposed $42 million recycled water project, Central Coast Blue.

Trujillo admitted to the board that working in his capacity for both agencies “may create both potential and actual conflicts of interest,” and that he needed both the city and the sanitation district to waive any conflict of interest.

But while Trujillo asked the board to waive the conflict of interest in December, he did not mention that he had joined Carmel & Naccasha 10 months earlier, in February 2019, according to the firm’s website.

During public comment, activist Julie Tacker informed the board Trujillo began working at Carmel & Naccasha in February.

“So you’ve already been working for the firm and for quite some time,” Tacker said. “I’m afraid the conflict had already arisen, it had to have, or you wouldn’t be here today. You can’t serve two masters, you simply cannot. You have to maintain the arm’s length.”

Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray Russom also voiced concerns about the conflict of interest before asking the board to bring the issue back for further discussion on Jan. 15.

“I’m confused by that, you talked about ‘that wall’ that is defensible, but the wall, the wall has got Swiss cheese, let’s just say,”  Ray Russum told Trujillo.

On Jan. 8, Trujillo submitted a letter of resignation, giving the district 30 days notice.



I’ve been aware of this poor public servant for years, and anyone familiar with his work product in Santa Maria would know to have NEVER hired him in any capacity serving the public on the South Coast. Ms. Tacker’s vigilant oversight is the only reason the crooks responded to this obvious conflict-of-interest, and eternal vigilance is the price we must pay for good government.

Sadly, liberal public officials like Caren Ray Rossum, John Shoals, Jeff Lee, Miriam Shah, and Kristen Barneich have all enabled Gil Trujillo, and all of them should be ashamed of themselves.

Sadly, people like Ray-Rossum, John Shoals, MiriM Shah, and Gil Trujillo all irresponsibly used a government agency to unfairly malign former Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill, and I hope voters throw all of these corrupt people out of office at the earliest possible time.

Speak truth to power.


I say give Julie Tacker the money we pay this Board, she does their job for them. They are incompetent.

and now does this Trujillo clown get full benefits for the rest of this life and a nice severance package???


No worries Kali Bud, just like the last dist manager and his pocket pal attorney, they surely stole enough tax payer money from the public to do just fine for the next couple lifetimes.


Last night the San Dist board “accepted the letter of retirement” and decided to go out for proposals from new firms. They elevated their back up counsel, Ketih Collins from the firm of Jones & Mayer out of LA to acting General Counsel.

Trujillo worked for the district for the last 4 years, during his tenure the district hired Karel Knutson to investigate former Administrator, John Wallace, turned over that report and thousands of pages of documents to the District Attorney who found criminal wrongdoing. Wallace was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of conflict of interest.

Under Trujillo’s guidance the district hired and fired former Administrator, Gerhardt Hubner, separated from Chief Plant Operator, John Clemmons, and investigated former Mayor of Arroyo Grande, Jim Hill. Trujillo was earning on average $10,000 per month during that time period, just before he retired from his 14-year position as the City Attorney from the City of Santa Maria — he will get lifetime retirement benefits from Santa Maria.

He took the San Dist for plenty — getting paid to give bad advice and then get paid again to wriggle out of the many fixes he got them into. Great gig if you can get it.


Thank you, Julie, for doing the job our representatives are charged with doing. I say fire him for deceiving both agencies.


amazing, these people making ludicrous sums off shit.


hahahahahahaha the crap just keeps flowing at SLOCSD


Why is it whenever there something legally questionable going on it often seems to involve Carmel’s law firm, and yet some many government entities still use him……….


Ahh, you noticed that did you. He would be in the right slimy department .


Simple answer – local politicos ONLY hire felons – local folks with clean backgrounds don’t get a look in, or get fired. Or threatened. Or Blackballed. Or, if lucky, paid off. That’s how the machine works.

a view from the oaks

Julie Tacker, you rock!

Between you and CCN —and a few other brave souls who speak up, we might just get some of the corruption in our glorious county cleaned up!!!