San Luis Obispo County IWMA director explains resignation, misconceptions

June 29, 2021

SLO County Supervisor Bruce Gibson promoting the IWMA polystyrene ordinance

By KAREN VELIE

The executive director of San Luis Obispo County’s waste management agency is resigning after his attempts to overcome board divisions failed. But conflicting statements in local media and mistakes in the Tribune have created questions about the resignation.

IWMA Executive Director Brooks Stayer was two years away from his planned retirement, but decided to leave now to take a job closer to his five siblings who live in Georgia and Florida, he said.

“I have been frustrated the board is divided, and I could not fix that,” Stayer said, noting the county’s plan to leave the IWMA did not impact his decision. “There would still be an agency and there would still be a job.”

The board split over a vote on a countywide polystyrene ban. IWMA staff had recommended shelving an ordinance banning the material following a previous board vote to stop passing ordinances and instead only enforce state mandates.

Even though the majority of the board wanted to follow staff’s recommendation, several board members demanded a super majority vote of the board. The legislative ban was then approved even though other board members questioned the legality of the super majority vote rule.

The IWMA is required to operate under the rules of SLO County, which does not include a super majority vote rule, leading to further animosity between board members. The IWMA is a joint powers authority made up of one representative from each of the county’s seven cities, all five members of the SLO County Board of Supervisors, and one board member representing the county’s community services districts.

California Government Code 6509 permits joint power authorities, such as the IWMA, to exercise any power common to the contracting agencies. Even though community services districts do not have the legislative authority to pass ordinances, IWMA legal counsel Jeffrey Minnery pronounced the passage of several ordinances legal, which further divided the board.

Following the vote on the polystyrene ordinance, SLO County supervisors John Peschong, Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton took steps to withdraw from the IWMA. They planned to have Stayer continue his work, but as a county employee.

In a May 19 editorial, the Tribune accused Peschong, Arnold and Compton of wanting to break up the IWMA “out of spite.”

On June 9, Stayer announced his plans to leave the IWMA for a new job in Augusta, Georgia. Stayer moved to the California nine years ago. He had planned to work for a year or two longer before retiring to Florida, but elected to leave earlier because of divisions between board members.

Following Stayer’s announcement, the Tribune published an article incorrectly linking Stayer’s resignation to Peschong, Arnold and Compton’s efforts to “to break up his organization.” In the article, Supervisor Bruce Gibson claimed that other members of the IWMA board are “actively trying to undermine the mission of this organization.”

On June 24, KVEC radio host Dave Congalton and activist Jenine Rands discussed Stayer’s resignation and the Tribune article. Rands told KVEC listeners garbage haulers would continue to pick up the public’s trash – for now. The IWMA does not regulate garbage companies. Trash haulers contract with cities and counties, and not the IWMA.

Rands went on to suggest that Stayer applied for the new job in Georgia because he could not afford to live in SLO County if he lost his job at the IWMA. When Stayer and his wife moved to SLO County, they planned to stay for five to seven years and then retire to Florida.

His resignation has nothing to do with his ability to afford to live in SLO County, Stayer said.

Responding to the Tribune article and Rand’s comments, Congalton voiced concerns that two department heads had left the county because of issues with the three conservative members of the SLO County Board of Supervisors.

“Here is another guy who clearly does not have the support of Arnold, Peschong and Compton and he is going all the way across the country,” Congalton told his listeners. “The second county manager out the door in less than a month because of rocky relations with the county board of supervisors.”

However, it was Arnold, Compton and Peschong who voted in favor of Stayer’s suggestion to shelve the ordinance banning polystyrene. The Tribune article failed to note that.

Clarification: Brooks Stayer moved to California nine years ago, not SLO County.


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Niles Q

Does anyone else find it odd that on the very same day the Tribune blasted the Big-3 Supervisors for wanting to pull out of IWMA, they had a front page story about how the former board secretary was being charged with embezzling over $537,000?

That right there, plus the hinky crap with the former director, who quit in disgrace too, is enough for me to support tearing up the JPA that created the IWMA in the first place.

As for it costing the SLO County residents millions, that makes no sense considering you’d be eliminating a huge, worthless bureaucracy. I mean, hell, all the cities and CSDs in the County negotiate their own deals with the garbage company anyway. And all the jurisdictions have to meet the State mandates, like with recycling back in the 1990s.

Just what does the IWMA do, besides pass worthless laws like the plastic bag ban (which COVID blew up PDQ).

Their duties and responsibilities can easily be absorbed by County Public Works and the cities. And I bet it’s cheaper in the end, not that rate payers will ever see a reduction in their bills.


adustum

Wow, time in office has significantly aged Gibson.


Eyes Everywhere
robdadbod

…and that’s why you get your news from multiple sources. Nice work.


Cindy

It appears Bruce Gibson is spreading misinformation to win seats at the next election, and the Tribune is spreading that misinformation without doing any research.


Before writing the article, someone at the Tribune should have reviewed the meetings. They would have known Enns’ comment about a snake bite was also aimed at the Bruce Gibson side of the board. Enns voted in support of Stayer’s staff recommendation and in opposition to Gibson’s push for an ordinance, but that was not clear in the Tribune article.


kayaknut

So what is the total compensation for the IWMA Executive Director? Compensation = salary + benefits.


shishkabob141

I’m not sure who’s waste their time with The Trib, but listening to Congalton’s show made one thing clear, he didn’t do his homework on this topic.


commonsenseguy

Once again, the Tribune and Congalton are on the wrong side. Nothing new there. The IWMA isn’t needed. One less level of government fat that needs to be trimmed. The board was starting to fall in love with the power and control they really shouldn’t of had. Let this guy move on and disband the board. Let the city councils and community service districts make their own decisions for the residents they represent. No need for this added layer of fat called the IWMA. It will free them up to spend the extra time in the communities they represent.


robdadbod

Yep. Listen to Andy instead.