Paavo Ogren abruptly quits SLO County waste agency

August 16, 2021

Paavo Ogren

By KAREN VELIE

The head of San Luis Obispo County’s regional waste agency quit suddenly on Wednesday, just hours before a board meeting where the members squabbled over the future of the controversial agency.

At the beginning of the Aug. 11 SLO County Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) meeting, Linda Somers Smith, an attorney with the firm of Adamski Moroski Madden Cumberland & Green, informed the board that Executive Director Paavo Ogren had quit prior to the meeting. Ogren, the IWMA’s fourth executive director in three years, lasted less than a month.

Somers Smith then announced that IWMA legal Council Jeff Minnery had recently taken an extended leave of absence.

Legal counsel Jeffrey Minnery

As a result of the absences, board members agreed to have several emergency discussions: who to have lead the agency in the interim, and what to do about the county’s plan to exit the agency. Without staff reports or direction, the meeting was chaotic.

On July 14, the board approved Orgen’s hire as proposed by the executive committee. In the past, the full board was provided several options inline with the agency’s hiring guidelines. However, at the July meeting the board’s only option was Ogren with a salary of $186,120 a year, even though the position has a cap of $150,000 a year.

On Aug. 3, prosecutors charged a former IWMA board secretary with 10 felonies — nine for embezzlement of IWMA funds and one for destruction of public records, providing fuel to members already considering leaving the IWMA.

During an Aug. 10 SLO County Board of Supervisors meeting, members of the public accused Supervisor Bruce Gibson of having a conflict of interest in the hiring of Ogren, his friend. After discussing the criminal charges and allegations of mismanagement, the supervisors voted 3-2 to exit the IWMA and to have county staff comply with state waste mandates.

At the Aug. 11 IWMA board meeting, SLO Councilwoman Jan Marx supported an adversarial relationship between the cities and the county. Marx argued the county had no right to the IWMA’s assets, which include millions in a bank account that was funded by ratepayers in both the county and the cities.

“The proverbial line in the sand has been drawn by the majority of the board of supervisors,” Marx said. “The withdrawing members do not have any right to the assets.”

SLO Councilwoman Jan Marx at IWMA meeting

After initially wanting to give the IWMA a chance to negotiate, Paso Robles Councilman John Hamon said his city might also withdraw from the IWMA.

“I will never forget the way we got to this point, but we are where we are,” Hamon said. “Paso Robles is going to consider leaving at this point in time.”

The board then discussed ordering the county to leave the IWMA at a date agreed on by its remaining members, while other members argued the IWMA board did not have that right.

“We need to give the board of supervisors a deadline,” Marx said. “Put the responsibility where it belongs, the people who made this really very bad decision.”

With a focus on money, Cayucos Community Services District Board Member Robert Enns asked if the IWMA could continue to collect monies from county ratepayers after they leave the IWMA, which attorney Somer Smith said was unlikely.

SLO County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, who along with Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg wanted to remain in the IWMA, questioned the right of supervisors Debbie Arnold, Lynn Compton and John Peschong to participate in discussions.

“Given the discussion and unanswered question about our board majority’s decision yesterday, I am not sure anyone has standing to comment within this forum,” Gibson said. “The board majority trashed the reputation of this organization and by extension other directors of this board.”

The IWMA board then agreed to direct legal counsel to discuss an exit strategy with SLO County Counsel, and to have IWMA employee Patti Toews serve as acting executive director.

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Ted R

Adamski and Moroski are the ones responsible for bringing Wagstaffe in to sue Karen and Dan for writing a true story. IWMA’s contractor was mishandling hazardous waste. Wagstaffe suborned perjury and Tenborg and Worrell perjured themselves. It was all proved in Knudson’s report. And Dow turned a blind eye. One of the biggest criminal scams in SLO.


Downypaso

Jan Marx, like Adam Hill, like Pharma John Headding, like Karen Bright, and so many others, is Bruce Gibson’s lackey.


Ron

In SLO County, Paavo Ogren is the king of government “Fail Up”, and, in this county, that’s REALLY saying something.


One colossal failure after another, and, within this county’s various government agencies, that counts as “prior experience.” Resumé material, yo.


uhg.


SLO Friend

Not lost on anyone that has been reading these and related articles over the past few weeks are two points, that stand out like a sore thumb;

1. the same names, mostly of the progressive nature, keep coming up, over and over again and linked with harassment, abuse, wrongdoing, shady bizz, illegal actions, etc.

2. the absolute lack of any other news source reporting on most of these issues.


House of cards, doing the slo(w) crumble.


OnlyinSLO

So when the IWMA was formed way back when the founding ad-hoc committee members ignored the tainted past of the future hire, why? They ignored the glaring red lights concerning conduct in San Diego and in Florida. For decades the IWMA was run like an agency above the law. Gift no-bid lucrative contracts to your buddy who employs your daughter as a highly over paid controller, utilize public resources for personal gain, ignore the handling of county hazardous waste, all the while the ad-hoc committee of solid waste and recycling experts reviewed monthly reports, including financials and no one spotted the issues? On top of this none of the other employees at the IWMA who have held themselves out to business and industry experts never said boo, much less raised an eyebrow. Most recently based upon this article “The IWMA board then agreed to direct legal counsel to discuss an exit strategy with SLO County Counsel, and to have IWMA employee Patti Toews serve as acting executive director.” Honestly, are you kidding she has worked there during all of this and said and did nothing to stop it and now we are going to promote her, why to keep her mouth shut and take actions to cover up more misconduct. Let’s keep putting more crooks in charge to cover up, conceal and help hide the truth.


Solomon88

So the IWMA board directed legal counsel Linda Somers Smith to discuss exit strategy with SLO County Counsel? Is that SLO County Counsel Jon Ansolobehere?


JordanJ

Attorney Jeff Minnery is in drug and alcohol rehab for 30 days. Why is the question. Is it to avoid disbarment as he and his firm have worked to hide corruption at the IWMA, San Simeon CSD and elsewhere? Will he be the fall guy for the firm, which also represents the business interests of Helios Dayspring? Or has he really been so drug addled he could not do his job? Only time will tell.


hotdog

So much sleaze in this county…..

I wonder when the new heads will roll from FBI probes.


obispan

JFC, just disband the corrupt agency.


Buchon

Oh yeah and Jan “opps, I didn’t file the legal paperwork on time when I was volunteer council for the local Sierra Club chapter” Marx can just STFU.


She’s almost as bad as HH — before HH went into bunker-mode.