San Simeon CSD refuses to identify its general manager

August 20, 2021

Charles Grace

By KAREN VELIE

San Simeon Community Services District officials have refused to disclose the identity of their general manager, or if they even have one, as they continue to battle allegations of conflicts of interest and self-dealing.

Throughout the over two-hour Aug. 12 San Simeon CSD Board meeting, the public pleaded with the board to tell them who their general manager is. And more specifically, if Charlie Grace is the district’s general manager, a question San Simeon CSD Chair Gwen Kellas refused to answer.

“There seems to be like this looming question about who the general manager is, and if that’s answered I think there is a lot of people that would just move on,” Karina Tiwana said. “I’ve been believing it’s Charlie Grace. Why can’t we just say it’s Charlie Grace? It seems ridiculous.”

In 2016, Grace entered into a professional services agreement with the district that includes providing a general manager. As administrator of the district, Grace has funneled work to his own company, Grace Environmental Services, and approved his company’s invoices.

Since then, multiple agencies, including the Fair Political Practices Commission and the SLO County District Attorney’s Office, have opened investigations into the alleged conflicts of interest.

Recently, San Simeon resident Henry Krzciuk discovered that the district changed Grace’s title on the district website from San Simeon CSD General Manager to the general manager of Grace Environmental Services. Grace also changed his position on his yearly statement of economic interest from general manager to consultant.

San Simeon CSD Chair Gwen Kellas

“The refusal of Chair Kellas and Charles Grace to answer any questions about Grace being the CSD general manager adds fuel to the fire,” Krzciuk wrote on Nextdoor. “These are material changes in the management of our district with serious legal implications. These changes were made secretly and in the middle of major investigations. No single board member has this authority, yet it is happening and unquestioned.”

While the San Simeon board voted to approve a general manager contract with Charlie Grace in 2016, the board did not officially appoint him to the manager position or provide an oath of office as required by law. Until the oath of office is filed with the San Luis Obispo County Clerk Recorder’s Office, the district is prohibited from compensating Grace, who has already been paid more than $800,000 for his services.

“No compensation nor reimbursement for expenses incurred shall be paid to any officer by any public agency unless he has taken and subscribed to the oath or affirmation required by this chapter,” according to Government Code Section 1367.

Further muddying the waters, the law also requires that only sworn-in public officials can swear in other public officials. Grace or his secretary provided the oath of office to all of the district’s board members, which calls into question if anyone serving on the district board is legally permitted to vote at board meetings and if previous actions are valid.

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MBwaiter

I see that the Board met in closed session to discuss the evaluation of District Counsel Jeff Minnery. This guy has single handedly wrecked every public agency he has been hired by and now according to his firm is on leave. What is so crazy about this is that SSCSD had the same problem with Wallace but the district counsel at the time exposed Wallace and made SSCSD terminate the contract. This didn’t happen with Minnery and all the other agencies he represented. your district counsel/city attorney is so important and if you dont have the right one who knows what he/she is doing shit happens.


ajdury

Watching the 8/12/21 SS CSD meeting, that may be THE craziest-run government meeting I have ever witnessed, and I’ve sat through some doozies down in Oceano!


Director Kellas has absolutely no idea how to run a meeting. Her attempts to quash the public, smear the reputations of involved and concerned community members, cover the A$$ of Charlie Grace and ignore her own FPPC violations are stupefying.


Her gate-keeper work is alarming, to put it mildly.


Thank you Julie Tacker and Hank (Henry) Krzciuk. It must feel like a constant uphill battle to get the SS CSD to hold themselves accountable for the lies, frauds and non-transparency they perpetuate daily. Without your attention to detail and dodged work on this disaster, who knows how much longer the Charlie Grift would continue. Mike Hanchett is backing the very wrong horse in his incessant work to make excuses for the district.


Speaking of Mr. Hanchett . . . is he the UNELECTED “sixth member” of the San Simeon CSD? He sure appears to be and the board sure does defer to him. Hell, even Grace Environmental Services staff genuflects to ol’ Mike. What’s THAT about?


San Simeon needs to right their ship and the first step is to lose their abysmal captains Grace and Kellas!


kayaknut

It is likely the District knows it is an violation, possibly criminal, to have a General Manger direct District business to his who company without following proper polices so if they avoid having to state Charles Grace is the General Manager they hope to avoid pulling themselves into any potential criminal activity.


MrYan

Crooks or incompetence? Does it really matter? Both are the expected results of any CSD, and why they are a bad idea in general.


It all blows up and reverts back to the County to deal with in the end.


ratherbefishing

I’d have to conclude “crooks”. The refusal to name the General Manager indicates consciousness of guilt.


MrYan

They are not naming a GM because they just figured out they don’t legally have one….1 check for incompetence..(still not ruling out crooks).


It is not that the contract is void, rather it is non-existent in the eyes of the law…his salary can be considered a a gift of monies.


obispan

Add this to the long list of corrupt agencies whose functions should be performed by the County of San Luis Obispo with five highly visible and accountable (theoretically) supervisors overseeing a professional (theoretically) civil service staff. At least we can narrow the focus of corruption.


lookout

Given that (at least some of) the supervisors are the biggest crooks of all, that might not be an improvement


fish

why


hotdog

AMAZING, even for this crooks county.


George Garrigues

Great story about a local event. I hope you can break through this wall which seems to be surrounding these people.