SLO County lodging legal action against San Simeon management

September 28, 2021

Charlie Grace

By KAREN VELIE

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office plans to file a civil complaint against the the owner of the management company running the San Simeon Community Services District, according to a letter the county sent the district on Sept. 21. The complaint centers on allegations that Charlie Grace funneled district funds to his company, Grace Environmental Services.

The District Attorney’s announcement came after a 2020 investigation by the DA’s office and the California Fair Political Practices Commission into questions about conflicts of interest by Grace and the CSD board of directors.

Grace Environmental Services, a wastewater consulting and management company, entered into a professional services agreement with the district in 2016 that included providing a general manager. At that time, the district website listed Grace as its general manager.

In 2020, Grace also referred to himself as San Simeon CSD’s general manager. As the general manager of a government agency providing no bid contracts to his private company, Grace could have faced charges of conflicts of interest.

Earlier this year, Grace’s title was changed on the district’s website from CSD general manager to the general manager of Grace Environmental Services. That left the district without a general manager even though Government Code 61050 requires districts to have one.

At that time, Grace’s personal attorneys informed Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Jorgensen that Grace was not San Simeon CSD’s general manager.

“Importantly, we note that Mr. Grace is not ‘both General Manager of San Simeon Community Services District and … the principal of Grace Environmental Services, LLC,’ ” Grace’s attorneys told the district attorney’s office. “Mr. Grace’s firm, GES, is under contract by the San Simeon Community Services District to perform facilities and operations management, which includes some General Manger duties. Mr. Grace himself is not now, nor has he ever been, San Simeon CSD’s general manager as defined by the Community Services District Law.”

Jorgensen “spent a considerable amount of time with Mr. Grace’s attorneys attempting to understand the scope of duties Grace owed to the district as its general manager,” according to Jorgensen’s Sept. 27 letter to the district.

“Our investigation has culminated, and our office is in the process of preparing a civil complaint to be filed against Charles Grace and GES in Superior Court,” Jorgenson wrote. “Our office’s policy is to not comment on active investigations, but in this instance, we believe it is important to make an exception.”

Depending on the circumstance, since earlier this year, district officials at times have referred to Grace as a government employee, and at other times a contractor.

The San Simeon CSD board responded to Jorgenson’s letter by calling for a special meeting that includes a closed door session for a review of Grace’s performance, under Government Code 54957 (b) (1), which allows closed door reviews of public employees, but not of contractors.


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Jorge Estrada

This all sounds good so long as the DA does not cross charge expenses to the CSD. The rate payers should not become victims again and don’t forget that the DA’s gets their money from the same trough that paves our roads. Government likes to call it a different color of money but all of it goes into the trough the color green, right out of our pockets.


Does Social Engineering include derelict governance too? We certainly have too much EXPENSIVE drama and should disallow all closed sessions to eradicate this WITFIGO Syndrome.


Florian75

OK, I checked 5 sources for acronyms/urban slang without success. I give up. WTH is WITFIGO Syndrome?


Jorge Estrada

Already very popular and you read if first at CCN. Witfigo: an acronym used for today’s democratic leadership.


kettle

Also applies to current GQP leadership and the past administration, but you can pretend it only applies to “them” if it makes you happy.


We could also pretend politicians are like dog breeds but that would be a pointless and untrue analogy.


kayaknut

John Wallace did the same thing for years in the South County, funneling millions to his own company and the DA apparently thought that was okay, why is it not okay with San Simeon?


ajdury

He is NOT an employee. His services are NOT paid through a payroll check.


To hold this in closed session is so wrong, but exactly what the SSCSD Board allows Chair Kellas to continually do, to the detriment of the district.


Hank Krzciukhas been trying so hard and for so long to bring all this to light and folks like the current CSD board and Mike Hanchett (the *unofficial sixth member* of the council) repeatedly blocked him.


Thank you Hank and Julie Tacker for being concerned and diligent watchdogs!!


Gwen Kellas’ performance review should be the very next item on the Council agenda, and not in closed session.


slocorruptionhater

Nothing to see here folks. Business as usual in SLO county.


fish

The pressure is on Mr. Grace. The district needs to own up