Oceano Community Services District to hire a new general manager

May 21, 2024

Peter Brown


Oceano Community Services District board members have selected a new general manager to replace Paavo Ogren who quit in April without notice.

Peter Brown, currently the City of Belmonts’ public works director, is in line for approval during Wednesday’s board meeting. Brown is slated to begin work at the district on June 10 as general manager.

The board has agreed to pay Brown $196,867 a year plus benefits, according to his contract. The agreement also includes a 12-month severance package, in the event he is terminated without cause by the board prior to his one year and a half anniversary.

Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in political science. He has worked in public works and wastewater management for the past 25 years.

On April 19, Ogren arrived at the Oceano district office at about 8 a.m., sent an email to staff saying he was leaving to fulfill a personal commitment and left at about 10 a.m., said Carey Casciola, Oceano account manager.

During an Oct. 25 Oceano district meeting, former General Manager Will Clemens announced plans to retire because a change in the makeup of the board has made his job untenable.

Clemens was the second person to quit working for the district in October because of issues with the board. After two board members refused to abide by the Brown Act, on Oct. 11 Attorney Daniel Cheung, with the firm Adamski Moroski Madden Cumberland & Green, announced the firm was resigning from the district.


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Oceano Community Services District to hire

New general manager’. Is the punchline… you write the joke!

Nothing like the madcap saga of the OCSD for those of us silly enough to follow this dark comedy.

I want to know who’s behind it- maybe Mel Brooks? Fellini’s ghost?

And yes- the compensation package….lucky for us money grows on trees around here. Nothing will save these agencies from insolvency in the long run. All the golden geese have been plucked and cooked!

There’s a reason for the compensation package and it’s not good.

It’s called the “Varni Tax.”

OCSD Board Chair Charles Varni has driven off the last two General Managers in a six month period. The first, a very competent water expert, was his first target. Doing good work, handling the water issues especially well; dealing with the fire service fiasco that arose from the defeat of 2 attempts for parcel tax funding whose defeat lies at the foot of Varni, he was subjected to 6 different performance review demands; and was defamed by Varni on specious claims (actually, he failed to bow down to Varni’s crazed demands).

The second, a seasoned local government manager, was brought in on a temporary contract at the beckon of Supervisors Ortiz-Legg and Paulding, who persuaded Varni to accept him. After trying to appease Varni, he too faced incessant demands for fealty from Varni. Finally, he gave up and left on very short notice – two months before his 6 month commitment expired – due to Varni’s attempt to micromanage the agency and Varni’s demand that the manager promote proposals that OCSD has neither the legal duty nor the money to spend on them. Ultimately, the second manager’s departure reflected his acknowledgment of failure to manage Varni’s grandiose plans and massive ego.

Is it any surprise that a competent, young public administrator with a promising future and a reputation to protect, would agree to take on a task with the “red flags” related to Varni’s role in running off these other fellows, without getting a compensation package?

Varni has already cost the OCSD to “waste” plenty of money in the salaries of these two General Mangers he drove off, as well as for additional district lawyers’ fees incurred as the lawyers tried prevent him from violating the OCSD’s charter, violating the Brown Act, and from violating the public trust by trying to grab OCSD’s dedicated water, sewer and sanitation funds on his frivolous schemes.

It’s the “Varni Tax.”

This is just too funny, a perfect resume.

Just do a bad job, get fired, and receive a year’s pay for doing nothing. It’s the SLO Bean Counter approach we’ve all seen before.

Another member of the $300,000 compensation club just what the ratepayers need. Plus a guaranteed $300,000 when he decides to move on, ridiculous.

Nice salary for a job in that little nothing burger city by the sea.