Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Great Eucalypts Are Gone

Anybody in Los Osos who was wondering what the three CSD Directors felt about the possible wishes of this community, wishes that will be known in about 19 working days from now in the Sept. 27th recall election and sewer initiative vote, need only drive by the Tri W site on Los Osos Valley Road to get an answer.

The great trees are down, their massive roots drying in the sun, the message in their killing unmistakable: BLEEP YOU LOS OSOS AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON.

CSD Director Julie Tacker emailed CSD President Gustafson and asked for an emergency public meeting to get public input. NO! All kinds of community members called and marched and held vigils, hoping to get the three CSD Directors to listen. NO! To postpone doing anything irrevocable until the 27th. NO! No, nope, nuh-huh, not interested, talk to the hand, not listening, don't care, go away, shut up.

As an example of petty spite, a phony macho pissing contest, it was laughable. Of course, the trees and the birds they sheltered, and the beauty they brought to the community were the ultimate victims. But then they were of no more importance to the three CSD Directors than a rabbit under the wheels of an out of control, rage-fueled SVU driver. BLEEP YOU! AND BLEEP YOUR BLEEPING HORSE!

Now, it remains to be see if the people of Los Osos are listening, and understand the message. And whether they care enough to reply on Sept 27th. And what that reply will be.
When is a raven not like a writing desk? When he's a Public Information Officer, Dear.

Ah, I'm delighted to report that Los Osos' new, well-paid Public Information Officer is on the job. Apparently, Ron Crawford of theSewerwatch blog sent him several very simple, very specific "public information/historical" questions which the PIO oddly labeled as "debate" and refused to answer.

But, of course! Our PIO publicly pledged never to "spin" information or news, remember? So, I guess, if you can't spin an answer and the truthful answer would cause some people's eyes to fly wide open and their mouths to drop to their socks, the only solution is to not answer at all, which means our new PIO isn't gonna give out PI, which begs a critical question: Is refusal to answer factual public information questions a form of spin or a failure to perform your job requirements?

You can read all about it at Ron's blog at Luckily, Ron's "answers" to his unanswered questions are historically correct and loaded with lots of accurate Public Information.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Mmmmm, Flies. Yummy Flies. Oh, wait, bad analogy.

In his August 28, 'o5 Tribune Viewpoint ("Los Osos these days looks a lot like 'Lord of the Flies'"), Morro Bay resident, Jeff Wheelright, alas, has the viewpoint exactly backwards. The several thousand people who signed the recall petitions were behaving like adults, not out of control, murderous children in need of a Hobbsian Controlling Authority. As adults, they had repeatedly requested from the Big Daddy CSD a voice in what kind of sewer system they were being required to "buy." That request was repeatedly denied. Instead, they were told, like good children everywhere, that Daddy knew best and they needed to shut up and sit down and eat what Daddy fed them without complaint or question.

Children usually do sit down and shut up. Adults go sign recall petitions. So, it's not "Lord of the Flies" at all. Just a whole lot of grown up bears asking the community to finally account for itself. Like adults.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I’m Late, I’m Late, for a Very Important Date, Can’t Wait, Hurry, Hurry, Hurry! More Tea! More Tea! Move Down! Move Down!

Just got conformation from our new Public Information Officer (LOCSD's PIO), Mike Drake, that the 60-some huge eucalyptus trees located on the Tri-W site in Los Osos, the planned new home of an industrial-sized sewage treatment plant in the middle of town, are officially slated to be cut down “sometime next week,” i.e. the 29 – 3rd, one month before the Sept. 27th recall election.

And if the recall is successful and the industrial-sized sewage treatment plant in the middle of town is moved out of the middle of town, what about the dead trees? Well, as Drake noted in the Bay News, “. . . they [can] be replaced by seedlings of native species.”

Well, sure! And in 80 years they might be as tall as the now destroyed eucalyptus, so not to worry.

Board member Tacker requested CSD President Stan Gustafson (he’s on the recall list) to please call a special meeting to hear public input regarding the rush to whack the trees down. Nope. Nuh-uh. No meetings. Not interested in public opinion. As for phone calls, faxes, emails to the CSD office? Fuggedaboudit. Not interested.

On an even funnier note, Sewer Chronicler Extraordinare, Ron Crawford (his sewer blog can be accessed via (and Sewerwatch blog --ed.) notes that the CSD (or elves creeping into the office in the dead of night?) keeps putting false and misleading information into official documents. For example, a recent email with a portion of the recent CSD’sValue Engineering report imbedded in it, clearly notes that the various “amenities (public restroom, parking lot, tot lot, amphitheatre, community garden) added by the CCC [California Coastal Commission] . . . . "

. . . . ADDED by the CCC? The CCC didn’t add those things. They originally demanded that they be removed by the CSD in order to shrink the footprint of the sewer treatment plant on ESHA land and the CSD – NOT the CCC – insisted that they be put back in as a critical component of the project, i.e., the much ballyhooed community-wide demand for a Tot Lot next to a sewer plant.

The CCC fell for it and put the Tot Lot & etc. back in, but it was not at the CCC’s request. Yet there it is in the recent Value Engineering report. Yep, elves.

Ron argues in an email to various officials in charge of this project, that the State Revolving Fund forbids spending any State Revolving Fund Money on “decorative elements,” i.e. things not mandated by State and/or Federal agencies, and notes correctly that the CCC didn’t mandate those decorative elements--the Tot Lot and community garden & etc. were not part of the mandated ESHA mitigation requirements--indeed, they are contraindicated as ESHA mitigation since they eat up more ESHA land, not less, and require MORE mitigation.

But, no matter, because if the CSD can “pretend” they are mitigation, then the folks in the prohibition zone can be stuck with paying for them while everyone involved pretends that a Tot Lot and a community garden are an essential requirement in running a sewer plant.


The staff of the CCC must know they’ve been diddled. Certainly at least one CCC Board member knew (he of the “bait and switchy” comment), but they did and still do nothing. Shrug. Oh, well, not my problem. More tea! More tea! Move down! Move down!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Nuh-huh, not me, I’m not in charge, no way, go ask that Other Guy. Woah! not me, you gotta call that guy over there. He’s been told not to talk to you but to call some guy named Mike? Well, don’t look at me, that’s not my problem. It’s none of my beeswax, now go away.

Alice in Wonderland has landed out here in Los Osos, and just in time for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

Seems CSD Director Tacker went through channels to request an emergency CSD meeting to take public input on whether they wanted the giant eucalyptus trees at the Tri-W site cut down before the recall election. Or whether, tree cutting being irrevocable, the CSD would tell the contractors to wait until after the election to proceed.

CSD President Stan Gustafson said, Nuh-huh, He wasn’t gonna call a special meeting, nosir. No way would the CSD take responsibility for anything having to do with cutting down those trees, nosir, nosir. Not when he can wash his hands of it all, thereby gifting the CSD board majority, which is facing a recall election, with the valuable ability to blandly deny any and all responsibility--not MY doing, not MY responsibility, none of MY business, not MY job, oh, well.

So then a member of the community was told by someone in the LOCSD office that since the cutting of the trees is no longer the responsibility of the CSD, it’s the responsibility of the contractors, citizens should contact the contractors. (Please recall that one Los Osos citizen was recently hauled into court by the CSD in order to get a restraining order slapped on the guy to get him to stop contacting the contractors. Suddenly, citizens are now told to do exactly that?)

Oh, dear, More Tea! More Tea! Move down! Move down!

So then a citizen calls a contractor and is told that they were instructed not to talk to any residents but to direct all questions back to the CSD and the new Information Officer, Mike Drake.

Yep, Flak Catching 101 out here in Sewerville has commenced. So, drink your tea, then shut up and go away. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Flee For Your Lives! . . . Oh, Wait . . . nevermind . . .

First it was "The Gong Show," with the CSD Board majority claiming a letter from some guy from Los Osos was responsible for raising the cost of the sewer bids and then spending your tax dollars to try to shut the guy up.

Now, we have "Saturday Night Live," with CSD Directors Stan Gustafson and Richard LeGros standing in for the late Gilda Radner’s delightfully goofy Emily Latella, that woefully confused crank who rattled on about "violence" in the streets before being informed that the word she was mishearing was "violins," not "violence." Blinking into the camera, she would then sheepishly whine, "Oh . . . well . . . nevermind."

Directors Gustafson and LeGros signed papers in April asking a judge for a restraining order against Los Osos businessman, Richard Margetson, stating, under penalty of perjury, that Margetson committed acts of violence, threatened to commit acts of violence, seriously alarmed, annoyed and harassed them.

Mr. Gustafson even told the Tribune, "I believe he was threatening my life." And so they wanted the Judge to please, please Your Honor keep that horrible Mr. Margetson at least 100 feet away from them at all times, which would preclude being anywhere near the Community Center during a series of critical votes on sewer funding and contract issues. Their requests for a temporary restraining order until a full hearing on the claims could be held were repeatedly denied.

So, who is Mr. Margetson that these two Directors wanted to keep so far away from themselves that, in effect, he would also be unable to attend any public meetings during these critical series of votes on the sewer? Well, Margetson was one of the people instrumental in bringing to the public’s attention the price differences between simply accepting the CSD’s proposal for a fire tax increase, versus waiting and getting a competing bid for the same services from the CDF.

Thanks to Mr. Margetson’s efforts, the public voted down the original CSD proposal and then had the chance to vote for the new CDF plan, thereby saving themselves pots of money. Without Margetson's sustained efforts to inform them, the public would have been unaware that they had any choice in the matter.

As an elected official, is that the kinda guy you don’t want hanging around public meetings asking pointed policy questions? You betcha! So, how do you shut him up, shut him out, shut him down? Well, you file ginned-up civil harassment charges, under penalty of perjury, as part of a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation), a tactic to put a warning shot across the bow of any member of the public who dares disagree with you that you will use the power and might of the courts and police to shut you up.

What put this into the "Saturday Night Live" category is that from April to July, Mr. Margetson, Mr. Gustafson and Mr. LeGros all regularly attended CSD meetings, and everyone was all Chatty-Kathy--no armed guards, no bandolier-crossed militia, no weapons searches and pat-downs at the door. Is that how you treat a person you have sworn, under penalty of perjury, is threatening acts of violence against you?

Even sillier, on July, LeGros and Gustafson and their attorney, Karol Vogt, wandered into court with a request to withdraw their petition because [they] had "already realized the benefits of the requested injunction and that [they] wanted to dismiss the action." The request further stated that Mr. LeGros told lawyer Vogt "that Defendant did not harass, attack, strike, threaten, assault, hit, follow, stalk him." Instead, Mr. LeGros had sought the injunction for the critical sewer vote time period and now that the vote was over--heh-heh, . . . nevermind.


And now the questions: By any stretch of the imagination, was the civil harassment petition credible? Did these two CSD Directors commit perjury? Are using SLAPP suits to silence people who disagree with a policy or project what the citizens in this community want their CSD Directors to be doing? And what questions and information could Mr. Margetson possibly have brought forward during this critical vote and public comment period that made these Directors so scared that they were willing to use any ginned-up means possible to try to shut him up?

I think even Emily Latella would consider those important questions to answer before the Recall Election on Sept 27th.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Bleep You AND The Horse You Rode In On

IF the trees fall before the recall . . .

...then it will be clearer than ever that the comment above is a pretty fair description of what the Los Osos CSD Board majority thinks of the citizens of this fair burg. According to a recent email from Linde Owen, the CSD plans to start cutting down the 80 TriW site Eucalyptus trees in a week or so.

The cutting is supposedly scheduled to take place BEFORE the Recall and Sewer Initiative vote can take place on Sept. 27th.
[Update: According to the CSD's Information Officer, the clearing/cutting permits have not been received yet, with no fair guestimate as to when they'll come in. According to Ms. Owen, that is why she is staging a protest now, since there may be no time between getting the permits in hand and beginning work. ]
That the 75 year-0ld giants on the Tri-W site must fall NOW, HURRY, HURRY, is part of the obliviousness of the Board majority and/or a sign of the utter contempt the Board majority holds for the citizens of Los Osos. The community's voice and vote means nothing. This Hideous Los Osos Sewer will go ahead no matter what the people want. Bleep them AND the horse they rode in on.

Clearly, the CSD appears to be hell-bent on a deliberate process of pounding as much State Loan Money into the ground as humanly possible, thereby indebting the community as much as possible.

Then the "No Recall - Save The Dreamers" can blandly urge a No vote on the recall because, "Well, the money's already been spent. Wouldn't it be a darned shame to 'waste' it all?" And now let's hurry to make irreversible changes, such as cutting down giant trees, so the No Recall campaign literature can again blandly urge a No vote on the recall because, "Oh, Well, there's no need to vote for anything now since a No vote won't bring the trees back to life, now will it?"

So, would a decision to possibly cut the trees down before the election be a good public policy decision? Smart politics? Sound engineering? Or is this a hissy-fit of pique by three directors enraged that enough members of the community disagreed with their decisions to actually get their recall on the ballot?

Whatever else it is, if it's allowed to occur, it would also be breathaking in it's Tin Ear approach and in its deliberate cruelty and bull-headed blindness. I mean, there are plenty of other projects the contractor can begin and work on until the election--projects that will be needed no matter what the election outcome.

If the CSD Board Majority gave a foodle about "The People" of their community, that's what they would be doing. But they don't. Instead, we're getting a scorched-earth policy of slash & burn, take no prisoners, and so we'll inflict as much lasting physical and financial damage on the community as possible. That'll show 'em!

If the tree cutting does occur, then no matter what the election outcome, it will be a Pyrrhic victory, evil and bitter and long lasting. And entirely unnecessary. That is the tragedy of what this Board majority is doing.

Meantime, there are going to be two protest events upcoming:
Event #1.
Tuesday, Aug. 16 - August 19, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Linde Owen will be sitting in silent protest at the Tri W Site on Los Osos Valley Road.

Event #2.
Thursday, August 18, 7:30/8 pm to 9 pm.
Candlelight vigil along the frontage of Los Osos Valley Rd. at the Tri W site. Bring safe candles/flashlights, dress warmly, come early and park safely.
By their actions, the CSD Board majority have made their feelings towards this community crystal clear: Bleep you. If the permits come in before the election, the trees will be cut down. You will get this sewer plant in the middle of your town whether you want it or not. And then you'll get the bills. So, SHUT UP!

Let's see if the Community can also make their feelings towards the CSD Board majority crystal clear as well by lighting as many quiet candles as possible in hopes that everyone will have a few second thoughts and stay the chainsaws until the September 27th ballots are cast.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

O Looocy, Looocy, Looocy

Oh, Dear, there was that nice Mr. Spencer Harris, of Cleath & Associates, saying all those perfectly dreadful things to a nearly empty room at July 21st CSD meeting. He was giving his Draft Final Report on sea water intrusion and the general water plan. Some conclusions:

We are in overdraft, which means we’ve been pumping more water out of the lower aquifer than Mother Nature can return. This has been going on for years, was known to be occurring and had been discussed by the CSD long ago, but nothing was done. Cleath & Associates had only recently been hired to do a water basin management study and plan. Funding for a toilet retrofit rebate program went kerflooey, so that was the end of that. And I don’t remember ever seeing huge headlines in our smiley-faced Bear Pride newsletter years ago saying: “DANGEROUS OVERDRAFT! CSD CALLS EMERGENCY MEETINGS WITH COUNTY AND STATE WATER OFFICIALS.” Instead of dealing immediately with the water shortage, the CSD ignored it and focused on building the sewer.

Which was all very ironic since that Nice Mr. Harris noted that “salt water intrusion won’t be cured by the sewer plant.” Huh?

Nobody from day one tested the upper aquifer for “emerging contaminants” and other “nasty stuff.” Call it an asset check, sort of like actually checking your bank balances before designing and implementing a retirement investment plan, so you’d know exactly how much money you actually had to plan with. This was never done, still hasn’t been done, which is odd, because this entire sewer plan (“Faster! Better! Cheaper!”) was originally sold to this community on the basis that it would be a sustainable system and allow build out without having to import state water.

Which brings even more irony or a grim feeling that The Old Bait & Switcheroo’s at work. There in the report is the need to “import supplemental water,” since even with the best scenario possible, even without any build-out, we’ll still be in overdraft. So we now have a sewer project that (a) won’t “cure” sea water intrusion, (b) will have to do the one thing most folks thought it was going to avoid -- import water, and (c) will leave a lot of people who were told they would be able to build once the sewer plant was in place high and dry. Literally, dry. No water? No water permit and no dreamers dream home for years and years. Sorry.

But, wait, it gets better. Simplified, the present plan is designed to collect and treat wastewater then return it to the upper aquifer, draw out and treat that water, reuse, return & etc. all with the ultimate goal of forcing all our treated water – still containing a certain amount of contaminants – slowly back down into the clean, 7,000 year-old waters of the lower aquifer. In short, under orders from the Regional Water Quality Control Board to “clean up our water,” we’ll be polluting a different set of waters, which could put us back under the gun for violating the Porter Cologne Act, which the RWQCB is using as controlling authority in the first place. Talk about a closed loop!

For years, the CSD pooh-poohed Ag Exchange as some unworkable “loony alternative” trotted out by “The Opposition.” Yet there it is in the new official water management report, but nobody has seriously looked at or actually penciled it out to see if, for example, such a system would buy more geologic time and space to actually clean the treated water better before it returns to the deep..

Now, in a sane community, this water report would have resulted in grim-faced mobs storming the battlements. Heads would roll! And every entity in the state with the word W-A-T-E-R in their title would be called in for an emergency confab and a complete review of this whole project would start. But this time, it would start from the WATER end of the deal, not the sewer/nitrate end. After all, you can always get nitrates out of water, but nobody can get more water out of NO water.

So, that’s what would happen in a sane community. But we live in Los Osos, where our CSD voted to approve the concept of hiring a full-time Permanent Water Guy to deal with whatever water problems and costs come up . . . later. Then it was pedal to the metal in a race for the cliff.