Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for November 23, 05: The Bay News, Los Osos, CA
O Loooocy, It’s High Noon in Sewerville. Tell Gary Cooper to bring the cheese!
Doooo nawt forsake meeee, O mah darlin’, twang-twang-twang. . .
The CSD met Thursday night to mull over the State Water Board’s New! Improved! ultimatum: Get the townsfolk to betray their voice by re-voting to rescind Measure B, agree not to sue the SWB for breach of contract, and now (now?) pass a “do-over” Proposition 218-type vote to assess their property in order to continue to build in the middle of town a sewer plant they just voted to get out of town. If not, the SWB will pull the low-cost loan and thereby make history – 15 years of granting loans and this one would be the first that failed.
Amazingly enough, the New! Improved! deal didn’t also require that the three recalled CSD board members be reinstalled.
In all the well-orchestrated huffle-duffle (“Sheriff, the noon train’s a-comin’ we’re all gonna die in the streets like dawgs!”), what’s gone missing are the answers to some questions. And since I’m really stupid, perhaps Mr. Katz of the State Water Board could explain the answers slowly.
1. Just why is this loan in crisis? Could it be because this loan never had a Prop. 218-type vote to secure it? Instead, it was to be repaid by the service fees earned when the sewer plant went into operation. The original loan was then later increased some $40 million dollars on the say-so of three CSD Board members under threat of recall, AND before the Measure B vote that could also put the loan in jeopardy AND despite pleas from two board members and the community to wait on indebting this community until after the election. Was that decision by the SWB ill-advised? Or illegal?
2. If the State Water Board screwed up on the original loan, why is this community being blackmailed into burying the corpse, assuming all the liability, and then taking the fall?
3. Just who is in breach of contract when the State stopped payment? And why would the state now require that the CSD drop any legal attempts to answer that question? People usually do not resort to blackmail unless they know somebody’s got the goods on them and they’d better take them out before they can spill the beans.
4. Is it legal for the CSD to use tax money to pay attorneys to go into court to oppose a taxpayer-supported initiative – Measure B? If it’s illegal, why does the State Water Board require that the CSD violate the law?
5. Why does everyone keep forgetting to mention that this loan is from The State REVOLVING Fund. Folks are acting like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime Lottery. It’s not. Unless, of course, the appointed board members administering the loan have illegally and improperly turned it into some sort of personal patronage, punishment or reward fund, and if that’s the case, then that needs to be addressed without delay.
6. In the CSD’s “Response and Request for Continuance” brief to the Regional Water Quality Control Board [copies available at the CSD office], the CSD’s attorney notes, “Although LOCSD staff has only had time to review a limited amount of [RWQCB] staff’s written and electronic documents relating to the September 27th Special Election, it is already apparent that [RWQCB] staff was coordinating efforts with the opponents of the recall and Measure B initiative both before and after the election. More troubling still is the fact that this information reveals [RWQCB] staff’s motive in issuing the Complaint: to bushwhack the new LOCSD board before it did anything and to punish the electorate for failing to vote the way [RWQCB] staff had wanted.” (p.8)
Is “punishing” or “bushwhacking” or attempting to influence an election what these Boards are suppose to be doing? If these Boards or their staff have lost their professional objectivity or are violating the law, then that needs to be addressed by (1) a federal and/or state Attorney General’s investigation or (2) in a court of law.
If the original SRF Loan came in a box that already smelled from day one, the New! Improved! box the State Water Board is presenting to this community on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, now has creepy scrabbling and squeaking noises coming from inside it. Personally, I smell a rat. Several, in fact.
And if the CSD is trapped and blackmailed into buying that box without the right to demand a legal peek inside, then this community will have been betrayed and locked into spending gazillions to buy a lifetime supply of unwanted but very, very expensive cheese.
Since the Can(n)on was put to bed before the Tuesday night CSD meeting and vote, an update: The Board voted 5 - 0 to have the CSD request the "Inspector General of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the circumstances surrounding the State Water Resources Control Board’s issuance of a State Revolving Fund Loan,” and they voted 5 – 0 to request the "San Luis Obispo County District Attorney investigate certain activities pertaining to the Los Osos Community Services District.”
Then, at about 2 a.m., they voted 5 – 0 to “respond” to the State Water Board’s Byzantine New! Improved! deal by politely and regretfully pointing out that they are constrained by law from accepting it, oh, dang, BUT, they’d be happy to accept the original deal negotiated and voted on at the October 30th CSD meeting.
Anyone holding their breath for the State Water Board’s answer will be blue, then comatose, then deceased.
And then, the following day, this snippet in the 11/23/05 New Times: Montgomery Watson Harza, project design engineers for the controversial Los Osos sewer, reported Monday that files and computers had been stolen from their local office at Sunnyside Elementary School. The theft coincides almost perfectly with an announcement from the CSD of a resolution to investigate activities pertaining to sewer contracts, spending and design.
Dooo-deee-dooo-dooo, dooo-deee-dooo-dooo. Now, stealing and fencing stolen computers, I can see. But I have to wonder about those files. Last I looked, bid contracts, bonding agreements, budgets, engineering reports, and other miscellaneous paperwork and emails concerning sewer design wasn’t a really big seller on e-bay. But then, I could be wrong. At any rate, it now remains a mystery to puzzle over whilst munching dead bird in front of the telly.
So, Happy Turkey Day. Chapter II of the Great Sewer Wars starts up again Friday.