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Monday, November 28, 2005

Sewerville, Take a Deep Breath

Whilst wating for the Dec 1, 1 pm. Regional Water Quality Control Board Meeting at 895 Aerovista Place, Rm #101 (?) (which will go over unti 8:30 the next morning, if necessary) , said meeting to decide whether to shoot Los Osos and all our hound dawgs, anyone interested should go read the(item No. 19) Staff Report for Regular meeting of July 9, 2004, Prepared on June 18, 2004, State of California California Regional Water Quality control Board Central Coast Region [a pdf file] which, hopefully can be found at www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb3/BoardAgendas/070904/ There's an interesting "staff response" on page 10 to Rebecca McFarland's question, which states ". . . moving the project to the Andre site is not a feasible option." If that's that level of information given to the Board(s) by the "Staff," then it's no wonder that the Board(s) often end up making bad decisions.

Then, of course, go to the Los Osos CSD website and read the CSD's prepared response for the upcoming hearing. And, if it's not posted yet, do stop by the CSD office to get a copy of Rob Miller's price comparisons for the in-town, out of town plant siting that was discussed in the State negotiations that weren't negotiations and ask yourself, "What's with the page 10 staff reply mentioned above? Not feasible? Huh?"

Then take a deep breath and start placing bets on the number and kinds of "mis-information" that will be or already has been placed before the poor RWQC BOARD MEMBERS and cease wonding why GIGO still has such a powerful effect on all our lives.

Then hide the dawg.

13 comments:

Shark Inlet said...

Ann,

Might I remind you that Rob's figures say essentially "if everything goes perfectly during the next two years and we can somehow pull off a miracle, then it will be $10/month cheaper to put the plant out of town." [Note: the cost to design a new plant would offset any cost savings on by using a cheaper to build plant. Any savings are from reduced O&M.] If there are any setbacks or lawsuits or if it takes longer than 2 years we won't be saving money to put the plant out of town.

Any other interpretation is fanciful.

So, here's my question. If you're being fined for not making specific progress that you agreed to make by the agreed upon date, why is a good defense to say "it would be better elsewhere?"

To understand the point of view of the RWQCB I would suggest putting youself in the position of a parent who has an agreement with the child to achieve certain benchmarks in the cleaning of her room by a particular times of the day that the child has agreed are reasonable. If you walk in at the first benchmark timepoint and the child still has a pile of clothing, both clean and dirty mixed together, in the center of the floor ... what is the best thing to do? A parent should clamly note the failed 1st deadline and impose the pre-explained consequence ... let's say a fine of $1.10. If the child explains herself "but mom (be sure to say this with a loud whiney voice), my dolls voted that we should play a while first before move the clothes ... and besides, we think that the clothes should be moved to the laundry room rather than the hamper in the hallway ... and my brother also took away my laundry basket so I can't really make any progress" Does the reasonable parent think "my gosh, it would be best to move the clothes all the way to the laundry room ... I think that I should ignore the consequence of not achieving the pre-agreed goal"? Not on your life ... a reasonable parent would say "the laundry room sounds fine to me ... why did you not make any progress towards the goal of moving the clothes at all?"

I know that you'll be able to find fault with the analogy somewhere, but to me it is close enough to shed some light here. The fines of the RWQCB aree because the CSD chose to not make progress. This cannot be excused or tollerated. I would suggest that some who are writing letters to the RWQCB (see http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralcoast/LosOsosACLCommentLetters.htm) are proposing a reasonable solution ... that the RWQCB should not fine the CSD if the CSD chooses to immediately make progress and take the SWRCB offer.

Oh yeah, the CSD found a technical reason to say "no" to the SWRCB when they could have said "yes ... but we need some time to work out the bonding issues with our contractors".

This CSD isn't making any progress and isn't planning on doing so anytime in the near future. They are not leading or governing, they are simply trying to recover from the negative effects of their earlier actions (supporting Measure B and stopping construction before thinking about the consequences).

This CSD has taken no actions that show they don't deserve to be fined.

Point of ClarificationI don't want the CSD to be fined. I don't want the SWRCB to take the SRF from us. I don't care about TriW as a particular site. Don't get me wrong. What I do care about is that this CSD takes actions that limit our longerm costs. They don't seem to be doing so and you, Ann, seem to fault the previous board, the RWQCB, the SWRCB and pretty much everyone but this current boaord. I am just trying to suggest to your readership that the situation is not exactly as you suggest, that Julie and the CalTrans4 are simply pawns with no ability to control the situation. They had the ability to say no to fines, to say yes to the state and to ask the courts to resolve the legality of Measure B ASAP. They have done none of these things. They are responsible ... not for making the situation, but for taking a very bad situation and making it a whole lot worse. If you run on a platform of making sure widows on fixed incomes are able to continue to afford to live in Los Osos but your actions only seem to harm this most vulnerable group because you want to "move the sewer no matter how much it costs" you have given up the moral high ground and even the middle ground.

Shark Inlet said...

By the way, the agenda can be found at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralcoast/Board/Meetings/documents/DEC05agn_000.pdf for good clean reading fun.

Shark Inlet said...

Ann, the link to the PDF file I believe you wanted to cite is: http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb3/Board/Agendas/070904/ItemReports/Item19/documents/Item19staffrpt.pdf.

I also find it interesting that you glommed onto the one factoid you could use to your advantage in this debate rather than mentioning the pages and pages of "Lisa claimed but her claim is not true because ..." and "Julie complained but we don't think her complaints are valid because ...". Note here also there is a clear statement that step-steg is not going to be appropriate for Los Osos. If Julie, Lisa and Chuck were all there and heard the response from the RWQCB, why did they continue to tell us that step-steg is cheaper and better when neither is true? Could it be that these three were hopeful dreamers ... or do you want to jump straigt to "liars"? Which is it, Ann, did the current board majority lie to us and they should be thrown out on their ears because of the lies (the evidence is at least as strong as the evidence against the former board) or should we also extend grace to the former board for similar actions?

Anonymous said...

Howdy. Does anyone know anything about the Measure B appeal case being dropped? Just saw something on the Tribune's disgusting (I mean discussion) group. I would appreciate any information.

bob banner said...

do you wish to contribute something for our energy issue.

bob banner
hopedance
544-9663
hopedance@aol.com
I see no way to contact you directly. no email address.
why?

Anonymous said...

Never mind request for info. on Measure B. Got it from the TT this morning.

Churadogs said...

Dear Inlet,

There are two considerations regarding Step/steg: 1. cost. 2. does the ponding treatment result in the acceptable nitrate number? If I understand correctly, WilDan are running the numbers on Step/Steg and will have that information in January. My guess is that Step/Steg was taken off the table when the previous Recalled 3 refused to wait until after the election to start digging holes in the ground and laying pipe. Because of their actions, a viable option -- one that should have been evaulated and voted on by the folks "buying" the system, -- was put out of financial range by the Recalled 3 since you'd have to add to the system the added cost of digging up all the laid pipe and starting with an entirely new, smaller bore pipe & etc.

Since you're so in favor of "cheaper" and in "voting," that little action alone should have you thoroughly angry. Your chance to choose a system that could have been waaaaaay cheaper, was sumarily removed. Now, the only options left are expensive and very, very, very expensive. Again, the added costs a direct result of the Recalled 3's decision to start pounding millions of dollars of YOUR money into the ground before the election. Again, for someone so concerned with "costs," I find it odd that you apparently have no problem with any of that.

Shark Inlet said...

Ann, you've missed the big picture of the last week and half's CSD news. This board has taken actions which have raised our costs considerably by more than what you are complaining about. An extra $70M in interest payments is far greater than an extra $14M due to starting construction right before the election. (I'm unwilling to look into the issue further due to a lack of time right now, so while I believe there may have been a good reason to start construction before the recall, I'll cede you the point. Furthermore, I believe they lost because they started construction before the election.)

If you are telling us that step-steg may actually be less expensive and that the CSD is going to look into it again you are telling us that Lisa is a liar and that the RWQCB has no authority to define the plant in any way. If step-steg is less expensive, why did Lisa tell us at the last board meeting that it is more expensive? I can think of no acceptable reason for an elected official to lie to the public. Presumably you can and are willing to forgive Lisa but unwilling to forgive Stan. Or maybe you want to parse Lisa's words carefully to explain how her statement technically isn't a lie but was intended to mislead. Which is it?

You do have a good point about the costs of step-steg have changed once the streets have already been partially dug-up (maybe 5% of the community). However, these streets have not been repaved. To replace those pipes won't be too expensive.

Even so, the big ticket items here are the loss of SRF and the fines. If you want to quibble about the $2M necessary to dig up streets again and put in different pipes you are missing the picture.

By the way, when are you going to write a commentary on the latest action of this board? (Well, not necessarily the latest action, but the action we heard about the most recently.) I am wondering what sort of a defense you can come up with for this board's tendency to do all it's business behind closed doors without even asking for public comment. We sort of knew they weren't going to fight Measure B, they've been clear about it from day one, but to drop the appeal without even asking for public input is inexcusable for any board, let alone this board which promised to be "open" and "transparent".

Anonymous said...

Face it. The in-town site is history. Never was a good project and never will be. Why hold on to such an albatross? Let it go... As the history unfolds for all to see, past mistakes will be evident and everything that has happened in the last few months will be seen in a fresh, new light.

Churadogs said...

Dear Shark, if I understand the Brown Act, ALL legal matters are supposed to be done "in closed session," then actions only are reported out, not who said what or what options or strategies were discussed & etc. That's the way it's always been done. Has the new CSD changed the proceedure?

As for what Anonymous said, Interesting concept. What would happen if everyone in town said, Well, Tri W's history, we've got a WATER (shortage) problem and a wasteWATER problem STILL left to solve, so let's get cracking? Right now I hear about people circulating petitions to disolve the CSD, but have to assume folks signing the petitions don't know that LAFCO will have to sign off on it, which may take, What? a year or two? Then, somebody better get a signed guarantee that County Engineering will sign off on the the Tri W site and sewer plan. And I have no idea if the lawsuit covering Prop 218 is still in the courts. That'll have to be solved before anything else is done. In short, clinging to The Dream seems to be as wasteful an occupation as merely sitting and doing nothing. So, the question, I suppose, is: Is the only way forward to actually go forward with alternate plans, a new assessment vote, & etc?

Shark Inlet said...

My complaint is not that the items were discussed in private but that they didn't tell us that they would be discussing these items and that if they did announce the results of any vote (for example, a vote to dismiss the appeal of Measure B) it was done at a time when pretty much no one would be around to hear.

I just re-watched the meeting of the 23rd. They waited until about 1:45am to announce the results of the Nov 17th closed session. They could have easily announced those results at the start of the meeting on the 23rd. Why not? To do otherwise makes it seem like they are trying to fly in under the radar. Oh yeah, they are ... that was the point.

Ann, you would be screaming loudly had the previous CSD board done something so slimey (oh yeah, you did). Why not now?

Churadogs said...

Did the previous CSD report out legal stuff late at night? I presume they did. It's how they often ended up structering their agendas. I wasn't awake and sitting in the room at 4 a.m. Also, most "reporting out," as you know, consists of often bare bones and/or brief up or down votes, with no real explanation of what the settlement was and if the settlement is sealed, nobody will ever know what was done. That's pretty standard with most boards I've watched.

The only indication that a legal case will be discussed is that it's supposed to be listed on the agenda, but the public has no way of knowing what, if anything, was discussed. Unless you've got illegal leaking going on?

Shark Inlet said...

I would suggest that if you look carefully over your past agendas they never included any mention of any closed session discussions of the LOCSD appeal of the legality of Measure B.

Thus, the issue should not have been discussed in closed session and if the issue was not discussed there could have been no vote and without a vote, John McClendon should not have dropped the suit.

So, what can we conclude? That they were in some sort of violation of the Brown act.

What bothers me more is that they took an action but didn't tell any of us what they had done. That they would also not tell the SWRCB the truth about their decision is more than a bit smarmy.