Showdown At High Noon in Sewerville. Where's Gary Cooper?
Dooo nauwt forsake meeee, O mah darlin', twang-twang-twang.
In today's Tribune headline, a showdown with the State Water Board and an ultimatum: Get this particular loan and build a sewer plant in the middle of town OR betray the people who voted for an initiative to get the sewer plant OUT of the middle of town and betray those who also voted to remove the prior CSD directors because they refused to move the sewer plant OUT of town.
Gone missing from the headline and story and, apparently, from the State Water Board itself is this: The State Water Board is appointed to oversee the distribution of federal and state funds in a State REVOLVING Fund, to disburse it to communities on the list in need of low cost loans to help build and/or improve their water/wastewater infrastructure. Every year, communities submit their plans, get approval or not, get placed on a hold list and wait. Certain communities are given top priority because of the severity of their problems. Right now Los Osos is at the top of the priority list.
So, what needs to be decided by the CSD is also this: Do I betray the electorate who put me into office, and betray WHY they put me into office, or do I vote to move ahead with an out-of-town site and/or do a review of an alternative plan (Step/Steg), then resubmit the plans to the State REVOLVING Fund and get back on the list?
In the meantime, what's critical for this CSD Board to do is to formally request a full investigation into the State Water Board's original loan. Was it properly handled? If it was, then there was and is no need for any "deal" that was proposed by the SWB a few days ago. Instead, it should be a straight up or down decision. If there were irregularities in how it was originally set up, then that must be cleared up before this community signs onto anything because just as sure as God made little green apples, somebody in town will sue and any action will be delayed that much longer.
In addition, the matter of the breach of contract must be settled before anybody signs on the dotted line for anything because God and his little green apples will show up in court over that matter as well. It also needs to be explained just why the State Water Board was so concerned over the breach-of-contract issue that they made it a requirement that the issue be dropped before the loan would be granted. You don't normally blackmail people unless you know they have the goods on you so you'd better shut them up before they spill the beans.
Of even more importance, both the State Water Board and the Regional Water Quality Board's staff and CEO need to be investigated to see whether or not they have been improperly engaged with prior CSD members or each other in an effort to unduly manipulate or coerce this community.
In his LOCSD's "Response and Request for Continuance" brief sent to the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the CSD's attorney notes, "Although LOCSD staff has only had time to review a limited amount of CCR [RWQCB] staff's written and electronic documents relating to the September 27th Special Election, it is already apparent that CCR 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 CCR staff's motive in issuing the Complaint: to bushwack the new LOCSD board before it did anything and to punish the electorate for failing to vote the way CCR staff had wanted." (p. 8)
Is "punishing" or manipulating or attempting to influence an election what these Boards are suppose to be doing? If these Boards or their staff have lost their objectivity, then that needs to be addressed before this CSD takes any steps.
The original low cost loan was immediately challenged in court for not having secured an assessment vote of the homeowners. So far as I know, that lawsuit is still on appeal. Furthermore, the loan was increased some $40 million on the say-so of three CSD members under threat of recall and despite pleas from the community and two board members to wait until after the recall election and the Measure B inititive were voted on.
Before the CSD decides anything, it would be prudent to investigate as to whether the original loan was properly done. As the CSD attorney notes in his "Response" brief (p7) " . . . it [SWB] apparently agreed to fund the SRF Loan without first considering what impact the approval of Measure B would have on the SWRCB's obligation to comply with those code provisions . . ."
In short, this original loan came in a box that already smelled from day one. The New! Improved! box the State Water Board is presenting this community with on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, now has scrabbling and squeeking noises coming from inside it. Personally, I smell a rat.
And unless the CSD votes to take a legal peek inside that box, this community will be betrayed into spending gazillions to buy a lifetime supply of very, very expensive cheese.