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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Is That A Xerox I See In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Glad To See Me? Part Duh.

The May 30th Tribune front page story featured a look-see on various billing charges to the Los Osos CSD by several of the law firms it has contracted with, as well as billing for the services of Wildan management for the past few months. It was given big, front-page play, including the pull quote, “For a law firm to turn the fax machine and the photocopy machine into profit centers is unethical and is an embarrassment to the profession,” said Lisa G. Lerman, professor of law at Catholic University Law School. (The California State Bar wouldn’t comment on the story but did suggest lawyers “consider 11 different points when billing a client. Those include looking at the amount of the fee compared to the value of the service performed and the time and labor required.”

The Tribune noted that the law firm of "Burke, Williams & Sorensen billed the district $1 for each page it faxed, and 20 cents for each page it copied – almost three times what copy shops such as FedEx Kinko’s charge” (There was no mention of the wages to pay a law firm employee to drive to Kinkos to Xerox the pages. Presumably that would drive the price up a considerable amount?)

Interestingly, Copy Spot here in Los Osos charges $2 a page for a long distance fax for the first page and $1 each page thereafter, so clearly the CSD, in getting billed only $1 for all the pages, is getting a bargain. The county, on the other hand, charges 10 cents a page to Xerox simple stuff such as a BoS agenda, so clearly the CSD may need to discuss that with Burke, Williams & Sorensen. That extra 10 cents a page for Xeroxing could well offset the $1 a page savings on faxes.

What the Tribune story left out, of course, is something that I’ve been curious about for a long time: How much are the various Taxpayers Watch lawsuits costing the district and how much legal cost can be directly attributed to the old board recklessly starting the sewer project just weeks before the recall , and how much is simply run-of-the-mill legal, management and general operating costs that would occur even if there were no sewer issues?.

I suspect that the amount of the first two items will turn out to be considerably higher than the Xeroxing billing at 20 cents a pop. Of course, if you focus your story on the little stuff, that lets you avoid having to put the really big stuff into a larger context.

Much easier.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Churadog writes:

"How much are the various Taxpayers Watch lawsuits costing the district and how much legal cost can be directly attributed to the old board recklessly starting the sewer project just weeks before the recall , and how much is simply run-of-the-mill legal, management and general operating costs that would occur even if there were no sewer issues?."

NOW PRAY TELL, HOW IS THIS TO BE DETERMINED? AND WHO GETS TO DECIDE?

HOW CAN THE COST OF ONE ATTORNEY (TW) BE COMPARED TO THE COST OF 23 CSD ATTORNEYS,PARALEGALS, AND CONSULTANTS?

WOULDN'T IT BE MUCH CHEAPER JUST TO HIRE THE ONE ATTORNEY? BESIDES THE ENORMOUS COST SAVINGS, THERE IS A MUCH GREATER PROBABILITY OF COURTROOM SUCCESS!

Sewertoons said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sewertoons said...

If the old board had not started the project, the SRF money would have been withdrawn, and the CSD would have had to rob the solid waste fund and the water fund a lot sooner than they did, (now putting infrastructure in jeopardy). Lisa should be grateful she had money to pay her 23 lawyers (well, before the freeze anyway), and not be whining about it.

Perhaps the article's intent was to point out that if these lawfirms are cheating or billing outrageously on the small stuff - well, you get my drift.

Or perhaps that even with 23 lawyers they can't seem to WIN anything....

The board has instigated many other lawsuits on their own aside from TW defenses.

No sewer issues? Then you wouldn't have anything to write about and Los Osos would have ceased to exist!

Also, what law firm does not have its own phalanx of Xeroxes? I doubt that anyone had to "drive" any farther than down the hall to find one.

*PG-13 said...

I wonder. Does the SLO Trivial have to work for that title or does it just come naturally? In its own words ... the column subtitle is: The hourly rates are typical, but the administrative costs from one law firm are called unethical ....

Count the staples! Ration the paperclips! Nobody leaves the building with a pen! Four months and 1 Million dollars later the Triv leads with "$942 for copying and faxing." Oh my!

The Triv > Burke, Williams & Sorensen’s contract with the district spells out hourly rates for lawyers and paralegals that range from $105 per hour to $240 per hour, which are not unusual in the industry. But the contract doesn’t specify how much the firm would charge for expenses and administrative costs.

According to James C. Turner, the executive director of HALT, a legal-reform organization based in Washington, D.C., firms that bill two or three times the market rate for some services are not uncommon. Turner said it’s up to the party that hires the law firm to pay attention to the "frilly stuff around the edges" of the agreement.


Yikes. This too is fault of the CSD. They coulda and they shoulda paid attention to the frilly stuff. Talk about rearranging deck chairs. The ship is sunk, we're sourrounded by indians and out of bullets, AND we're paying 20 cents per page! OH MY GAWD!

Hey, as noted previously, I'm Scot and I *hate* paying any more than I have to. Especially to a lawyer. One could hope, indeed one could expect, that some overhead costs might be included in the $105/hr cost of a paralegal. And I certainly don't want a $240/hr lawyer standing at the fax or copy machine. But we're talking lawyers here. This is why they went to school. One of the last classes they take before taking the BAR is Intro to Line Item Invoicing 1A. The sky is blue. Deal with it.

Anon . HOW CAN THE COST OF ONE ATTORNEY (TW) BE COMPARED TO THE COST OF 23 CSD ATTORNEYS, PARALEGALS, AND CONSULTANTS? WOULDN'T IT BE MUCH CHEAPER JUST TO HIRE THE ONE ATTORNEY?

Huh? How's that? Is that the way it works? By golly, why didn't I think of that!

The Triv > Lisa Schicker, the district board’s president, said board members recalled in September are to blame for about 80 percent of the district’s current legal problems.

Anon > NOW PRAY TELL, HOW IS THIS TO BE DETERMINED? AND WHO GETS TO DECIDE?
Sewertoons > The board has instigated many other lawsuits on their own aside from TW defenses.


Here's a start. 80% of $1 Million is $800,000. Less 0.09% ($942 for copying & faxing depending how that line item gets resolved) leaves $799,000. OK, let's assume that number can't be clearly determined. Or, more likely Lisa is playing a little lose with the numbers, and only 60% of the last four month's expenses are attributable to TW-related legal actions. That's still $599,000. Who cares? What else is the CSD spending money on? What percent of sewer district operations is being spent studying and working on sewers? And what percent is being spent on lawyer fees (with or without pencils, staples, paperclips, faxes and xeroxes) attributable to TW spawned issues? 50%, 40% even 30% is too much. Who cares how it is determined and who gets to decide? Whatever it is it is too much, it is still increasing, and there is no end in sight.

I appreciate, indeed I honor, that TW is committed to their goals. I respect them for that. They were serving their community as elected representatives up to the recall election. For better and for worse they were still acting as elected representatives, albeit not quite so honorably, in the weeks leading up to the election when they tried to make the election a non-issue by forcing Los Osos into a commitment to a sewer that had not been openly vetted. Everything since has been sour grapes. These people are no longer elected representatives. However their previous actions may be viewed they are now members of the community working against the common good. It's your pocket they are stealing from. This isn't a better, cheaper, faster sewer thing any more. It is their unwillingness to accept that that moment has passed. And that this moment is now. We face today's situation not last year's. No matter how hard they try we can't turn back the clock. And no matter how much we all may wish we can't bring Tinkerbell back again. Tri-W must stand or fall on its own merits. The ugly reality is no different today than it was last year, the year before that, and all the years preceding it. We still need to agree on, design and build a sewer. The old CSD had many years to do that and didn't get it done. Why must Los Osos continue to pay for their intransigency?

Shark Inlet said...

Ann,

That was one of the points about the article ... if BWS is charging more than their costs for FAXing things, they are not following standard practice for law offices. Kinkos in Los Osos is using the FAXes to make money, presumably a law office wouldn't.

Let's put some things in perspective. How much money does the CSD take in per year? How much do they spend on fire services per year? How much does this leave for legal services per year?

To continue spending on lawyers at anywhere near this rate is not sustainable. Good for the lawyers, perhaps, but not something that we can continue to do unless we raise some money. I doubt that a bake sale will do it in this case. I wonder whether a 218 vote to borrow money to pay for legal services will pass?

Shark Inlet said...

To our good buddy PG,

I doubt that even $200k of the legal bills can be attributed to dealing with TW issues. Even so, if the CSD spends $50k defending Measure B and if Measure B is ruled illegal, we spent that money unwisely. Perhaps had the CSD attorney fairly evaluated the likelihood of Measure B's survival, the CSD could have directed BWS to spend less time on that particular matter. On the other hand, it was a lawyer from BWS who wrote Measure B in the first place.

This key issue here that cannot be forgotten here is the context. The lawyer rates aren't the big deal ... the fact that this board spends so much on lawyers who just keep losing. Presumably it is because the the position the CSD keeps taking is a position which is essentially at odds with the laws that govern our state.

Anonymous said...

PG takes up the mantra! The entire gist of your comments rely on Lisa's 80% statement. How did she calculate this figure? Show us the details.

You are long on grabbing numbers and weaving them into your desired results but fail to provide original sources!

Are the citizens of Los Osos really getting value for their tax dollars in terms of attorney results?

Let's talk about the elephant in the room! rather than the color of the toe nail polish!

Sewertoons said...

if it is true that the present CSD will NOT be comparing Tri-W to whatever Ripley comes up with (Tri-W - which is still not sold, and still carries all the necessary permits) - would this be considered a project openly vetted?

If there is only one project put before us, just what IS the choice?

Shouldn't we be able to see ALL possibilities before something is chosen - that is if we have ANY choice in the selection anyway.

So will this board be any different than the last one? Is this community any different than it was last year or five years ago? Los Osos pays for its own intransigency, not just the old boards'.

Let's see how this present board reacts to the two proposals set forth by LAFCO. Let's see who won't compromise now.

The county got us into this mess by issuing all the permits to build without infrastructure, and no CSD yet has been able to get a sewer built (clearly this one will not before 2010, if ever) - let the county take it back, as clearly Los Osos is not up to the job no matter who is at the helm - and it is too broke to do so now without outside help.

Shark Inlet said...

PG,

Something you wrote troubled me. You wrote "... a sewer that had not been openly vetted" about TriW.

I've followed discussions in the newspaper about this issue since the formation of the CSD. It was pretty clear to me dating back to 2001 or so, the exact nature of the WWTF. Some subtle details have changed (the exact acreage devoted to park space, for example), but by and large, nothing new here. All was fully revealed to the greatest extent possible. Besides Julie and Al and Bud, can you name anyone who was complaining then ... when they had all the facts available and when it was time to make changes? Besides Linde, no one. (Before Ann gets all huffy, I am not being 100% serious here, I am sure there were others, but the point should be well taken ... when we had the opportunity to get involved and make some changes, few of those now complaining about the previous board were actually doing anything to affect the siting and design issues.

Those who were involved (Julie and Al and Bud) were essentially using stalling tactics that have caused (through inflation) the costs to go up horribly.

If you want to talk about open vetting ... do you honestly think the current board will be fully open and honest about all options when the Ripley report comes in or do you think it is likely that they'll attempt to stack the deck or say "the community already decided against TriW, so I guess we need to use whatever Ripley has come up with"? To me the best theory that would explain the actions of the current board is that they truly want to do whatever it takes to stop TriW and and they don't really seem to care too much about what the costs will be. Essentially it is a reactionary approach to the issues that we are facing rather than a carefully though out approach.

*PG-13 said...

Anon > PG takes up the mantra!

Curious that. Not sure what mantra I'm taking up other than plain common sense. And a belief that only lawyers get rich in any legal battle. And that everybody everybody else loses. Including Los Osos, the current CSD, the old CSD, TW and Tinkerbell.

Anon > Are the citizens of Los Osos really getting value for their tax dollars in terms of attorney results?

Clearly, no. But nobody is getting fair value for any dollars spent on legal jousting. To what purpose in this situation? But the CSD must respond to the various legal challenges whether they have merit or not. They are now our elected representatives and must respond for the community per the mandate of their election. Their battles are our battles whether you like it or not since we all share common purse strings. (note, we've already covered the narrow victory/mandate issue, see previous blogs.) For the old CSD to keep launching legal attacks is no longer productive or helpful. If some part of the electorate feel the CSD needs direction providing this through legal protractions is a dumb, crummy, painful and expensive way to offer such feedback.

Shark Inlet > ... the fact that this board spends so much on lawyers who just keep losing. Presumably it is because the the position the CSD keeps taking is a position which is essentially at odds with the laws that govern our state.

I guess I don't see that as clearly as you do. One can slice and dice and spin this so many different ways that isn't surprising. Feel free to present specific examples so I can better understand that perspective.

I'm a simple person. And I tend to look at things pretty simply. I also believe that people really want to do the right thing. And they usually don't want to hurt other people in the process (the TW maximum penalty campaign not-with-standing). We're very seldom going to get everybody in the boat all rowing in the same direction in perfect synchro. But at some point, in community controversy, there comes a time to quit trying to sink the boat. Depending on where you stand on these issues one can say that probably should have happened here, here, there and.... now. The point I'm making is once the lawyers are steering the boat it probably doesn't matter how we row we're all gonna end up on the rocks. And sunk. Our sewer is never going to get built in a court room. And to think that it will is just more wishful dreaming. TW's aspirations to litigate the CSD out of existence hoping the county will build Tri-W with cheaper financing is that kind of wishful dreaming. What happened to the self-destiny they valued so highly up until the recall? Yeah, the CSD financial picture isn't pretty. Downright ugly in fact. And if I knew the county would come in, take over, do a thorough analysis of the options, choose the best one and float cheap financing I'd buy a ticket for that boat. I figure that's a kinda iffy bet. I'm more inclined to think the county would come in (still questionable) and take the path of least resistance (Tri-W) which is not, in my analysis, the best option.

Also, per previous posts, a sewer design and location should not be selected until there are meaningful cost estimates *and* cost comparisons. This is how simple I am: This seems so obvious to me I don't understand why, or even how, such a civic undertaking can be done any other way. In my simplicity I believe that to be the crux of our delimma and the most significant issue (read: failure) to date. I believe a good sewer option is possible. Perhaps not the Cheapest as that option is past. I'm not sure what Fast means anymore. Is that measured from when its begun, when its finished or how quickly it gets paid off? Fastest is no longer available, that's been squandered away. But Faster is still on the table. Is Better a judgement of its operational effectiness or a statement about location? These are the points we've been stuck on for some time. How are lawyers going to resolve these?

I share the concerns of others, most notably Shark Inlet and Sewertoons (above), that the current CSD is as blindly commited to Ripley as the previous CSD was to Tri-W. (sigh) The same old ponies going up & down and round & round. But ya know? I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and wait long enough to see what Ripley comes up with. That way we have at least have 2 options to consider. Two in my mind is better than one very controversial option. And I don't see any great loss in waiting the short time left to get it. And I'm still hoping for still other (dare I say it) better, cheaper and faster options to wash ashore too ;-)

*PG-13 said...

PS - I should have made this clearer ....

> And if I knew the county would come in, take over, do a thorough analysis of the options, choose the best one and float cheap financing I'd buy a ticket for that boat. ... I'm more inclined to think the county would come in (still questionable) and take the path of least resistance (Tri-W) which is not, in my analysis, the best option.

IF after thorough comparative analysis the county decides Tri-W IS the best solution that's good for me. My issue isn't with Tri-W its with the process by which Tri-W was promulgated.

Shark Inlet said...

PG,

Last Fall after the recall we were told that the new board would study all options and choose the best one. The unwritten message of that statement was that the previous board didn't.

First, as I said earlier, the previous board did a pretty thorough job of studying all the options. The fact that they only studied the most reasonable options (for example, they didn't even bother with the catapult our crap onto PG&E property option, my personal favorite) has been a lightening rod for a few critics. One needs to remember that spending a lot of time and money studying options, the costs of what you will ultimately choose go way up.

The new board, after asking WillDan to study all the options and finding that WillDan did jack squat on the project, hired Ripley. About the time the proposals came in, the project goals changed from studying all options to studying STEP and ponding. Who knows how the board charged Ripley with dealing with other key community needs (like aquifer recharge and saltwater intrusion) that TriW dealt with to some extent.

Essentially "study all the options" became "tell us the best way to do STEP/ponding".

Considering the RWQCB has told us in the past that STEP will not allow us to borrow SRF money unless we have a sizable percentage of the septic tanks replaced (how much would that cost? maybe $25M), the choice to pursue STEP because it saves money becomes laughable. It seems like this board is more intrested in studying only STEP because they are afraid that because they've promoted STEP as better, they'll look like fools if Ripley comes back and says STEP isn't the best choice.



My reasoning for thinking that TriW is the best is simple. Those who dislike TriW have not produced a single plan that is clearly better in any environmental way and even if they had done so, the costs associated with delay will eat us alive.

Sewertoons said...

Thank you Shark.

Mike Green said...

The Water Gods meander and ponder their next action!
The Aether Gods have given them a cruel blow!
The doomed await their fortune!
Some mortals start praying to the County Gods, (forgetting, it may seem, that it was the County gods that forsake them in the first place, and want nothing to do with them, at least on record),
Meanwhile, at the "Ol pickle barrel" the sewergeeks chaw and spit.
Whats sad is that the mortals of Los Osos aren't around to hear them.
Great posts everybody!

Anonymous said...

PG writes:

"But the CSD must respond to the various legal challenges whether they have merit or not. They are now our elected representatives and must respond for the community per the mandate of their election."

Is this not simply a rationalization for the action of the CSD and their lawyers?

Why was it necessary to pay off the Measure B lawyers and then hire them? This cost upward of $500,000. TW did not initiate this action!

Why continue running up billable hours "defending" a measure that had no meaningful benefit toward building a sewer even if they succeeded?

And even more important, how could so many man hours of effort by so many CSD attorneys, be vanquised by a lone attorney?

The TW attorney cost something like $15,000 to $20,000 versus
several hundred thousand by the CSD. Something smells with this picture? A cynic might conclude that the lawyers knew they would lose but were directed by this CSD board to "respond for the community"?

PG, there are many good points in your postings but advocating
ignoring the financial costs is not one of them. The CSD directors are either blindly following the biased advice of their attorneys (and thus the great costs accumulating) or are purposefully following the path you preach against, ..."providing this through legal protractions is a dumb, crummy, painful and expensive way"...

When the CSD'S financial bleeding coagulates, there might be a sea change.

It is not wrong to resist against injustices. Al, Keith, Budd, et.al must have felt there were injustices back in the day.

Well, many feel there are great injustices now!

Sewertoons said...

Call me cynical, but my big fear is that they chose Ripley because he will come back pronouncing step to be better.

Check out page 16 which has Ripley's resumé.

http://www.losososcsd.org/pdf/Ripley_Pacific.pdf

A tad thin on experience in anything, but especially no visible understanding on traditional sewer systems like the old project.

I have no faith in him. I was not impressed with his performance at the CSD meeting in responding to a question about people who would be reluctant to hook up to a sewer system. His response was "…force them to with a sledgehammer called AB 885." Mature approach to the community?

Shark Inlet said...

Well sewertoons,

Even if STEP is "preferable" in some sense, we have to consider the costs and benefits of various options.

If STEP is better but will require all homeowners to replace their septic tanks, that adds an additional $5-10k per household ... and the benefits of STEP (besides the cost possibly being a bit lower, are there any large benefits of STEP over gravity?) may not be worth the cost of septic replacement over septic decommissioning.

Then there is the additional time element. If it takes five years before construction starts, that's an additional 30% to 60% added to the current dollar cost estimates...


I don't know that Ripley can reasonably be called thin in experience. Hasn't his firm designed several sewer/WWTF systems in the past, both small (like for Monarch Grove) and large (like for other towns)?

About Ripley's comment ... I wasn't there and didn't see that on the video replay ... was he referring to folks outside the PZ or inside the PZ? If inside, he misunderstands the nature of our situation but if outside, he misunderstands that a septic management program, even if very expensive, will still be far less expensive than sewering areas outside the PZ. Are you sure you've got the quote and the context correct?

Shark Inlet said...

Well, let's look at the numbers that anonymous gives us...

The LOCSD has spent 20 (plus or minus) times on lawyers what Taxpayers Watch has. [Note: subtracting WillDan's invoices and the payoffs from the $1M in the newspaper gives something at least 20 times the $20k anonymous claims TW has spent.] From that we can conclude at least one of the following:

A - About 5% of the legal bills of the LOCSD are TW related

B - The LOCSD lawyers aren't worth what they are getting paid

C - The LOCSD board and GM and laweyers are committed to fighting these cases as a matter of principal but from the number of hours they've spent on these issues it seems that this choice is pretty unwise because they continue to lose even though burning through money hand over fist.

D - The legal issues are just too complex for the judges to understand and they have a built in bias that precludes them from seeing that everyone in the state is just trying to punish Los Osos.

Anonymous said...

While looking at the dissolve web site I noticed something that I think tells a story.
In the "Current Board" section, they claim the new CSD board has spent $1,300,000 on attorneys fees, while the previous board had only spent $675,000 in the previous three years.
Then in the "Facts and Fantasy" section, it claims the new CSD board has spent $1,600,000 in attorneys fees, while the previous board had spent less than $600,000 in six years. Am I reading something into this or shouldn't the figures match from one section to the next.
What the f*** can you believe?

*PG-13 said...

anon > Am I reading something into this or shouldn't the figures match from one section to the next.


Silly blogger, you expect the columns/webpages/claims and lawyer fees to add up? This is Los Osos, aka the Rabbit Hole, tea at April.....

`Take some more tea,' the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

`I've had nothing yet,' Alice replied in an offended tone, `so I can't take more.'

`You mean you can't take less,' said the Hatter: `it's very easy to take more than nothing.'


... and so it goes.

My head hurts.

PublicWorks said...

The point of the fees is this.

About $1 mil has been spent in 7 months, as opposed to $600 k or so in 3-4 years. That's a huge difference considering the time spans.

Furthermore, the challenge to Measure B is peanuts compared to most of the other stuff; cmon, most of the work was already being done before the election, when it was first declared illegal.

But the sad point for this board is that Measure B has been a distraction and money pit, and whether it is legal or not, it accomplished nothing to move a sewer (duh, not big news), and complicated any attempt to negotiated a change to the project. Even if legal, it was 'problematic' in the words of their own staff.

The whole recall crowd should be embarrassed for draping themselves around Al & Biggs' Measure B - it cost them credibility and everyone money. And given that Biggs has made out big-time due to Measure B you would think make the board have 2nd thoughts about who represents them. All the claims about MWH standing to gain from advice have made these board members just as bad (as well as hypocrits) for taking advice from BWS who stood to gain.

And think about this, if the state AG is successful in getting SRF money back from BWS, do you people think that BWS won't try to recoup that back from the CSD?

I think people should look at the conduct and opinions of Seitz and compare that to what has followed. If I'm correct, last June before the SRF loan was given, Seitz specifically inquired to the state as to whether the loan was ok without a 218 vote. He protected the CSD in a straight-forward manner.

Sewertoons said...

Hi Shark Inlet,

The meeting I refer to is the CSD meeting on 4.6.06. The time is around 7:55 - 8:00pm. (I just went to the Slo-Span website to see if I could point you to an audio of that meeting, but their site is newly re-done and after 15 minutes of trying to find the archives, I had to give up! Guess I'll have to write them next....) Anyway, my notes indicate that it would be inside the zone. It was said during a discussion about liability of - what would you call them - sewer service operators - coming on a person's private property (like the electric meter reading person). Lisa was saying that this idea is not brand spanking new, and Bleskey says that there is an incentive to hook up, and then Ripley says AB 885 is a sledge hammer in draft form with a variance provision to force people to hook up. (He mentions that the state website is out of date also as to the latest version of this thing.)

This isn't about septic management, it is about the actual final product WWTF hook-up. I look back on my notes and see "Ripley doesn't answer the question," "Ripley hasn't looked into that" (the liability of going on someone's property), "Ripley doesn't answer the question."

Later on in Public Comment, Peter Brewer contradicts Ripley (rather gently) that most of AB 885 won't impact us - as our streams and Morro Bay are considered impaired. (I don't know anything about AB 885, so don't know how to put that in context.)

I guess it was the overall impression I got of him - with Lisa having to COACH him to say that he had nothing to do with the Monarch Grove problems (which he doesn't) - I just got an impression of a person that is not listening to the questions put to him, thinks that they are irrelevant, or simply does not know the answer.

As to Ripley's resumé, dated March 3, 2006, it is in pdf, no way for me to upload here, and I have no text recognition software to be able to just put the text in here, I will just pull things out and refer anyone who wants to read it to go to page 16:

http://www.losososcsd.org/pdf/Ripley_Pacific.pdf

He has done one golf course in San Diego with a treatment system that produces high quality effluent for water reuse.

And his CURRENT projects are planning and regulatory approvals of a water and sewer system to serve a new community of 18,000 in the San Joaquin Valley which includes septic tank effluent pressure collection, on-site tertiary treatment, seasonal effluent storage and residential dual plumbing. A second project includes a wastewater and water recycling project for a high altitude resort (which includes septic tank effluent collection - gravity and pressure - on site re-use for toilet flushing and landscape irrigation) and a third project includes a proposed non-potable water storage project in eastern Sacramento County.

A resort-sized gravity collection system (not all of the system is gravity, even) is a tad smaller than Los Osos!

So with only current projects - meaning nothing yet built - and only one golf course to his credit as per his own resumé, I think he is a bit of a gamble.

I want a system I can afford. I would prefer a traditional system because I just want to flush and forget it - not have to worry if my little pump is conking out - not have to have sludge pumped - still - out of a septic - a new, expensive, pressurized one. I don't want to be around the gas release valves that step requires, P.U.! I don't want to have to buy a generator in case there is power outage - as I know there WILL be generators on the 11 pumps required in the traditional system - well, the list goes on. If step is cheaper - well OK, I'll make do. But so far no one has proven how step is cheaper - as it applies here - to the Los Osos situation.

Churadogs said...

Publicworks sez"I think people should look at the conduct and opinions of Seitz and compare that to what has followed. If I'm correct, last June before the SRF loan was given, Seitz specifically inquired to the state as to whether the loan was ok without a 218 vote. He protected the CSD in a straight-forward manner."

We don't know what was said in closed session by Jon Seitz to the old, recalled board, regarding their going to court to block Measure B from being put on the ballot. So, we don't know if Seitz argued vehemently that they NOT do that since the high courts have been VERY VERY lenient about allowing cockamamie initiatives to get voted on FIRST, then tossed out since the courts have consistently held that unless an initiative is demonstratively unconstituional (not arguably, but obvious to anyone, i.e. an initiative to bring back slavery) then it must be allowed to get voted on. To block the vote when you have an "arguable" issue is, according to the CSD attorney McClendon, who should know, since he represented a group that won a similar case) to invite HUGE financial retaliation that's set by law based on a certain formula. (Not just some whim of some judge somewhere, but a set formula of money that can be collected by the person (group)who'se rights were violated by denying them the right to have their initiative voted on.) This is why McClendon settled with CASE for what they did and considered themselves lucky CASE accepted the settlement, because if they had persued the matter, and a judge upheld the higher fixed number, the CSD would have been slammed with waaaay more than they settled)

So, the question is: Did Seitz, in closed session, warn the old CSD board NOT to proceed because the liability of losing was high and the case law didn't clearly favor their winning such a vote-blocking case, and they did it anyway and as their attorney he was legally bound to go ahead and file that lawsuit?

PublicWorks said...

As usual, Ann only asks one question.

"..then tossed out since the courts have consistently held that unless an initiative is demonstratively unconstituional (not arguably, but obvious to anyone, i.e. an initiative to bring back slavery) then it must be allowed to get voted on."

Perhaps Ann has trouble with seeing the obvious?

Seitz quoted precedents. So Ann's conclusion is not obvious.

Also, why doesn't Ann ask about the timing of a few things that went on, including certain court decisions. Maybe she should ask some questions about a few others first.

Might be hard though if it's not obvious.

But she would be right about one thing, challenging the opportunity to vote (even if it's regulate one's fingernail length) probably doesn't win many votes.

Churadogs said...

Publicworks sez:"Seitz quoted precedents. So Ann's conclusion is not obvious"

Does anyone know what Seitz said in closed session? I don't. If memory serves, at a CSD meeting explaining the CASE settlemnt, McClendon stated that the State Supreme Court had ruled that summer (shortly before the Sept Measure B vote, on a case McClendon was involved in -- a voter-written iniative vs a Wal-Mart zoing issue, I believe) that the sanctity of the vote was such that the courts would hold a hard line against anyone trying to violate that right by using the courts to block pre-election initiatives. If Seitz cited prescedent, did he include that Supreme Court ruling? That ruling would seem to be a pretty strong warning that challenges to pre-election Measure B would be very, very likely to ultimately loose on appeal and in loosing would open the CSD up to the "formula" of financial liability I mentioned. and that mandated, pre-set formula was waaaaaayyy higher than the amount the CSD settled with CASE for.

So, once again, the question, did the old CSD gamble with the taxpayers money on a case they should have known had a dim chance of winning yet left the taxpayers open to a court-set, high formula "looser's fee?

PublicWorks said...

Ann, once again you are presumptions. When did that Supreme Court ruling occur? Why don't you research some things before you write innuendo?

A sewer is NOT a Wal-mart. No one has ever got a CDO for not putting in a Wal-Mart or CostCo (although you'd think some people/cities feel not having one is the equivalent). A CSD is not a municipality and does not have land-use and zoning powers. You consistantly mix apples and oranges - and plant misconceptions. Seitz did say PUBLICLY that pre-election challenges were discouraged, but not unprecedented - what more do you want from the guy?

And it also begs the question, did McClendon show up at the CSD doorstep by coincidence? What was the chain of referrals to get him selected? Who had a lot to gain by the settlements?

Churadogs said...

Publicworks sez:" Seitz did say PUBLICLY that pre-election challenges were discouraged, but not unprecedented - what more do you want from the guy?"

My question was, did Seitz warn the old board that they were gambling with taxpayers money, that the court "discouraged" pre-election challenges and that the penalty for losing involved a set formula that could really, really cost, and that the State Supreme Court (if memory serves) had recently ruled (again) reinforcing it's "discouragement" path for pre-election challenges, so that the most prudent course of action would be to hold fire, let Measure B go on the ballot, THEN have a private group, Taxpayer Watch for example, go into court to challenge it's validity. Did he warn the board, in closed session and did they disreguard the warning? I don't know because I wasn't in closed session. But I do know that most attorneys are there to reduce exposure to their clients, protect their clients from exposure, so prudence should be the watchword.

Of course, the client is free to disregard any and all prudent advice. And many do. When it's a government group, it's the taxpayers who get to foot the bill for any and all imprudence.

PublicWorks said...

Good point Ann,

And did McClendon provide the legal advice in closed session that compared apples to apples or apples to oranges? Did board members look for other reasons to settle other than the merit of cases?

As Ann & Shark point out, when board members are pre-disposed to outcomes they become susceptible to advice being presented to suit them and the taxpayers often pay.