Pages

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Press Release from the LOCSD

(for immediate release)
WATER BOARD CANCELS HEARING FOR LOS OSOS Citizen CDO’s
(Cease and Desist Orders)
NEW LEGAL COUNSEL for Prosecution Team TO BE OBTAINED


The latest twist in the long-fought battle between the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the 4500+ septic tank owners of Los Osos occurred late Friday afternoon when the Water Board announced that proceedings to issue Cease and Desist Orders to the first wave of 45 septic tank owners in Los Osos will be halted mid-stream, to allow the Water Board’s Prosecution Team to obtain new legal counsel. Such announcement comes on the heels of a vehement argument raised by the Los Osos Community Services District’s lawyers at the start of the hearings that the proceedings were tainted because two of the Water Board’s key advisors, attorney Lori Okun and Executive Officer Roger Briggs, were also key members of the Prosecution Team. The District’s lawyers moved to dismiss the proceedings, alleging that such practice was unconstitutional and resulted in a biased and unfair hearing. The District’s motion was denied at the Friday hearing, which continued from 10 am -10 pm and was to be continued on May 11-12.
But in a letter dated May 4, the Prosecution Team requested that the Water Board put a halt to proceedings to allow the Prosecution Team to obtain new legal counsel. On Friday, the Water Board granted that request and set a meeting for May 11 at 10 am at Water Board headquarters in San Luis Obispo to discuss what to do next.
When asked about the ruling, District lead counsel Stephen Onstot stated “it’s a good start, but doesn’t go far enough. The Prosecution Team already presented its case, so the damage has already been done. You can’t un-ring the bell. Mr. Briggs advises the Board as well and he, too, should be disqualified from being a prosecutor. The law is also clear that the Water Board members who heard Ms. Okun’s and Mr. Briggs’ prosecution case must now recuse themselves from participating in deliberations on whether to issue the Cease and Desist Orders.” If that is the case, the Water Board would be put in a difficult position, for it would not have enough eligible members to constitute the quorum necessary to proceed against the septic tank owners. END

Well, there’s a few new wrinkles. Replace the whole Board for this trial? Import new Board members? Move the trial to Kettleman City? Have 4,500 homeowners trek down Highway 46 aka “Blood Alley” for 12-hour hearings? Yikes.
Plus, I hate to keep sticking it to the Tribune but this one’s a true puzzle. The ruling pertains to the creation of a new state Office of Enforcement and there’s not a word about it in the Tribune. Clearly, the structure of the RWQCB is such that it inadvertently created this problem of bias with no independent checks or balances, a system that has been in force yet out of balance for years. And this is a statewide problem that could have wide-ranging consequences (are old cases going to be appealed? retried? thrown out? What??), yet there’s nary a peep out of the Tribune about any of this. The little blurb they did run made it sound like this was simply a minor, local matter arising only out of the recent CDOs, a matter that could be quickly settled so the whole mad CDO scheme could move rapidly forward. From this press release, there may be even more trouble ahead, even if The Grand Inquisitor General does ride into town. For example, there’s the little matter of GIGO. Unless the Grand Inquisitor General is also an expert soil scientist and expert in all things septic, he won’t know that the information the local staff is giving him may be fatally flawed, so the whole cockamamie thing could collapse in a heap when it winds its way through the “administrative” type hearings and lands in a “real” court of law. Then there’s the matter of . . . Roger Briggs. What ever shall we do about Roger?
Once again, what can I say except, It’s Sewerville. Stay tuned.

16 comments:

Shark Inlet said...

Maybe I missed something, Ann.

How is this "news" worthy of a Press Release. Didn't all this info already appear in the Trib?

Churadogs said...

Inlet said:" How is this "news" worthy of a Press Release. Didn't all this info already appear in the Trib?"

I must be the one missing something. The only blurb I saw was a teensy one about the hearings being postponed. This (and the previous blog entry, the letter from Lori Okun, etc.) should have been a front page story.

And, so far as I know, the new wrinkle of possibly having Board members recuse themselves, which, if that has to be done, would mean the whole CDO clock would have to start again?? Sigh. What also was totally missing from the Trib's coverage was the state-wideness, so to speak, of this new Office of the Grand Inquisitor. Very interesting.Indicates to me that this whole RWQCB system has been out of wack for years.

Anonymous said...

What to do with Roger Briggs? Well, if this were the good old days, Briggs would be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

Mike Green said...

Quite an interesting scenario goes through my mind, Briggs calling everyone he knows looking for the new prosecuters of the doomed.
"Uh, he just stepped out"
"Uh she'll get right back to you, her schedule is pretty busy for the next ten years."
"A mr. Briggs? hmm not on the schedule, we'll get back soon.

Who in their right mind would want a job like that?

Maybe ol Sharkey would like to put in an application?

Anonymous said...

Inlet said: "How is this "news" worthy of a Press Release. Didn't all this info already appear in the Trib?"

If this indicates the current state of your reading comprehension ability, I dare say you would not receive a high school diploma today. I think I'd rather just assume that you wrote your remarks while experiencing a Tri-W phantasmagoria complete with wisps of redolent effluent.

Mike Green said...

You know, I've always thought that We, in Los Osos, were the pirates.
Scofflaws.


Maybe I was wrong?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Inlet missed something?
Anything at all new there?
Maybe one year in town sewertoons can help it out.
Maybe Joe sparkless or the nash karners can chime in.
Like they don't already do all the time. Trolls.
Maybe Briggs could fall iin a hole.

Shark Inlet said...

To Ann and our good friend anonymous,

After a re-read of the press release, the Trib blurb and the RWQCB statement (on their website) it is pretty clear that the press release contains nothing new other than Onstot's quote. Are the two of you saying that Onstot's opinion the the entire board would have to recuse themselves is fact?

Again, maybe I just read far too quickly, but there was nothing new in the LOCSD press release other than spin.

Anonymous said...

I guess the LOCSD press release issued thru Calhoun’s blog along with her “clarifications” makes it conclusive that CDO’s are out, the water board system will be dismantled, and the LOCSD has WON.

Now to the real issues, where do we get the money to design, build and operate a new sewer (of course out of town)? And how do we pay for all the existing and ever increasing number of suits?

This seems like a rather hollow victory!

It appears to me that one press release by the CSD means nothing toward solving our community problem!

Mike Green said...

A hollow victory!
Cheaper, Better Faster- A hollow victory!
True, so true.

Churadogs said...

Inlet said:"
After a re-read of the press release, the Trib blurb and the RWQCB statement (on their website) it is pretty clear that the press release contains nothing new other than Onstot's quote. Are the two of you saying that Onstot's opinion the the entire board would have to recuse themselves is fact?"

You need to go back and re-read what I actually wrote.

Inlet said:"Again, maybe I just read far too quickly, but there was nothing new in the LOCSD press release other than spin"

Yep, you need to go back and re-read the press release as well. Onstot's opinion that the board itself is now "tainted" and should recuse itself raises some really interesting problems, especially if you understand that this is a state-wide concern, not just a minor problem afflicting Los Osos. In "real life law" if a judge is determined to have crossed a "bias" line, he must recuse himself and the whole trial rescheduled with a new judge. Any "jury" involved with the old "tained" judge must be excused, a mistrial declared & etc. IF Onstot's "opinion" is right, the implications statewide are indeed BIG "news."

Churadogs said...

Some Anon said:"What to do with Roger Briggs? Well, if this were the good old days, Briggs would be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail."

Since Mike Green has declared Pirate Day, maybe he should walk the plank? Arrrrrrgggghhhhh

Shark Inlet said...

I read what you wrote. I read the press release. I read the RWCQB statements. I read the blurb in the Trib.

What the LOCSD has offered us is the opinion of their own lawyer and you've added your own opinion to that.

In this case, I would suggest that you go back and read Lori Okun's letter asking that she be replaced. She makes it clear that there is no violation of any procedural rules and the CSD doesn't have a solid argument when asking for her removal ... but she's willing to be replaced anyways because she doesn't want an appeal to add additional delays.

Essentially the LOCSD press release is saying that the entire waterboard system is flawed. Essentially this is a legal maneuver and PR. Even though just a maneuver, it is probably the only maneuver that has any hope of winning. Because the CDOs are based on the discharge prohibition, the prohibition itself is what the CSD wants overturned. Arguing that the entire set of rules that govern waterboards is flawed is the only way that this goal can be accomplished. First off, it seems rather unlikely, even if we give Biggs and Onstot multiple millions in legal fees, that the prohibition will be overturned.

Even so, let's take each possible outcome in turn.

Onstot is wrong. In this case we are back to CDOs and some delay, but once the issue with the AirGods is resolved, we are back to pumping charges.

Onstot is right. Even then, unless the prohibition (and ACL resultsis overturned, etc.), we've only gained a bit of time without pumping charges. We're still on the hook for defaulting on the loan, paying contractors and sure as heck we're not getting another SRF to cover our now higher by the hand of inflation bills.

If the prohibition is overturned (and that seems less than a 1 in a million shot), a new one will be imposed immediately. It might include more homes, but it will still require us to stop our discharges. Furthermore, the new board with the new prohibition will certainly be able to require us to build ASAP and they will be able to fine us if we don't. Inflation still causes our costs to go up.

So, lemmie ask you again ... how much per month are you willing to pay extra to get an "out of town" plant? How much more are you willing to force others in the PZ to pay per month to "move the sewer"? Right now it looks like it's going to cost an extra $100 to $200 or more over TriW. Is it worth that much?

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"What the LOCSD has offered us is the opinion of their own lawyer and you've added your own opinion to that.

In this case, I would suggest that you go back and read Lori Okun's letter asking that she be replaced. She makes it clear that there is no violation of any procedural rules and the CSD doesn't have a solid argument when asking for her removal ... but she's willing to be replaced anyways because she doesn't want an appeal to add additional delays.


Lori Okun makes it clear that there is no violtion of any procedural rules and etc. THAT's LORI OKUN'S OPINION. Same as Onstott's OPINION.

Churadogs said...

Inlet further sez:"Essentially the LOCSD press release is saying that the entire waterboard system is flawed. Essentially this is a legal maneuver and PR. Even though just a maneuver, it is probably the only maneuver that has any hope of winning"

Actually, the Morongo court ruling (now under appeal) essentially says the entire waterboard system is flawed. So does a previous case, Quintero. It remains to be seen what the appeal courts say.

PublicWorks said...

Ann,

Do you have any idea what the Quintero case was about? Did it have anything to do with water?

I suggest you go read about the Quintero case.

There are specifics involved in each of those cases. Many may not be relevant to what is happening here.

Ann, has the Supreme Court has ruled on boards that adjudicate - what are those rulings?