Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Whose Ethics?

The following is a formal letter of complaint from LOCSD Board Chairperson Lisa Schicker. A few caveats are in order:

First, formal letters of complaint are like lawsuits; Both can be full of allegations that may or may not be true, so Caveat lector.

That said, this complaint does raise some interesting questions:

First, violations of state law and/or contract violations are clear: They either occurred or they didn’t, and as such need to be investigated by the proper authorities – in the case of state law, the DA needs to be involved; contract violations will require a hearing in a civil court, no doubt.

So, that leaves “ethics,” an interesting grey area the raises some questions. For example, as a professional independent contractor/consultant, who does MWH work for and answer to? Themselves? A Board Majority (3 votes)? The General Manager? The citizens whose tax/service-fee dollars are paying their bills? To whom, then does the consultant owe their due diligence, best ethical and professional practices, and fiduciary duty?

Since elected boards are, in almost all cases, “amateurs,” (if they weren’t, they would have no need of professional services by outside consultants), they are always at a disadvantage. How are they to know, for example, if their consultant is truthful, fair, objective, and is rendering the best possible service to the community? Does the consultant have an ethical duty to speak truth to power? Or is the consultant behaving like an unethical used car salesman and adding all kinds of unnecessary bells and whistles onto a project in order to jack their fees? Who, in short, has the knowledge and expertise to watch the consultant? And if a Board shuts down citizen advisory committees, thereby limiting a variety of “public eyes on the page,” . . . . and refuses to listen to and take seriously public input regarding contracts or costs and so forth . . . . ?

And if a consultant violates all manner of professional and ethical behavior and/or legal matters, thereby sticking taxpayers with excessive fees and costs, for example, who has the responsibility to see to it that legal remedies are applied? Individual citizens? The CSD Board? Right now, the CSD is in contractual/arbitration-type “discussions” with MWH, that may or may not resolve these issues and may or may not result in a satisfactory outcome, or may end up in court. But, if the CSD itself is dissolved, will legal remedies be left up to individual citizens? Will the County take over the matter or simply let it drop, thereby leaving the residents to forever wonder if they have been stuck with paying unnecessary? excessive? unethical? illegal? costs?

And, finally, regarding the $10,000 MWH contributed to the anti-recall effort, if MWH’s client was the community (certainly all property owners within the prohibition zone who were going to pay for this project, thereby paying MWH’s salaries), could it ever be considered ethical for such a firm to use what is, in reality, the citizens’ own money to get involved in any way in what was clearly a partisan political dogfight?

As for complaints to professional Associations, it’s been my experience that such Associations that even bother to have Codes of Conduct in the first place, have them as a piece of feel-good, for-public-consumption-only, CYA public relations ploy. When asked to seriously investigate a member, their usual response is, Talk to the hand. Our ethical standards are “voluntary,” and my, isn’t it unfortunate, what a sad world we live in, sigh, perhaps you need to see an attorney, thanks for writing to share your concerns with us, have a nice day.

Which is why God invented lawyers.
The letter:
May 10, 2006

Bruce D'Agostino
Executive Director
Construction Management Association of America
7918 Jones Branch Drive, Ste. 540
McLean, VA 22102

Subject: Formal Complaint Regarding Montgomery watson harza’s Conduct In Managing The LOs Osos Wastewater Project

Dear Mr. D’Agostino:

This letter is submitted as a formal complaint against Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH) regarding their behavior and performance related to the Los Osos Community Services District’s Wastewater Project. We are requesting that the Construction Management Association of America, which MWH is a member, be investigated for their egregious behavior that completely failed their client, the Los Osos Community Services District and the Citizens of Los Osos.

MWH was hired by the District in September 1999 to be the Project Manager for a planned wastewater treatment system in the community of Los Osos, which is serviced by a Community Services District. This initial assignment was a contract for $288,000.

The first project programming step was to develop a Wastewater Facilities Plan, and the District prepared an RFP for this scope. Oswald Engineering was selected for this task in summer 1999 and MWH was the firm that was hired in the fall to manage Oswald’s work. As described below, it is apparent that MWH failed in their oversight of this portion of the work and undermined Oswald’s efforts. It late 1999, less than one year after MWH was hired, MWH succeeded in taking over Oswald’s portion of the work. MWH then completed the Facilities Plan under the terms of Oswald’s original contract, which was amended at least six times for an additional amount paid to MWH exceeding $1.5 million. MWH had replaced Oswald in less than one year. Oswald was working on a ponding project, the scope of which was developed under MWH’s management. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) refused to approve the MWH managed ponding design, due to site size limitations. Instead of reworking the ponding system with Oswald or relocating the plant site, MWH assisted the District in removing and suing Oswald. Recent documentation obtained by the District clearly indicates that MWH colluded with RWQCB staff to work against the Oswald design. Furthermore, MWH inappropriately postured itself to take over the preparation of the Facilities Plan from Oswald. This is a clear ethics violation in that MWH not only failed in its responsibilities to objectively evaluate alternatives, but removed oversight controls that have resulted in significant damages to the District and citizens of Los Osos.

MWH completed the Facilities Plan for an entirely different project. The original MWH contract, which was amended at least six more times, raised the MWH’s fees five-fold. MWH’s efforts in recommending against the community preferred system more than doubled the estimated project construction costs. The amendments and the billings are difficult to track, and in some cases not sequential. Subsequent investigation has revealed that MWH overcharged the District and in numerous instances doubled charged the District.

When MWH completed the Project Facilities Plan (Plan), the District issued an RFP that was prepared by MWH, for the design of the project recommended in the MWH Facilities Plan. The Facilities Plan prepared by MWH was clearly biased against any technology that was different from treatment systems previously designed by MWH for other clients. MWH’s selection criteria were grossly skewed towards a specific treatment process. MWH’s failure to objectively and ethically evaluate all available treatment systems, as well as collection systems, significantly increased the project costs to the citizens. MWH failed to openly inform the District and citizens of other options available that would have been to the community’s preferences and been the environmentally preferred option at a significant savings in capital construction and maintenance and operations.

MWH, serving in their role as the Project Manager, should not have competed for the design phase of the project. MWH clearly had a conflict of interest in developing and assisting with the design proposal phase of the project since they competed for the design contract. MWH wrote the language for the design request for proposal. This gave them a significant advantage during the design competition. MWH’s role as the Project Manager and then performing the design was not only inappropriate but clearly denied the District the object oversight of the design that a Project Manager would have provided. Investigations into the design work project clearly indicate that there was a significant amount of design work that required rework. MWH’s role as the Project Manager allowed MWH to cover up these design errors and omissions. MWH clearly violated its fiduciary responsibility to the District and the citizens of Los Osos to assure that payment was only for acceptable quality work. MWH’s breach of this fiduciary duty as the Project Manager was also flawed because as the Project Manager, MWH was not only responsible for the design reviews but also would review all requests for payment by the design firm to make sure the invoices were correct and reasonable. MWH clearly had a conflict of interest and their objectivity in performing these reviews at a minimum does not meet an acceptable level of performance and certainly did not provide an independent review of the design.

MWH competed with DMJM and Corrolla Engineering for the design assignment in mid 2001, and was awarded the contract in 2002. MWH developed the design, prepared bidding documents into three separate construction packages, and issued these documents to the construction community for bid.

MWH then assisted the District in conducting all phases of the pre-construction activity in the capacity as the District’s technical representative. They assisted with and/or prepared the Invitation for Bid, established the contractor prequalification criteria, facilitated the contractor prequalification process, assisted in the bidding process, reviewed the bids, recommended to the District what bids should be accepted, and assisted in the construction contract awards and the Notice(s) to Proceed.

In 2004, MWH advised the District that it was necessary to pre-qualify contractors bidding on the three contract phases. The project consisted of a conventional MBR plant with micro filtration along with two contracts for the installation of a conventional gravity collection system. Although there may be some justification to pre-qualify the treatment plant contractor, there is no justification to pre-qualify the gravity collection system pipeline contractors. MWH sized the pipeline contracts to such a level that it limited the construction bid capability of prospective bidders to only larger firms. The sizing of the pipeline contracts coupled with the extraordinary pre-qualifications of the pipeline contractors clearly limited the ability of small to medium size contractors to bid the gravity collection system. This act by MWH limited bid competition and exposed the District to increased expense due to the limited competition. A similar argument regarding the pre-qualification of the treatment plant contractors also exposed the District to limited bid competition and was a significant factor in the excessively high bids received.

As a result of the stringent pre-qualification criteria drafted by MWH, there was only one bidder on two of the construction contract packages, and two bidders on the third package. The bids received were substantially above the Engineer’s Estimate that had been prepared by MWH (bids were 24% - 57% over the Engineer’s Estimate).

At the bid opening, a MWH representative remarked to at least two of the District Directors (one of them being me) that the project should be re-bid, due to the lack of competition and because the bids were so high above the Engineer’s Estimate. They also made these statements and prepared a report that also strongly recommended that the project should be rebid due to the high bids. This reported was formally presented to the District Board and the Citizens of Los Osos at a District Wastewater committee meeting and at a District business meeting (tapes available.) Mysteriously, only one week later, after MWH was awarded a $7.685 million (sole sourced) amendment to their design contract for construction management services (total MWH contract value was increased to approximately $14 million), MWH then reversed their opinion about rebiding the construction of the project and recommended that all construction contracts be awarded. This resulted in a total project bid price of approximately $128.2M (MWH =$14M; Whitaker = $24.5M; Barnard = $43.5M; Monterey Mechanical = $46.2M). The Engineer’s Estimate was $78.2M (Whitaker = $19.8M; Barnard = $29.1M; Monterey Mechanical = $29.3M).

The cost of construction was $36M more than the Engineer’s Estimate. MWH’s negotiated fee for the construction management services was 18% of the Engineer’s Estimate. MWH’s motivation for accepting the bids was due to the fact that they would be paid more because their sole source construction management contract was based on a percentage of these higher construction bids. MWH did not compete for this lucrative and excessive Construction Management phase of the work. It is interesting to note that given MWH’s sole source construction management contract and the 740 day duration of the contract this would mean that MWH would be billing at a rate of over $10,000 per day for a team of 5 MWH employees.

This brought the project cost for construction to average of over $50,000 per property owner. Other costs not reflected in the $50,000 amount did not include the decommissioning of individual septic tanks and the installation of residential lateral lines, estimated at $2000-$6000 more per household or the construct of over $30 million in deferred capital facilities. Add to that the cost of financing, real estate purchase, and operating cost, and the monthly cost to the property owner is extremely high for a moderate income community, with 5000 households being required to hook up to the sewer. In addition, because of the land constraints (which MWH ignored), plant expansion to accommodate any additional properties outside the project area, also known as the “Prohibition Zone”, would be impossible. This would likely mean that if there was any growth, or if the remaining residences who were not being sewered (approx. 800 more homes) would choose to hook up at a later date, another treatment plant would be needed at significant additional costs.

The current LOCSD Board contends that MWH colluded with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board staff, staff of the California State Water Resources Control Board and the construction contractors to accelerate the construction contract awards less than a month before a scheduled recall election that would have significant impact on the location of the treatment plant portion of the work. The project funding, in the form of a State Revolving Fund Loan, was good until December 20, 2005; so there was no reason to rush. MWH, despite no contractual provision to do so, issued an illegal “conditional” Notice to Proceed (NTP). The “conditional” NTP was issued prior to the project being funded and contractually required permit being procured. MWH failed to notify the LOCSD that its recommendation to issue a “conditional” NTP which would permit the contractor to incur significant costs, was not provided for in the contract terms, violated contractual prohibition against front loading the contract and violated state and federal laws prohibiting unauthorized commitments.

As one of two of the seated dissenting Board members at the time of issuance of this “conditional” NTP, I personally protested in writing and at public meetings in May-September 2005, alleging such illegality – I was overruled. I also have numerous email correspondences with our past General Manager Bruce Buel and Steve Hyland, MWH engineer, protesting the use of this “Conditional” NTP notice, clearly and unequivocally pointing out that MWH’s actions violated the contract provisions, and State and Federal law.

Both of the minority Board members (one of them being me) were physically barred from one bidder’s conference MWH conducted in February 2005 (tapes available) and two construction kick-off meetings MWH conducted that were held in late July 2005, (photos available). MWH also refused to video tape the construction meetings, although both Directors and members of the public requested this taping.

It is our Board’s opinion that a violation of state law did occur when the District issued this “conditional” Noticed to Proceed (NTP) to the contractors on July 6, 2005. Because this “conditional” NTP allowed the contractors to incur costs, and because the District did not have the funds or the funding authority it needed to cover these incurred costs. It is clear that MWH’s actions wantonly violated State and Federal laws prohibiting unfunded obligations. Furthermore MWH’s actions clearly violated contractual clauses that specifically prohibited the contractors from front loading construction expenditures. It is incredibly ironic that the contract language prohibiting this act was written by MWH.

It is our opinion that a violation of state and federal law did occur when the “conditional” NTP was issued by MWH to the contractors on July 6, 2005. Project funding by the SWRCB Division of Financial Assistance did not obligate the project funding until August 8, 2005, nearly one month after MWH issued the “Conditional Notice to Proceed”. The required Coastal Commission permit and the site grading permit were required prior to the SWRCB funding the project. These permits were approved and the SWRCB funded the project on August 22, 2005.

The mandatory San Luis Obispo County (SLO) grading permit required that the District obtain a site restoration bond prior to the commencement of any and all grading activities. SLO County Public Works required the bond due to the pending recall election and pending voter initiative that could have halted work at the treatment plant site. Because of the County’s bond requirement, the District Board authorized staff to obtain the required grading bond specifically from “Insco Dico”. However, when Insco Dico refused to issue the bond (due to MWH’s failure to disclose the project risks and significant environmental impacts). MWH colluded with Monterey Mechanical, the treatment plant contractor, to arrange an alternate bond that not only covered the restoration of portions of the treatment plant site but also the restoration of the pipeline contractor’s sites. MWH’s action was not allowed under the contract terms and was in direct violation to the District Board’s authorization.

The District did not have the approved Coastal Commission permit (not issued until August 18, 2005) which was the necessary authority to allow the SWRCB to issue the funds (funds were not released until August 22, 2005) from the SRF Loan fund.

In addition to the improper bond and the illegal “conditional NTP”, MWH colluded with two of the three contractors to improperly pay the contractors at least 30 and possible 60 days early. On August 22, 2005, MWH issued an NTP in accordance with the contract documents. On August 28, 2005, the District requested disbursement of the first draw of funds from the SWRCB SRF loan. The first disbursement of SRF loan funds was specifically required to reimburse the District for all pre-design work and establish a construction contingency fund, as required under the terms of the SRF Loan Agreement. MWH was directed by the District Board to immediately draw down the full amount of the first disbursement, $10,968,984 from the SRF loan as authorized in the SRF contract documents. MWH, without cautioning the former District General Manager and in direct violation of the District Board’s direction, only requested an initial disbursement from the SWRCB of $6,486,144, MWH’s collusion with the former General Manager gives the perception that MWH was working with the former General Manager to cause the most financial damage to any newly elected Board, should the recall succeed.

It is worth noting that MWH worked with the contractors to accelerate the construction contractors’ financial commitment to the project in an effort to influence the voter recall election and/or make the outcome of the election a moot point. It was said by District staff, who MWH was advising, that any financial obligations incurred prior to the recall election would make it too costly to “change course”.

On August 24, 2005, two days after the formal NTP, the contractors invoiced the LOCSD for $1.616M. The construction contract has specific requirements that must be met before MWH could recommend approval of the invoices. In an egregious violation of the payment provisions, MWH did not require the contractors to submit the required construction schedules, certified payrolls, a work payment schedule and other mandatory required documents and certifications. Instead of using the contractually provided seven day progress payment review period provided for MWH to review the submitted payment requests, MWH immediately approved the invoice the same day and without any of the required support documentation or payment justification. In light of the recent disclosure of MWH’s $10,000 contribution to the anti-recall effort and the fact that MWH would have financially benefited if termination of the project had not occurred, it is apparent that MWH seriously and egregiously breached its fiduciary responsibility to protect the citizens of Los Osos from any and all actions that could potentially or reasonably be expected to do so.

It is worth noting that MWH and one of the three contractors (Barnard Construction) also donated $10,000 each to the campaign committee called “Save the Dream” to fight against the recall election, in a further effort to influence the outcome of the vote – both would have benefited financially if the recall had not been successful.

The contractors invoiced the District for $1.616M on August 24, 2005, two days after the August 22 formal NTP was issued; and MWH immediately approved the invoices the same day, without MWH performing their contractually required review of the invoices. MWH, working in cooperation with the former General Manager, then rushed the payment through. MWH blatantly ignored the contract requirements that all invoices are due and payable no earlier than 30 days after invoice approval. The contract documents and daily logs clearly show that the first payment clearly should have been due for payment on October 27, 2005. All of these expedited actions were done prior to the recall election held on 9/27/2005 and were intended to make termination of the project extremely costly and difficult. MWH would have benefited financially if termination of the project had not occurred. MWH’s rush to get those payments through solely benefited the contractors, was grievous to the District’s financial security, violated numerous contractual protections and was solely designed to influence the outcome of the pending recall election.

MWH was the only District consultant with the necessary technical expertise to assess the merits of the various technical issues that arose on the project. The District relied on MWH’s professional advice and representations that they were the subject matter expert on all aspects of the project. The District morally and contractually expected MWH to act in District’s best interest. As such, it is obvious that MWH has egregiously failed in their fiduciary obligation to represent the best interest of the District and the Citizens of Los Osos.

It is the District’s contention that MWH had a clear conflict of interest when they made recommendations or took actions which they knew or should have even minimally known were in clear violation of contract provisions, their fiduciary responsibility and State and Federal statutes. Most of all, MWH’s actions were patently not in the best interest of their “client”. MWH’s actions and repeated disregard for their client’s best interest were knowingly and willingly designed to expedite the award of the controversial construction contracts in advance of the recall election. It was in MWH’s financial interest to see the project go forward, but it clearly was to the absolute detriment of the District and the Citizens of Los Osos.

We strongly request that you investigate MWH’s actions in the matter. Our staff has voluminous additional proof of MWH’s shameful actions and ethics violations (correspondence, emails, board meeting tapes and minutes). I am available for additional questions at any time.


Lisa Schicker, President
Board of Directors
Los Osos Community Services District


Spectator said...

Blather? Maybe yes, and maybe no.

We shall see.

Mike Green said...


Might explain a little about the amount of bids recieved on the TriW project.
What was that number?


Spectator said...

Hey Mike! I am sure you know about the letters and faxes sent to the bidding contractors threatening legal suits and other things by those opposed to the WWF at Tri-W. Ask Bud Sanford. Did they do the right thing? I guess they got scared away. Hard to deal with people who would destroy machinery, etc.

As a contractor, why get involved? Otherwise inflate bids to cover consequences.

I think it was three brave contractors who bid. You noticed that they had security on the property at all time.

In the meantime, I have never seen a more stupid letter in my life. This woman is deranged. What is the benefit? Talk about burning bridges before you cross them! What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lisa, I admire your intelligence and strength.
Also, It should be remembered that Bruce Buel, the General Manager at this time, signed contracts with MWH for the project before Buel was officially hired by our district. That legally indicates that the contracts were illegal. And that collusion between Buel and MWH was taking place before Buel was even sworn in. Thank You Lisa for your hard work for us and thank you Ann

Churadogs said...

Interesting. As I noted, the allegations involving legal violations or contract violations, are clear and can be proven or disproven by the proper authorities. But, what interested me are the wider "ethical"issues involved, and apparently various "commentors" aren't interested in chatting about that. Hmmmm. Probably too much like discussing how many angels can fit on the head of a pin -- too speculative.

Anonymous said...

This woman Lisa Schicker is once again calling for JUSTICE. She is seeking some good old honest justice- for our community.. The Corruption is rampant. From the top down. I am very thankful for this honest knowledgeble board that is working for us -not againstus. like the previous board and staff, the water board Oh yes and all those mean greedy citizens that care nothing for thier neighbors (read sewerwatch Ron got the scoop on them)

Anonymous said...

Goooooollly! Soap opera meets reality TV programing. Just doesn't get any better, eh?

Yeah, there are any number of levels and perspectives to view this letter from. The highly questionable, no not even questionable, lapse of even the most basic of ethics. The numerous legal/contractural irregularities. Process and calendar aberrations that defy logic and time. And some back-room under-the-table business relationships that can be labelled extremely murky at best. Lots of crap here and we don't even have a sewer to deal with it. (sigh)

MWH certainly has lots of 'splain'n to do but does anybody expect them ever to do so? There are so many skeletons in the closet here that just about everybody will try to quash discovery into any of this. Sending a letter to the Contruction Management Association of America in McLean, VA has to be the heighth of futilty. Its a good letter though. Just totally & absolutely ineffective.

As irregular, unethical and illegal as any of this might be none of it could have happened without gross malfeasance by the CSD.

My dictionary defines Malfeasance as: "The performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustified, harmful, or contrary to law.

Sounds pretty close to what Lisa is describing.

Yes, MWH shouldn't have done much, if not all, of the stuff documented in this letter. But there simply had to be huge collusion between MWH and the CSD.

"Since elected boards are, in almost all cases, “amateurs,” (if they weren’t, they would have no need of professional services by outside consultants), they are always at a disadvantage. How are they to know, for example, if their consultant is truthful, fair, objective, and is rendering the best possible service to the community? .... Who, in short, has the knowledge and expertise to watch the consultant?"

Sorry Ann, MWH got away with this because the CSD wanted them to get away with it. Nobody, not even the most rank amateurs nor our esteemed CSD could be this blind. The fox can't bear full blame for robbing the hen house when the farmer leaves the gate open and invites the fox in. Lisa documents multiple instances of such collusion in her letter. So its gonna be difficult to assign fault to MWH.

Irregular? Yes.
Unethical? Yes.
Illegal? Yes.
At fault? Maybe.
Liable? No way.

About all this letter accomplishes is to pretty clearly describe some of the shennanigans of this process. Please note I did not ascribe collusion to the 'Old' CSD. For better AND for worse, the CSD - regardless who is sitting on the board - represents Los Osos. So the 'old' CSD colluded to force their agenda. They did so representing our interests. For the New CSD to now try to fault and hold MWH responsible for the indiscretions of the old board is totally futile. Yes, MWH could (and should) be taken to court and held accountable for their part in the charade. But that will take years, cost more than we have and doesn't help our current situation. Sadly, we're in a totally untenable situation. The best we can get from this line of discussion is to try to quickly null & void all prior contracts and start all over again from scratch. That's the best we can hope for but it is highly unlikely. And will be very expensive. So I'm not sure what it gains us.

It was a well written letter though. Lisa has good penmenship.

Anonymous said...

Lisa is obviously spending much time and energy on this, along with supporting our CDO recepients and running the CSD. She goes to the Board of Sups and all the other pertinent agency gatherings on behalf of US - the community of Los Osos. I have never seen a CSD that works so hard. Thank you Lisa for using your education and intelligence to stand up for us! I'm glad I voted for you.

Anonymous said...

Here's an oddly weird but still interesting counter-point. This letter prompted me to click over to the web site to see how the other side of the page reads. As you can imagine a completely different tale is being told over there. Same story but waaaaaaaaaay different. This is clearly one of those things where everything looks completely different depending upon where you stand. Put another way, do you spin right or do you spin left? Wobbling not allowed. Over there the old CSD is the greatest thing that ever happened to Los Osos and we wouldn't have a care in the world if it hadn't been for that pesky ill-fated recall election and the insane machinations of the new CSD. Nearly every point Lisa raises has a reasonable counter perspective. Not taking either side for a moment it is truly hard to believe how two groups so committed to doing the right thing for their community can be soooooo antigonistically opposed. The Red State/Blue State chasm has nothing over the Los Osos sewer divide. And the Civil War was resolved more quickly.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World!

PublicWorks said...

"Wobbling not allowed."

In other words, you're are either with us or you're not, and if you're not with us, you're against us.

Is it any wonder people shun participating.

Mike Green said...

Dose anyone but me find it very ironic that the picture on the dissolvers website shows TriW full of water?
The pond of Avalon to be sure.

Dogpatch Refugee said...

Pandora Lake. Lago de La Pandora.
Dreamer's Pond. Gordon's Water garden.

Sewertoons said...

Or spun the other way, the mess left by stopping the project.

Churadogs said...

I notice the Dissolve the CSD link didn't print Schicker's MWH letter in full, so readers could read it for themselves. Also, if you want to know how whovever writes this blogsite operates, pay particular attention to the "fact" listed first in the "Facts" and "Myth"s page: The "fact" that the Pirana system won't replace a sewer. Yep, that's a fact alright, except the Dissolvers FORGOT TO MENTION THAT IT WAS NEVER INTENDED TO REPLACE THE SEWER. It was put in place as remediation only until a sewer project can be built.

This kind of bait and switch is similar to what you see all the time in advertising -- a "fact" that masquerading as something else in order to deceive the buyer. For example, consider a bright new tag on a box of cereal. "nEW Wheaties. Now CONTAINS NO COAL!" That's a fact. Wheaties now contains no coal. What's missing from this "fact" is the fact that it NEVER DID contain coal.

When you read the Dissolver's info, truly, caveat lector. This is not even "spin," it's Madison Ave selling you soap.

Anon said" Sorry Ann, MWH got away with this because the CSD wanted them to get away with it. Nobody, not even the most rank amateurs nor our esteemed CSD could be this blind"

Too true. I saw the exact same thing happening with the Hideous San Luis School Board Majority, former Superintendent Ed Denton, Vanir Construction Co and $100 million in Measure A bond money. Oddly, the only two women board members were the only two board members who were blowing the whistle but they were constantly voted down 3 - 2. Foxes, chicken coops, a watchdog barking like crazy while the townsfolks slept. Typical M.O.

Anonymous said...

Blog writes:

"Too true. I saw the exact same thing happening with the Hideous San Luis School Board Majority, former Superintendent Ed Denton, Vanir Construction Co and $100 million in Measure A bond money. Oddly, the only two women board members were the only two board members who were blowing the whistle but they were constantly voted down 3 - 2. Foxes, chicken coops, a watchdog barking like crazy while the townsfolks slept. Typical M.O."

I have never understood the motivation for your clear unbiased explanations of issues. The above quoted last paragraph makes it clear. Thanks for solving this mystery!

Shark Inlet said...


Good of you to point out how the dissolvethecsd website seems to overlook some of the the available information. It is good to always remember that one's choice of what to print (or link) and what to not print (or link) is itself a form of bias. Along those lines, I note with interest that you have sometimes simply passed on LOCSD press releases here without edit. I am glad that you do this because sometimes the newspaper only reports part of what the CSD puts in their preess releases. On the other hand, you've never done something similar with the Taxpayers Watch press releases. For example, earlier this week, they put out a press release mentioning the CSD was fined by a judge for refusing to make available public information.

I am not asking you to be the "paper of record" for the LOCSD, but to some extent you could do better by at least providing links to what TW says. (And of course, comments would be in order.)

Along those lines, I was unable to attend last night's meeting but I've heard that something about LAFCO came up. What was that?

Anonymous said...

>> The Pond of Avalon
> Pandora Lake.
> Lago de La Pandora.
> Dreamer's Pond.
> Gordon's Water garden.

Walden Ditch.
Vista de Sewer.
20,000 Leagues into a Hole.
Fear & Loathing in Los Osos.
Lake Acid.
What Dreams May Come.

Oh, this is fun. Let's everyone play ;-)

Ron said...

Save the Dream Nature Preserve

Laguna de Oro

The Los Osos Regional Estuary

Valle del Dinero

O.K. Follow me on this: That is water in that hole. And since it's not being used for anything, we'll consider it wasted water, therefore it's wastewater. Now, if someone were to sneak in there and walk around that ditch, you would have a walking path around your wastewater -- and whamo -- you now have a wastewater facility that doubles as a "recreational asset."

Good news, Los Osos, you were able to accomplish at least one thing. This (straight from the Project Report):

"It is essential that any proposed wastewater project within the community of Los Osos reflect these strongly held community values."

One of those "strongly held community values:"

"Creating a wastewater treatment facility that is a visual and recreational asset to the community..."

Mission accomplished!

Dogpatch Refugee said...

"When you read the Dissolver's info, truly, caveat lector. This is not even "spin," it's Madison Ave selling you soap."
There you go again, Ann...
Speaking the Truth.

Sewertoons said...

Shark, I am sorry to see that Ann is not responding to your question about LAFCO being mentioned at last night's meeting. She was first with public comments, she was there.

I suspect that she is busy right now penning scathing comments on how unfair LAFCO is. I went to the CSD office today to pick up a copy of the letter. If I had a scanner, I would scan it and post it.

I will say that the letter was addressed to Bleskey, and Gail Wilcox at the county. It was signed by Paul Hood.

I hate to quote out of the letter as the quote will be out of its "context," and Ann is so big on advocating context for other writers.

Knowing that I might be slammed, I will go ahead and lift three quotes.

From the first paragraph: (This is regarding LAFCO evaluating the options regarding the Dissolution proposal.)

"...two options have been identified that would call for the cooperation of the County and the District."

"Option A: Divestiture of the Sewer Power from the District.

"Option B: County and District enter into a Joint Powers Agreement.
This option would give the LOCSD and the County the opportunity to develop an agreement that would create a "Board" or "Authority" to construct and operate the sewer.

This alone says a lot, and the letter goes on for two pages.

Lisa's respose was that the District would be happy to partner with the county, but it won't give up the project.

And that, in my opinion, if they stick to that stance, will be the death of the CSD.

Anonymous said...

> .... you now have a wastewater facility that doubles as a "recreational asset."

Dang, you're right. Looks a lot like a moto-cross course. And a paint-ball course. And a clam dig. Mud wresting anyone? Something for everyone. A great park!

Love the architectural rendering of the public restroom facilities too. Is this a great design or what? A sewer that actually looks like a sewer. Very cool!


Mike Green said...

Ya. but where is the theater and wine bar?
I'm going to be realy miffed if those elements were dropped from the project!

Would of made a ton of money too!

Spectator said...

Can we possibly determine how many blood sucking bugs are breeding in the Tri-W pond?

Mike Green said...

Not many bloodsuckers there now, some eviro nuts just dropped off a batch of red legged frogs and a parcel of dune snails to keep them company.
Buts thats not the real question, it should be:
How many bloodsucking bugs bread the pond of Avalon?

Dogpatch Refugee said...

Damn if it wasn't the prettiest little grove. Sometimes, around sunset, hawks circling; Classic Coastal California.
Notice how some of the wildflowers are coming back.
Answer for blood sucking bugs breeding in Lago de La Pandora: Gambusina.
Answer for the Blood sucking bugs that bred the pond of Avalon:

Churadogs said...

To all those critical of what I do or do not put in my blog. Like the Cheetos commercial, I can only say, Git Yer Own Blog. Taxpayer's watch doesn't need my blog to post stuff, they have one of their own. And documents are usually available at the source, i.e. CSD, county, the Tribune's online cache,etc.and some Sewergeeks who long on have been very helpful in posting links & etc. As has been pointed out before, it's my blog and I can post what I want to, then natter on about it and you guys can then log on and comment. If you want a different type of blog or different content, Get Yer Own Blog. Everyone can have one! Better yet, attend meetings so you can see and hear for yourself what's said so you won't have to complain about my "spin" or choices or comments. You'll be able to form one of your own.

Shark Inlet said...

So you are saying that you feel pretty comfortable presenting the LOCSD board's side everytime they ask but you won't bother presenting TW's?

Sounds fine to me, after all, as you say, it is your own blog. I just figured you didn't want to be viewed as presenting one side only.

Dogpatch Refugee said...

Inlet, you post THOUSANDS of words of most inflamatory dissinformative propaganda on this blog each and every month. Like a remora you have been taking a free ride at the good grace and patience of Ann and her firm commitment to free speech and open debate. You frump around here like you own this blog.
This is obnoxious and transparent.
Go cry to Joyce about it.

Anonymous said...

Too bad dogpatch that others don't always agree with you and Ann. GET OVER IT!

Ann could always require IDs and then you could have a closed system available to the CHOSEN!

It could be like Ron's blog then!

Dogpatch Refugee said...

Hey anon WTF are you talking about?? Debate is fine and I encourage it. Concerted and concentrated daily efforts designed to dilute and demean Ann & Ron's efforts have nothing to do with real discourse. Get over it? Get over yourself! I least I'm not trashing each and every entry, systematically, that AGREES with Ann for months on end, multiple times a day. Your bullying tactics are nothing new to Los Osos.

Anonymous said...

Dogpatch says:"

"Your bullying tactics are nothing new to
Los Osos."

I never ever spoke at a CSD meeting. You are refering to the normal demeanor of a CSD meeting, right?

And which side of the issue were the bullies on?

Case closed!

Anonymous said...

"And which side of the issue were the bullies on?"
Chairman Stan's and his cronie's for a start.
hope he likes Iowa...

Shark Inlet said...


You wrote to me "you post THOUSANDS of words of most inflamatory dissinformative propaganda on this blog each and every month."


Inflamatory? Dissinformative? Propaganda?

Admittedly this is Ann's blog, but part of blogs is the ability to comment. Ann has always encouraged comments.

If you would be so kind to point out what was inflamatory or propaganda and explain why it was dissinformative, it would be appropriate. You see, if I wrote anything that was incorrect, I can correct myself. Unless you are willing to point out my errors, I might never know what they are.

Gimmie some help, here!

Churadogs said...

Inlet said:"Admittedly this is Ann's blog, but part of blogs is the ability to comment. Ann has always encouraged comments."

Actually, blogs can be anything the blogger wishes them to be. They can be strict document dumps, i.e. the Smoking Gun, or opinions only, or a mix; they can allow comments or not, can link with other blogs, or not. It's up to the blogger.

Inlet has complained that I post every press release the CSD sends me. Wrong. I don't. I only post things I find of interest. Inlet also complained that I wouldn't post press releases Taxpayer's Watch send me. Wrong again. They've never sent me any press releases, probably because they have their own blogsite wherein they can post their own stuff. Plus, I have real credibility issues with TPW, which I've mentioned here -- the old "facts" that aren't facts, i.e. Wheaties now contains NO COAL!. I figure they have their own ad campaign site going on wherein they can claim all they want to regarding the "truth" about Wheaties & "coal."

Oh, and correction. The commercial wasn't for Cheetos, it was Cheezit crackers -- the Git Yer Own Box ad.

Shark Inlet said...

I stand corrected.

Thanks Ann for clarifying your relationship with the LOCSD and TW. I, too, find TW a bit over the top.

I would rather them present the facts and only the facts in one area (perhaps a collection of documents from public archives) and their opinion bits in another.

Oh, one other thing ... thanks much for getting Hood's letter online. I think that you do our community a great service by keeping us all aware of some of the more subtle details of what is going on. I don't always agree with you, but it is pretty clear that you care deeply and that I respect and appreciate.

Anonymous said...

Posting late so this is the last word - maybe ;-)

Blogs is blogs. As Ann says blogs can be anything the blog owner wants it to. Blogs are not inherently balanced, fair or - this being the internet - civil. Ann has set up her blog to encourage open discussion. As un-moderated blogs go this one is exceptionally erudite and civil. Buttons are pushed occassionaly. Cool, that comes with the territory. An occassional a**h**e flammer drops in, lays their poop and, thankfully, receives little amplifying feedback. Which is why most of us come back regularly.

Me? I appreciate the give & take. I appreciate Ann's perspectives. OK, yeah, I generally tend to agree with them. And I appreciate other's contra perspectives. I usually find some value in them too ;-) The give & take and contradicting arguments are what makes this blog interesting and worthwhile for me. Thank you all.

Facts and truths are seldom either. As noted previously, even numbers have spin. I find greater value in the discussions in this blog than the published 'facts' on the Dissolver's website. Of course, that's just me. I see the world more gray than black & white. I try to find balance in indeterminancy. That's my dance. Everybody has their own dance. To suggest that a blog is wrong because it doesn't play music you like is both lazy and weak.

Churadogs said...

A-Nonny-Mouse sez;"The give & take and contradicting arguments are what makes this blog interesting and worthwhile for me. Thank you all."

I agree and thank all of the Sewergeeks who log on. This site is very much like the old crackerbarrel in the old general store where we can all sit a spell, chaw and chew and natter on. Agree or disagree, the discussions are never boring, so, yes, thanks to you all.

Churadogs said...

A-Nonny-Mouse sez;"The give & take and contradicting arguments are what makes this blog interesting and worthwhile for me. Thank you all."

I agree and thank all of the Sewergeeks who log on. This site is very much like the old crackerbarrel in the old general store where we can all sit a spell, chaw and chew and natter on. Agree or disagree, the discussions are never boring, so, yes, thanks to you all.

Churadogs said...

Oops, sorry. My computer was acting up and clearly I SEE EVERYTHING TWICE!

Ron said...

An anon said:

"Ann could always require IDs and then you could have a closed system available to the CHOSEN!
It could be like Ron's blog then!"

Hey, that's not correct. Anyone can comment on my blog, too. All I did was shut down the comments section a couple of times when I noticed some "behavior based marketing" going on.

Why give people that I can show deliberately mislead, an opprtunity to deliberately mislead?

Shark Inlet said...

With all due respect, Ron, you've never defined the term "behavior based marketing" and it isn't exactly a standard term (well, at least outside the walls of marketing firms).

Based on the brief summary I read on the web and what you say here (and elsewhere) I have to assume you mean to say that you shut down your comment section you did it because people making comments were deliberately trying to mislead.

This I will disagree with.

If I recall, I was the last one who posted a comment before you shut things down one time and I most certainly was not trying to mislead anyone. In fact, I had just provided links to CCC documents that showed your take on things was a bit skewed if not downright wrong.

Even if it wasn't because of me but was someone else, and even if you believe the comments were misleading, you have know way of knowing the intent of the person writing the comments. To suggest you know their intent was to mislead is simply out of line ... you don't!

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