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Friday, August 18, 2006

Two Questions

Two Questions are being asked by Ron Crawford over at his blogsite: www.sewerwatch.blogspot.com

To get to them, scroll down past his Autum Pledge Drive, or send him a pledge. He's working hard digging stuff up for you, just what investigative journalists are supposed to do.

As for his suggestion that readers send me a donation for my blogsite, I would only ask that anyone wishing to do that should, instead, send their donation to the PZLDF (Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund), a non-profit fund set up at Coast National Bank here in Los Osos to help raise money for an attorney to represent The Los Osos 45, forty-five friends and neighbors and fellow citizens who have been unfairly singled out for CDOs by the Regional Water Board and who are once again facing some really nasty times ahead. (And you thought the RWQCB was "standing down" to help with the Blakeslee Plan? Not a bit of it. )

Which is why, The Los Osos 45 need our help. Checks can be made payable to PZLDF and sent to PZLDF, PO. Box 6095, Los Osos, CA 93412.) Then, please scan through Ron's tracking of the SOC documents. His final question is a serious one. I only wish the Grand Jury would be just as serious, but I won't hold my breath.

When I say that this whole Sewer Mess is a perfect example of governmental failure all the way down the line, looking at what happened with that SOC is exhibit one.

25 comments:

Spectator said...

When will we hear the results of the grand jury investigation of the current board that has brought us to bankruptcy through obstruction of the water law?

Spectator said...

Has The LOS OSOS 45 found an honest lawyer yet? A lawyer other than one who will simply take their money?

NewsstandGreg said...

When will we hear the results of the grand jury investigation of the major players in the entire LOCSD saga?

Featuring the central character, "Ms Cheaper Better Faster Solutions" herself, Pandora Nash-Karner?

Shark Inlet said...

Come on Greg ...

Even if Pandora promised more than she could deliver, you've got to admit that someone running a government agency into the ground in 8 months is sort of amazing and couldn't probably happen without someone making a profit somewhere.

*PG-13 said...

shark inlet > Even if Pandora promised more than she could deliver, you've got to admit that someone running a government agency into the ground in 8 months is sort of amazing and couldn't probably happen without someone making a profit somewhere.

Wow. This is the first I've heard of this theory. Are you really suggesting that Julie & friends are in this for a profit? Or did I mis-read your comment? It's obvious the lawyers are making some good money here - no surprise there - that's just the way our silly world works. Lawyers always turn a tidy profit in any kind of dispute. The bigger the dispute the greater their profit. The longer the dispute the greater their profit. The more complex the dispute the greater their profit. So the sewer saga makes for easy pickings for the lawyers. But who else among those making decisions and driving the train are making profit here? Given the rather extreme tenacity with which some of these players are playing it is easy to suspect there is personal financial gain involved. Greed is a huge motivator. Aspersions have been cast that Pandora was profiting from her commitment to the Tri-W site. And I suppose one might smell profit motive in Julie's desire to quickly unload the Tri-W site to a single interested buyer. But I've never heard any substantial or even circumstantial proof in support of such claims. Julie has claimed her interest in selling the Tri-W site is about taking that option off the table and 'leveling the playing field' between the competing options. Whether the CSD can sell Tri-W or not (and that's seems very much in question) I find this strategy and her proposal abhorrent. Effective maybe but still sick. But I've never heard anything in support of these claims of personal profit beyond what can be ascribed to sour grapes and personal attacks as a means of last resort for a losing campaign. Do you know something I don't know? I don't think running the CSD into bankruptcy in 8 months is particularly suspicious. Seems to me there are many reasons for the CSD's current financial debacle which are far more easily understood than some unproven profit motive conspiracy. I am however a great believer in following the money trail. Money talks. If this is what you are claiming can you please elaborate beyond this somewhat fuzzy claim?

Anonymous said...

Hi pg-13,

You may have have over reacted to what sharkinlet blogged....he did not say Julie was making a profit; he wrote "someone". A huge leap to Julie. I doubt Julie is profit-motivated.

Your take that the lawyers have harvested piles of money from our CSD is correct as it can be documented. The question is was this money earned or was earned through bad advice given that was self-serving. Time will tell.

Regards, Richard LeGros

Shark Inlet said...

Like Richard said, I believe that the money Willdan and BWS have billed the CSD for hasn't been earned. If you consistenly offer crappy advice to folks who don't know any better are you really earning your fee? Some would say that the buyer should beware but I would say that firms such as Willdan and BWS should probably have good malpractice insurance.

Sewertoons said...

I wonder if one could argue that these CSD lawyers were well aware that they would not win these cases that they have been steadily losing. I also think that maybe no one could have won. The desired result was delay and that was achieved. The lawyers got what they wanted - money - and the CSD got all that they could possibly hope for in this sewerish mess - delay. Measure B is back in court again - guess what that piece of legal ka-ka has brought the community? - More delay. Now there must be a purpose to delay. What would that be? Time to turn the train around to their desired WWTF - one out of town? I believe the CSD still thinks - on a roll of the dice and a prayer - which the lawyers no doubt encourage - that they can pull this thing off. They are TRUE BELIEVERS for their brand of WWTF. A case could be made that delay was the strategy all along.

The sad LO 45 are just pawns in this game, a card the CSD would hope to use to their advantage.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know haw much money has actually been given to the BWS lawyers... not the amount of the settlement, but how much the CSD has actually paid out toward what is owed to them??

It is my understanding that they had an agreement to pay out the settlement amount over a long period of time and that after the judge froze that money the payments were suspended.

So it seems that BWS is working now with the possibility that they may never get paid that money.

If that's true, I certainly feel a little more confidence in them.

If anyone has that figure, let us know.

Churadogs said...

PG-13 sez"I don't think running the CSD into bankruptcy in 8 months is particularly suspicious."

One question: If the first deposit of the SRF hadn't arrived when it did, wouldn't the CSD have been "broke" at that point or shortly thereafter?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ann,

Regarding your question;

If the SRF loan had not arrived, the CSD would not have been "broke"; very poor, but not broke. If the new board had been prudent with available revenues, they could have stayed within the fiscal budget. The new board should have, upon loss of the SRF, restructured the 2005-2006 budget to determine how to balance expenditures to available revenues. They did not do this, recklessly overspent revenues by $2,000,000, and now face bankruptcy.


Ironically, without the SRF draw there would not have been money available for settlements, hiring of expensive attorneys or administration personnel, pursuing lawsuits, or engaging new engineers to design a new WWP.
The only reason past boards have been able to pursue a WWP was because of the money collected via the 2002 assessment bond. If the new board wanted to undertake a new WWP, a new assessment bond is required. A bond was not pursued by the new board.

Regards, Richard LeGros

Shark Inlet said...

To our anonymous friend ... I don't know how much BWS has actually been paid.

On the other hand, I do know that the LOCSD board has not revealed to us their agreement with BWS that explains how they will pay for work done.

I've got to wonder whether these lawyers are working for free.

Anonymous said...

Both BWS and Willdan are not being paid at this time due to cash flow.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anon above,

While due to CSD cash flow problems both BWS and Wildan are not drawing payment, they are still owed for the work they have performed. To date, the CSD (read Los Osos property owners) owes them about $650,000. With less than $650,000 in the Operation account #1012, how are they to be paid?

Now, I would be impressed if BWS and Wildan declined to be paid at all for the wotrk they are performing.

Regards, Richard LeGros

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that BWS and Wildan are taking a chance that they may never get paid... I certainly appreciate them sticking around and not bailing on us.

And I dont think I agree with the "property owner" statement above. I'm pretty sure that if the CSD goes bankrupt that BWS and Wildan will get stiffed... how do you see them being able to collect from the property owners directly?

Anonymous said...

Hi Anon above,

Government cannot escape it's obbligations. If the CSD dissolves, the debt is transfered to the County. The County will isolate that debt (possibly assigning it to CSA-9) and add the debt to the rates of services provided to property owners in Los Osos.

The fact that Wildan and BWS are owed $650,000 plus is alarming for not listing the debt on the books gives the false impression that theL OCSD cash flow is adequate. In reality, the LOCSD is approaching a million dollars in the red; and after failing to pay the bond assessment and other debts will be pushing over 2 million dollars in the red.

As for the consultants not bailing on us, I beleive that they are doing so for other than altruistic reasons.

Regards, Richard LeGros

Churadogs said...

Richard sez:"Hi Ann,

Regarding your question;

If the SRF loan had not arrived, the CSD would not have been "broke"; very poor, but not broke. If the new board had been prudent with available revenues, they could have stayed within the fiscal budget. The new board should have, upon loss of the SRF, restructured the 2005-2006 budget to determine how to balance expenditures to available revenues. They did not do this, recklessly overspent revenues by $2,000,000, and now face bankruptcy."

This raises another question: The recent auditor, I believe, noted that the books were in such a mess that it was hard for even him to track where money was going. A member of the the public at a meeting suggested a "forensic audit." It's clear to me that the "mess" the new auditor was refering to existed prior to the new board taking over (since that's the time frame he was auditing, if memory serves) (I also remember years ago Seitz saying that the new computer program the CSD had just spent pots of money on, didn't allow for breakout numbers so you'd know what legal cases were costing what totals, & etc. This astonished me at the time since that's something you could do with a simple pencil & paper form) It was also clear from the auditor that NOW, they have set up a better system than was there pre-recall, and NOW will have a better handle on what's where. This becomes interesting, because you say the district wasn't "broke" but "very poor"when that SRF first check arrived. If the pre-recall/post recall book keeping system was a mess, and clearly it was, the line between "broke and very poor" may have actually been nonexistent or crossed without your knowledge, even before the recall.(After all, you didn't have a pre-recall audit -- only a post recall one that was actually looking at a pre-recall system and numbers.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Ann,

The accounting methods (books) used prior to the recall was not in a "mess". Your spin on the auditor's (Bob Crosby) criticism on the state of the books is not correct; as the criticism was directed to the state of the books post-recall.

Due to the fact that Mr. Crosby performed the audit (during February, 2006) long after the end of the 2004-2005 budget year (June 31, 2005), he was professionally obligated to review the CSD books past the end of the 2005 fiscal year. When Mr. Crosby made his presentation concerning the 2004-2005 audit to the LOCSD BOD, Julie Tacker asked him if he attributed the "mess" the "prior Board". His answer was "NO". This exchange is on tape.

Further, his notes in the actual audit explain that due to "significant events" after the 2004-2005 budget year (the recall) he questions the ability of the CSD to meet its financial obligations. His comment will become clear when he performs the 2005-2006 budget year audit; hopefully during September, 2006.

Additionally,the LOCSD recently had staff review all financial records dating back to the beginning of the CSD; focusing on the historical amounts of the CSD’s reserves and where the reserves were located. The result of that review was that the dollar amount of the pre-recall reserves was properly accounted for, and was clearly located in the LAIF account #1011. As we all know, CSD documents show as FACT that the LAIF account (read reserves) was drained by the new CSD board on June5, 2006 in order to pay the CDF fire fee of $760,000.

Ann, your attempt to discredit my comments by your using stupidly incorrect inferences about an audit you do not understand is laughable.

Bray away, dear.

Regards, Richard LeGros

PS: I have absoultely no fear of having a forensic audit performed.
In fact, I INSIST that such an audit be performed! I know that the result of such an audit will place the "mess" on the new board for events that happened after the recall.

Anonymous said...

Additionally, Crosby's only negative comment was about the need for more checks and balances: Dividing procedures between enough employees to prevent any mismanagement or fraudulent activity. The accounting department of the LOCSD consisted of two full time people, and another person 1/3 of the time. Hardly enough personnel to fulfill the ideal of a complete division of any particular process.

Incidently, NO mismanagement or fraudulent activity was present, and this was also noted by Mr. Crosby, much to the chagrin of Ms. Tacker.

Spectator said...

Ann et Al:

CSDs by their nature are poor. They spend the tax dollars they recieve to the hilt to get maximum bang for the buck, and to give the best services they can to the people that live in the district. There is a huge demand for services. A CSD could receive tax dollars and not provide services: thereby producing surpluses. Now how would you feel about this? Who would be the first to demand some sort of refund? Ann would be the first to write about this and hold them accountable, rightfully so!

The US government is so poor that they overspend and borrow money: hence the word DEFICIT. The State the same. CSDs lack this ability unless they have an assessment vote.

What about this do you not understand?

The LOCSD is now producing deficits by not paying bills to lawyers and contractors (WilDan). Bankruptcy is upon us shortly. But when a CSD goes bankrupt, it is not like an individual or a corporation. The concept of "shame on you for extending credit" does not apply. The creditors go on a list, and unfortunately they get paid by the taxpayers in order for the district to get out of bankruptcy. True, there is some negotiation, but it is about the time period and interest to be paid. AND THAT IS WHY THE LAWYERS and CONTRACTORS (WilDan) HAVE NOT FLED.

They WILL be paid, and will receive interest for non payment. Unless they are fraudulent.

The name of the game is PILE IT UP! OVERCHARGE! LET THE DISTRICT PROVE WE OVERCHARGED!

Do not ever think that lawyers do not perpetuate other lawyers, who become judges, who continue the process. Consider the lawyers in the legislature with the same agenda. Also consider: where do you find a lawyer to sue another lawyer, and no matter how good the case: will he take it pro bono, or on a percentage if won? Nope, money up front!

Unfortunately we need lawyers and used car salesmen. And when was a lawyer (officer of the court), ever prosecuted for perjury, by other lawyers (officers of the court)? Pox on them. Talk about a monopoly?

And there it is.

No bunny slippers for YOU! ( Still looking, not available in local stores, have to order them on the internet, but can't find them to fit size 14 womans feet ) HA! Size 8 do?

To Richard Legros: Do not call Ann stupid, she be plenty smart, but she be plenty IGNORANT as are the rest of us. It is our duty to inform her. After all, SHE BELIEVES! The big question is if REALITY can overcome her BELIEF. Bunny slippers?

Ann:

How is the fund raising going for the 45? Money talks, bullcrap walks! Any BELIEVERS with bucks?
How crawdad doing? Slippers for you, but crawdad be upside down, caught by his own spin, lost in history. Crawdad: give us reality NOW! Do you need bunny rabbit slippers?


I would think that every member in the PZ would put $5000 into the kitty if they thought they had a chance to fight environmental regulations. That would come to $25 million dollars. Take it to the supreme court! Perhaps they have been advised otherwise. Maybe we are all waiting to see. But to be able to keep your house and home against government oppression it would be worth it. Especially if the stakes are far larger. However, the environmental laws are somewhat reasonable. We all want clean air and clean water. This takes sacrifice. MONEY!

Not my money. I will not put it against the democratic/environmental party concept of "the greater good", and their socialistic concept of "the hell with individual rights", taken beyond beyond reason.

Ann: Your letter is a letter. Try it on a judge when you have been clocked at 100 miles per hour in a school zone. Judge with deaf ears? Liars as prosecuters? Well, you be right or wrong, makes-a-no- difference. Guilty! However, WE BE POLLUTERS HERE!

And what do you think "NO DISCHARGE" means? And even yet you defend the current LOCSD board which has brought the hammer upon us, by condemning the CCRWQCB for trying to enforce the law.

Thank you for your ignorance of politial process. It has been and will be a great discussion.

Jon Arcuni

Churadogs said...

LeGros Sez:"Ann, your attempt to discredit my comments by your using stupidly incorrect inferences about an audit you do not understand is laughable.

Bray away, dear.

Regards, Richard LeGros

PS: I have absoultely no fear of having a forensic audit performed.
In fact, I INSIST that such an audit be performed! I know that the result of such an audit will place the "mess" on the new board for events that happened after the recall."

Not only is your mind-reading abilities off kilter, you completely misread and misinterpret what I wrote.

I was also wondering, a few months ago, someone posting as Julie Tacker, noted that prior to the recall, she and Lisa constantly asked for financial flow charts and budget updates and said that they never got them. The posted comments were in the context of wondering why you are now posting all sort of financial analysis when, according to whoever posted, you did not make similar information availble to the board as a whole, even though you were chairing the finance committee. I cannot vouch for the "poster," but the question remains. Was the various financial cash-flow info made available to the whole Board prior to the recall. (Maybe whoever posted that question can reappear and clarify exactly whatr went missing.)

As for a "forensic" audit. I couldn't agree more. Or even a grand jury investigation, since the grand jury looks at government systems as a whole. If LAFco doesn't dissolve the CSD, maybe the grand jury (and LAFco) need to do a careful evaluation of their own as to how CSD's are set up and run, so as to avoid similar train wrecks in the future.

I have said it once, I will say it again: People HATE recalls. Anytime you see a recall rearing it's head, you know that your system is in crisis. Something is going badly wrong and elected officials, if they have any smarts at all, need to pay close attention. That didn't happen in this case and the train wreck you see is the result.

Churadogs said...

Spectator sez:"And what do you think "NO DISCHARGE" means? And even yet you defend the current LOCSD board which has brought the hammer upon us, by condemning the CCRWQCB for trying to enforce the law."

Now, there's the $200 million question. The RWQCB sez: "no discharge" in the PZ, then issues a "discharge" permit to Tri W.(The reason why they downgraded to "discharge permit" from a "recharge permit" is recharge sets a much higher ($$$$$) standard that probably couldn't be met at all, so they fudged, heh-heh. And the "discharge permit" allows 7 mgl of nitrates (plus other stuff, which, since the distance they were trying to "recharge" wasn't all that great, would ened up polluting the lower aquifer eventually, but apparently that's o.k. with regulators with the words "Water Waulity" in their title,) but then we're told that even if an individual onsite system could deliver 2 mgl of nitrates it wouldn't be allowed because there's "no discharge," so, uh, ??? Uh . . . . ??? Uh . . .Go figure.

And no, don't need any bunny slippers, however, I DO have some waaaaayyyy cool socks for you -- baseball uniform socks, waaaa cool, you can wear with your plus-fours in Panama, shock the locals!

As for donating money to the PZLDF, it's about 45 specific friends and neighbors being unfairly, and wrongly singled out to be hammered who need our help. Is anyone willing to help them? If not, then that speaks volumes about our "community," doesn't it.

Anonymous said...

Ann says:
"I have said it once, I will say it again: People HATE recalls. Anytime you see a recall rearing it's head, you know that your system is in crisis. Something is going badly wrong and elected officials, if they have any smarts at all, need to pay close attention. That didn't happen in this case and the train wreck you see is the result."

And couldn't it be possible, Ann, the way people HATE recalls, that the success of this recall goes to the issue of just how deceitful the current board members and their supporters were to convince the very people who HATE recalls to do it? Convoluted sentence, I know, but it just goes to an issue I have asked you and Ron countless times to address and I get nothing. So here it is again:
"We'll give you a sewer for under $100.00. And don't worry, we won't get fined. And we won't lose the SRF loan. The water boards are just paper tigers." etc etc etc. It is just inconceivable to me that you two can be sooooooo absolutely deaf dumb and blind to the actions of this current board. Many people consider THEIR actions crimminal, yet you two resolutely fail to address their immense responsibility in this whole mess. Absolutely amazing.

Churadogs said...

Anonymous sez:"And couldn't it be possible, Ann, the way people HATE recalls, that the success of this recall goes to the issue of just how deceitful the current board members and their supporters were to convince the very people who HATE recalls to do it?"

Actually, I think it highly possible that the very people who HATE recalls were given enough information by the recallers to clue them in on just how much misinformation they had been given by the old board. (That there were no alternatives, that an out of town site would be waaaaayyy more expensive, etc.) Toss in the apallingly tin-eared arrogance of tree-cutting before the recall vote and the pounding of millions of dollars into the ground in what I'm sure people accurately percieved as a "scorched earth" policy by the previous board majority, and I think a whole lot of people pulled the plug. Plus, most interesting of all to me was the Blakeslee "negotiations" that weren't negotiations. From all reports Darrin Polhemus knows sewers. If he went into that meeting and ran the numbers and found that the Move the Sewer groups' numbers were false "lies" and/or undoable, he would have walked out of that room in a matter of hours. He didn't. That tells me that what we were looking at in October was "doable." That it was killed dead begs the question: Who, exactly, was wielding the knives? That's why I think a serious grand jury investigation would be most instructive.

Shark Inlet said...

Ummmm...

Ann, out of town is waaaaay more expensive. Didn't you read Richard's cost analysis? Unless the Ripley project is grossly overestimating costs (and odds are that it isn't becuase there are some clear deficiencies which will cost extra to address), the Ripley project will cost us more than TriW.

The only time when out-of-town was a viable option for the LOCSD was back in the 2000 timeframe.

Remember also Polhemus testimony during the ACL hearing. He was called as a rebuttal witness to counter Lisa's statement that out of town was cheaper. He said that it wasn't.

So, if the best you can come up with to prove that out-of-town was less expensive is that Darrin didn't walk out of a meeting called by an assemblyman, you've got to do a bit better. How about a point-by-point analysis of the Ripley versus TriW project to see which is cheaper? Oh yeah, one has already been done and showed TriW to be less expensive.