Lawsuits 101, Sort of
In a Sept 9 Tribune letter to the editor, Los Osos Resident Dick Sargent wrote: “ On August 31, Los Osos Community Services District President Lisa Schicker reported on 15 pending lawsuits.
“Astonishingly, she repeatedly stated that “We are (only) defending the citizens of Los Osos.
“What a brazen attempt to dismiss legal repercussions to her board’s reprehensible fiscal conduct! Los Osos citizens have been betrayed and worse, are being misled by the Los Osos Community Service District’s “cover-up” campaign.”
Mr. Sargent wasn’t at the August 31 CSD meeting for a reading of the lawsuits, with brief explanations as to what they’re about, so maybe he missed some of the information before writing his letter. The full list was printed in the agenda and was available at the table for members of the public.
Here, with notes I made at the time as to what they are about, are the lawsuits. By my count, 4 of the 15 suits were brought by the CSD against other persons/entities, with one of those five considered a “friendly” adjudication with all the water purveyors to decide how to allocate water being sold in the basin. (This actually shouldn’t be on the list if the list is considered an “adversarial” list, but it is a “lawsuit,” so I’ll leave it on. Another questionable “adversarial” is a case over easements for sewer pipes for the old project, my presumption here is that it’s a matter of settling over price, etc, while another was a personnel matter having nothing to do with Sewers but having to do with gender bias by the “old administration.”)
The Bankruptcy filing I’m putting in the “neutral” corner since it is a direct result of the other 14 but isn’t filed “against” anyone, so to speak.
One of the more interesting cases to me, are the lawsuits brought by the construction companies who, if memory serves, were still under contract, said contract which they all signed said they agreed that in the case of any legal disputes to enter into mediated negotiations and arbitration, etc, before filing lawsuits, but they went ahead and filed lawsuits anyway and did so before any arbitration could be started and/or completed. Aw, so much for signed contracts, eh?
And, most interesting is the breach of contract suit brought by the CSD against the State Water Board over just exactly who pulled the plug and exactly when on the second chunk of the State Revolving Fund, since that was the banana peel on the top of the hill that started the rock fall. That one will be a legally interesting doozie.
1. Taxpayers Watch, Joyce Albright, Robert C. Crizer, Christopher Isler, v LOCSD, Appeal, (CV051012), Measure B (the lawsuit brought by TPW to toss out Measure B, still on appeal)
2. Taxpayer’s Watch, Joyce Albright, Robert C. Crizer, Christopher Isler, v LOCSD, Steve Senet, John Fouche, Chuck Cesena, lisa Schicker, Julie Tacker in SLO Superiour Court (CV050862) – public waste. (A lawsuit personally suing the individual Board members for “public waste,” has to be some kind of sick joke, methinks, and begs the question: Shouldn’t somebody have also filed the same lawsuit against Gordon Hensley, Richard LeGros and Stan Gufstafson, the recalled Board members who voted to pound millions of taxpayers dollars into the ground only weeks before the recall election even though they didn’t have to? Guess there’s “waste” and then there’s, uh, “waste?”).
3. Los Osos Taxpayers Association v SWRCB and LOCSD in SLO Superior Court – public waste and Prop 218 (This one’s also an interesting potential doozie: The SRF Loan was increased some $40 million without a current “revenue stream” and no Proposition 218 vote by the homeowners to agree to indebt themselves for the additional amount. At dispute is whether that Loan required a Prop 218 vote or whether all the additional monies could just be piggy-backed onto the original 2000 design/start-up assessment vote.)
4. LOCSD v SWRCB in Sacramento Superior Court (05AS05422) – breach of contract (SRF Loan) This is one of the doozies.
5. RWQCB v LOCSD in SLO Superior Court (CV051074) – Injunctive Relief Measure B.
6. Barnard v LOCSD (CV060094) – contractor action against LOCSD in SLO Superior Court. This is one of those interesting ones. Did their contract specify arbitration? If so, what were they doing filing a court action at this point?
7.SWQCB v LOCSD – ACL/TSO appeal to SWRCB. Four times at the ACL hearings, former CSD General Manager Bruce Buel was asked if the original Time Schedule Order set by the “old” CSD and the RWQCB to complete the (Tri-W- sewer system) was “reasonable” or “unreasonable” and four times Mr. Buel answered – “Unreasonable.” I presume that this lawsuit intends to pursue the notion that if the original time schedule was “unreasonable” then all else that follows is equally unreasonable and the time schedule really should have been changed to allow for equally momentous changes on the ground.
8. Montgomery Watson Harza v. LOCSD in SLO Superior Court -- CSD defending. Contractor dispute.
9. Corenbaum v LOCSD, Bruce Buel, Bruce, Bruce Pickens in SLO Superior Court. A gender bias case filed by a former CSD employee against former CSD employees. Not sewer related at this point.
10. LOCSD v Golden State, et. al. in SLO Superior Court. A “friendly” adjudication to parcel out who gets to sell what water in the basin.
11. LOCSD v Regional Water Quality Control Board, as designated party to individual CDO’s. The CSD asked for and was granted standing as a designated partywith the Los Osos 45, who had received CDO’s. Their legal case resulted in having the original case tossed out and started over, primarily because the original CDO’s were so goofy (legally) and so challengeable in a “real” court, that the Regional Quality Control Board figured they’d better start over and maybe this time do it right. When they do, the CSD will be there and hopefully, their case as a designated party, will also help the hapless 45 who are being “tried” (again) in what the Bay News is openly referring to as “a kangaroo court.”
12. LOCSD v Corr, eminent domain action in SLO Superior Court. Case regarding easements for sewer pipes.
13. Sturtevant v LOCSD in SLO Small Claims Court (SC060026) and
14. Merrill v. LOCSD in SLO Small Claims Court (SC060257) These two are a puzzlement to me. Presumably, they’re a request to have the person’s prepaid sewer fees returned, which is weird, since the “prepayment” was really only a partial “down payment,” so to speak, on whatever the final cost of the sewer would be. The HUGE balance of the cost was going to arrive in the form of a “service fee.” That the original payment was very, very tiny compared to the final “service fees” indicated to me just how “bait and switchy” this whole deal was, especially since the HUGE final amount never had a Prop 218 vote behind it. Whole thing reminded me of the old sales ploy: Only $9.99 [then in really small print . . . plus $2,000 handling and servicing fee, plus $10,887.45 applicable license and taxes and $4,519.99 extended service warranty contract.] Ironically, the new State Revolving Loans now require a Prop 218 before they’ll get out the door. So, what does that tell you about how the Tri W loan was set up in the first place? And certainly explains the LOTA lawsuit over the matter.
15. In re Los Osos Community Services District, United States Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California, Northern Division, Case No. ND 06-10548. CSD files for bankruptcy. (see previous posting, Bankruptcy 101 for notes from that Q&A at a CSD meeting)
In his letter, Mr. Sargent claims “brazen attempt[s]” and citizens being “betrayed and worse,” and “misled,” and etc.
Me? I see some really critical lawsuits that need a full hearing, for the sake of this community and the citizens that Mr. Sargent claims have been betrayed. As for “brazen,” “misled,” "reprehensible fiscal conduct," and “betrayal,” the betrayal and reprehensible fiscal conduct I’m seeing in the lawsuits listed above is of a far different sort than Mr. Sargent is alluding to. Far different.