Friday, October 27, 2006

Waterboarding and Other PZ Hobbies

Two emails from a friend, one of the Los Osos 45 [posted with permission]. There are two things to note: One is that it’s amazing to me that Bev still has a sense of humor left. And, Two, her notation that the Regional Water Quality Control Board could have “papered the whole Zone with postcards letting people know . . .” about the CDO’s & etc, instead of randomly picking 45 people to jerk around, presumes that the intention of the RWQCB was to let everyone know. I would contend that the real strategy – if there was one with so hastily and ill conceived a looney scheme as slapping CDOs on a whole community, a process that could take years and years to “prosecute,” with little or no on-the-groundwater result – wasn’t to inform the whole community, but to terrorize, divide and conquer, try to cut deals, and apply political pressure. All intensely unethical, possibly illegal (electioneering) and – ironically – unnecessary -- since there were, from day one, far better solutions at hand that would have resulted in real ground-water improvement, all of which were options that were available a year ago.

Bev’s observations, as one the Los Osos 45, really requires anyone paying attention to question the competency, legality and legitimacy of the Board’s policies. What’s happened to this Board is very disturbing in a regulatory agency that has a vital role to play in the whole system, and especially disturbing in a regulatory agency that apparently has allowed itself to run amok . . . or to have been run amok.

Unfortunately, as Bev’s comments make clear, very few are paying attention.

Entry One:

Hi Ann,

I know your computer is down, but thought I’d send this little story for when you get back on line.

The other day my boss came into the office to make small talk and to ask me how things were shaping up for the school year. So I told him that my program was falling into place, that I felt better organized than I was a month ago, and that my next obstacle was the Water Board.

Living in SLO, he doesn’t know a whole lot about our plight. Though he knows something is going on with Bill and Me, he is sick of following it and doesn’t any more. So when I mentioned THE WATER BOARD, his first thought was not of Jeff Young, Roger Briggs, etc. al. he thought I was making some obscure reference to that new form of torture called ‘waterboarding” that the Americans are now using to extract information from suspected terrorists, where they tie a person to a board and dunk them under water till they’ve almost drowned, I guess. A modern version of the dunking stool, only more “diabolically clever.”

He had no idea how brilliant that reference was until I told him I meant our very own Water Board and that we are due for our next pair of hearings in early November. [postponed—again -- until December, thereby causing more hardship for many] Because of my boss, Los Osos has the opportunity to add some new jargon to its sewer vocabulary to take its place along with CDO’s, ACL’s, dischargers, effluent, and aquifer. We can redefine waterboarding to refer to the torture of Los Osos by the Water Board and its cohorts who ask the Water Board to torture us. I can hear it now, “Let’s WaterBoard them!” “Roger, I thin you should WaterBoard the whole PZ and bankrupt the town.” “Waterboarding is the only thing they understand.”


Welcome back to cyberspace,


And Entry Two:

Hi Ann,

Recently I ran into a resident of the PZ at a meeting. He was nice enough to convey his condolences vis a vis the CDO. One of his commiserations among the, "it's terrible what the CSD (sic) is doing to you" was, "It could be us." My reply was, "It WILL be you…unless we can pull off some sort of miracle. Oh, and by the way, it’s the RWQCB, not the CSD." Barely able to spit out the acronym intact, he averted his eyes, mumbled something incomprehensible, smiled sheepishly, still not looking at me, and moved away.

Just another one of those PZers who thought that we 45 alone carry the CDO burden for the town, poor us, never allowing into his consciousness that we are not "there but for the grace of God... ." We are them.

How many others think that we are the randomly selected sacrificial lambs, and that the rest are off the hook?

Their bald ignorance is the RWQCB's fault. For what they spent to send those last-minute notices by courier to each one of us CDO defendants last spring they could probably have papered the whole Zone with postcards letting people know where they live (in the PZ), that they are in line (and will be prosecuted), and that they have till 2010 to hook up or else.

Ah, Ignorance really IS bliss. Sometimes I wish I could be them.



Remember the “water boarding” story, where the SLO resident thought I was talking about the torture of suspected terrorists when I mentioned the water board hearings. I think waterboarding should become the new idiom for what will be happening to Pzers for the next several years unless someone comes to their senses. It could even become part of the American lexicon with a meaning far broader than simply Los Osos or Al-Qaida. Consider how the torture of people who are only suspected of being terrorists could be vaguely related to the torture of PZ residents for whom the RWQCB has no site-specific evidence. In a few years the phrase could generalize to mean something really bad that happens to you over which you have no control. Think of the possibilities.

Now, should we laugh? Or cry.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Calhoun’s Cannons for The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA
For October 26, 06

Down Time

Ah, how seductive they all are, those bells-and-whistle modern conveniences. How easily they can seduce and then enslave. How simple is the slide from New Toy to Indispensable Companion to Unrelenting Master.

It all began Saturday morning as I sat working at my computer and heard clicking noises coming from the hard drive. You never want to hear clicking sounds coming from your computer, especially not on a Saturday morning.

The clicking noises were followed by The Blue Screen of Death, followed by The Black Screen of White Type That Defieth All Understanding, except for the terrifying realization that the time for comprehension is past and it is now time to turn off the computer and STEP AWAY FROM THE MACHINE!

Then ask the question: Why do computers seem like pets who only get sick when everything’s closed and so make you gamble on the decision, Is this really, reeeeely serious, requiring a very, very expensive trip to the emergency clinic? Or can we all just limp along until Monday?

In my case, the answer was, “Monday,” and so The Teacher arrived and The Lessons began.

First, of course, I had to realize that the high-pitched shrieking that was filling the room was actually coming from me and that the Hubris of Denial -- This can’t be happening to me! I have important things to do, papers to read, people to contact, columns to write, blogs to blog, the game’s afoot, events are unfolding, gotta keep current, stay hooked up, plugged in --was only going to be answered with: Bwa-hahahah. It is and you don’t. Deal with it.

Next came the valuable realization that this hooked-up, plugged-in dance was nothing more than a pathetic addiction. And that the unsettled panic I was feeling was only the withdrawal symptoms of a Busyness Junkie. The Dealer is down. Call rehab.

Worse yet was the insight of just how much this machine has, like Pavlov’s Dog, conditioned and trained me to change the very tempo of my life. An early riser by nature, I was now given a chance to see just how subtly the seductive whisper of the computer has been pushing my wake/work time back further and further into the silent dark hours of the morning. Psst, whispers the machine in the middle of the night, no time to waste. Time to get up. There might be something important, something new in your in-box.

There rarely was, of course, and after several days of no in-box at all, came the humbling realization that Life Goes On just fine without me being in the loop. By this time, I was clear headed enough to know with certainty that even when Steve Vandagriff, The High Tech Paladin who rode to the rescue, finished his work on the ailing hard drive and I could once again drop in, boot up, log on, the very first response from The World would be: You were off-line? We didn’t notice.

Finally, for me, the most oddly comforting Lesson of all was to realize just how easy it is to lose an e-life --letters, columns, documents, records, beloved photos -- all gone in the blink of an eye. There, in high-speed e-form, is the foreshadowed glimpse of our human condition: It all goes.

Paper burns, photos fade and crumble. Our technology cannot save us. One failed connection and all our data disappears in a blink. And the tail-chasing, high-tech futility of “saving” anything becomes comic as our e-memory storage systems remain astonishingly fragile and grow obsolete even before we take them out of the box. Betamax, anyone?

And like our machines, our flesh and blood software can fail spectacularly as well, even on a Saturday morning. A bit of stuck plaque and it’s the Blue Screen of Death. Or simply add the accreted dust of age and the system slows and falls away. Was I ten or twelve when I tumbled off that horse? What was the name of that cute boy at the dance? I’ll never forget. Now, where did I put that photograph? What did you say your name was?

It all goes.

So, for now, with the Blue Screen Blank, there is nothing left for me to do but pour a cup of coffee, and in the quite hours of the morning, listen to the slow, soft scritch of a pen on a blank piece of paper. Starting over in down time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Call Me A Lawyer! Over at, Ron Crawford's posted another History Of The World, Part Whatever, with a new blog entry: "Putting the SUE in SewerWatch: Litigation could make agencies responsible for the train wreck in Los Osos pay their fair share of sewer costs. " Read it and weep, again.
Put Down That Gun And Step Away From Your Foot

Oh, Dear, the poor Tribune. Cain’t git no respeck! On Oct 20th, they ran yet another huge editorial page Election 2006 Candidate Endorsements, this time for the candidates for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Now, newspapers have been endorsing or NOT endorsing candidates for ages and they’re free to pick their favorites for any reason they want, and free to dis their unfavorites for any reason as well – don’t like the color of their hair, think they’re total incompetents, are taking bribes, whatever. And that’s all fine. But here’s where it gets fun.

The Trib did NOT endorse Caroline Botwin and did NOT endorse her for one specific reason: “With her experience as a board members, it’s disappointing that Botwin isn’t more current on some district issues. For example, she was unaware that the board in closed session had recently given Jeff Edwards a one-year extension on a 14-unit development planned for a district-owned parcel in Avila Beach.”

What’s the problem, you say? Simple. The Tribune was wrong. The Board did not give Edwards that one-year extension, which means that Botwin was indeed CURRENT and CORRECT, so the Tribune didn’t have any reason to be “disappointed.”

Ah, it’s one thing to not endorse someone for a variety of reasons, but to not endorse someone for one specific reason and then get that one specific reason WRONG . . . Eeeeuuuuuuu. Quel Embarassings!

So, did the folks who made this blunder rush in a correction on the editorial page, where readers would be sure to see it, and those who were thinking about voting based on this false information would have a chance to maybe change their vote? Not a bit of it! The correction was run in eeeeennneeessy-teeeensy print on the inside front page in the teeeeeny-weenie “corrections” box where NOBODY would ever see it.

Ah, my friends, that’s how elections are won and lost . . . with NO fingerprints left on the corpses . That’s the Tribune way!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It’s a Miracle!

Last night, the candidates for the Los Osos CSD Board held a public forum. One of the key questions asked of all the candidates went something like this: Do you support the Tri W sewer plan? i.e. having the sewer plant put in the middle of town at the Tri W site or prefer a sewer plant “outside” of town.

Not a single candidate supported the Tri W site or plan. Not a one. Zip. Nada. Zero. Not even the candidate who finally ’fessed up to being a part of Taxpayers Watch, the outfit that was behind the efforts to dissolve the CSD entirely (Oddly, she expressed relief that the effort failed, which was a total puzzler. Sort of like the old ,”Yes, Yer Honor, I did try my darndest to kill the guy with a baseball bat and when that failed I figured, Aw heck, I might as well just go ahead and get in bed with him anyway.” )

And another candidate kept repeating that she was no sewer expert and would just allow the County to decide whatever so she really wouldn’t say what site she preferred or didn’t prefer.

But not a one would speak up for Tri W. Not a one, in a community that had been torn apart by a nearly equal number of people who thought Tri W was the greatest thing since sliced bread and nearly the same number of people who thought Tri W was a bad project in the wrong place.

What happened? Is the sudden conversion even by Taxpayers Watch folk a real Saul on The Road To Damascus event? Or some sly “stealth” candidates pretending not to know anything about Tri W, let alone endorse it, until they get elected and start lobbying the county to quick-like-a-bunny turnkey it again?

I’m telling you. I thought I heard the cock crow three times last night. And had to wonder if I was witnessing a miracle of epic proportions. Sorta like Nixon when he resigned in disgrace and NOBODY in the land could be found who ever, EVER voted for him, EVER.

I mean, will we soon start hearing, “Tri-W? What’s that? Never heard of it.”

Well, in Sewerville, the watchword is Stay Tuned, to which we can now add, “Not only do we have bears, we got loaves and fishes, the blind seeing again, and people walking on water. What a place!”

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Shhhhh, Quiet, Insanity is Still At Work

There is a wonderful definition of Insanity – Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results each time.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board has announced – again – that they have postponed – again – the CDO hearings for the persecuted Los Osos 45. Instead of being held on Nov 2 & 9th, now the hearings are going to be held on December 14 & 15 from 8:30 a.m. at the RWQCB headquarters on Aerovista Pl. in SLOTown.

The reason for the delay – again – is that the paperwork and intricate official deadlines apparently weren’t met by the staff and board – again – and CEO Roger Briggs was going to be deposed before leaving town for months and that got muddled and changed around willy-nilly and since this is a complicated “legal” proceeding all the I’s &T’s have to be dotted and crossed just so and so forth, endlessly, endlessly.

There is a reason why these CDO hearings turned into such a mess right out of the box. Several years ago, the RWQCB’s own staff report on the pros and cons of various enforcement options DID NOT recommend using CDOs on thousands of individual citizens for some very, very sound reasons: Too costly, too time consuming, too unnecessarily legally complicated, too endlessly lengthy, & etc, while resulting in too little solid results. In short, a nutty, wasteful way to go.

Alas, the Board didn’t heed their own report and so wasted an entire year with all sorts of paper wrangling and ridiculous huffing and chuffing with the Air Quality Control Board showing up to inform them that their Mad Pumping Scheme wouldn’t fly, the CSD attorneys making the case of prosecution team bias, so the whole case had to be started over with a new Grand Iquisitor brought in, and Dr. Wickham informing the board that their Mad Pumping Scheme would result in an even bigger groundwater mess & etc.

Meanwhile, a simple, immediate actual groundwater remediation alternative was sitting under their noses a year ago:

Instead of CDO’s, the Board only had to send out registered, return-receipt requested letters to the homeowners in the PZ telling them that they needed to Pump/Inspect/Repair their tanks/leachfields and send official copies of the completed work to the staff by such and such a date. Those who did so would go to the bottom of the pile; those who failed to do so would be issued CDOs.


And the result? Los Osos could have had a WHOLE YEAR’S WORTH of repaired tanks and replaced old, poorly working leach fields resulting in an immediate beneficial action on the groundwater.

But what did we get instead? A whole year’s worth of paper shuffling and postponed hearings and unfairly targeted and harassed citizens and more postponements and expenditure of countless dollars and wasted time by citizens, the CSD and the RWQCB itself. During which time, not one drop of water has been improved, except by those folks who – on their own dime and under their own steam – have voluntarily pumped/inspected/repaired before even being asked to.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Non-insanity: Trying something simple that’s actually working now, something that could work much better and faster with clear directions and guidelines from an outfit with the words "Water Quality" in their name, something that will actually benefit WATER, not paperwork.

Instead of announcing that the CDO hearings will be held in abeyance while the Board meets to vote on a change in plans, plans that would actually do something to the groundwater until the new sewer gets built, we get the official notice: The Mad Wasteful CDO Scheme has been continued until Dec 14th, unless there’s yet another muddle over paperwork or missed filing dates, in which case, oh, it’ll probably be postponed some more or there’ll be some legal filings over some miniscule detail and maybe more legal delays and so on and so on unto the end of time.

Meanwhile, the people in this community wait for some simple instructions to start work on something that will actually have a beneficial impact on groundwater while the sewer project moves forward

We wait. And wait. And wait.

Hellloooo, Earth to Regional Board . . . .

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sparks Speaks, Or Will Certain Personages Knock It Off, Already?

I offered to post initial campaign statements from any LOCSD candidates running for the Board. I don’t intend to use the blogsite as “campaign headquarters” for anyone. However, the first major whoosh of spin arrived in the form of a postcard from “Citizens to Restore Los Osos, Joyce Albright, Chair,” that contained clear, oh, what shall we call them, “Not-Exactly- “Facts” Masquerading as, Uh, Facts?” And the mailer used three candidates’ names without making it clear whether these three approved of what was being claimed. I noted in my 10/14 posting that if the “facts” presented were wrong, that the candidates being touted might want to set the record straight. Herewith, a press release from Mr. Sparks doing just that.

For Release: October 14, 2006
From: Joe Sparks

In light of a recent endorsements and statements in the San Luis Obispo Tribune and multiple mailers distributed to residents of Los Osos, I feel it is important to have my views on the LOCSD and election portrayed accurately to the public or media. While an individual or group has the right to endorse whoever or state what they wish, I do not share or condone their views, just as I will not condone anyone stating my position for me as a board member. Misleading and incomplete information or innuendo by any group or individual devalues all of the candidates as individuals and prevents constructive dialog. My statements alone reflect my positions.

First, the Los Osos community needs to work constructively to insure that water, utilities, fire, and solid waste services are provided without impact from the wastewater project, regardless of who serves as board members.

Second, assigning blame will not help solve any immediate problem since some requested audits have yet to be completed. Responsibility for our situation rests with us as citizens, as well as other entities. The residents of Los Osos formed the LOCSD, they voted in prior boards, they voted in the current board. In representative government, all those eligible to vote are no less culpable than their representatives for the decisions those officials make.

Third, I support the County administration of the wastewater project. This needs to include an objective evaluation of options and costs (without attempts to devalue any asset), energy costs, design and inflation costs, and an unbiased evaluation of wastewater disposal/re-use and water yields for our water supply. It must also consider state mandates. That was the objective of AB2701. Only then can the property owners be expected to fully support a 218 vote to fund a project and fix the wastewater problem.

Fourth, Los Osos needs to focus collectively on completing a project. Naïve promises and our failure to compromise have cost us civility and money. We need to address affordability by supporting the County’s efforts and create a civic framework to support affordability, and not continue to deter entities from participating in funding and financing options.

Lastly, since announcing my candidacy, the LOCSD has filed for Chapter 9 protection. This has changed the LOCSD relationship with creditors, and a deliberate evaluation of all consultants needed. I believe the current LOCSD board is not diverse enough nor can it be objective in its evaluation of all the creditors hired by both boards. The manner in which consultants and contractors have been hired was rushed and not transparent. Costs to the ratepayers and homeowners of Los Osos must be minimized, and that requires a LOCSD board that can be objective and impartial in negotiating with ALL creditors.

Contact Joe Sparks:
805-704-2658 phone/message
PO Box 15504, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Yew Kain’t Hide Them Lyin’ Eyes . . .

Uh-oh, it’s election time – DUCK & COVER!!! -- and a white flyer just arrived in the mail. Paid for by “Citizens to Restore Los Osos, Joyce Albright, Chair.” It’s urging the reader to vote for Tornatzky, Kelly and Sparks. In the lower right hand corner it says, “Vote for Integrity.”

Then, above that it states, as if they were facts, this: “The county has stated it will consider only gravity sewer systems. This means the CSD’s antiquated Ripley STEP/STEG system cannot be built here. . . . . “

Uh, actual FACT #1 (as opposed to a JoyceAlbrightFact, since I presume she wrote and approved of this thing), Noel King was quoted in the Trib as saying they would only consider gravity sewers. Apparently, at the time he said that, he didn’t understand what the County has actually agreed to do and is starting to actually put into place. Those efforts and intentions were reiterated in an October 5, 06 letter to the CSD from Paavo Ogren, who is the project director. In short, King spoke out of school and didn’t have his facts right.

As part of that agreed to and promised Process, the Ripley STEP/STEG plan will be presented (along with Ripley’s completed project update) to the county engineers and will be part of the “mix” that they will be considering as they go through the promised Process of evaluating options. Which means, unlike this JoyceAlbrightFact, the Ripley Plan could, indeed, be one of the options that voters will have a choice of voting for once the evaluation process is completed.

Now, if this flyer was printed and out the door before the correction could be made, I’m sure that another postcard will arrive to correct the "facts" that aren’t facts.

After all, that’s what integrity is all about, isn’t it?

If Joyce knew that her “facts” were false and used them anyway, then will Tornatzky, Kelly and Sparks repudiate this political postcard and set the record straight? After all, this card is asking that we Vote for Integrity and in a candidate, “integrity” demands that he or she make sure that the voters be given accurate information about a critical issue.

Doesn’t it?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA, for October 11, 06

Lordy! Lordy! Miz Scarlett, This Here’s No Place Fer A Lady!

Mah, Dear Cousin Emeline,

Yesterday, when ah got home frum mah Ladies Antimacasser Sewin’ Circle, you know, the one where Miz Hooperlilly alus drops her tea cake crumbs onner lap then her little dawg jumps up to git the crumbs ‘n Miz Hooperlilly shrieks an’ flings her teacup inta the air ‘n it crashes ‘n makes a mess, ‘n the chickens run in frum the back yard ta peck the crumbs, so’n’ the dawg starts chasin’ ‘em, ‘n then the whole place woops inta a uproar?

Anyplace, there wuz some papers hangin’ on mah doorknob when ah got down frum the buggy and ol’ Sam, you remember Sam, our family house servant? went to put the horse away.

Well, I grabbed it right quick and started reading a statement from a candidate for the Los Osos CSD who says right out that “Citizens, particularly women, need to feel safe in attending a LOCSD meeting . . .”

Particularly women? Well, now there it is, Emeline. I mean, how many times have ah tole you, us women, particularly us women, jes’ ain’t safe in them meetings? Oh, I know, I know, it wuz a woman who slapped another woman at one of them meetings one time, but she wuz a no-account sort. And O.K. fer purest, blood-chilling vitriol, it’s hard to beat some of them women who git up ta read frum their written ‘n finely honed public comments. Tough customers, they’ll set yer blood ta ice, they will. And, yes, it wuz some old guy who got hit by some young guy, a run amok off-duty sheriff’s officer that one time. But thet happened inna other room where some drinkin’ mighta been going’ on.

But all I can say is, maybe we should re-hire Mr. Watch What You Say & Mind Yer Manners. Remember him? Our CSD Back Of the Room Police Guy hired to scowl at ever’one ‘n call the Sheriff on folks who are being jerks. Then the Sheriff can hawl ‘em out on the front porch n’ beat the livin’ tar outta ‘em.. Then if that doesn’t shut people up, we should eliminate public comment altogether. Better yet, get rid of the meetings! Doan need any public there. Our elected officials know what’s best for us. We doan need to interfere. Thet only makes things messy ‘n noisy ‘n rude. And no Lady, especially a lady, should be mixed up in that sort of thing. .

Yes, Emeline, I know that awful Calhoun woman will carry on ‘bout how she’s attended board meetings all over the place, including some woop-dee-doopers at School Board where she once tole me she wuz sure somebody wuz gonna start hurling chairs, yet she says she never feels unsafe, that woop-dee-dooping and political theatre is what politics and noisy democracy is all about. Thet as a country we’ve gotten so disengaged frum one another thet we don’t know HOW to express strong opinions without soundin’ like jerks and causin’ someone ta scream Terrorist! ‘n faint. Thet we’ve all turned inta passive spectators, not passionate participants. Thet we mistakenly declare any strong disagreement or criticism to be Attack! Bashing! & Hate Speech! in order to deflect and shut any criticism down. Thet we think we are actually livin’ in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood because we’ve turned ourselves inta hand-wringin’ little chil’ren, ‘fraid of our opinions, ‘fraid of our shadows, ‘fraid of one another, ‘fraid to publicly disagree, ‘fraid to publicly criticize, unwilling to publicly own ‘n honor our opinions ‘n beliefs, ‘n unwilling to publicly hear the opinions of others who disagree with us.

In short, Emeline, that awful Calhoun woman thinks we’ve become a childish people who would hang somebody like Patrick Henry for darin’ ta stand up at a town hall meetin’ and pound the lectern like an adult because, Lordy help us, lectern poundin’ might frighten the women. Especially the women.

But then that Calhoun woman is no-account herself. Plus, I heard from ol’ Miz Thistlewaite thet she packs her granddaddy’s ole .44 inside those ridiculous striped socks she allus wears. .

No, Emeline, it’s time fer women, particularly women, to be made to feel safe at our public CSD meetings! Women, particularly women, should let their menfolks deal with all these political matters. I mean, no real lady would be caught dead in a place like that anyway!

Unless, of course, she’s running for a seat on the LOCSD Board herself.


Elvira Cunningham

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Facts R Not Us

Last month, in my 9/13 blog entry, (“Yes, It’s a Pop Quiz!”), I presented a sample of how the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s staff misstated and misrepresented what I had written in their “Responses to Technical Evidence and Comments Submitted in Regards to Cease and Desist Orders, Los Osos,” dated April 19, 2006.

I also noted that I had written to the staff (and the Board and Everyone involved) to point out the error and ask it be fixed. I presumed it had been or would be, especially when the CDO case went ker-flooey and had to be started all over again and this particular document had to be amended and re-written.

Silly me. Instead of correcting their misrepresentation, they simply cut and pasted it back in, so what they were claiming in their official document was . . . wrong . . . AGAIN.

So, . . . again . . . I wrote to ask it be corrected. Here’s Harvey Packard’s reply. Mr. Packard is the Division Chief and Enforcement Coordinator. He’s part of “Staff” that prepares documents used by the Regional Board to fine you out of existence and/or allows them to take your homes away from you. That’s serious business, indeed. So if you had that kind of responsibility in preparing a civil liability proceeding complete with documents that form a legal record that can lead to lives being destroyed and homes lost, you would think making sure that the official record remains accurate would be important to you. You would think that, but you’d be wrong. .


Dear Ms. Calhoun,

Matt Thompson and I have reviewed the documents (our original staff report, your first comment letter, our resubmitted staff report, and your recent emails) regarding this issue. We agree that our staff report misrepresented your comments. We apologize for that error.

We do not plan on revising or reissuing the staff report. However, as you note, we are no longer recommending that the cease and desist orders require bimonthly septic tank pumping or an equivalent alternative, so it appears that your comments regarding alternative treatment systems and our response are no longer pertinent to the current discussion.

If for some reason the topic does come up at a future hearing or in a future report, we will take the opportunity to correct the staff report.

Thank you for your interest,

Harvey Packard, Division Chief and Enforcement Coordinator
Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Did you note that Mr. Packard said they had reviewed my first comment letter and their resubmitted staff report? Thereby clearly refreshing their memory that there had indeed been a request to correct the document in question and a clear opportunity to have done so, an opportunity they had missed once and now chose not to take again.

Which brings us to the most important question of all: In this official record, WHAT ELSE HAVE THEY GOTTEN WRONG AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, KNOWINGLY LEFT WRONG?

The CDO hearings for The Los Osos 45 will be help November 2 & 9th at the Regional Water Quality Board offices in SLO. If you think you’re not going to be on the next CDO list, think again. If you think you won’t be on that list because the Staff has made some kind of error in your case, you’d really, reeeeeeely better think again: When it comes to facts and accuracy and the Regional Board, Facts R Not Them.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Uh-Oh, Where Do We Send The Flowers?

KVEC talk radio host, Dave Congalton, used to laughingly-- and regularly-- note that a Tribune endorsement was the Kiss of Death and whatever or whoever they endorsed would lose. I see in today’s paper, for the Los Osos Community Services District Board of Directors, they’ve endorsed: Maria Kelly, Rob Shipe and Joe Sparks.

Gosh, they have my deepest condolences.

For everyone who attended last night’s Meet the Candidates forum, put on by the Amazing! Wonderful! League of Women Voters (Huzzah for all they do), good on you. It was an excellent presentation, the questions selected avoided a lot of hot-button issues and stayed focused on what the CSD will need to do to get back on its feet. There is supposed to be another forum, so maybe some of the “hot button” questions can be asked then.

What the Tribune failed to appreciate but what the Los Osos voters need to keep in mind is that although the Hideous Sewer is technically off the CSD’s plate, selection of new Board members will be absolutely critical since a Board majority will have crucial Official input with the County and since they will be “elected officials,” they have far more power than regular citizens. It is therefore crucial what whoever gets elected is totally committed to see to it that The Process of selecting a wastewater project is honored, that Ginned-up Short-Cutters, Closed-Doors-Done-Dealers, Sewer Jihadi Monkey-Wrenchers – whether RWQCB or CSD Board Members themselves, or Developers or County Engineering or Citizens or Whoever -- be told loudly and clearly by the CSD majority: Back Away From The Table and Get Your Thumbs Off The Scale!

Otherwise, we’ll be looking at another train wreck. And nobody wants that. Nobody.

So, joking aside, folks here in Los Osos better be very thoughtful and careful about who they select to sit on their CSD Board. It’s a critical issue that the Tribune missed. I can only hope the citizens don’t.

So maybe that’s a question that needs to be asked of each candidate at the next forum or at any of their meet-n-greets or if you see any of them at Farmers Market.

Just When You Thought There Was Hope

On 9/13 I posted a blog entry entitled, “Yes, It’s A Pop Quiz,” wherein I printed an excerpt from the RWQCB’s original CDO Technical Evidence and Comments report then printed an excerpt from my original letter, which indicated what I actually wrote. Unfortunately, their original précis misprepesented what I had actually written. I had sent them a letter pointing that misrepresentation out and requesting they correct the record. I stated on the blog that I presumed they would do so.

Bwahahahahah. Silly me.

In their New! Improved! CDO Technical Evidence and Comment report, an official document pretending to be truthful, factual & etc, there, once again, are my comments. Have they been corrected? Nope. Not a bit of it. The RWQCB staff simply did another cut and past job and put into the New! Improved! Report, the Old! WRONG! Information.

Once AGAIN I emailed Matt Thompson at the water board and AGAIN requested that either the misstatement and misrepresentation of what I actually wrote be corrected or if they can’t do a simple and correct précis, then delete all of it.

Why is this important? As I said before, “ . . . it’s hard to justify such scientific and technical dishonesty. So far as I can see, there are two explanations for what they did in this report: (1) The staff who prepared this Official document are incompetent and cannot read, understand and write an accurate précis. (2) The staff who prepared this Official Technical Response document deliberately falsified my comment in order to set up a false straw man and so deflect or eliminate the necessity of responding the POINT of my comment, i.e. that there were, indeed, better interim alternatives to their Mad Pumping Scheme. And that, of course, begs the most important question of all: If Staff was not able to get my minor comments right, What ELSE have they falsified or distorted?”

To that previous comment I can now add, if staff was given an opportunity and a formal request to correct a misrepresentation and refused to do so, or was so rushed they did a sloppy re-write, or just slapped something together, what does that say about their entire report?

Roger Briggs will soon be away on an extended leave. This is curious, since the CDO hearings will commence, again, Nov 2nd, and at the original CDO hearing, one of the RWQCB attorneys stated that the CDO hearings couldn’t proceed without him there since he’s at the heart of everything the board has done in Los Osos for 25 years ( now there’s a nexus worth looking into),yet he’s going to be conveniently far, far away from the 45 who have a right to question him at the hearings? Convenient, did I say? Interesting, too.

Auditors to Look At CSD

At the LAFCo hearings, it was agreed that the Board (and Sam Blakeslee) would ask a state agency to do a full audit of the CSD to determine how their operational and financial systems are set up.

This is great news. This history of our bankruptcy train wreck starts quite a ways back so the audit should be able to track who did what with which funds, see if there were any procedures and laws violated vis a vis reserve funds, hiring decisions, contracts signed/contractors paid out when, etc. In short, the CSD should end up with a “history,” and a set of recommendations that will help them set up a better system of double-checks and trip-wires that should make district operations more transparent and accountable.

And who knows, maybe the STATE auditors will follow the breadcrumbs back to the State Water Board and start asking auditor-like questions about the State Revolving Fund Loan and how it was written and they’ll follow some bread crumbs back to some contractors who, it is alleged, were paid before the proper paperwork was completed & etc. Dotted i’s and crossed t’s. It’s what good auditors look for. It’s what an audit of a system of operation looks for and can maybe set right.

And now, for some weirdness

What is with selling the Tri-W property? One of the strangest episodes in the whole LAFCO hearing was when Paavo Ogren, county deputy director of public works, the guy now in charge of the Hideous Sewer, stood up to say that the County didn’t have any interest one way or the other in whether Tri W is sold or not and that the presence or absence of the site won’t affect the evaluation Process the county will undertake to look at all options. This claim was repeated in an Oct 2 Trib story. Said Ogren, “If it’s sold to a third party, and that site ends up being what the community wants, then we’re going [to] have to figure out how we’re going to go about buying it back. . . . There’s no need to be antagonistic.”

If I were a district engineer charged with building a sewer plant and I thought Tri-W was an option that was very much in the running, most especially because the permits it already carries, I would be leading the pack in lobbying to keep it on the table. Gail Wilcox, who isn’t a district engineer but is the county’s deputy administrator, is concerned and is quoted in the Trib as saying, “If the CSD wants to take Tri-W off the plate, I ask, “Why? Why don’t you let the community make that decision?’”

And Lisa Schicker, LOCSD Prez, noted in the same Trib story, that if Tri W was sold, the permits needed for a sewer plant “would be voided by the sale.” (an “opinion” only. If actually true, why couldn’t that “void” be “un-voided” if the county bought the property and so got the permit anyway?)

But, on the other hand, if I were a district engineer charged with building a sewer plant and I thought Tri-W was so far off the table of being an option that it was ranked in my mind as dead last or beyond dead last, despite its permits, I would be cavalierly insouciant about its sale, too.

So, what gives?

Well, as with all things here in Sewerville, Stay tuned.