Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oh, Poor Tormented Los Osos, Oh, The Inhumanity! The Inhumanity!

Ah, ya gotta love the November 27 Viewpoint in the Tribune, (“How Unprofessionalism is tormenting Los Osos,”) written by seven former Los Osos CSD directors (three of whom were recalled from that office, though the Tribune fails to mention that in their little blurb at the bottom.) The piece ends with an earnest caveat to the current CSD Board: “Dig a hole too deep, you’ll be unable to climb out.”

Ah, quel cri de Coeur caveat! But isn’t killing off and the burying the CSD in a deep, deep hole exactly what many of the Viewpoint writers have been working tirelessly to achieve all along? I mean, before the recall was even certified, one of the authors sent those now infamous secret e-mails to the RWQCB’s Roger Briggs begging him to “fine the CSD out of existence.” Then there were those ongoing lawsuits filed either by Taxpayers Watch or encouraged by Taxpayers Watch, all very costly for the cash-strapped CSD to defend.

Not to mention the disastrous decision by three of the Viewpoint authors to vote (while they were still CSD Board members) to go into court to block Measure B from getting on the ballot. That absolutely guaranteed the giant hole of bankruptcy right out of the box when the [new] CSD ate it big time settling that case rather than continue it and eventually loose even more money in a court mandated settlement that would have been even worse. (I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV but even I knew that California case law took a dim view of people attempting to squash citizen initiatives before elections. Talk about hole digging.)

And then when all of the above failed to kill off the object of their hatred, many of these same folks started up and supported efforts to demand LAFCO just dissolve the whole doggoned CSD altogether – baby AND bathwater – an effort that failed, by the way because the County didn’t want to get suck with any holes either. Then these folks supported an effort to elect a new Taxpayer Watch-supported Board majority slate, which the voters turned down, preferring to re-elect the hold-digging incumbents and one new guy, who hopefully will arrive on the Board with some fill dirt and maybe a back hoe?

Apparently hole digging and corpse burying is a whole lot harder than it looks. So, instead of issuing pious caveats about deep holes, maybe our Viewpoint authors should just send all the CSD Board members a nice vat of toadstool soup for Christmas?

On the other hand, the Viewpoint soundly supports, “The upcoming audits to be conducted by the state, the courts and the district’s own independent auditor [which] shall clarify for the community exactly what has transpired in Los Osos. The citizens deserve no less.”

Hear! Hear! And let’s hope those audits start at year zero and move forward and are all inclusive and thorough. Then we’ll be able to separate sheep from goats, mistakes from illegalities, muddlements from malice.

Then maybe everyone can stop digging holes with their own ox-gored little shovels and focus on bigger things: Like getting a sewer system we can all live with .

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ding! Ding! Ding! Spin Zone Alert! Tribune Weasel-Wording With Another Incomplete Non-Story! Ding! Ding! Ding!

A hint here. Whenever the Tribune uses the word “some” in its headline, look out: Vague, incomplete, spun, non-story ahead. And the November 26th’ entry was no exception. Here was the headline:

“Some charge Osos tax was money down the drainpipe.”

Some? Some charge? Is that like “everyone?” as in, “Mummy, Mummy, everyone’s going to go naked to Jimmy’s all night party, can I go too?”

Wait, it gets even better. Later in the non-story, we find out that the attorney for Taxpayers Watch (Oh, Nooooo, not them. Mummy, Mummy, please, PLEEEZE make those awful people go away!), “Since September . . . has been advising property owners who paid their assessment in lump sums to file claims in bankruptcy court . . . and Kate Neiswender, is noted as saying that . . . “property owners should be entitled to their money back for ethical reasons.”

A lawyer going into a bankruptcy court and arguing “ethical reasons?”

Even better, she is quoted as saying that the claims filed in bankruptcy court by “some people” should be decided this way: “The argument becomes more of equity and fairness than it does legal specifics.” In other words, she wants the bankruptcy judge to rule on the claims being brought by “some people” not on “legal specifics,” but on “equity and fairness.”

Or, need I add, “ethics?”

Well, a little back story. In 2001, the previous CSD Board set up a by-mail assessment vote for all property owners within the Prohibition Zone to assess themselves for the start up of a wastewater project. Single-family homes were assessed approximately $3,895, or they could choose to pay up front, which would have been about $3,340.” Some people decided to pay up front. Most didn’t.

The money collected went towards design, easements, land acquisitions, etc, for A WASTEWATER TREATMENT PROJECT. Interestingly enough, the assessments were only for the tiniest amount possible, not the full amount, since nobody knew the full costs because, at the time of the vote, there were no caps on the project, there never were caps on the project, it was entirely open-ended, limitless, and the HUGE final costs would come in the form of “service fees,” which required no further assessment-type votes.

In short, in 2002, the homeowners voted to assess themselves to start a wastewater project with no end in sight – (talk about fair and equitable and ethical) a totally open-ended project. (I know, “some people” actually thought they were buying a sewer project for their $3,895. Oh, no, not even close. Not even in the ball park. The voted-on start-up assessment costs were for a project that went “bait & switchy” on them, went 40% over bids, then went south with the old board wastefully pounding millions of their dollars into the ground prior to being recalled.)

Even more interesting to this case, the previous CSD encouraged people to pay up front by sending a letter offering a discount, i.e. pay up now and save interest. And even included in the letter that “in the unlikely event that the project does not move forward, [the prepayment] will be returned.”

Ah, you see the problem right there? Yes. “. . . does not move forward.”

Uh, Somebody want to define that for me? Move forward? Does “move out of town” count as “moving forward?” Does temporarily halting the project so it can be moved out of town still constitute “moving forward?” Does updating the project count as “moving forward?” Does submitting the updated project for peer review qualify as “moving forward.? The County now has the project, so are they “moving forward?”

Yet, apparently, it’s that letter that Ms. Neiswender is using to “advise” “some people” to go into court and demand claims that “range from $800 to $15,000 per property owner, plus interest.”

And for another wrinkle, -- Wait for it, it gets delicious -- The CSD members signing that original letter that promised repayment if the [wastewater] project did not move forward, were some of the very folks who were later recalled from office. One, a vital, active member and supporter of Taxpayer Watch is, – yep, Gordon Hensley. Did he sign that letter while on the Board? If so, will Taxpayers Watch “encourage” Gordon to go into bankruptcy court and explain to Judge Riblet what HE meant by . . . not moving forward?

Well, this is wonderful! And it remains to be seen what the Judge makes of it all: either she will decide right then or bounce the whole thing back to state court and see how a Superior Court judge would rule – law or ethics & equity and fairness. Hmmmm,. . .

Meanwhile, of course, defending against such suits by “some people” further depletes the coffers of the CSD, hence may end up sticking the costs of all this onto the citizens of the CSD, which includes ALL people, not just “some.” Which raises the questions, Is that Fair? Equitable? Ethical?

And since Taxpayer’s Watch failed in their dissolution bid, then failed to get two of their “slate” of CSD candidates elected, are they now going to “encourage” more lawsuits in an effort to simply bleed the CSD to death by any means, fair or foul?

All the while, of course, decrying fiscal irresponsibility on the part of the CSD, while they themselves still owe LAFCO some $27,000 in county costs for bringing their failed dissolution case against the CSD. To my knowledge, they haven’t paid off that debt yet, which again brings up matters equitable & fair for “some people.”

Oh, and, of course, “ethical.”

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Calhoun’s Cannons , The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA ,for November 22, 06
No Account

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made . . .”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I want them all in the dock at The Hague, before the World Court, on trial for war crimes, the cloistered theorists with their soft pale hands, the Neo-Cons in their arrogant ignorance who mistook Iraqis for Rotarians from Nebraska. Kristol, Kagan, Wolfowitz, Perle, Sciafe, all the chicken hawk architects of their PNAC wet-Dream who now blandly disavow their role in creating the Baghdad killing grounds. “It wasn’t us,” they say, stroking their clean white hands. “Our theories were sound. It was those incompetents in Washington that caused our dream to fail, not us. Never us.” I want them all in the dock.

I want Bush and Cheney and Powell there, too. I want Bush to explain why, before starting his little “shock & awe” war, he never even bothered to pick up a phone and call some old MI-5 type who’s now doddering around in a British rest home, one of the old school Eton boys who was there when Iraq was cobbled together out of the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire, someone present at the creation, some old, experienced hand who would have told him unequivocally, “Don’t do it, Sonny. Don’t do it!”

And I want Powell to tell the world why he put love of self and his four gold stars above love of Constitution and country. Powell knew.

And I want Congress jammed into that witness box, too. I want to know how it was possible that a lot of regular citizens with no access to intelligence knew Bush was cherry picking and conflating and lying, but they, who had far greater access to real intelligence, good intelligence, handed the President a sword and turned their self-blinded eyes away, asking no hard questions, refusing oversight and responsibility. When did party loyalty trump love of country? What mattered more to them, the mounting death toll? A treasury being looted by war profiteers in a mismanaged operation being run by incompetents? Or being called French-looking-girly-men by bloviating hypocrites like Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly? I want them all in the dock.

But most of all, I want the American people to appear in The Hague. I want to know why they were so easily fooled. Monger a little fear, gin up a few phony facts, and our nation of brave, militia-ready, citizen-farmers turned into bleating sheep ready to trash the Constitution, commit wars of aggression, codify and condone torture. Waterboarding? Torture as frat-boy high-jinks? Habeas corpus? Invade the wrong country? What’s the problem?

Increasingly, the late-night comedians have been getting bigger laughs now when they mock Washington. But through the scrim of laughter, I keep seeing the ghosts of all the dead asking,”Who will be the last to die here? Is that what’s so funny? That the joke’s on him?”

But there will be no answer at The Hague. Even with a regime change in Washington, there will be no real accountability. Americans don’t like accountability. Accountability might interfere with profits, might raise too many questions best left unanswered, might implicate too many people. Instead, it’s time to move on. For the architects of this disaster, fat book contracts, lucrative K-Street lobbying jobs and highly-paid punditry slots at cable news divisions all await.

Iraq, Afghanistan will soon slide off the radar of the American psyche. Disinterested to begin with, Americans will soon be distracted by some new passing fancy, a witless game show involving near naked women bobbing for diamonds in vats of green Jell-O, perhaps. Or yet another Hollywood scandal.

As for all the dead, the missing, the maimed, a country destroyed, a treasury looted, none of that matters. It never did. It was all merely collateral damage to the arrogant, ignorant cloistered theorists with their expensive suits and soft pale hands, careless people who dreamed of transforming the world into their own image.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

And Now, A Word From Those Good Folks Who Are Being Waterboarded For YOUR Sake, Without Your Help, Knowledge Or Even Interest.

A awful lot of people in Los Osos will be sitting down to their Turkey Din-Din, happy and at peace, having absolutely NO CLUE that 45 of their friends and neighbors are still being tortured and jerked around and “experimented on” with a series of weirdly morphing CDO “agreements,” screwed-up postings, missed deadlines, completely impossible demands – legally impossible – and goal-post moving by the New Grand Inquisitor for the Regional Water Quality Control Board who’s running the CDO Kangaroo Court that may or may not reconvene in December unless things get screwed up again and the Los Osos 45 have to get jerked around some more because of some other loony demand or morphed technicality or muddlement.

No, most of my fellow Los Ososians are blissfully unaware of this sickening drama happening to their neighbors and soon to be brought to their doorstep. Here’s an update from one such Waterboarded Victim. And while you are having a nice Thanksgiving, think about one thing: Some of these people are working hard on your behalf. They need help to pay the lawyer they have hired in order to work on your behalf. The possible settlement they’re looking at could benefit the whole community, could offer the possibility of being a true win/win, could start having a mitigating impact on the ground water immediately, not seventeen years down the road after a gazillion kangaroo court “trials,” all of which is something that will benefit YOU. I would ask you to think seriously about that and their (and your) defense fund at the Coast Bank. Then put down that drumstick and go make a donation. You’ll be doing YOURSELF a favor.

Thank you for asking for information about the Proposed CDO status. If you want to find out what CDO recipients have been doing for the past couple of months – or for the past 9+ months, for that matter – you can find what you need on line at There you will find links, one of them being to the Los Osos Enforcement Actions. Clicking on that link will bring you to a page bearing all the communications from the water board and all the responses by defendants. The most recent responses to the November 15 deadline have been posted. Since we are asked to submit electronically whenever possible, it is pretty easy for them to pop in the responses, scanning anything else that is hand-written. Anyone who doesn't have a computer is free to go to the water board during working hours to ask to peruse the documents. You might even try asking for a meeting with the prosecution team, as future Proposed CDO recipients.

Our group continues to meet at least weekly, and smaller groups meet more often, to work on an agreement that we hope will be acceptable to us, and beneficial to all residents of the PZ, and that the water board can live with, so that this hearing/postponement cycle can stop. A large number of us have agreed to legal representation; four defendants are on record as having already signed the proposed agreement that appears on the water board web site at the top of the enforcement actions page. The references to their CDO numbers appear at the bottom of the pages. Bill and I refuse to sign that agreement with its drop-dead date of 2010 and scant assurance of a revision, which also involves our waiving our right to a hearing in the context of the impossible date.

Anything else you wish to know about current events of the CDO sort, please feel free to call Bill Moylan. We are in the book. Bill can also advise you about donating to the legal defense fund. I know that other CDO recipients would be able to provide you information, as well, and if you know a CDO recipient, please ask.

If the rest of the Prohibition Zone wishes to avoid this road that we’ve been on, they can donate any amount they are able to the PZLDF. Legal representation has been enormously helpful, but it is expensive. The majority of our fund’s resources came from two donors. The rest has come from CDO recipients and a few Interested Parties. Given the amount of the major donations and the total size of the fund, other donations have been few and far between.

Our original intent was to save our legal defense fund for the litigation to come years from now when our cases finally got heard by the water board and appealed to the SWRCB, and then on to the courts, where we planned to utilize legal counsel. But this interim agreement has come up, and we need counsel to assist with the negotiations and other legal recourse.

You can walk into Coast National Bank to donate or send your donation to PZLDF P.O. Box 6095 Los Osos, CA 93412. Please remember that by making a donation you are helping yourself.

I have been referred to on this blog as being “jaded,” which is so funny to me, because as I understand that word, it means cynical and bored. I can’t wait to have the time for that. When I think of “jaded” I think of a friend of ours, a PZ resident, who asked my husband, Bill, how he was doing and received an answer of how tired Bill felt. This friend asked him why he felt so bad. When Bill mentioned that we’ve been in this CDO process for over nine months, the friend’s response was, “Has it been that long…?” As this friend commiserated, Bill told him that he could really help by donating to the PZLDF. Our friend who owns two houses in the Prohibition Zone responded, “I’ll think about it.” To me, that’s jaded. But that’s just me.

There is a true disconnect between Proposed CDO recipients and the rest of the PZ. I think it's partly biology - the tendency to isolate and separate from the weak or threatened members of the herd - and partly ignorance. It must be so comforting to be able to say, "I feel so sorry for them." But really, the best way for PZ dwellers to assist themselves is to stay connected to the first 45 by acknowledging that this fight is everyone's fight. And the best way to do that is to donate to PZLDF P.O. Box 6095 Los Osos, CA 93412.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

O.K. Take Your Little Micey Toes Off The Scale And Step BACK From The Machinery! Yes, it's Ron Crawford over at with another posting: "Fourth Time's a Charm? The Stupidest Election Ever." If you want to see how the game is beginning to set up (keep your eye on the cheese at all times -- bait and switchy can happen in an eyeblink. ), then do yourself a favor and go read his posting. Take notes. Yes, that's rustling you hear in the shrubbery. And be warned, How the issue is framed will determine what questions will even be asked, not to mention that deals can be done-deals in an eyeblink. Not for nothing is fait accompli always followed by, "What's That? You Object? Oh, Too Bad. Too Late. Sorry. Get Over It. Buh-Bye."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Woooo, Nitrates, Morro Mysterioso Syle and Other Stuff

Recent huge headlines in the Tribune, “Morro Bay tap water called unsafe for some,” then a day later, “Tap water in Morro called safe to drink.” Apparently, although Morro Bay’s been sewered for years (with the treated wastewater dumped out to sea) the nitrate levels in their wells located in the Morro Valley and Chorro Valley have nitrate levels above the state allowed standards.

When the city had to shut down the imported state watersupply for the annual pipe maintenance, the city had to rely on the well water. So, the warning went out that pregnant women, small children and the ill or immuno-compromised shouldn’t drink the water because the nitrate levels would be 4 parts per million over the state allowed amount. (It wasn’t noted how many gallons of water you’d have to drink at 4 parts per million over the limit to cause a problem.)

At any rate, here’s what I found amazing: “The source of the nitrates is not known; however, fertilizers are the most common source.”

The source is not known? Hmmm, since the Morro Valley and the Chorro Valley’s watershed comes under the pervue of the Regional Water Quality Control Board, apparently the staff there has never heard of isotope testing. Like, maybe years ago, they could have dropped some isotopes downstream from a farmer’s fields, then trace where they go. If they show up in the groundwater, then there’s a good bet that the “source” would be fertilizer run off from the field. At which point, the farmer could be issued a CDO and dragged into a “trial” and required to do whatever it took to cease and desist polluting the ground waters of the state of California, like maybe working with the city of Morro Bay to update their wastewater plant to include a beneficial use Ag Exchange so the nitrate-rich water could be applied in better amounts so the plants would uptake all of it, thereby eliminating the “extra” that ends up in the drinking water? And so forth.

Oh, wait, clearly the RWQCB doesn’t have the staff to do something like that since their staff’s all tied up with the CDO “trials” of 4,500 Los Ososians. They couldn’t possibly be expected to find out “the source of the nitrates” that have permanently polluted the waters of the state of California, which forced Morro Bay to import and mix their waters so they’d have a safe product. No, perish the thought.

Sign of the Times

Election’s over. Dissolution’s over. Time to get rid of some of the ginormous signs still dotting the town? Well, consider this. There’s folks busy trying to cut down stands of eucalyptus trees all over town, trees which serve as shelter for monarch butterflies and raptors.

Yesterday, driving down South Bay Blvd, I stared at the ginormous DISSOLVETHECSDGETTHEFACTS black sign there on private property at Pismo and SBB and perched on the sign was a gorgeous red-tailed hawk.

So, I say, maybe we should keep all our huge political signs up. Maybe put up even bigger, taller one. With so many trees cut down, we should at least offer some alternative perches for our feathered friends.

Hand Me That Cheese, It’s Rat Time

Patrick Klemz over at New Times (Nov 19 edition) has a story in News of the Week, called “Unraveling Tri-W.” It’s about the recent Planning Commission meeting wherein the Commission declared that building anything on Tri-W “might violate the General Plan.”


What makes this all so weird is that at the final LAFCO hearing, while Alan Settle was coming unglued over the possibility that Tri-W might be sold, Paavo Ogren, who’s in charge of the Sewer project, sauntered up to the podium and announced with absolute sanguinity that, Nope, he wasn’t concerned, it presented no problem to the county in their consideration of plants and plans and sewer alternatives, not a worry, no problema.

Now, --NOW?-- we have “staff” and their totally weird notation that suddenly there’s some kind of hideous “danger” here, that the general plan MIGHT be violated if somebody MIGHT want to build, oh, let’s say, a mixed-use business and apartment complex there instead of a SEWER PLANT, and such a change in plans MIGHT require up to TWO YEARS to complete all the permits for such a project, and I commented in a previous blog that in the Coastal Zone, two years isn’t a “concern,” it’s a FAST TRACK.

What’s creepy is the spin on all this. When sanguinity starts shifting to vague unglue-ness and words like “condemn the property,” and “certain dangers,” start mixing in with Oh, well, this is all just “informational,” (heh-heh) that we’re just keeping “all options open,” and the famous weasel-words, “could” and “might” show up, then people need to start looking carefully. There’s the distinct possibility that little ratsies are scuttling in the underbrush and it’s time to grab the cheese and check the traps.

Then go home and count the silverware.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Yes, Virginia, The Old Cliché Is Correct: Every Vote DOES Count

Final tally on the CSD’s recent Board election: Joe Sparks (2985), Incumbents Chuck Cesena (2851) and Steve Senet (2726) and Maria Kelley (2682.) When the race was initially “called,” Maria Kelley was ahead. At final tally, Steve won by 44 votes.

Hooray to everyone who ran and my congratulations and deepest sympathy to the winners. Oh, and will Taxpayers Watch please now just go away? Thank you.

There’s an enormous amount of hard work that lies ahead and I hope the community won’t be distracted by sewer jihadis on either side knee-capping the community at every turn. Every eye better be focused on the county’s PROCESS to make sure that, as they complete their promised examination of various alternative scenarios, that everyone keeps their fingers off the scales. No more ginned-up SOCs, no missed steps, no fudged numbers, no bait & switchy. Nope, the Process has to be clean and transparent, the numbers accurate, the community fully involved or we’ll be heading for another train wreck and nobody wants that.

Then, the Regional Water Quality Control Board is now working on an “alternative” to the CDOs that may (I say MAY) offer the possibility of a complete Win/Win (I say WIN/WIN) here for everybody, could, (I say COULD) make the new RWQCB’s Grand Inquisitor look like a Hero and should (I say SHOULD) make the Board itself look like they had, with the departure of CEO Roger Briggs, suddenly acquired The Wisdom of Solomon, and best of all, would (I say WOULD) result in immediate improvement of the groundwater, something the CDO process, plodding along with the Kangaroo Court Hearings nigh onto seventeen years or so will never (I say NEVER) accomplish.

HOWEVER, (I say however), the success or failure of this new plan hinges on a turn of phrase, a word here or there, you know, the Devil which is always found in the details. Add one change and it’s Victory (I say VICTORY) for everyone involved, including the groundwater) or refuse to add that one change and it’s Failure (I say FAILURE) all ‘round.

The choice rests entirely with the RWQCB staff, the Grand Inquisitor, the Board itself. Lady or Tiger? Success or failure?

This community better stay tuned and stay focused. There’s so much riding on the single stroke of a pen.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ron Crawford, Where Are Youuuuuu?

Aw, Dang. I had to work so couldn’t attend the recent SLO County Planning Board meeting. But then Ron Crawford, he of the Sewerwatch Blogsite, didn’t attend either. So some real fun was missed by all.

The purpose of the meeting? According to the Tribune, a report presented to the Planning Commissioners stated that if the CSD decided to sell the infamous Tri-W parcel of land, “Whoever buys those parcels might need to ask that the county change the General Plan. That would require approval by the Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors and the state Coastal Commission, and it could take several months to two years.”

Might need to ask the county to change the General Plan?

Aw, GAWD! Can you hear Ron now? For years he’s been squawking on his blogsite about the Coastal Commission issuing a permit to put a sewer plant in the middle of the town, a permit for land that comes under its jurisdiction since it’s in the Coastal Zone, a permit based in part on the old CSD Board “Statement of Overriding Considerations,” which included the “fact” that the community had an overwhelming community value of having parklands and park amenities in a centrally located place, and so overwhelming was this community value that the community would pay any price, bear any burden, do anything, in fact, including having a sewer plant stuck next to Tot Lots and playfields, if that’s what it took. Even pay more for a sewer plant if that’s what allowed for those amenities to fulfill that strongly held community value & etc.

Or maybe that was backwards. The strongly held community value of having centrally located amenities and parks and Tot Lots was the number one priority of the community so a sewer plant HAD TO BE located in the middle of town so these amenities could be stuck on it thereby sneaking a permit past the CC since the CC would never had issued that permit since there were always better, non-ESHA, out-of-town sites for the sewer plant but they didn’t have those overwhelming centrally located public amenities and so forth.

Well, either way, the same SOC’s were used for the County Planning Commission AND the Board of Supervisors, all of whom were told about all those overwhelming community values vis a vis Tot Lots before voting to change the zoning from commercial R-2 and residential to INDUSTRIAL just so that sewer plant could be put in the middle of town.

And now the County is claiming that changing the zoning back to the way it was before it was deliberately changed to accommodate this overwhelming community value would (could?) be made onerous in order to discourage any new buyer so the county could maybe keep their mitts on the parcel in case they decide to try to stuff the sewer plant back into the middle of town, even after the recall and Measure B and civic train wreck caused by that Overwhelmingly Valued Sewer Tot Lot?

That’s where Ron should have come in.

Literally come into the Board chambers with eighteen HUGE Irish navvies pushing hand carts piled to the ceiling with reports, files, documents, transcripts, in fact, every damned piece of paper involved with the prohibition zone and sewer project from day one.

Ron could then have strode to the front of this mountain of paper work, slapped the side of the mound heartily and declaimed in a booming voice, “Ahem, Honorable members of the Planning Commission. A couple of years ago, you voted to change the zoning of this parcel of land from a bucolic residential, mixed business, multi-residential highly sensitive and valuable piece of ESHA land into, if I’m not mistaken, a PUBLIC UTILITIES/INDUSTRIAL zone specifically to accommodate a sewer plant in the middle of all this bucolic beauty. I now challenge you, Gentlemen & Ladies, to find one piece of paper, one scrap of evidence, one official study, vote, certified poll, something, anything in this mountain of yellowing paper to justify your original vote and support the old CSD’s SOC that the community had an overwhelming value to put a Tot Lot next to a ginormous sewer plant in the middle of their town."

“Go ahead,” Ron would have said, gesturing grandly at the ceiling-high pile of papers, “Start looking. I’ll come back in a couple of years and see how you’re doin’.”

He also could have added, “And please tell me if falsifying SOCs with no evidence is permissible and if not, please tell me why you aren’t calling for a re-hearing on this original land use plan. The Coastal Commission staff member Mr. Monowitz has indicated to me that if this matter comes again before them, they’ll be taking another look since, apparently, they’re not amused by “bait & switchy” snookering over faux Tot Lots and unsupported overwhelming community values. So, how’s about you guys doing the same now?”

Aw, but that didn’t happen. Dang.

Not known is why a buyer of the TriW site might (note the use of that weasel word) “need to ask that the county change its General Plan.” I wonder what a new buyer of that land might want to build there that could violate the INDUSTRIAL zoning that’s there now? Hmmmm, now that’s worth thinking about. As for “Public Utlities” use, gee, do you suppose that would include . . . a Tot Lot?

Also not known is why the Planning Commission would somehow send what appears to be a threatening signal to a potential buyer that amending the county plan could take “several months to two years.” Several months? Two years?

When it comes to developing anything in the Coastal Zone, two years isn’t a “problem,” it’s a fast track.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, for November 9, 06

Hand Me That Cup of Hemlock, It’s Election Time

From sea to shining sea, from Washington, DC, to Sacramento, to our very own Sewerville By The Slough, we are awash in hokum, lies, balderdash, and conflated hooey all floated on a sea of endless (often hidden) money, money, money.

Yep, it’s Election Time and it’s getting harder and harder to observe the passing scene without throwing up.

At the national level, it’s beyond comprehension to me that Bush’s poll numbers are as high as they are. Has nobody been paying attention? At all? Ditto for the Republican controlled House and Senate. That the outcome should even be in question as I write this means that either we are still The Sleepwalking Nation, or have failed to understand the wisdom of our system of “checks and balances,” or are in the throes of a common phenomenon known as, “Yes, Congress Sucks, but MY Representative is Swell”—a malady of being unable to connect the dots.

Here in Caleeeforneeeah, unable to elect an assembly that actually works for We The People, we’re once again being governed by Special Interest Initiatives, so the state is awash in cash and lies. And, depending on what actually gets passed, will soon be awash in the very expensive Law of Unintended Consequences.

Our little County is, alas, not exempt from all this hideosity, including a “watchdog” newspaper of record asleep at the switch when it’s not actively shilling for certain special interests and/or ignoring major problems or engaging in embarrassing breeches of journalistic and editorial ethics, to say the least. Add in the mystery of a local candidate going weirdly “negative” at the last minute and, let’s not forget that here in Sewerville, we ended up with a genuine miracle!

In the Second District race for Supervisor, like you, I got several slick flyers from candidate Roger Anderson accusing his opponent of . . . well, something or other. Even after reading the thing three times, I’m not quite sure what evil Gibson was accused of doing – selling oranges? selling stocks? -- neither of which, last time I checked, was an illegal activity. Part of my surprise at these flyers was that from Day One of that race all the candidates had pledged to make Nice-Nice. Some perceptive Letters-To-The-Editor writers accused Roger’s “handlers” of being responsible for the weirdly conflated hit-piece. Why “handlers” were able to hijack Mr. Anderson at the last minute remains a mystery.

Maybe the “handlers” had hired the same Ad Guys that our very own Los Osos “Taxpayers Watch” uses for their weirdly conflated stuff, website included. They’re absolute masters at that game – putting Fact A next to Fact Z, while coolly knowing that the average reader will (incorrectly) conclude that it means Fact X. It’s an effective advertising misdirection strategy that treats citizens as marks to be sold soap or corn flakes. TPW has effectively used the technique from day one, since they can create a totally false and misleading “reality” of “facts,” while claiming plausible deniability and, most important, leaving no fingerprints -- Nuh-huh, I always never didn’t say that.

But in this election, TPW has apparently also managed a true miracle of the Loaves & Fishes variety: They sent out expensive flyers in support of a slate-of-three candidates for the same CSD they recently moved heaven and earth to destroy, which is sorta like saying,“Yes, your honor, we DID try to beat him to death with a baseball bat, but when he didn’t die, we figured, Aw, Heck, we’d better just marry him. THEN kill him off with a new board majority vote!”

But the miracle in all this? After LAFCO refused to dissolve the CSD, Taxpayers Watch asked that the costs for the whole dissolution process be waived (i.e. stick it to the county taxpayers) on account of They Wuz Broke! Yet they can now afford expensive campaign mailers? It’s a miracle!

So, as the dust settles over the ballot boxes, for me only two real questions remain: (1) Just how FEW people actually bothered to vote this time, and (2) How loud will the crying be when We The People start getting exactly what we deserve, followed by the Bill for Unintended Consequences, due and payable.

Well, can’t say we weren’t warned, now can we?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

To The New LOCSD Board Members: Congratulations! You Have My Deepest Sympathy.

The voters here in Sewerville have spoken, so far. And to me the election of two but not three new CSD Board candidates says that Sewerville wants a change but not a change of direction. Hence, they elected Joe Sparks and Maria Kelley (two Taxpayer Watch-supported candidates) but they also returned to office, incumbent Chuck Cesena.

All three candidates have my deepest sympathy. The newcomers are about to find out that the view from behind the dais is often 180’ different from what they thought it would be on the public side of the table. Once they take the oath of office, they’ll be taken into closed session and there will undoubtedly be given a snootful of privileged information that may give them a different take on things yet again.

They’ll also get to sit and smile politely while people like themselves stand up at Public Comment to rail against their evilness and blockheadedness while hurling carefully honed vitriol down upon their head and shoulders. Their integrity will be questioned, their votes examined, their personal lives subject to scrutiny and rumor. They may even be personally sued for their actions by Taxpayers Watch, and/or be subjectd to a recall. Or, maybe, since Taxpayers Watch didn’t get a Board Majority, they’ll have to defend against another dissolution attempt.

On the other hand, since these candidates were endorsed by and benefited from Taxpayers Watch’s political ads and flyers (while coyly denying they were members or in any way involved with TPW, had no connection with them, that TPW was free to support or not support anyone they chose, heh-heh, and etc.), does their election signal that TPW will finally come in from the cold and join the rest of the community in working on mutual problems from the center, not from the edge throwing stones and lawsuits?

If so, then is Sewerville entering a new era? Are we now moving towards mutually solving a series of problems that were caused when the old Board refused to listen to and actively engage the “center” in a fair and honest process that coulda/shoulda led to a decision on a wastewater project that woulda/coulda been supported by that same “center,” thereby avoiding the train wreck that this ”newish” board is now saddled with cleaning up?

Oh, God, let’s hope so.

Meantime, to the new candidates-elect, I can only say: Gosh, I’m sooooo sorry. But, Good Luck!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Yep,It’s a Shell Game, But This Time, It’s The Tribune’s Shell Game.

On October 27, 06, the Tribune ran an Editorial, titled “A Shell Game in Los Osos.” Actually, it was a partisan campaign ad disguised as an editorial. One of the more interesting points made was this: “The district’s board of directors has consistently pointed their fingers at the previous board – which was recalled in September 2005 – for creating the financial mess in which the community now finds itself. We don’t buy it. If the current board has found any evidence of mismanagement by the recalled board, it should come forward with it. It’s had more than a year to prove those accusations.”

Uh, gosh. Didn’t the Tribune previously print a story about how the District Attorney had investigated charges by the CSD concerning improperly/illegally signed contracts by the former general manager (a contract with WMH signed by the GM BEFORE he had even been hired ???) and the DA . . . declined to prosecute?

The DA didn’t declare that everything was fine, that it’s perfectly legal for people to sign contracts even before they’ve been hired to a job that would allow them to sign contracts . . . once they’ve been hired. Nope, the DA didn’t clear the matter, he simply DECLINED TO PROSECUTE, which is what DAs do all the time with cases they don’t think they can win or cases that just aren’t worth their time to persue. In short, they give a walk to a lot of “law-breakers.” Which, of course, the Tribune knew perfectly well when they wrote this editorial.

The Oct 27 editorial was followed by a letter to the editor by James Tkach noting that the editorial called “. . . for a new board by referring to Judge Piquet’s audit cited by the county, which alleges mismanagement by the CSD, yet this audit is for the period ending in June 2005, as was reported in the Tribune. This was prior to the recall election, yet you blame the current board. . . .”

Was reported in the Tribune? Yep, it was. So, does the editorial Board of the Trib not read their own paper before writing editorials? Guess so.

As for the audits now underway, the results aren’t in yet. Will they look at both pre-recall and post recall expenditures? Let’s hope so. Can anyone know, in advance, what their conclusions will be vis a vis any “irregularities?” No. But that hasn’t stopped the Tribune’s editorial board from jumping to conclusions that aren’t even supported by their own limited newspaper reporting.

This morning, the Tribune ran a “Viewpoint” from CSD President Lisa Schicker, responding to the Trib’s previous Election Endorsement Disguised As An Editorial; Schicker made a few key points that bear careful consideration:

“The official 2005 audit revealed the recalled board drained the wastewater fund down to $200,000 in July 2005. With the outcome of the recall election uncertain, they could’ve set the election one month earlier and delayed construction a mere 20 working days – without any loss of loan or penalty from the state; they didn’t.

“They could have sold the remaining $2 million in bonds as a safeguard; but they didn’t.

“Financial misdeeds occurred in August/September 2005, just before the election, when the manager pre-paid more than $2 million of initial state loan monies to contractors – money earmarked for project reserves/contingencies, in direct violation of State Revolving Fund loan policy and Board Resolution 2005-33. . . . “

“Our board-requested financial audits from this summer revealed the recalled board did not disclose, but took, $1.2 million out of reserves in August 2005 to pay wastewater bills and make a bond payment, against board policy, questionable reserve spending occurring before the new board ever took office.

“These irregularities are but a few reported to the district attorney, Department of Audits, grand jury and Environmental Protection Agency; they are also the basis for legal challenges to the contractors. . . . “

And so forth. To date, the request for re-examination to the EPA is underway; Outcome? Unknown. The challenge to the contractors is still underway. Ditto the grand jury and Department of Audits. In short, until these reports come in, nobody – not you, not me, certainly not the Tribune editors – know diddly.

Now, the Tribune Editorial Board knows all of this. The 2005 audit reports are available, the DA’s complaints are available, the inquires to the EPA, the lawsuit filings are all available. Does the Tribune editorial Board review any of these claims BEFORE writing its Political Ad Disguised as an Editorial?

Nope. Not a bit of it. Did the Tribune make any effort to look further into these claims and run a nice piece of “investigative journalism” on the whole tangled mess? You know, an unbiased piece that would help clarify and shine a light on what happened? Nope. Not a bit of it.

If We The People get the government we deserve, we also get the Newspapers we deserve. Which is why I keep harping on the importance that people need to stay awake at the switch. Los Osos is awash in weasle words and spin and phony “facts,” loaded to the gunnels with people jumping to conclusions -- a leap of unwarranted faith taken not only by all the private players, but – alas – from our own Newspaper of Record, which should know better.

Caveat lector, Sewerville. Caveat lector. And, yes, that includes this blog and all who log on to read and comment. Caveat, caveat.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


When last we heard from our own Los Osos Taxpayers Watch, they were before the LAFCO board asking that the costs they incurred with their dissolution efforts should be waived on account THEY WUZ BROKE! -- Poor, tapped out, no dinero, zip coin of the relm, impoverished, down & out, Boo-hoo – and requested that the costs associated with their dissolution efforts instead be stuck to the county taxpayers.

Next thing I know, here comes some costly flyers supporting their slate of candidates for the CSD.

What gives? A miracle of the Loaves & Fishes variety? Did a rich uncle die and leave them enough money to pay their LAFCO bill AND send out flyers? What?