Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sheriff, There’s a Sheriff In My Soup. Oh, Wait, It’s Just A Bug.

When I first posted a note on the Tribune story on Sheriff Pat Hedges & The Illegally Taping Lawsuit, I noted that any allegation or lawsuit involving the words . . . grievance . . . involuntary transfer . . . narcotics division . . . secret taping . . . would involve another word: Wrinkles.

And so it has proven to be the case. On Sept 28, the Tribune continued the story with the wonderful headline, “Sheriff Defends Office Bugging,” and notes that Hedges says the county doesn’t have the authority to even investigate the case and even if they do, they don’t have the authority to do much of anything about it since he’s elected to office and it’ll be up to the voters to vote him out if they think he’s broken the law, which he might have done, but didn’t intend to . . . break the law, that is.

And then the next day, in a follow up to the follow up, another story wherein Sheriff Hedges declares that he’s not putting himself on administrative leave while this whole thing is being investigated. Which puts Hedges squarely athwart county administrator, Dave Edge and county policy that places parties on paid administrative leave, “While you investigate it, you need to get the alleged perpetrator out of the office so he’s not continuing to exert pressure on the person. . . you take these people out of the office immediately.”

Except for the Sheriff, apparently. Said Hedges, in the Sept 29 Tribune follow up: “Hedges said placing people on leave is rare in his department partly because there are other options, such as reassigning employees or changing their shifts or work locations. . . . ‘We very seldom put people on administrative leave just because there’s an allegation or investigation,’ Hedges said. ‘That’s just not what I do.”

Except in this case because, according to the story, the “victim,” Chief Deputy Gary Hoving, the bugee who’s filed a $1.25 million lawsuit against the alleged bugers, “went on paid administrative leave August 29 after deciding he could not work comfortably in the department. He said he believed there were no other options.”

Since Sheriff Hedges is Deputy Hoving’s boss, and the Sheriff Department policy rarely ever places people on leave, and since Hedges hasn’t put himself on leave, why did he give leave to Hoving to go on leave? As the Tribune’s Sept 29 story noted, in a quote from “Craig Smith, a former prosecutor who teaches t Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law, noted that it would be unusual for a purported victim to be placed on paid administrative leave while those accused of wrongdoing were still on duty.”

And then today, Sunday the 30th, the Trib’s editorial chimed in with another “wrinkle.” “Sheriff should take a leave of absence. Pat Hedges should stay out until the state ends its investigation into his eavesdropping.”

Eavesdropping? Now there’s an interesting word. Originally it meant someone (literally) hiding under the eaves of a house to listen at window and door to private conversation. The word has also carried the connotation of someone not necessarily intentionally trying to sneak around to hear something he’s clearly not a party to, but to include someone who happens to overhear something and who doesn’t immediately move away, but instead hangs around to listen in. Eavesdropping. It’s a term that can also imply something impolite, certainly, as well as something with often malign intention. But when did deliberately setting up a video recording device to record someone who “had a reasonable expectation of privacy” now become simply a case of rude “eavesdropping?” A case of, Why shame on me, My Bad?

On the other hand, as legal cases involving employees who get fired for office email chat or visiting porn sites while at work make clear, maybe no employee anywhere has or should expect any privacy anywhere at work, including company bathrooms, and no expectation of privacy even off the premises while they’re on duty. And since peace officers are sorta never really off duty . . . .

Which means, Wrinkles. More wrinkles. Well, stay tuned. We surely have an interesting saga bumbling along here. I can only hope it doesn’t end up costing the tax payers a bundle.

Speaking of Wrinkles

Ah, very mysterioso. Has the Bay News disappeared . . . again? Calhoun’s Can(n)ons has run in The Bay News since about 1992, or thereabouts, so I’ve watched the little paper die and be reborn a few times over the years, prompting me to suggest that perhaps we should rename it, The Resurrection News, The Little Community Paper That Refuses To Die. Well, Dead Again? Morphed? Moved? Merged? Bought out? Gone to France? If it’s happened/happening again, it will be sad but more than understandable—Newspapers all over the country appear to be a dying art form and trying to run a small community paper is a labor of love that can best be described as Absolutely Tough-to-Impossible. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that The Little Paper That Refuses To Die will somehow survive whatever it’s morphing/morphed into, if anything.

More Wrinkles. Stay tuned.

Hooray For Los Osos

Saturday’s County Workshop, Information Fest for the proposed County Wastewater Project at Sunnyside School was very well attended, with people coming and going all afternoon while visiting the various outlying rooms for informative talks from TAC members and other presenters. Of special note is the TAC hand-out, which will also be passed out at Monday’s Los Osos Farmer’s Market. The TAC did a great job on the hand-out by putting various component combo options, complete with pro-con analysis, diagrams/descriptions and low-high price guestimates together– one per page – so that residents get a quick, easy to digest overview and comparison.

Next up, the October 4th CSD meeting which will discuss and vote on how the CSD will vote their properties’ assessment ballot. As I noted in a previous blog entry, that vote will be sort of like the puffs of smoke that appear at the Vatican to announce whether a new Pope has been selected – a signal to the community of where the CSD stands on the vote.

Wrinkles, wrinkles, wrinkles.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Reminder: County Hosted Sewer/Wastewater Workshop/Open House, Sunnyside School, Los Osos Valley Rd, Saturday (today) Sept 29, 07, 1pm - 5 pm, All Kinds of Official Personages There, Face Time With Official Personages, Q&A Face To Face, Lots of Presentation Boards, Presentations By NGO Types, (i.e. "alternative systems Rep's are supposed to be there), Diagrams, Little Arrows Flying Everywhere, Take-Away Flyers, Info On The 218 Vote by Official Assessment Personages, Repeated Intro Presentations Every So Often For Those Wandering In Throughout The Day, Balloons! Dancing Bears! A Guy In a Clown Suit! (o.k. I'm making that part up). In short there's NO EXCUSE to Claim You Didn't Have A Chance To Go Ask Your Questions To An Official Personage & Get Official Answers.

Then plan to attend the Oct 4 CSD meeting for Info on how they'll vote on the CSD Properties and find out what their fall-back position will be, (if any and should the 218 fail) then go home and study everything, mull, mumble, scratch your heads, get out your calculators, ask yourselves questions about If and If, Then and If Then, What? and so forth, then VOTE -- one way or the other, I don't care, just VOTE -- so that way nobody can later whine and claim that property owners didn't have a chance to put their money where their mouths are. Thank you . Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Calhoun’s Ca(n)nons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA, for Sept 26, 07

Medea in Sewerville, Part Duh

The pdf file was puzzling. A Sixty-Day Notice of Intent to Sue for Violation of Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act sent to the CSD and cc’d to the Feds. The letter was signed by Gordon Hensley, who is listed as Executive Director and only full-time Staff member serving the “Environment In The Public Interest (EPI)-San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper,” a non-profit organization dedicated to “ensuring that the public has a voice with Government officials charged with responsibilities for environmental protection.”

Mr. Hensley was one of the three recalled CSD Directors and was also involved with the unsuccessful efforts to get LAFCO to dissolve the CSD after the recall election, and now he intends to sue the CSD if they don’t deal with his environmental concerns over the Tri-W site, claiming that “During the month July/August 20076, the District allowed the fence [around the Tri-W site] to fall into disrepair and pieces of the cyclone fencing have fallen on; become entangled in; and overgrown by habitat elements known to provide feeding sites, breeding areas, and shelter for the endangered Morro shoulderband snail.”

Translation? Some of the fencing around Tri-W fell down and some of the veldt grass and other weeds and bushes got smooshed and/or have grown up around it. It’s not clear from the Letter of Intent, whether Mr. Hensley is alleging that a part of the fence actually fell on and killed a particular snail. [You can download the pdf file at, link is in right hand column.]

Also cited in the Notice of Intent is that the present harm “. . . may include significant habitat modification or degradation . . .” Significant habitat degradation? In the ginormous mess that is “Tri-W?” Is this a drollery?

Ron Crawford, former editor of the Bay News, has written extensively about the whole sewer issue and has researched and posted documents that can be viewed at the website above. These documents strongly support an argument that the pre-recalled CSD did not appear to have any documented proof that would have allowed Tri-W to be used as the wastewater site in the first place, and no evidence to support the Statement of Overriding Considerations claims of having to keep the sewer plant in the middle of town in order to “accomplish project objectives for centrally located community amenities,” i.e. evidence that there was a ”strongly held community value” that people in the PZ were willing to pay any price in order to keep the sewer plant in the middle of town so they could have a Tot Lot located next to it.

Which means that Coastkeeper-Hensley should have sued CSD Director-Hensley long ago by using those same documents to make the case that Tri-W was an illegal site because there always were alternative non-ESHA lands available out of town, and to legally challenge the SOC that allowed CSD- Hensley to keep Tri-W at Tri-W.

Even odder is that Coastkeeper-Hensley now intends to sue to protect “habitat elements” exposed by missing pieces of fencing when he should have sued CSD-Hensley to prevent him from authorizing the contractors to go on site to begin to significantly modify and degrade the entire Tri-W ESHA snail habitat site when he voted to start this project weeks before the recall election.

But now, after the maximum damage has already been inflicted on the poor snail and its habitat, now Coastkeeper-Hensley shows up intending to file suit over pieces of fallen fence? Why, Yes, it does seem very camel-swallowing and gnat-choking to me.

And, if the CSD fails to do what’s required under law, what’s one more lawsuit inflicted on and paid for by the good people of Los Osos? Especially when Coastkeeper-Hensley could have sued CSD-Hensley when such a lawsuit could well have prevented this entire sewer train wreck in the first place by forcing the Coastal Commission, among other “Government officials charged with responsibilities for environmental protection,” to take a seriously critical closer look at the old Tri-W “bait & switchy,” back when it really could have made all the difference. Especially to the snails.

Dang!. Day late. Dollar short. Which begs a final question. Is that really Coastkeeper-Environment Protector Extraordinaire-Hensley I see on the battlements? Or Mr. Medea, a notice of intent in one hand and a knife in the other?

Better hide the children.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

O.K. I’ve Thought About It. New (modified) Rules and Why

This morning, I posted a notice that an anonymous poster known as 4crapkiller crossed a line here by threatening retaliation on assessment voters. Not acceptable. So I 86’ed her/him. Another anonymous poster [ Shark Inlet] had this to say: “I can completely respect your decision, but unless you had communicated your new rules to Crapkiller beforehand, it would seem that your banning her from participation would seem a violation of due process, something that typically you are very opposed to . . . I would encourage you to reconsider this choice of yours . . . especially because she could always choose another screen name and continue posting. ” [Gosh, Inlet, doing that would make 4crapkiller dishonest and sneaky as well as a line-crosser, wouldn’t it?]

Then Ron Crawford of chimed in with, “What are we doing here? Doesn’t this all seem silly . . . because it as ALL due to just a handful of people that developed an embarrassing illegal downtown sewer plant, and they simply will not go away. . . . They were recalled, and the handful will not go away. . . . The vast majority of Los Osos residents really, really, really do not want an industrial sewer plant in the middle of their beautiful coastal town, and the handful will not go away. . . . Tri-W’s development permit expired, and the handful will not go away. . . . So we’re looking at what . . . under ten people – that are all responsible for developing Tri-W – that want a sewer plant in the middle of Los Osos so badly that they are willing to go through all of this? Saturating comments sections [of blogs] pushing legislation through, suing everyone in sight, demanding fines, dissolving things, launching “vicious” attacks (that ‘vicious’ word comes from Gail McPherson during a recent appearance on Congalton’s show, when Dave asked her why people were pressuring the Trib to write that fluffy “hit piece” on her a few weeks back, and McPherson said, ‘These people are vicious,’ I think that word is very appropriate when it comes to describing that handful of people) . . . it’s all so ridiculous. . . .” and so forth.

O.K. Points taken.

So here’s some “due process” for 4crapkiller. You crossed the line. Don’t do it again. If you or anyone else logs on to comment and threatens retaliation for the assessment vote in any way, shape or form, I’ll start using the little garbage can icon to start dumping all of your postings.


Ron’s right. This IS silly. But there is real fear in this community, fear that the appalling Waterboard will use the assessment ballots as punishment, fear that people like 4crapkiller will “sue,” or others will publicly “out their vote,” as some anonymous person using a phony name did to CSD member Julie Tacker in a letter to the editor regarding the original assessment vote a few years ago. (And the Tribune printed the letter???), fear that behind the scenes secret e-mailings are, once again, putting sticky fingers on the scales. Ron’s right: Vicious, indeed.

So, to everyone who wishes to participate in this blog. Mind your manners. Don’t cross that Threaten The Voters Line, If you do, Mother Calhoun will spank and start dumping your dishonest, “anonymous” postings.

There, Shark Inlet. Due process enough for you?
New Rules

Months and months ago, this blogsite was taken over by a bunch of potty-mouths. The options I had then were to shut down the entire comment section or have the whole thing shifted to where people wishing to comment had to set up an account. For some reason, that seemed to get rid of the more sophomoric potty-mouths. I also had to dump some of the stupider comments, something I am loath to do because a lot of you folks seem to enjoy raging at one another and at me. Any whiff of restricting your comments or editing them is immediately met with shreiking cries of CENSORSHIP!!! (Oddly, some of the worse offenders are the ones screaming Free Speech the loudest.)

With the upcoming 218 vote, a concern was voiced at the BOS that many people were afraid of retaliation from their fellow citizens and/or the Waterboard for their vote, since the vote is a public record.

Interestingly, of all the folks who commented on this blog site, only one crossed the line and made a clear (if stupid) threat of retaliation for an assessment vote. Yep, long time commentor, 4Crapkiller. No surprise there.

So, new rules. 4Crapkiller's 86ed from commenting here. So will anyone else who makes retaliatory threats against voters. Starting today, I'll be using the little garbage can icon for any postings containing voter threats. If you don't like my new rules, please feel free to go comment on the Tribune site. Or any other web sites.

What I and everyone in this community want is a clean process and a clean vote. Interestingly, I got a real sense from the commentors on this site, even the most angry and rabid, that there was indeed a line past which they were unwilling to go. Threatening retaliation for a vote was that line. Until 9:31 PM. September 23, 2007.

Too bad.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ah, And You Thought It Was Just A Lot Of Hot Air?

Various folks have asked that the upcoming Los Osos Wastewater assessment 218 vote somehow be kept as a secret ballot. They feared "retaliation" for their vote since the ballot is a public document. Other folks snorted and said, who would be nuts enough to sue people for their vote? Well, herewith I give you an "anonymous" poster on this blog, who posted the comment below in her/his 9:31 PM, September 23, 2007 posting: (Months ago, she/he had already hilariously "threatened" to track down other anonymous posters and hold them accountable for opinions (anonymously) expressed on the blogsite, which had other (anonymous) posters blowing coffee out of their noses in laughter -- as IF -- but now --- finally -- she/he posted this: Exhibit A, so to speak.)

"And by the way, it would be very difficult to take anyone anonymous to task for their postings. [refering to her previous "threat" on anonymous posters mentioned above] However, a No on 218, as a public vote and accessible as to APN#, name and address by a public record request is another story. As long as I am not damaged by a $900 a month discharge permit caused by those who vote NO, I will have no case."

Interesting number, $900, but there it is. Knew it would only be a matter of time before the threat would be made.

Thanks, "Anonymous," for illustrating why a certain number of people may well refrain from voting at all or will vote yes so they can feel safe from the likes of you. (This in a community that saw an email go up to Roger Briggs before the recall vote was even certified demanding that the CSD be "fined out of existence." Idle threat? Take a look at Briggs' email response: he was preparing the paperwork even as they were tapping keys on their respective computer keyboards.)
RWQCB Court Ruling?

The following press release is from PZLDF regarding the recent case of some of the Los Osos 45.

Note: Some anonymous posters have been faux-chuffing over my supposed “non-disclosure” in the PZLDF case, which tells me they haven’t been paying attention to this blog or the RWQCB proceedings. Waaaay back when, I and many other community members originally signed on as a “designated party” in the original CDO hearings several years ago in support of the Los Osos 45. The RWQCB first allowed then then denied that designation, but said we could sign on and comment as “interested” parties, said comments then became part of the “legal” administrative public record, said comments which I also posted here. [9/13/06 “Yes, It’s a Pop Quiz” & 10/98/16, “Facts-R-Not-Us,” among other references] It was the curious case of my having written only to have my words MISREPRESENTED and placed in the official public administrative record, then having written to demand the MISREPRESENTATION in the record be CORRECTED, only to have that complaint dismissed and jumbled into the incompetently, bungled mess the RWQCB was struggling to put together, which was constantly being morphed and was never really totally thrown out even when the Grand Inquisitor came to town and the case – supposedly – started over, but the record wasn’t destroyed or corrected and the case didn’t really start over and at this point, until the administrative record is officially released, nobody has a clue as to what was put in or taken out, which is one of one of the reasons why this (real) lawsuit is so important.

So, to date, the legal score on my involvement with the Los Osos 45 is mirroring the old Mastercard ad: My administrative standing before La Barbara ruled –Signed on as a Publicly posted and publicly discussed RWQCB “designated party/interested party” status. My (real) Legal standing before La Barbara ruled -- 0. My (real) legal standing after La Barbara ruled – 0. Financial contractual connection to the law firm representing some of the Los Osos 45 (besides still being signed on and listed and carried through as a RWQCB “designated/interested party” -- 0. Financial interest in the outcome of this case – 0. Personal stake in the outcome of this case – same as everyone in the PZ. PUBLICLY stated support of the Los Osos 45, PUBLICLY stated and posted support for this legal hearing going before a “real” judge to sort out the RWQCB’s bungled mess (see above), PUBLICLY stated and posted support of getting the community off their butts to help their friends and neighbors since they are ALL Notice of Violation “interested parties” -- Lots, public, numerous, repeated, no surprise there. Enjoying reading the comments of some of the anonymous posters on this site chuffing in faux-faux outrage at a phony “non-disclosure” issue? Priceless.

Herewith the PZLDF press release concerning the case. I have no idea why Roger Briggs’ description of the court ruling was written that way. He wasn’t in court but two attorneys from the Attorney General’s office were running the case. Maybe they got confused at the ruling and gave Roger the wrong information?

Well, no matter. There are so many things wrong with these RWQCB CDO/ACL Mad Hatter Kangaroo Court “Trials,” and Auto de Fe Public Hangings, it’s hard to know where to begin. This press release points up but one simple weirdness: How can anyone amend a record if the record has not even been prepared, so nobody has a clue what’s in the record in the first place? And repeated appeals to GET the record are ignored, all while the clock runs out on the appeals process itself, thereby denying basic legal rights and protections to CDO holders, and, of course – ta-DAH! – running the clock out on the 218 vote, hmmmmm?

Yes, well, fun and games in Sacramento, with the real tragedy being that I doubt that the majority of homeowners in this community either know or care about the serious regulatory/legal/constitutional/procedural issues at work here that really do need to see the light of day in a court of law.

CONTACT: Gail McPherson, 805.459.4535

Appeal of Individual Enforcement

SAN LUIS OBISPO - On September 21, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Barry T. LaBarbera signed an order approving a motion for leave to amend, and providing time to file the amended petition.

Roger Briggs, Executive director for the Regional Water Board incorrectly reported to the press "Regional Water Board Gets Lawsuit Challenging Cease and Desist Orders Thrown Out stating "A San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge threw out a lawsuit which challenged cease and desist orders that the Central Coast Regional Water Board issued to a group of Los Osos residents. The Water Board orders require the residents to cease violations of state regulations prohibiting the use of septic systems in Los Osos/Baywood Park."

The court order signed by Shaunna Sullivan and the Attorney General's office both agreed to an extension of time to file the amended complaint until at least November 20, 2007. The order also set a hearing to request that the citizens be allowed to amend their petition after the record has been produced. Getting the administrative record has been a contentious issue, and the Judge already ordered in August that it must be produced by the water board.
Court documents are posted at

The spokesperson for the Citizens for Clean Water-Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund believes the press report by the water board sought to influence voters with misinformation on the status of the enforcement appeal. "The preemptive reaction by Briggs to mislead the community followed the water boards explicit direction on September 7th water board meeting to 'level the enforcement field in Los Osos' by rolling back the random orders".

The prosecution staff at the water Board was directed to prepare for a public hearing ASAP to vacate the 46 random orders. This vacating of the 46 individual orders is set for Dec 6, but was requested for Oct. 19 (before the 218 vote) to help assure against the perception of a coerced vote.

Gail McPherson said "Roger Briggs hostile actions further place the 218 vote at risk, and defies the very intent of the water board to constructively solve the contentious issues in Los Osos for the fair treatment of all property owners, who are struggling to resolve years of failure by the water board's flawed resolution 83-13, which the water board has fiercely protected against any challenge, an now puts a viable wastewater project at risk."


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sheriff, Arrest Those Sheriffs For Walking While Stupid.

The story that appeared in the Trib a few days ago, and now a Sept 21 follow-up story involving allegations that Sheriff Pat Hedges and Undersheriff Steve Bolt are accused of illegally eavesdropping on a co-worker and now a judge ruling that Sheriff Hedges must pay for his own defense in this case (vs having the county pay his legal bills) is bound to be a story with "wrinkles." Any time you read of an "involuntary transfer from the narcotics division to the patrol divisiion," you're looking at a story with . . . uh . . . wrinkles. Which will unfold as this civil case goes to trial. Or a criminal case pops up to run alongside it and a whole lot of worms start creeping out of cans.

Here's the allegation noted in the Tribune: That county Sheriff Pat Hedges and Undersheriff Steve Bolts "illegally taped and recorded a conversation between Chief Deputy Gary Hoving and a sheriff's sergeant. . . . Hoving filed a $1.25 million claim against the county Sept. 7 alleging that the sheriff and undersheriff secretly taped a meeting he had with Sgt. Jay Donovan in mid-October of last year. Hoving alleges in the claim that the taping was set up to capture a meeting between Donovan and Hoving regarding Donovan's involuntary transfer from the narcotics division. Donovan had filed a grievance against Hoving, who had ordered the transfer."

And there you have your wrinkles, . . . grievance . . . involuntary transfer . . . narcotics division . . . secret taping . . .

BUT, here's the biggest question of all about this case. IF true -- IF, I say -- somebody needs to please tell me where and how this county managed to hire any officer -- I say, ANY officer -- who has never seen a single episode of the various Law and Order franchies, any P.I. series of any stripe, Shark, Boston Legal, Ally McBeal, NYPD Blue,any one of dozens of police procedural shows endlessly running on TV who does not know that you do not secretly tape, wire, film anybody anywhere doing anything without a court order.

Unless you're President Bush, of course.

And you don't do that because not only is it illegal, whatever you manage to capture will likely, if discovered, be "poison fruit," and not admissible in court so your efforts will likely be ruined anyway, which means you risk your career and your freedom to even be thinking about doing something that stupid.

And here's the kicker, a clean police department with a clean "wire request" record won't have a lot of trouble getting warrants from clean judges on clean evidence of possible wrondoing that needs a wire to continue the investigation.

So, there's the real question. How is it possible that there's anybody working in the Sheriff's Dept or even the head guy himself who does NOT already know that?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Look, is that white smoke? Black smoke? Do we have a Pope? Yes? No? Whaatttt?

Info from the Sept 20, 2007 Press release from the CSD states:

The Los Osos Community Services District’s October Board meetings will include discussions related to the County’s 218 assessment vote process.

At the October 4, 2007 meeting, the Board will consider how to vote its own properties in the waste water assessment vote. . . .

At its October 18, 2007 meeting, the Board will be hosting a public discussion on a fall back position whould the County’s 218 process fail. The public is invited to share their thoughts and ideas on how the financially strapped District would proceed. No action will be taken on this item at that time. . . .

Both meetings will be held at 7:30 pm at the South Bay Community Center, 2180 Palisades Ave, Los Osos. For more information please call the LOCSD office at 528-9307.

Interesting timing. On Oct 4th, the CSD will be considering how to vote the assessment ballot for their properties. If a vote is taken, it will be a signal to the community -- like the puffs of smoke the faithful look for as they gather in St. Peter’s Square to see if the smoke given off by the ballots being burned mean a new pope or yet another vote -- whether or not the CSD, as a body, is sufficiently confident in the County’s process to commit the community-held properties under their jurisdiction to a “combined total of $61,204.31” assessed “Yes on 218” or whether they don’t have that confidence, will vote to abstain, or vote No because they are working on Fall Back Plan B, which will then be discussed at the Oct 18 meeting.

Interestingly, that meeting is a day before the RWQCB may (or may not) agree to formally put the CDOs for the Los Osos 45 on ice. Which is also four days before the 218 election is CLOSED. Convenient timing, eh?

Get the maximum amount of “deniable threat & coercion Heh-Heh” from the RWQCB, yet give a sufficiently long time to signal – via puffs of smoke – the CSD’s Official Position, Yea or Nay, for those who may be on the fence and looking for what the CSD is going to do, while also giving the minimum amount of time for the community to hear or even know and discuss anything about whatever alternative “fall-back” plan the CSD may have in mind during the Oct 18 non-action item, with the election closed four days later.

Boing! Boing! Boing! Lots of little feeties hopping up and down on that election scale, eh?. Boing- Boing. Look! Smoke!

Mark You Calendars!

The county will be hosting a Community Open House on the Wastewater Project. Saturday, Sept 29, 2007, from 1:00- 5:00 PM at Sunnyside School, Los Osos.

Multiple classrooms will be set up for discussion of various project topics. Folks can travel from room to room to get more detailed info on various aspects of this project, including Alternative Options, TAC Pro/Con Analysis, the 218 Assessment Ballot & Q&A, Cost Guestimates, Funding, &etc.

The San Luis Bay Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, SLO Green Build, the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Commission on the Status of Women of San Luis Obispo County are all invited as participants.

Here’s an excellent chance for the community to get informed straight from various horses mouths and ask questions one-on-one.

And While We’re Mentioning Green

The next day, Sunday, Sept 30th from 10 a.m. to 5 pm. at the new Alex Madonna Expo Center at the Madonna Inn, there’ll be a “Green Living on the Central Coast” Fall San Luis Obispo Home Show. Over 130 local home and garden exhibitors will be there, including various local environmental organizations. Admission is free. The Website for more info is:

After attending the county’s Sewer workshop on Saturday, it might be a good idea to hoik on over to the Madonna Center on Sunday and see what WATER SAVING new ideas are in the offing, from native landscaping to new, improved low-flow toilets. After all, the Los Osos Wastewater issue is all about WATER, very, very EXPENSIVE WATER, so whatever you can learn in order to save it, will mean money in your pocket.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Uh, Mommy, What are those GINORMOUS metal thingees there with high tension wires running through them? Why, Dear, those are PG&E Power Lines. Let's first pretend that we can build a sewer plant under them, then declare we can't because there are power lines overhead, then declare, "Ooops, soooo sorry, We Just Discovered That The ONLY Out Of Town Site For Our Sewer Plant Has Power Lines On It (Dang! When did that happen? We don't know. A miracle, perhaps?) So We Have To Build The Sewer Plant In The Middle Of Town."

Uh-oh, it's Ron Crawford over at asking his usual annoying and inconvenient questions. Pest! The man's a pest! This time he's asking about why and how the Tri-W site managed to get carried through the TAC's fine screening report when the so-called Andre 1 site was knocked out of the box as a non-viable site immediately.

Hmmmm, maybe non-viable is simply a matter of where you're standing? Maybe it's like if you close your eyese tight and stand on Los Osos Valley road on a dark, moonless night in deep, deep fog, you can't see those power lines which means they aren't there which means the site is viable . . . . until the sun comes up . . . after which it's not?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

218 Ballot Q&A From The Official Ballot Personage.

The following PR from PZLDF. If you have any questions regarding the 218 ballots, do plan to attend. So far as I know, the County is also planning a Public Workshop on the 29th, stay tuned for time and place.

Citizens for Clean Water -PZLDF
Get Your Ballot Questions Answered

John Diodati
"sorting out the ballot issues"

Monday, September 17th ---7:00 PM
Washington Mutual Bank
Los Osos

For More Information on the meeting Contact or call 805-459-4535

For information regarding the Proposition 218 Public hearing and ballot process, please call John Diodati at (805) 788-6633.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA , for September 12, 07

Deadly Doldrums

Comedian Bill Maher thinks the whole country is suffering from “Bleep-up Fatigue” --only he didn’t use the word “bleep” – to describe the utter despair and exhaustion he feels when he picks up a paper and reads another headline about another bungled mess the President and his crony administration are involved in, and since there have been so many bleep-ups, instead of more outrage, he now simply shrugs and says, “Of course, what else could we expect from this guy? He’s a complete bleep-up.”

I knew exactly what Maher was talking about when I scanned Molly Hennessy-Fiske’s L.A. Times story on a new Bush biography. The author pressed Bush as to just why the Iraqi army was disbanded soon after the invasion. That one act is now seen as the key decision that led to a whole series of disastrous unravelings. Said Bush, “The policy was to keep the army intact; didn’t happen.”

“[Author] Draper pressed Bush to explain why, if he wanted to maintain the army, his chief administrator for Iraq, I. Paul Bremer III, issued an order in May 2003 disbanding the 400,000 strong army without pay.

“Yeah, I can’t remember; I’m sure I said, ‘This is the policy, what happened?’ Bush said, adding: ‘Again, Hadley’s got notes on all this stuff” – a reference to national security advisor Stephen J. Hadley.”

Of course Bush can’t be expected to remember any of this stuff. He’s just the Commander in Chief. Better check with Hadley. He’ll have notes on all this, maybe. Or maybe not, because, as the story pointed out, Douglas J. Feith, who was “ . . . then undersecretary of Defense for policy and an architect of the Iraq invasion,” said “ . . . the excerpts [from the interviews] raised interesting questions about how the pivotal decision was made.”

. . . raised interesting questions? This from the guy who was, as the Times notes, “ . . . deeply involved in the decision-making process at the time, working closely with Bush and Bremer.”

Of course, Feith can’t be expected to know anything about this, he was just the undersecretary of Defense for policy. Why would anyone expect him to know who decided anything when The Decider himself doesn’t remember? Or care? That’s how this administration ran their war --- things just happened; darnedest thing.

Insufficient troops, insufficient up-armoring on the Humvees, insufficient flak-vests, an unpaid, still-armed Iraqi army disbanded, huge stores of Iraqi weapons unguarded and soon gone, along with huge stores of U.S. weapons gone as well, not to mention pallets and pallets of U.S. greenbacks all disappeared. Who knew? Stuff happens, said former Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at the time. Darnedest thing. Rummy declined to comment on these new revelations. Probably couldn’t remember either. Why bother? Running a war was obviously not worthy of attention by a Secretary of Defense or the Commander in Chief.

And so the Bleep-ups continue to spill out of the headlines, each now morphing from a shock into eye-rolling exhaustion: Gonzales at Justice has scampered out the door? Of course! Another conservative Republican, anti-gay, family-values kinda guy is caught soliciting gay sex in a public toilet? Tap-tap-tap. Of course! Meanwhile, more dead and maimed soldiers come home to a crumbling country where bridges fall down because of lack of maintenance because tax cuts for the rich take precedence over maintaining the Value of The Commons. Of course! And millions more citizens join the rolls of the medically uninsured, while a poorly regulated credit industry helped bust a housing bubble that saw a few on Wall Street get rich while the schnook on the street actually did end up on the street, his home repossessed by the bank, while the President flies off on another typical frat-boy “secret mission” to pop up in a well-protected Anbar province military base for a little Hoo-Rah! front page photo-op with the soldiers, some of whom will likely die while he “plays out” his war until the elections in hopes of handing his mess over to somebody else. No accountability on his watch. Of course!

Thus, the exhausted nausea of Bleep-up fatigue. What else from a government being run by an astonishing array of incompetents, fully supported by an elected and reelected hack-filled, poisonously grid-locked congress that puts party loyalty, maintaining power, and keeping their corporate K Street Masters happy above all else?

Well, of course!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Awww, Gaaawwd, Would Somebody Please, Pluueeeeze Stop Giving The Regional Water Quality Control Board Embarrassing Pills?

So I can’t get away from work in time to see the opening County sewer update presentation before the Regional Board on Friday, but did hear that, as promised, Supervisor Gibson did indeed ask that the Board give consideration to rescinding the CDOs on The Los Osos 45 so as to remove any taint of electioneering and coercion.

By the time I got there, public comment had started and speaker after speaker got up to point out their concern over electioneering and coercion with only some of the community singled out for prosecution while others don’t face that threat. Indeed, one CDO recipient noted that she was forced to vote Yes on the 218 because of that CDO and even used the analogy of having a knife at her throat.

And then CSD Director, Julie Tacker, got up to describe how, in the previous assessment vote, someone had gone in and looked at her ballot (they’re all public documents) and then printed that information in a letter to the editor and she was afraid that the same thing would happen here.

[Trust me, it will. An anonymous poster on this blog has already stated that she/he intends to do just that regarding my vote, while her/his vote remains hidden and unknown. I’m sure other anonymous blog posters will do the same, thinking that such postings will embarrass or injure whoever they wish to “get” in some way.

If the Board wants to see Truly Ugly On A Stick, they only need to read some of the anonymous posters on this and other various blogsites before professing shock that anyone would care who voted which way, and then dismiss a genuine fear many in this community have that will intimidate them into NOT voting at all, thereby tainting the process and calling the vote’s outcome into question.]

In addition, Tacker said she was also concerned that the Board would use those ballots to single out and selectively prosecute people based on their vote, and so she wanted the Board members to give the community assurances that the Board wouldn’t look at those ballots or use them for any kind of selective prosecution.

And then the various board members went to great lengths to explain that they were shocked – SHOCKED – that anyone would think, even for a nanosecond, that they would ever, EVER, use selective enforcement, that their policy is to treat everyone in Los Osos equally and that any enforcement would be placed on everybody equally, totally forgetting that they had already singled out for selective enforcement, The Los Osos 45.

Awwww, Gaawwdd, did these people take Stupid Pills? Do they not listen to what they’re saying? Maybe they’re suffering a weird bout of amnesia, an especially troubling possibility since many of the people making public comment identified themselves as being Selectively Enforced CDO Recipient Number such and such?

So then the Board started huffing and hemming as to how voters should not think for a moment that electioneering was going on or voter coercion since the Board had already indicated that they were not going to take any action on the selectively enforced CDOs already issued, but they would consider maybe setting up an agenda item to discuss maybe officially putting those selectively enforced CDOs on the agenda for a hearing, but because Chairman Young and the board failed to even consider doing that months ago – thereby making sure it was too late to be considered at yesterday’s hearing – a truly careless piece of indifference since yesterday would have been the perfect time for the Board to rescind those selectively enforced CDOs and thereby generate huge headlines just as the 218 ballots were hitting the mailboxes of the residents.

But, noooooo, they couldn’t be bothered. So they futzed around for a while and first thought to agendize the item for their next meeting, which would have been October 19th, totally OBLIVIOUS that the point of rescinding the CDOs was to level the playing field for all voters BEFORE the vote becomes history on October 23 (when the ballots are due) Then they yakked about maybe agendizing it for December, again OBLIVIOUS that the 218 vote would be history come October 23.

In short, they blew any chance to eliminate a possible stumbling block on this vote. That’s how “concerned” they are about leaving the door wide open for potential lawsuits on electioneering and voter coercion. (And remember, a lesson already learned by Los Ososians and apparently completely missed by the Board: You don’t have to win lawsuits, you only have to file them to end up with delays. So, Why would this Board even want to leave so much as a toehold for a possible delay, when they had, at their feet, headlines that money can’t buy, headlines that would have taken a huge gust of wind out of any of the anti-218’s sails? Tin ear? Sheer incompetence? Cluelessness so complete that it doesn’t even come close to the definition of Permanently Out To Lunch? Whaaat?)

But while they were discussing that agenda item, the one to consider rescinding CDO’s even though they had completely blown the point of the item in the first place, Harvey Packard semaphored the board and hopped up to start in, Umm, Uhhh, Awwww, Gaawwwd, if we’re holding public hearings on CDOs, uh, what should we do with the CAOs? And what about all those OLD CDO’s ones given out years ago, does that open the hearing up to those? (Old CDO’s? What are those about? More selective enforcement? ) And what about settlement agreements (oh, like somebody with a settlement agreement is gonna come in and say, OH, NO, don’t remove those $5,000-a- day fines from my property, puullleeze don’t?) and aawww, gawwwd, if it covers all CDOs do we even know how many old cans that’s gonna open up and jeeeezzze gaawwdd, who knows how many worms are going to crawl out, awwwww, uuuhhhh, ummmmm . . . . until a legal beagle piped up that, Naw, it was O.K. to have a hearing but just discuss selective CDO’s, while keeping the others buried, deep, deep, with all the other mismanaged, decades-long bungles that makes anyone watching this Board keep asking, WHO’S GIVING THESE GUYS EMBARRASSING PILLS, ANYWAY?

We are warned that there are two things we should never see being made: sausages and law. To that I would add, Watching the tin-eared, tangle-footed, clueless, embarrassing Regional Water Quality Control Board at work.

Awww, Gaawwwd, indeed.

And Speaking of Embarrassing

Friend called to say , Did I notice that my assessment ballot had two peel’n’stick labels on it and two post-marks and underneath the top peel’n’stick label is a label with somebody else’s name and address but maybe your assessment number on it? She then asked me, Uh, do you know what’s going on here?

Beats me. I tossed the envelopes on the desk and haven’t had a chance to look at them yet.


Also of note:

Harvey Packard, RWQCB staff personage, did note that Mr. Murphy & Mr. Low’s Advanced Environmental Systems, Inc “Reclamator,” (noted in a previous posting) would have their test documents checked and verified, would have their system and proposal included in the CEQA and “due diligence” phase by the County, (if they’re still interested in same) but Packard wanted to let the citizens of Los Osos know that any claims that the AES Reclamator doesn’t produce wastewater are false. Whatever it produces is considered Wastewater, according to Mr. Packard.

Thus we have, as predicted, Dueling Definitions, one of the problems created when the RWQCB came up with their demand for “Zero Discharge” (whatever that means.)

In Closing:

Have a nice weekend. If you have a dog, the El Chorro Regional Park’s Off Leash Dog Park is having their annual Canine Capers, Saturday, Sept 7, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m, which is a fund-raiser for maintaining the park [full disclosure, I’m on the board of SLO-4-PUPs, the group that created and maintains the dog park, the very first (and best?) one in SLO County, brag, brag.] There’ll be a Canine Good Citizen Test offered, low cost micro-chipping and Rabies shots, demonstration, information booths, games, silly dog tricks, prizes and munchies and fun. So grab your pooch and come out for some non-sewer fun.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Professor Henry Hill Hears From The RWQCB

The second email posted here (below) is from Mark Lowe, and presumably Mr. Murphy of Advanced Environmental Systems on their proposed onsite “Reclamator” system . The last email (below) from me to Mr. Lowe is in response to his original email. And the first (directly below) is the response to Mr. Lowe’s email , from Matt Thompson of the RWQCB.

As I noted when I posted Mr. Lowe’s original email on this blogsite on 9/4/07, the battle between the AES and the RWQCB hinges on data and statutory and legal “definitions,” as in, What constitutes Waste & Water & Discharge & Pollutants & Reclamation & Tertiary & ReUse & Recycled & What needs a Permit & What Doesn’t and Who Sez & Neener Neener, So’s Yer Momma & Whose Definitions Prevail & If It’s Permitable HOW MUCH Can Be Charged For A Permit & Should It Be Hourly? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Testing? So We Can Make Sure The Testing & Permit Requirements will be WAAAAAAYYYYY More Expensive than ANY Central Municipal Wastewater System Picked By The BOS & Etc. (Not That We’re Telling You What Kind Of System To Pick, Mind You, No, That Would Be Illegal) & etc.

Herewith the email response from the RWQCB. ( Of particular interest to me is Matt Thompson’s notation regarding the need for potential actual full costs (absent any grants), including guestimates of homeowner, out of pocket onsite, post-installation, re-landscaping costs & etc. Such real-time, real world guestimates would enable homeowners to compare that with the guestimates for the various systems the county has already looked at.)

And a further reminder that under the county Process, Mr. Murphy's system will be looked at as additional "alternative technologies," during the required CEQA and due diligence phase of determining best technology and best price & etc.

Also, a reminder, the RWQCB is meeting Friday, Sept 7 at their Aerovista headquarters in SLO Townfor a county update report, set for the afternoon session (ca. 1:30 pm?) . If public comment is allowed, I'm sure a lot of people plan to be there to ask that the Board rescind the 45 CDOs and CAO's and promise to "stand down" so this election can take place on a level playing field with no perceived threats and unfair coercion & etc. There is a genuine opportunity here for a "Virtuous Cycle" to begin. The choice is, again, in the Regional Board's hands.

Email to Mr. Lowe:

The claims you make are very misleading and must be corrected before we will seriously consider your proposal. The BESTEP 10 is simply a conventional wastewater treatment technology packaged in a small system for household use. Although the system may reduce nitrogen, the system still discharges waste, which would not comply with the Basin Plan prohibition of waste discharges in certain areas of Los Osos/Baywood Park. The RECLAMATOR is essentially a small membrane bioreactor. Although the system may produce tertiary quality effluent that is suitable for recycling, the system would require regulatory oversight. In California, recycled water is jointly regulated by the Water Board and the California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH). Anyone installing the RECLAMATOR and claiming 'indirect potable reuse' would be required to submit a Recycled Water Engineering Report to the Water Board and CDPH, and obtain and comply with water recycling requirements. Indirect potable reuse typically requires tertiary 2.2 quality recycled water, with daily total coliform monitoring to ensure system performance. Both the BESTEP 10 and RECLAMATOR are complex and must be operated by a state-certified operator.

Your claim that that the system will cost a typical homeowner a one time cost of $3,500 and then $46 per month is based on a questionable assumption that the federal government will pay for 75% of the system cost. Unless you can provide written correspondence from the federal government to substantiate this assumption, it is more appropriate for you to represent the full cost of the system.--

Matt ThompsonEnforcement UnitRegional Water Quality Control BoardCentral Coast Region895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101San Luis Obispo, California 93401V (805) 549-3159F (805) 788-3572

Mr. Low’s cc original email to me concerning this system: (previously posed on 9/4/07)

>>> "Mark Low" 9/3/2007 1:17 PM >>>Ann:This will serve to keep the focus on the Technology as is required by USC Title 33 Chapter 26 (C26).The last paragraph of the AES Technology Description defines the quality of the water produced by the RECLAMATOR.The The 1994 NSF Report demonstrates the "BESTEP" Process.Tom, on his own volition, paid to have the Nitrogen testing done because he knew "then" the importance of it.I know of no other "at source" alternative technology which can achieve the level of treatment as demonstrated in the testing data.Within the past 3 years, he has added an ultra filtration spiral wound membrane into the decanter to enable the BESTEP (UF-900) to meet the Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG) which is the US EPA Standard which defines water having no pollutants, the national treated drinking water standards. The MCLG, not to be confused with the MCLs, is "The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety and are non-enforceable public health goals." Please make note of the "non-enforceable" component of this definition.(See: ) When the "discharge of pollutants" is eliminated, the requirement for a "discharge permit" is also eliminated, as a "discharge permit" is a measure of enforcement. Additionally, C26, Section 1311 (a) additionally clarifies no discharge permit is required unless there is a discharge of pollutants. The BESTEP UF-900 does not discharge pollutants.A Membrane is a physical "definite" barrier the discharge of pollutants. Unlike a process which solely uses biological treatment, the addition of a definite barrier membrane "consistently and reliably" assures the quality of water which is produced. The quality of water (reclaimed/repurified) produced by the BESTEP UF-900 is: 100% removal of colloids and particulates larger than 10 nano meters, turbidity less than 0.1 NTU, over log 6 removal of bacteria (99.9999% removal), over log 4 removal of viruses (99.99% removal), and removal of large molecular weight organic compounds (above 100,000 Daltons). BESTEP + Membrane = BADCT (best available demonstrated control technology)The BESTEP eliminates the need for any collection system and thereby complies with the requirements of C26. The post federal grant cost to each DUE will be $3,500 with a monthly service fee of $45.75 per month.Any other area-wide waste management solution which might be proposed by the County, as is required by C26, would have to have a life-cycle cost of not more than 15% of the most cost effective alternative. (See Sec. 1281 (j)) This means that, to comply with federal law, such solution if it were to be proposed by the County, would 1) have to be equal in technology and performance, and 2) be required to cost no more than $20 million dollars "installed".BADCT is required to be promulgated and used when possible, as required by C26.Howard Kolb previously communicated to Mr. Murphy that if the LOCSD had proposed the BESTEP 10 as the solution for Los Osos, the State WaterBoard would have approved it.Mark480.363.1154

My email response to the original above email: writes: To all interested parties: Please see attached;

Thanks for the file. I trust you'll be submitting your test data & etc to the RWQCB staff Friday (if not before) as well as meeting with Paavo. I believe everything you're proposing here will likely hinge on that data. Ann Calhoun Los Osos, CA

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

CSD Director Tacker’s Request to the RWQCB

The following editorial Viewpoint was sent to the media, directed at the RWQCB for their Friday meeting at Aero Vista Place in SLOTown, with the Los Osos Wastewater Project update report from the county team and BOS Gibson due in the afternoon session.

Dear Editor,

On Friday, (September 7, 2007) the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) will be meeting at their Aero Vista offices in San Luis Obispo. The Los Osos Waste Water Project Update given by SLO Co. Public Works Director, Paavo Ogren and District 2 Supervisor, Bruce Gibson is on the afternoon agenda. The update will inform the Regional Board the status of the County’s work -- under the guise of the Blakeslee bill AB2701 thus far.

The County will explain their next step is the Proposition 218 election process and its $25,000 lien facing property owners of developed property (no vacant lots) in the Los Osos “Prohibition Zone.”

The 218 vote is a public vote, the ballots will be printed with Assessors Parcel Numbers, property owner names, and voters will be asked to sign their ballots and return them to be counted by October 23rd. The ballots will become part of the County public record and subject to the California Public Records Act, giving anyone who asks access to them to see which voters voted and how.

The RWQCB has held the community of Los Osos hostage to threats of fines (equating to millions of dollars) for nearly 20 years if we don’t build a community-wide sewer. In fact they have no authority over type of sewer the community builds; their only charge is that we discontinue discharge to our groundwater. These “threats” translate to “fear” of the public ballot and likely voters will participate if they know the RWQCB can look at their ballot and perhaps target them for the next round of enforcement.

In the spirit of cooperation and democracy without fear, I would ask that the RWQCB publicly state at Friday’s meeting that they will not seek access to the ballots. That they direct their “prosecution” staff to take a “hands off” approach to the process and let the will of the voters be. If the vote is successful, the County will stay their course. If the vote is unsuccessful, the Los Osos Community Services District will be charged to pick up the pieces of projects old and new and move ahead as quickly and sensibly as is reasonable. Continued threats of enforcement from the RWQCB distract the community from a necessary focus.

The overarching issue facing Los Osos (at large -- not a select “zone”) is a severe water shortage, the “threat” that hangs over this community should not be fear of the RWQCB and its enforcement actions; the real fear is sea water intrusion that plagues our only source of drinking water.

The community realizes millions of dollars in infrastructure needs to be spent and that those dollars must be spent in a direction that includes a waste water system to collect, treat, and dispose the treated waste water in places where it can be used again and again. The 30+ year, multi-million dollar, “Sewer Saga” isn’t about sewers, nitrates, politics or fines, it is about a sensible solution at a reasonable cost in the most effective location that protects our drinking supply.

Julie Tacker-Director
Los Osos Community Services District
36 year resident of Los Osos

Additional Point by CCW-PZLDF Gail McPherson

From a recent email on the request to rescind the CDO’s and CAO’s of The Los Osos 45 at Friday’s hearing. If 83-13 is the basis for that assessment, then the County is the “responsible” party. Question of the year: Will the RWQCB finally get with the “virtuous cycle” and off the “vicious cycle” and actually fix their mistake?

McPherson will be on The Dave Congalton Show, KVEC 920 am at 5 pm. today, Wednesday, Sept 5, so any interested callers should call in with questions regarding this water board meeting. It may well be THE critical meeting before the 218 vote and could have profound implications on that vote.

Additionally, by vacating the individual enforcement against all property owners with enforcement orders the RWQCB would go a long way toward allowing a decision free from illegal threats and intimidation. Further,the position by the Board to not base any future enforcement against individuals on how they vote needs to be stated as well as enforcement placed rightly on the governmental agency empowered to carry out the needs of the community.

The basis of the assessment is CCRWQCB resolution 83-13, and that was specifically included in the assessment engineers report. 83-13 is directed at the County NOT individuals, and as such the water board should make amotion to vacate all enforcement. The board should direct staff to prepare a simple letter vacating the orders, and allowing anyone with an order who objects to it being vacated afforded the opportunity to be heard. Otherwise the signed acknowledgement of the rescission of the order would be simply returned by mail.ASK FOR THIS PLEASE!!! It may not occur to the Board they could actually fix their mistake.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Professor Harold Hill and 76 Trombones? Or a Mini-Tri-W in Every Yard? Or Bwa-hahah, Over My Dead Body?

Tom Murphy of Advanced Environmental Systems gave a brief presentation before some Los Ososians last week after he had presented his 53 page proposal for onsite systems for Los Osos to the BOS. Several years ago, he had come to town with an onsite system that claimed to match or exceed the discharge numbers then being proposed for Tri-W. However, the RWQCB has ruled NO ONSITE SYSTEMS BECAUSE IT’S NOW NO DISCHARGE OF POLLUTANTS WITHIN THE PZ.

So Mr. Murphy has come back with the “Reclamator,” a sort of in-tank, mini- Tri-W, MBR-type “treatment plant”, using “ultra filtration spiral wound membrane into the decanter” (i.e. part of the tank) that is able to “meet the Maximum Contaminant Level Goals” which is the EPA standard which defines water having no pollutants,” i.e. no “discharge” of “wastewater.”

At the Los Osos meeting, he stated he’d be at the RWQCB on Friday (since he isn’t on the agenda, all he can do is present the same 53 page information during Public Comment and ask that it be reviewed by staff and possibly agendized at a future meeting?) and supposedly he will be meeting with the county at some point.

What follows is from an email from Mark Low, who’s working with Mr. Murphy. It remains to be seen how this will be received, whose definition of “wastewater” and “discharge” prevails (RWQCB or EPA?) and whether the various testing data supports the “Nowastewater” claims of AES, Inc.

Not being a scientist or engineer or even playing one on TV, I vouch for none of this. Both the county and RWQCB will be taking a look at whatever test data is available. The CSD should also take a gander. Mr. Murphy could be Professor Harold Hill or his system could be the most cost effective alternative to what’s been proposed to date. IF his test results are accurate and the system actually does work like a little mini-Tri-W in an onsite tank with “clean” water coming out of the end, water that would be available onsite to water your petunias, and does it all for less than $100 a month, then the community will be in a quandary:

If the Reclamator doesn’t “discharge” wastewater, the RWQCB has no say in the matter since you don’t need a “discharge” permit if you’re not “discharging” anything. If the Reclamator doesn’t discharge “wastewater” there is no need for a 218 vote – individuals can simply sign up for the “service” being offered at the agreed upon price & etc. OR, If the Reclamator works, will the County be obliged under CEQA review, after the 218 vote, to do due diligence on it as an “alternative” and if the alternative actually works, doesn’t require a permit because it’s not “discharging” anything,” then is the County required under law to pick the best available technology that does the job at the cheapest price? (To date, no onsite systems have been looked at because of the RWQCB’s Hobson’s Choice game they’ve been playing for years on same. The “alternatives” the TAC looked at were all municipal collections/treatment systems, not really “alternatives” at all.) Or will this proposal simply be “forgotten to death,” the evaluations postponed (Gosh, we’re really busy here) until the clock runs out and it becomes a case of Death By Being Ignored To Death, Oh, Darn, If Only We’d Known, Too Late, Ooops, Heh-heh?

Either way, if the Reclamator works, expects battle to erupt over definitions, over who’s the controlling party (local? State? Feds?), be prepared for goal posts to get moved all over the place, obstacles of all kinds to be tossed up, legal threats, lord knows what. (To date the RWQCB has a history of making assertions not backed up with empirical scientific evidence and so relies on the victim of the assertion to personally finance a ruinously expensive court case to prove the assertion wrong, that is, “guilty before proven innocent,” not the other way around.)

Mr. Low stated that he’d soon be posting the 53 page report on line, so people could read it for themselves. For the rest, Mr. Murphy’s shoe has been dropped before the BOS and apparently the RWQCB.

Stay Tuned for The Reply.

Herewith, Mr. Low’s email:

Sent: 9/3/2007 2:22:37 PM
Subject: Test Results - A Water Reclamation Service Agreement/Dutyof Care/Drought Solutions/Annot...


This will serve to keep the focus on the Technology as is required by USC Title 33 Chapter 26 (C26).

The last paragraph of the AES Technology Description defines the quality of the water produced by the RECLAMATOR.
The 1994 NSF Report demonstrates the "BESTEP" Process.
Tom, on his own volition, paid to have the Nitrogen testing done because he knew "then" the importance of it.

I know of no other "at source" alternative technology which can achieve the level of treatment as demonstrated in the testing data.

Within the past 3 years, he has added an ultra filtration spiral wound membrane into the decanter to enable the BESTEP (UF-900) to meet the Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG) which is the US EPA Standard which defines water having no pollutants, the national treated drinking water standards. The MCLG, not to be confused with the MCLs, is "The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety and are non-enforceable public health goals." Please make note of the "non-enforceable" component of this definition.(See: ) When the "discharge of pollutants" is eliminated, the requirement for a "discharge permit" is also eliminated, as a "discharge permit" is a measure of enforcement. Additionally, C26, Section 1311 (a) additionally clarifies no discharge permit is required unless there is a discharge of pollutants. The BESTEP UF-900 does not discharge pollutants.

A Membrane is a physical "definite" barrier the discharge of pollutants. Unlike a process which solely uses biological treatment, the addition of a definite barrier membrane "consistently and reliably" assures the quality of water which is produced. The quality of water (reclaimed/repurified) produced by the BESTEP UF-900 is: 100% removal of colloids and particulates larger than 10 nano meters, turbidity less than 0.1 NTU, over log 6 removal of bacteria (99.9999% removal), over log 4 removal of viruses (99.99% removal), and removal of large molecular weight organic compounds (above 100,000 Daltons).

BESTEP + Membrane = BADCT (best available demonstrated control technology)

The BESTEP eliminates the need for any collection system and thereby complies with the requirements of C26. The post federal grant cost to each DUE will be $3,500 with a monthly service fee of $45.75 per month.

Any other area-wide waste management solution which might be proposed by the County, as is required by C26, would have to have a life-cycle cost of not more than 15% of the most cost effective alternative. (See Sec. 1281 (j)) This means that, to comply with federal law, such solution if it were to be proposed by the County, would 1) have to be equal in technology and performance, and 2) be required to cost no more than $20 million dollars "installed".

BADCT is required to be promulgated and used when possible, as required by C26.

Howard Kolb previously communicated to Mr. Murphy that if the LOCSD had
proposed the BESTEP 10 as the solution for Los Osos, the State WaterBoard would have approved it.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Ooooo NOOOOOO, Did The Tribune Screw Up AGAIN????

Hmmm, is this getting to be a bad habit, like nose picking and spitting on the sidewalk. When I read the Tribune’s Sept 2 front page story on PZLDF spokes-personage, Gail McPherson, I was struck by this statement of “fact.”

She [McPherson] opposes the vote unless the county selects a plant site and technology, which the county says it can’t yet do.” (bolding added)

Further down in the story it states, as “fact,” [McPherson’s] latest activism focuses on gathering opposition to the county’s effort to hold a property tax vote before it chooses technology for a project or a location for a treatment plant. (bolding added)

“I think its important to explore all possible consequences of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote and be comfortable with what they’re voting on,” she said.

“And in an e-mail to residents she wrote “I want answers. No blind vote . . . We have a responsibility to be informed.”

Hmmm, I wonder how exploring all possible consequences of a yes or no vote and wanting answers and taking responsibility to be informed (remember, this article was written before anybody in this community has even seen the ballot and the engineers reports) suddenly morphed into this non-fact “fact:” “She opposes the vote unless the county selects a plant site and technology, which the county says it can’t yet do.”

Oh, wait, I know. It’s the Tribune! Of course they’ll jump to the wrong conclusions then print them as “fact.” And then follow up with this delicious piece of spin: “But Blakeslee [Assemblyman] worries that McPherson’s efforts could prevent property owners from agreeing to assess themselves for the sewer’s cost. If that happens, the county would bow out of the project – leaving Los Osos without a sewer and state water officials continuing to hammer for a solution.

“If attempts to undermine this earnest effort succeed, ones that will be hurt the most will be the seniors, the young families – the most vulnerable,” Blakeslee wrote in an email to The Tribune. “I hope anyone who seeks the defeat of the process appreciates the huge price they may be asking others to pay.”

See how that worked? Very clever. The juxtaposition is really slick. The narrative now becomes McPherson Opposes & Undermines The County Process And Wants Seniors To Die In The Streets.

Whee! Pure Tribune

[Posted below at the end of my comments is a Press Release/Viewpoint sent to the papers by McPherson. Please read it and tell me how the position outlined therein becomes opposition and undermining.]

On the other hand, we are now fully engaged in the middle of The Sewer War Campaigns and the ballots haven’t even arrived in the mail. So the importance of setting up and spinning the Narrative is really critical. It will follow the usual Karl Roveian lines:

1. Anyone who asks a question, demands answers, points out errors, raises concerns, questions possible outcomes or unintended consequences, warns of critical points to guard against the old bait & switch, or objects or disagrees with anything in any fashion will be branded an ANTI-SEWER OBSTRUCITONST! And trashed.

Couldn’t be simpler.

In all the insanity that will soon get cranked up full steam, the good people of this community and above all The County (and Sam, Sam, are you listening?) needs to remember: Perception IS reality. This community was fooled once and is gun shy and wary of getting bait and switched and ripped off . . . again. Therefore, the County truly needs to do whatever it can to make accurate information readily available. (The Tribune has already grossly screwed up guestimate numbers on their front page so the County really needs to warn the residents to be very careful about where they get their information so this vote doesn’t get contaminated by the Tribune’s incompetence.)

The County then needs to make sure that every step of The Process remain clean and transparent and open and following the CEQA steps, the due diligence process, which hopefully will include at some point a promise of a neutral Peer Review by Dr. T, for example, all of which will go a long way towards making The Process not only clean but SEEN to be clean and transparent and open. That will ensure that we may well end up with an outcome the community (not me, not Joe Sparks, not McPherson, not the Tribune, but the community) can and will and does support.

And, most important, the people of this community need to pay very close attention to language and spin and narrative manipulation. (The Tribune is notorious for this) And look out for character assassination (lots of hidden agendas and personal vendettas still at play here) and fear-mongering and threats (are you listening RWQCB?) and be wary of snake-oil salesmen and Professor Henry Hill coming to town suddenly with 76 trombones that will save River City.

In short, get accurately informed, demand answers, get information before you support OR oppose anything. The County has planned a 218- workshop at the end of September, the County’s doing an update presentation before the RWQCB this Friday afternoon at the Board’s Aerovista Place meeting room, with Supervisor Gibson promising to speak to the upcoming vote vis a vis Los Osos 45 and the coercive un-level playing field at this point & so forth. (Also promising to be there are Mr. Murphy & Mr. Low, who presented a 53 page document regarding a “nowastewater” onsite system for Los Osos to the BOS at their last meeting, which will certainly toss another interesting item into the mix.)

So the game is very much afoot. Caveat!

Herewith, the CCW-PZLDF/McPherson statement:

Citizens for Clean Water –Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund’s mantra since County involvement began over a year ago has been:“Compliance requires a project, and a project requires a clean process...”I delivered the same consistent message concerning the County guarding the process at all the County Board of Supervisors meeting, the Los Osos CSD and the project TAC meetings. I have been consistently making the same point against supporting a blind vote (yes or no) or voting from a position of fear and intimidation and without facts. Since the information had not been supplied to the voters, I have begged both sides in many email messages to please wait, get the facts and then make their informed individual decision, and cast their individual vote.Proposition 218 Is For Each Individual Property Owners To DecideThe individuals who own property must each weigh the costs/ benefits and options to a County led project. An 11yr old told me her secret for making good decisions is -"Don’t say NO without KNOWING, or YES on a GUESS…” Neither Citizens for Clean Water-PZLDF, nor have I ever advocated a YES or a NO 218 vote. (I have always been for a wastewater project-not Tri W) The consistent position has been against an uninformed YES or NO vote. Voting blindness is promoted by fear and incomplete information. That has been the formula for the past project failures. There is a cure for the blindness. I am glad the County recognizes this too. The cure is information.What are they approving? The assessment is about approving the funding for the design and construction of a wastewater project. First, property owners need to see the assessment ballot for the cost against their property, and know where they stand. This is what they will be obligated to pay in the assessment. Because the assessment represents just a partial cost, the County has committed to include in the engineering report and supplemental information, best estimates for the monthly operation and maintenance costs, and the interest that property owners will likely pay on the assessment. This is needed for property owners to have a complete picture of the financial impacts.
Citizens for Clean Water would like to see a simple affordability index included. Additionally, a simple plug in calculation is useful for voter to calculate the percent of their household income that will be devoted to the project assessment.
(net income / annual assessment x100 = affordability measure) EPA guidelines is 2.5 percent. This information will help in establishing “individual affordability” and in providing support for additional funding methods and grants.What is the project?It is entirely reasonable to see the “plan” to assure any project alternatives being proposed by the County will result in a project that both the community and the individual voter can support. Essentially the County staff report becomes the contractual agreement to pursue the best ideas from the consultants screening, TAC pro/con, as well as additional proposals such as Orenco and Lombardo, in the due diligence phase. Activities after a successful vote has been described by Paavo Ogren, and will become a written agreement with the community. Some of the promises to date include:§ Restrict contentious TRI W site or technology to total cost analysis (level field) if it remains a project under consideration.§ Accept proposals for review of design/build and design/Build/and finance and private options that potentially cut delivery time and costs§ Assure small pipe collection technology is included, and expert consultants weigh in.§ Include the treatment technology best suited for small pipe (STEP) is included.§ Cost should be based on bond financing, not the entangled SRF loan, to assure objectivity during the selection phase.§ Accept proposals for complete level 5 recycling such as decentralized proposal by Lombardo Assoc.ConsequencesThe 218 is a public vote, and that would not be as much an issue if the water board had rescinded and vacated enforcement orders before the vote. There are indeed consequences to either a yes or no vote. The importance of the PZLDF appeal was to allow the County process to proceed unmolested by the enforcement threats that seek to intimidate property owners into a blind vote or blank check. The added issue of some not feeling safe to vote at all, or believing a yes vote will shield them from enforcement begs the question, how to protect against an un coerced vote. Asking the question and suggesting solutions is the right and responsibility of the County and the community. The County is obligated to guard against illegal voter intimidation. In a divided community, threats can come from individuals, groups, neighbors, or CSD directors and ex directors along with the water board. It’s all illegal.The community knows that under AB 2701 that the responsibility for the project reverts to the CSD if a 218 assessment fails. Of course the CSD has said they would need to proceed with a “turn-key project” ASAP to meet deadlines. Voters need to know-Could they accomplish this using the County and Ripley work to get proposals and contracts signed for a project? Those with enforcement orders certainly deserve knowing if the CSD has a ‘Plan B’ or not before ballots are returned. Provide guarantees if the assessment passes:The County essentially provides a staff report to the BOS (Aug 28th) that defines what the County is approving the Staff to do- if they are hired by the community with a 218 vote. The County has promised to deliver the best value/ lowest cost project, and as such we are guaranteeing to pay them with our property and future. I believe that the 218 assessment represents a "contract with the County" No one can be expected to enter any “contract for payment” willy-nilly, even if enforcement is threatenedA shield from liability is in AB 2701 is for the county, but does not translate to the community with Notices of Violation. The Community continues to be harmed, while the years of failure by the Water Board and local agencies skate. Because Governments are shielded from consequences of bad decisions, and there is little recourse if they overspend or fail to deliver can the County at least describe how they will provide the best value/lowest cost guarantee? The contract should have sufficient detail to assure there is not an intentional or unintentional "breach" by either parties, and also what options the community has for a addressing and correcting a "breach" of contract. Methods such as third party review and cost and performance metrics need to be spelled out in the staff report to assure agency performance. I believe a contract with the community can be nailed down without giving up flexibility in system selection or CEQA site selection, or the creative financing and delivery options. Last, the County should consider supporting the appeal of the individual enforcement if the County assumes the project. Regulations are rightly applied to the lead agency for the property owners, not individuals. This good faith commitment is reasonable and ought to be included.Keep Los Osos Solution Out of the VoteFew can disagree with the notion that “proposition 218 will solve many problems in Osos” (Sparks headline viewpoint all local papers) However, 218 is to fund a project, Not save face (instead of money?) or settle the CSD problems. The County role is to deliver a project. AB 2701 was specific in that the LOCSD bankruptcy was NOT to be solved on the back of the project. Entangling the CSD politics only harms the County process.The community must insist that the County keep this obligation, and leave the SWRCB disputed loan for the CSD and the courts. The County must also resist subversive enforcement threats from the RWQCB. I expect the same tactics used by Roger Briggs against individual to force a vote, will be used (again) against the County to force TRI W technology. Just as the CSD painfully experienced RWQCB intimidating interference from 1998-2005, the County is receiving letters from Roger Briggs in efforts to drive the project’s technology, which is explicitly forbidden under the Ca.water code . The County must just say NO to the RWQCB, as is their right and responsibility to do so, and absolutely necessary to keep their promise the good people of Los Osos who will soon vote Yes or No on hiring the County to deliver. Gail McPherson is a retired Wastewater professional and Spokesperson for Citizens for Clean Water/Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund. To donate to the enforcement appeal: PO Box 6095 Los Osos Ca 93412. For more information or call 805-534-1913