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.


Mike said...

My family thanks the TAC for a terrific openhouse...!!!! and a really big thank you to the Beardon's for their visual display of the size tank we can expect to install if STEP is required...!!! WOW is that impressive...!!!! and how many will we need... 4500 to 6000..???

As for the puff of smoke expected from the CSD this Thursday, well we only need look at the CSD's spokespersons viewpoint in yesterdays Trib.

Mike Green said...

Well, one thing is for sure, If we see any smoke coming from a CSD meeting the fuel for that smoke will be money.

Shark Inlet said...

It would be sad, indeed, if the Bay News disappears or morphs into something less than what it is today.

On the other topic that closes out Ann's blog entry ... Julie's Viewpoint in the Trib confirms what I've thought for some time ... she seems sorely lacking in logic skills.

This doesn't mean that the proposed project won't be horribly expensive and that some folks will be pinched financially and that some will even need to move out of town ... but she offers no hope that a "no" vote (which she advocates) will make this horrible situation any better.

Her best argument for a "no" vote is that we should have some self-control of our sewering decisions ... but it would seem to me that we already tried that ... two times some would day ... and that it didn't work out very well.

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"Shark Inlet said...
It would be sad, indeed, if the Bay News disappears or morphs into something less than what it is today."

I was reviewing a column I wrote waaaayyy back in 2002 when the Bay News re-appeared -- again -- and our little community paper has "died" and returned (twice under different ownership & different names) about 5 times now (remember the ridiculous Weyrich buy-out, crash 'n burn, and BN return -- look! it's a bird! it's a plane! it's the little quail with inpot -- again!!) So, we'll see. Trying to keep local papers alive is a killingly expensive, horribly hard enterprise. These little papers are truly labors of loves for all involved. But, economics are economics, so will keep my fingers cross and see what happens. Maybe a merging/morphing will infuse new blood and ideas and cash and who knows what will result.

Inlet also sez:"This doesn't mean that the proposed project won't be horribly expensive and that some folks will be pinched financially and that some will even need to move out of town ... but she offers no hope that a "no" vote (which she advocates) will make this horrible situation any better."

Here's what I don't understand: Tri W was supposedly pegged at $205 a month (with a huge chunk of future increased costs required to pay for the required add-ons & etc. all apparently conveniently forgotten or overlooked in that magical $205 figure)and nearly half of the [Measure B/recall voting] community apparently didn't have a problem with that price. The numbers presented by the TAC evaluations are 2012 numbers, and taking a middle range guestimate, it's still wandering around the $200 + range without value engineering or possible competitive design/build savings & etc, yet now -- now?? -- a lot of people are suddenly having a hard time with the cost? I don't get it.

Shark Inlet said...


I think that the same folks who were bitching about the TriW costs are the ones now advocating voting "no" on the 218 because it is "unaffordable" or that it is "too expensive." I would also want to remind you, Ann, that in the way the costs are being borne by various parties, the water companies are paying a considerable amount to clean up their water source ... to protect their aquifer, as it were ... and those costs need to be added onto whatever the 218 vote cost is.

Essentially those who had supported TriW are supporting the County 218. Some of those who voted for the recall are now supporting the County as well.

Richard LeGros said...


YOU WROTE: "Here's what I don't understand: Tri W was supposedly pegged at $205 a month (with a huge chunk of future increased costs required to pay for the required add-ons & etc. all apparently conveniently forgotten or overlooked in that magical $205 figure"....

RESPONSE: Wrong again.

The price of Tri-W was pegged at $168 to $205 per month. THERE WERE NO REQUIRED 'ADD-ONS' AS YOU SUGGEST. The Tri-W plan would have produced the highest level of teriary-treated water; water that would have greatly augmented our water supply; and water that would have reduced our dependancy on lower aquifer water (lessening aquifer take and reversing salt water intrusion).

If the Tri-W plant was operatinal today, the community would have begun the cleansing of the upper aquifer, we would be on the way to balancing our water supply, and with a proper water management plan the community would be able to plan how to make up for the projected shortage of 50 to 100 acre feet of water needed for full build-out (remember that if 20 homes were to be built per year for 20 years, the cost of Tri-W dropped to $168 per month)

Regards, Richard LeGros

Mike Green said...

Richard, perhaps I'm wrong but maybe Ann was referring to: (TAC fine screening report)
2.4.1 Tri-W Project Effluent Disposal
As shown in Table 2.8, the Tri-W project effluent disposal included leachfields at the
Broderson site, the Pismo site and the Santa Maria site. Because the Pismo Site and Santa
Maria site are both on the east side of town, their use as leachfields does not provide any
benefit for seawater intrusion mitigation. These three sites combined have a total capacity
of 1255 AFY. However, in order to prevent groundwater mounding beneath Broderson,
approximately 448 AFY needs to be harvested and disposed/reused. The Tri-W project did
not set forth a solution for dealing with the harvest water.
In order to provide a fair comparison to the other reuse/disposal projects presented in this
section, spray fields have been added to the Tri-W project as a means of disposing of the
harvest water. Additionally, for the purposes of comparison, conservation was added to the
Tri-W project, as it was a baseline assumption for all other projects described in the
previous section.
This seems like an add-on to me.

Richard LeGros said...

Hi Mike,

You provided a very complete synopsis of the water disposal program for Tri-W. Great job.

In reference to what to do with the harvest water there was a plan.

When the DESIGNED (assumed) water absorbtion rates were applied to Broderson, extremely conservative rates were used. These rates indicated that at FULL BUILDOUT that there MIGHT be a need to harvest water near the Bay to avoid surfacing of ground water. Fair enough! It was correct of MWH to use such conservative absorbtion rates. You ask the question of what to do with the possible excess harvested water (if any)

The plan was to monitor the ACTUAL (real world) disposal water absorbtion rates at Broderson AND monitor the flow of ground water to the lower elevatations of town over the first 5 years of the Tri-W plant operation. Why do this?

1. To develope real-world data to show if the designed disposal application rates at Broderson were too conservative or too optimistic. The goal here is to verify with real world data to solidfy the disposal protocols at Broderson.

2. The real-world flow of ground water from Broderson to lower elevations needed to be determined. It was calculated that harvest wells would NOT BE NEEDED for the initial 5 years of WWTP operation, as the dispoal rates would be less until full buildout was achieved (if ever).

The intent is that study of the real-world data on that application rates were reasonable and that the distribution of harvest water throughtout the aquifer to balance it would result in no excessive harvest water.

If the data showed that an excess of harvest water would occur (and how much), a plan would be developed to determine what to do with it. There are many options of what to do with this water; some of them not requiring additional disposal costs or 'add-ons'. If you like, I would gladly discuss what those options are, but brevity of this post is more important at this time.

In short, the plan developed was an amazing water disposal/harvest/distribution system which would have allowed the CSD to continually monitor and balance the upper aquifers while maintaining existing wetlands. This plan fulfilled the Coastal Commission's CDP requirements; and any future WWTP developed for Los Osos must achieve the same results.

Regards, Richard LeGros

Mike Green said...

OK Richard, so I go back and reread Ann's post and I can't find a single thing that contradicts either of us.
What she was wondering (me too) is the apparent hypocrisy of supporting the previous numbers for TriW then, but the dismissal of those same nearly identical numbers now.(by some folks)
She was not wrong, she did not say how much more the (possible) add-ons would cost, just that there could be add-ons and that any additional costs to TriW would be because of them.
Sometimes I think you wear blinders when you should be seeing clearly and focused

Richard LeGros said...

Hi Mike,

Why would costs for 'add-ons' be included into the Tri-W costs when those 'add-ons' might not be needed if real-world' data shows so?

When the Tri-W costs for disposal were looked at it was the decision of the board not to include and pay for items as only time (based upon data collected from a working system0 would tell if said items were needed.

As a property owner, how would you feel if you were paying for items that could have been avoided? I assume you would not be very pleased.

The prudent option for the CSD to take was to BUILD the disposal system based on the designers assumptions (based on years of aquifer study), collect data from the actual operation of the system, and from that data determine if the original assumptions and designs were realistic or if 'add-ons' were needed. In short, the NEED FOR ADD-ONS IS FAR FROM A CERTAINTY.

So much for the CSD trying to save the rate payer money.

I beleive that Ann is wrong for her postings suggest that the need and costs of 'add-ons' are a certainty; which they are not. If Ann blogged that there is a POTENTIAL for 'add-on' costs IF the operationional data showed that they are required, she would be correct and honest. Sadly, to date she has not been so specific in her pleading....and because of the vaguness sends the message that the disposal option of the project was fataly flawed (which it was not).

Regards, Richard LeGros

PS: Blinders?...I don't need no stinkin' blinders. LOL. We could all do without the little digs, no?

Mike Green said...

I guess we'll have to let Ann clarify that.
PS All in fun Richard, don't be so serious all the time;-)

Richard LeGros said...

Hi Mike,

Me? Serious? Really? LOL, (wink).

I just play a serious guy on the the doctors on TV prime time programs.

Regards, Richard

Mike Green said...

Besides, we are the only two non anonymous folks here besides Ann and Ron, we should be able to rib each other. Everyone else is just graffiti.
I do hold you in the highest regard!

TCG said...

Interesting article in the Trib this morning regarding the CSD Board members' takes on their CSD property assessment votes.

If I have this correct, one Board member says that she will vote no, because the CSD can't afford the $4,000 per year assessment. Apparently, she thinks the alternative if the vote fails of fines and huge administrative and legal expenses associated with the CSD being responsible for the project will be less costly.

Another director thinks that they should abstain so they won't be accused of electionering. If I'm not mistaken, this board member had no problem electioneering in a big way to get elected to the Board specifically to stop a certain project, then campaigned and advocated heavily for a recall vote. That is not electioneering?

This is not the kind of leadership that I believe is in our town's best interest, and is the primary reason that we desperately need the vote to pass and have an experienced, knowledgeable agency running the project.

Sewertoons said...

Off the Trib site - The CSD is hiring a GM for $115,000. What will be left to pay a sewer project manager if the 218 fails? Oh wait!! They'll have cash from General Electric!! No problem!!

Anyone wondering how many of the uninformed are falling into that trap-door spider's nest?