O.K.,What’s So Unreasonable About This?
The following was excerpted from a PZLDF mailing. Various “Signal Jammers” on this blog have been claiming that the PZLDF lawsuit is about “fighting the waterboard,” or “stopping the project,” or that old phony stand-by, “anti-sewer obstructionists.” Here’s what the PZLDF case is about:
“The Water Board appeal filed by the petitioners request is truly in "self defense" -----no one petitioning for relief is picking a fight!
The terms in our petition are not unreasonable...review them below.
Compel and direct the water board to:
Invalidate and vacate Cease and Desist Orders (CDO) issued in the process of the enforcement actions against individual residents, businesses and homeowners in the Los Osos Baywood park prohibition zone.
Invalidate and vacate all Clean up and Abatement Orders (CAO) that purported “settlement agreements” entered into in the process of enforcement actions against individual residents, businesses, and homeowners in the Los Osos, Bay Wood Park Prohibition Zone.
Invalidate and Vacate all Notices of Violation (NOV) issued on or about March 21, 2007
Invalidate and vacate any and all attempts to apply retroactive fines under resolution 83-13, based on the 1988 County building moratorium.
Cease issuance of any further CDO’s CAO;s or NOV’s against petitioners or other similarly situated in the Los Osos/Baywood Park Prohibition Zone.” [END]
The County is responsible for a project. Individual home owners have voted to assess themselves for a project. Individual home owners cannot build a sewer plant on their own. The RWQCB has warned these homeowners not to even think about onsite systems that would protect them. In short, the RWQCB has singled out a few citizens for nearly two years of harassment, yet made it impossible for them to do anything to save themselves; they can’t build a sewer system themselves, they won’t be allowed to install onsite systems to solve the issue, and with CDO’s on their homes, they have been handed a financial hit on their property values. Their non-CDO neighbor’s haven’t been hit. But they have.
So, somebody please tell me what is wrong with the citizens’ demands listed above? The RWQCB has in hand and has stated their plans for instant community-wide “Paper Convictions” in the form of CAO’s, which can blanket the entire town in a matter of days, do not require any hearings, no due process, and are guaranteed automatic denials at the State level. Bam! Whole town convicted and ready to be hanged.
So, why are these Los Osos 45 STILL left hanging in the wind, continuing to suffer real damage to real people in an utterly pointless exercise in the RWQCB’s shameful CYA bungling?
Apropos Of Which, Let’s Add Injury To Insult.
The following letter was sent to Mr. Shallcross, of the RWQCB by CDO Recipient Bev De-Witt Moylan. Posted with permission.
Los Osos, CA 93402
December 10, 2007
Gary C. Shallcross, Board Member
895 Aerovista Place
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Dear Mr. Shallcross,
Please accept my apology for my outburst near the end of the RWQCB meeting on December 7, 2007. Though I believed you were finished speaking, and I had therefore interjected a response to your comment, my speaking from my seat when public comment was over was out of place and inappropriate.
Certainly, at our hearing on January 22, 2007, you were kind enough to assure me that despite Chairman Young’s indications to the contrary we would have our full fifteen minutes for our testimony. I am grateful that you respected the rights of defendants to have their say at that time. You were correct to point out to me that you did not interrupt me when I was at the podium to deliver my remarks last Friday, which had been prepared for the normally allotted 3-minute public comment segment, yet were truncated to a 2-minute time slot by Chairman Young.
Naturally it was deeply disappointing to have waited 3 hours through a hearing during which citizens from Morgan Hill had been afforded their customary 3 minutes, only to have public comment from Los Osos shortened by a third, because of the Chairman’s arbitrary decision that only an hour would be allotted to us. The “lateness of the hour” became the determining factor in our right to be heard. Somehow Chairman Young calculated that 21 or 22 comment cards divided into 60 minutes resulted in only 2 minutes each. Simply allowing us the same 3-minute limit extended to the Morgan Hill citizens and exceeding the hour by a mere 6 to 10 minutes would have been a simple concession to those who had assembled and waited in vain for hours in a futile hope of influencing the board’s decision regarding the enforcement actions, a hope that this time you might not only hear our words, but listen to them.
Throughout the nearly two years of this procedure in which Los Osos citizens, in particular the families randomly chosen for enforcement actions, have had a singular sense of being dismissed and demeaned, I have maintained composure and adhered to principles of decorum. Facing an impossible situation in which we have been chosen for retribution in circumstances over which we have no control and with no end in sight over this length of time, however, takes its toll. I had come to the December 7 meeting directly from a two-hour medical infusion appointment, and so I was in a weakened state. Sitting in the water board meeting room all those hours in that condition had been particularly taxing. That is not, however, an excuse for my behavior.
Perhaps you are familiar with the induced depression experiments carried on and replicated over decades in college and university psychology labs. I do not know if these experiments continue, but in prior years they were common. In these lab experiments dogs would be randomly electrically shocked. No behavior they exhibited could stop the shocks or mitigate their severity. No normal fight or flight behavior was possible to escape the shocks. Eventually the dogs simply ceased reacting to the shocks, ceased reacting to anything at all. Powerless to effect any change in their circumstances no matter what their instincts dictated, their nervous systems shut down, and the dogs finally collapsed.
As you know, I have been a student in a trauma program through The Foundation for Human Enrichment in Colorado for the past three years. I am now a graduate of that program and am enrolled in a post-advanced program through that Foundation. My studies have provided background and training in many kinds of trauma including that resulting from inescapable attack and sadistic emotional and physical abuse. Each class of trauma has specific characteristics, outcomes, and resulting symptoms in their victims, as well as prescribed methods for treatment.
In sadistic abuse the victim feels completely invaded by the perpetrator (for example, “On January 30, 2006, the RWQCB moved in with us. We have not had a moment alone since. You crowd our dinner table. You sleep between us. You meet us in the shower. You sit with us as we spend sleepless nights staring at just one more document.” De Witt-Moylan closing argument 1/22/07 CDO hearing.) Empathy becomes the perpetrator’s weapon instead of being a resource for the victim (for example, “I know how you feel.” Chairman Young to William Moylan May 11, 2006 in regard to being a CDO defendant). Keeping the victim waiting is a component of this form of abuse. Time and passage of time while the victim waits for the known or unknown punishment to come at a known or unknown time (for example, the Los Osos 45 are approaching 2 years of threats of fines and losing their homes through fees and fines and possible retroactive fines at a future unnamed date with enforcement beginning at a future named date) are classic weapons of the perpetrator of sadistic abuse.
Some of the common resulting symptoms arising in the victim of sadistic abuse are
…sense of helplessness…impulse control problems…poor boundaries…problems with immune system…allergies … depression…suicide attempts (for example, “I can’t take it anymore; I’m going to kill myself!” A message we found on our answering machine from an ill, elderly CDO co-defendant with a completely disabled husband and no relatives living nearby), among others. (See Somatic Experiencing Healing Trauma. Foundation for Human Enrichment. Boulder, Colorado. 2007 p. I3.10. See also DVD Somatic Experiencing Presented by: Diane Poole Heller, Ph.D., Intermediate III Philadelphia 2004-2005.)
Faced with these forms of abuse and the resulting array of symptoms they engender, having access to defensive responses is a sign of health. The conundrum is to maintain the balance between healthy and appropriate expressions of defensive orienting responses in context. The predictable outcomes of ongoing sadistic abuse, however, would indicate that outbursts are a possibility and that impulse control could well be an issue. Individuals can only endure for so long threatening circumstances over which they have no control before the nervous system moves beyond the threat response into dysregulation.
It has been iterated and reiterated, Mr. Shallcross, to the point where your board is bored with it. No action we can take will affect or effect the outcome you seek. No amount of evidence we have submitted and no amount of time spent on hearings and related meetings has so far done one thing to change the condition of the waters of the state in Los Osos nor our circumstances.
We are powerless to give you what you want, and we are being punished for not giving you what you want. It makes no sense to a rational being. And so, when the rational mind cannot cope, the brainstem takes over and we enter survival mode – fight, flight, freeze. Acting out is not a surprising or unexpected outcome.
Though I was wrong to speak out on Friday in response to your comment that the citizens of Los Osos have used their time at the microphone to “trash” you, I need to reiterate in other words now what I said in those poorly timed remarks. This is not about you, Mr. Shallcross. It is about us. It is about private citizens coping with ongoing sadistic emotional abuse over months, and now years. I truly am at a loss to understand how you can construe as “trashing” you or the board my comments or anyone else’s about how these orders have affected us and have changed our lives, about how we cannot comprehend the rationale behind the board’s apparently irrational enforcement behavior, and about how none of the board’s actions have resulted in anything constructive, beyond passage of the 218, which in the end did nothing to help those of us with enforcement orders. And so still we await the retribution we have been assured in writing will come. We wait.
On Tuesday I will make my way to Santa Barbara yet again for another appointment with the somatic psychotherapist who is helping me to cope with this existentially insurmountable situation. The cost of those weekly appointments is mounting, but they and my regular infusions are all that has helped me, while your board waits for this or that eventuality that has as yet made no difference in our situation, except to make it worse.
As a veteran of 38 years of teaching I spent my career and much of my private life serving the public. When I determined that I could no longer physically meet the demands of the job, I retired. To me public service always meant serving the public. If public service becomes personal instead of professional, the public servant is burned out. If the public servant succumbs to a sense of being trashed and unappreciated, that person can no longer serve objectively and effectively. If the public servant makes decisions based not on protecting and serving the people but on something else, then it is time for that person to consider moving on. If those trying to communicate with a public servant meet a barrier formed from that public servant’s projections, then that person cannot fulfill the obligation of every public servant to protect the people and should seek other employment.
Inserted below is the full text of the comments I had intended to make at the December 7, 2007, meeting. In my effort to comply with the 2-minute time allotment at the meeting, I left out portions that I would have liked to say to you. I hope that you are inclined to read and digest the thoughts behind the words.
I thank you, Mr. Shallcross, for supporting our right to speak. I appreciate your willingness to afford us the courtesy of uninterrupted comment. I apologize for interrupting you.
I now await the apology from the RWQCB for what all of you have done to us.
Beverley De Witt-Moylan, M.Ed.
John H. Hayashi
David T. Hodgin
Monica S. Hunter
Russell M. Jeffries
Daniel M. Press
Jeffrey S. Young
Beverley De Witt-Moylan
December 7, 2007
On April 27, 2006, the day before the first RWQCB CDO hearing Senator Susan Collins of Maine said, The first obligation of government is to protect our people.
At a CDO hearing on December 15, 2006, Chairperson Young said,
22 CHAIRPERSON YOUNG: Okay. This is a
23 cumbersome procedure, but it actually goes towards
24 higher levels of due process being offered,
25 believe it or not.
On May 10, 2007, Vice Chairperson Jeffries, who was not present at the January 22, 2007, hearing and had to base his vote on the record of that hearing said,
RWQCB meeting Transcript for May 10, 2007
25 VICE CHAIRPERSON JEFFRIES: I read all
1 202 pages.
2 CHAIRPERSON YOUNG: Okay. And did you
3 watch anything?
4 VICE CHAIRPERSON JEFFRIES: No, I did
5 not. When I found out the length of the meeting
6 my wife wouldn't let me tie up the DVD that long.
8 VICE CHAIRPERSON JEFFRIES: So I read
9 all 202 pages during "Deal or No Deal".
Vice Chairperson Jeffries subsequently voted to issue two Cease and Desist Orders that day based on that record. No one on the board objected or made any reference to his comments. The transcript to which he jokingly referred contained evidence of extreme hardship and duress endured by the CDO defendants sitting before him.
None of you has any idea what it is like to be us. None of you has any idea what it is like to come home to a hysterical phone message from a CDO co-defendant saying, “I can’t take it anymore; I’m going to kill myself!”
You have no idea what it is like to be us. And so you can make jokes or tolerate jokes about our lives and deceive yourselves into believing that the CDOs are not burdensome. In fact, the human cost has been and continues to be incalculable.
By deciding not to vacate these CDOs but instead to consider further individual enforcement, you continue to fail in your obligation to protect the people. Holding citizens accountable for failures of government is irresponsible and unconscionable.
“The first obligation of government is to protect our people.”
-Senator Susan Collins of Maine
Supervisor Gibson Also Hears From Ms. De Witt-Moylan
And a good thing, too. One of the key problems with the RWQCB is that they rely for information on staff. So what happens when staff gets it wrong? I find it very interesting that apparently Supervisor Gibson hasn’t bothered to read PZLDF’s lawsuit? How is that possible? And that he is somehow unaware of the impact the RWQCB’s Mad Hatter Tea Party & Auto De Fe Public Hanging has actually had on his constituents, not to mention the whole community, to the point where he can apparently claim that the impact of the CDOs and the two years of CDO hearings are “symbolic?” How is that possible? All while the County stands silent? Not even a “symbolic” protest? Hmmmm?
Well, as George Orwell has it, “al pigs are created equal. But some are created more equal than others.” I guess The Los Osos 45 don’t much count – except symbolically, of course – as Mr. Gibson’s constituents.
“The first obligation of government is to protect our people.”
-Senator Susan Collins of Maine 4/27/2006
Dear Chairman Lenthal, Supervisor Achadjian, Supervisor Gibson, Supervisor Ovitt, and Supervisor Patterson
On Tuesday, December 11, 2007, I listened to the Los Osos portion of the Board of Supervisors meeting on KCBX Radio. I was travelling back to Los Osos from Santa Barbara and did not arrive in San Luis Obispo in time to attend. I did, however, hear most of public comment and most of the discussion that followed.
Supervisor Gibson made two comments that I found disturbing. He said that he has not read the PZLDF lawsuit. He also stated as though it were fact that the impact of enforcement orders issued to Los Osos homeowners by the CCRWQCB has been essentially “symbolic”.
These comments concern me because Supervisor Gibson represents my community. We rely on him to provide the other supervisors with accurate information about his district. The enforcement orders issued to his constituents have implications for all his constituents in Los Osos, indeed for all his constituents in District 2, all residents of the county, and all citizens of the State of California. That he has not taken the time to read this important lawsuit and cannot report to you on it, except in the broadest of terms, raises a question about the source and accuracy of the information he did give County Board members.
Last Friday immediately following his remarks to the CCRWQCB Supervisor Gibson left their meeting. He missed the opportunity simply by his presence to demonstrate his support for his constituents. CDO recipients and others living in fear of enforcement orders have iterated and reiterated to him the daily effects of the CDOs and CAOs. Their lives have changed. These orders have had no positive effect in Los Osos beyond their stated goal of ensuring a positive 218 vote. Nothing has changed for the better for those in Supervisor Gibson’s district who face regulatory enforcement actions. The changes have all been for the worse. These impacts are not “symbolic.”
Recipients of enforcement orders have explained to Mr. Gibson repeatedly in detail that this enforcement has cost thousands of dollars in personal income and thousands of hours in personal time. Not knowing what awaits us in 2011, my husband and I have put off plans to improve our home. The CDO automatically precludes our being eligible for the home improvement loan amount we would qualify for if we did not have a CDO. Selling our home is not a choice and would be quite difficult, since the order is attached to the home. We face a real possibility of having to “vacate the premises” following CCRWQCB action on 1/1/11, of literally having to board up our home and walk away. We have an order that will prevent us from living here given the daily fine for violation. The CCRWQCB’s real threats to make the fines retroactive to 1988 would wipe us out financially. None of these impacts is “symbolic.”
We have stood virtually alone against the CCRWQCB for almost two years.
I was grateful for Supervisor Patterson’s interest in our plight and to hear his thoughtful, provocative questions and proposal for a board resolution. It was encouraging, as well, to hear Supervisor Achadjian’s comments in support of Supervisor Patterson’s proposal. Naturally, it was disappointing to hear Supervisor Gibson’s response to that proposal. He misrepresented our circumstances by diminishing the impact of the enforcement actions.
It is my hope that we can rely on the support of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors in this arduous struggle that has taken such a toll on citizens of all ages and circumstances in Los Osos. I am grateful for your willingness to consider a County resolution regarding the CCRWQCB enforcement in Los Osos.
Beverley De Witt-Moylan
And the Supervisors Heard from McPherson As Well:
From an email of remarks prepared by Gail McPherson for the BOS’s “Oh, Jeeze, It’s The Danged Los Osos Sewer Update Portion of Our Regular Meeting so It Must Be Tuesday” regular meetings.
I have repeatedly stressed how important this Process is, and how it must be kept clean and transparent and fair. A continued TAC, reviewed for any conflict of interests now that we’ve moved into another phase of this project, a renewed TAC with eyes on the page and eyes on the prize will go a long way to keeping that Process open for scrutiny.
The time for all due diligence is at hand during this critical next phase. The cleaner that is, the better that is, the easier all the rest of this will go. Sometimes, going a bit slower means getting where you need to get much faster – a lesson that wasn’t learned earlier and for which we are paying too high a price..
Item: LOWWP SLO County BOS
Honorable Chairman Lenthall, Supervisors, and County staff,
I first wish to thank your staff---PW director, Paavo Ogren and Supervisor Gibson for their joint presentation on September 7, and follow up with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Board with a short presentation last Friday December 7, 2007.
The citizens of the County and residents and taxpayers of Los Osos can view the 1.5 hour meeting. The only reason it was video taped and available was because both Paavo and the Los Osos CSD general manager, Mr. John Schempf agreed to cover the expense at the last moment. My sincere thanks for their recognition of the need for open information to the public affected by the discussion for the current and future enforcement.
The item scheduled for 1:30 was not heard until nearly 5:00 PM, and provides some praise for your ability to keep items on schedule and orderly. Both presentations are at www.slo-span.com and www.PZLDF.org.
I strongly recommend the Sept. 7 project update is viewed by each of you, and shown on both Ch 20 and 21, as it contains important information and details of the due diligence review, the affordability analysis, sustainability criteria, and a economic impacts analysis which you adopted. This is the subject of continued requested and long sought by the community.
I would like to suggest the county direct the TAC revisit their “mission” as the TAC has been extended in both the time and reach of their original commitment.
Renaming the public outreach group more appropriately “Community advisory workgroup” more accurately describes the next phase.I make a strong recommendation for the County to consider reviewing the participants for any conflicts of interest that exist, or may occur in the near future, such as running for office, or working on projects or with entities in conjunction or related to the wastewater project.
The need to review the community proposals presented by the Coopers for NWRI, and by Citizens For Clean Water and others, and criteria to establish the community values is critical for project selection. This must be established and reviewed to assure the needs are covered in this next most important evaluation process. The ability to deliver the best value project is based on the fair process, with checks and balances in place to assure accountability, and independent third party review. This process is part of all quality assurance/quality control, and an absolute must to build trust.
Please direct the staff to assure a credible and robust process by implementing these recommendation and move forward with an effective due diligence process. An energized team is high priority for a community advisory workgroup.
I submitted the enforcement petition for review and the record, and information on Citizens for Clean Water "Insider Exclusive " show that is also on the pzldf website and public access channels.
And Finally, A Shout Out To Ron Crawford. Way To Go!
If you remember, Ron, our smarty pants blogger over at www.sewerwatch.blogspot.com posted one of his own “There Ought To Be A Law” proposals in Assemblyman Blakeslee’s “There Ought To Be a Law” contest. Well, by gosh, his “ought to” made the cut, one of 7. His proposal? “Prohibit special districts from establishing their own recall election date and instead transfer that authority to the Local Agency Formation Commission [LAFCO]”
Ron thought it nuts when he discovered that under the present law the Los Osos CSD members who were recalled got to set the date of their own recall election. Which means that under current law, people who are the target of a recall get to strategize an election date for their own best advantage, which may not necessarily be to the best advantage of the community as a whole.
Congratulations to Ron. Let’s hope Blakeslee has some luck changing that law.
There were also some other great ideas as well, such as this one: “allowing property and businesses owners who use solar power to sell their excess electricity to their neighbors or get a tariff for excess energy put into the grid.” Wouldn’t that be cool? Get those solar panels and put them to work. Light up your neighborhood, share the wealth, the huge investment in your panels get paid off quickly, all while helping to reduce carbon footprints. Where do I sign up?