Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sewers & Parks, Redux. If you're new to Los Osos, or have been asleep for a few years, and you wondered, "O.K., Just Who Put The Park In Our Sewer Plant Thereby Forcing It To Remain In The Middle Of Town," you need to hop on over to Ron Crawford's blog at and see how that confusion got started. Then maybe write to the Coastal Commission yourself and ask for a clarification from them. Ron's been waiting for a press release from the Commission for a long time. Maybe the CC will even send that press release to some of the Regional Water Quality Board members who seem to have a really hazy sense of the history of this project. That might clarify some of their misinformation. And if you want an example of sly "Thumbs On The Scale," this is a perfect one.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Short Cuts =Short Circuits

During the February 22 CDO hearings for The Los Osos 45, attorney Shauna Sullivan was questioning RWQCB Prosecution Team staff member Matt Thompson about the 2011 drop dead date on the Cease & Desist Orders. She asked if he felt four years was adequate time to ensure an entire wastewater treatment system would be completed and he rather sniffily replied that not only did he feel that was adequate but that some of the top water experts (referring to the “peer review” of the Project Update by the National Water Research Institute) felt that was adequate time as well.

But here’s what Mr. Thompson, uh, “forgot” to mention, from the National Water Research Institute’s “Final Report, Dec 4, 2006” : “The Central Coast RWQCB’s 2010 compliance date [since changed to 2011] appears to be somewhat arbitrary. The most optimistic estimate of the overall time period to complete the project is approximately 4 years.”

“Somewhat arbitrary . . . most optimistic estimate . . . approximately . . .” Those words weren’t convenient for Mr. Thompson to include in his testimony UNDER OATH. They were also not convenient to make sure the Board itself heard them. Nor was it necessary for Mr. Thompson to point out that in Los Osos, only a complete fool would seriously rely on something using the words “most optimistic estimate," or "approximately.” But, no. The date on the CDO’s was perfectly fine and reasonable and doable and adequate. After all, all the top experts agreed, didn’t they?

At that same hearing, Board member Hayashi asked staff why Los Osos residents voted to dump the original county project and proceed anew and again, from staff, (also all still under oath) received a severely “edited” and therefore false and misleading answer. Clearly, that misleading short-hand “history” was fine with him. There have been other instances when Board members have made statements that also clearly indicated they don’t know the whole story or even half of it, yet these same Board members vote on issues critical to Los Osos residents, while their heads are filled with false “stories” and devoid of critically needed real information.

Recently, Joyce Albright had a “Viewpoint” in the Tribune. She characterized the Los Osos 45 as “fighting the water board.” The “Viewpoint” even carried that wonderful “buzz phrase” as a headline, “It’s time to stop fighting the water board,” as if making sure their property rights and legal rights are protected against regulatory abuse is somehow a bad thing to be doing. After all, only wicked people would “fight” a water board who’s only “goal here is to protect our water supply and the bay.” Right?

In a Jan 15 letter to the editor, Doug Morin wrote in favor of a gravity system and cited Olympia, Washington as an example of how awful STEP systems are. What he forgot to point out is that Olympia’s problems were the result of operator error and a mismatch between their gravity and STEP systems. That information had been presented at a CSD meeting and was readily available, but somehow that information went missing, thus leaving the reader with a misleading idea regarding STEP.

And so it goes. Critical information that goes missing. Poorly informed Water Boards who don’t care to take the time to find out what’s really going on. They can’t be bothered. Buzz words that imply the exact opposite of what’s real. Deliberate distortion, dishonest spin, lazy, lazy shorthand that blinds and deceives.

And it’s all so easy. If you control the debate, you control the issue. If you “brand” an issue a particular way, it stays branded.

To the outside world, Los Osos has been portrayed as some sort of Dogpatch filled with “anti-sewer” Moonbeam McSwines all happily rolling around in their urine. It’s a lie, of course, but it’s a CONVENIENT lie, so even the Water Boards – who should know better and should have taken the time to find the truth in the complexity of the issue – have swallowed that lie.

And why not? Complexity is hard. By comparison, simply branding Los Osos forever as ANTI-SEWER is easy.

If you thought the Tri-W site was environmentally the wrong site, you were ANTI- SEWER. If you objected to the way this project had been put together, you were ANTI-SEWER. If you objected to the cost of Tri-W, you were ANTI-SEWER. If you preferred a Step/Steg system, you were ANTI-SEWER. If you wanted a sewer treatment plant out of the center of town, you were ANTI-SEWER. If you supported the recall, you were ANTI-SEWER. If you objected to the ill conceived, run-amok, pointless (except for electioneering) CDO process, you were ANTI-SEWER. Indeed, if you were not 100% in support of Tri-W, you were ANTI-SEWER!

It soon became a short-hand buzz word to falsely frame the issue and brand a whole town. Well, if you’re ANTI-SEWER, then you’re nothing but a town full of wicked criminals and deserve everything you get. Torquemada will be arriving tomorrow to punish you.

See how easy it is? And people who should have known better, (All the government agencies, the media, etc.) swallowed the lie whole, without a questioning burp. Worse, it’s clear that they’re still proceeding forward on those lies. After all, a poorly written, scientifically unsound CDO with an “unreasonable” drop-dead date on it will (like the old “unreasonable” TSO) cause nothing but trouble down the line. Unnecessary trouble. So, what did it benefit RWQCB staff member Matt Thompson to, uh, shade the truth during the CDO hearings? What was the point, except to bias the process by failing to give the Board the full statement by the world-class experts he was happy to “misquote.”

And just because the County now has this project, doesn’t mean the branding and distortion and dishonesty has abated. So, why should that concern this community?

Unless the distortions stop, the lies stop, the half-truths stop, it will be impossible for this community to ensure that the County’s PROCESS can go forward without hidden agendas, without being rigged, without distorting and dishonest “thumbs on the scale.” And unless that process is “clean” and, like Caesar’s wife, can be seen to be “clean,” I fear this battle could continue unnecessarily or worse, fail utterly. And for a PRO-SEWER community that wants CLEAN WATER, that would be another pointless tragedy.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More from the RWQCB’s Presentation of “Torquemada’s Mad Hatter Tea Party & Auto-de-fe Public Beheading & Traveling CDO Show”

The following texts were read into the record by Los Osos CDO recipient Bill Moylan at the January 22 continuation of the CDO hearings. Naturally, everything he had to say to the RWQCB was ignored utterly.

Which was a real shame since Part II placed a real choice and a challenge directly before them.

One of the definitions of Evil is to deliberately do harm to someone when you KNOW the pain you’re inflicting is pointless and that you have other less harmful choices available that would accomplish the same task, yet refuse to take that path. Come to think of it, that’s also a pretty good definition of what makes a sadist a sadist.

Part I

The Specious Logic of the Water Board
The burden of proof lies with the Water Board as stated in the California Evidence Code, section 520, which states, “The party claiming that a person is guilty of crime or wrongdoing has the burden of proof on that issue.”
Everyone in Los Osos and everyone in this room knows that not every septic tank in the Prohibition Zone contributes to the degradation of the state’s water. And yet the Water Board uses specious logic to prove its point. Here is the Water Board’s specious logic: A) Septic systems in the Los Osos Prohibition Zone pollute the state’s water. B) William and Beverley live in the Prohibition Zone and they have a septic system. C) Therefore, William and Beverley’s septic system pollutes the state’s water. Any logician will tell you that you cannot conclude that William and Beverley’s septic is polluting because the premise that septic systems in Los Osos pollute is erroneous: not all septic systems in the Prohibition Zone pollute. And I believe that my septic system does not pollute the state’s water.

Any governing body can create an arbitrary zone. The mere creation of a zone does not make it legitimate. For argument’s sake, I will create a zone where degradation is occurring. This zone is the table that the members of the Water Board are sitting at and I will call it the “board zone.” This zone is being degraded because there are coffee stains on the table and there are indentations on the edge of the table. Not only that, I declare that anyone sitting at this table is responsible for the degradation of the table. Since the members of the water board are seated in the “board zone”, they are all in violation. Now, if you do not want to be in violation, you must provide me with evidence that you are not in violation. But how can you do that, since you are sitting there. Therefore, you must stop sitting at that table if you do not want to be in violation.

You see, members, you can provide me with evidence that sitting at that table is harmless, or that you are very careful with your coffee, or that you have never dented the ends of the table, or that you have no other table to sit at, or that other people sit at the table longer than you do. It does not matter what you say. If you are at sitting at the table you are guilty. It does not matter that I have no direct evidence that you, as an individual, are damaging the table. I do not have to prove anything because you are in violation of sitting there.

What does matter is that you are in the board zone, ergo you are in violation. I don’t have to prove anything because I have created a zone. Science does not matter, logic does not matter, reason does not matter. And proof does not matter. What a beautiful concept, but specious.

If the premise for creating a “zone” is erroneous, then whatever conclusion follows the premise is also erroneous. The premise that the Water Board is using is that all septic systems in the Prohibition Zone are polluting, and that premise is erroneous.

Part II


I could talk about how our due process has been deliberately restricted so we could not mount a complete defense. I could talk about how the Water Board has spurned the California evidence code or how the Water Board has no site specific evidence for our home. I could talk about the infringement of the 8th and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution that this Board exhibits. I could mention the subtle and not so subtle arrogance displayed by the Water Board and how unbecoming that behavior is. I could talk about the repeated gender discrimination in this proceeding.

I could talk about those matters but I would be wasting my time, for the water board staff and certain board members have freely exhibited their disdain for the defendants, no matter how eloquent or truthful or compelling the defendant’s testimony. I could talk about how science does not matter with the Water Board, for Dr. Wickham’s expert scientific testimony was dismissed by Mr. Brigg’s, who said, “we don’t agree with Dr. Wickham’s opinions.” Mr. Cleath’s expert testimony, which said that pumping every septic tank in Los Osos would not lower the nitrates in the aquifer, was also dismissed. The Board has decided that every homeowner in the Prohibition Zone will pump, regardless of the need. Logic does not matter, for we have seen how logic for the boundaries of the Prohibition Zone is non-existent and arbitrary. Reason also gets short shrift from the Water Board, because the reason for having the Prohibition Zone in the first place was based on nitrate test results from illegal wells as stated in evidence submitted by Bruce and Antoinette Payne and posted on November 17, 2006.

So, what does matter? What does matter is that the health of the original 45 proposed CDO recipients has failed over the past year. What does matter is that Bruce Payne was blinded in his right eye from the stress of this CDO process, as verified by his eye doctor. What does matter is that John Mortara was rushed to the hospital three times in January and February last year from the stress of this CDO process and has since had a pacemaker implanted in his chest. What does matter is that Alan Martyn had to have his blood pressure and diabetes constantly monitored in the year 2006 from the stress of this process. And what does matter is that my wife has had to have infusions every eight weeks to tame her auto immune disease that resurged from the stress of this process; an auto-immune disease that was in remission nearly a full year before the first Water Board notice arrived. These infusions, which cost $7600 each, are needed so she can lead a mostly normal life.

What does matter is that the Water Board has been asked to stop this process many times by others and me over this last year and has ignored our pleadings. What does matter is that members of the Water Board prosecution team were informed many times last year that people were suffering physically, emotionally, and spiritually from this CDO process, and that the Water Board had an obligation to help the people of Los Osos and not hurt them, and those pleadings were ignored. What does matter is that suggestions on how to inform the entire Los Osos community without hurting the community were offered by me and others and that these suggestions were disregarded.

What matters now is that these CDO’s are rescinded now, that no more are issued, and that a community outreach program is initiated by the Water Board now. What matters now is that no more people have to suffer from high blood pressure, or surgical procedures directly related to stress, or that auto-immune diseases of possible future CDO recipients are not activated by the threat of $1000 or $5000 a day fines. What matters now is that this Water Board realizes that the health and safety of innocent citizens are not just related to clean water but to how well governing bodies relate to the people they represent. What matters now is that clean water and good relations can both be achieved if the Water Board wills it. What matters now is that the Water Board stops issuing these CDO’s and exhibits the courage to work with the people of Los Osos. What matters now, is that the Water Board thinks about how their future actions could benefit the people of Los Osos, and then act in a beneficial way.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Yes, It’s Another RWQCB’s Presentation of "Torquemada’s Mad Hatter Tea Party & Auto-de-fe Public Beheading & Traveling CDO Show, Part, Oh Heck, I Can’t Remember, There Have Been So Many Of Them. "

The following three texts were read into the record by Los Osos CDO recipient Beverly De Witt-Moylan at the January 22 continuation of the CDO hearings. Naturally, everything she had to say to the RWQCB was ignored utterly.

This is a long posting, but I urge you all to read it very carefully, both for the objections as well as for an understanding what 45 of your friends and neighbors have been put through for a whole year while many of you, Dear and Gentle Blog Readers, have either laughed or turned away in indifference.

The continued hearing had a few noteworthy events: (1) The Grand Inquisitor, Reed Sato, fought like a tiger to keep “evidence” OUT of the hearing record. He has fought hard since day one, which should prompt a question from everyone in this community: Just what is so fearful in those documents that they must at all costs be kept OUT? If they’re irrelevant, a “real” court of law will find them so. And if they
are relevant, a “real” court of law will need them in. Interesting, no? (2) Please consider the irony of a RWQCB so broke on these pointless Show Trials that they didn’t have any money to pay AGP Video to tape it so the public could watch. Instead, many of The Criminal Los Osos 45 and members of the general public actually interested in Public Access, had to take up a collection. In addition, AGP Video donated a good chunk of their time to make sure the hearings were taped and so would remain available to the public who cannot attend. And (3), while the RWQCB has spent a whole year prosecuting The Criminal Los Osos 45, (with another couple of months of hearings still needed to finish up on this batch), nitrate levels in Morro Bay’s drinking water (the town has been sewered for 50 years) spiked beyond what is to be found in the upper aquifer of Los Osos, yet the RWQCB has not issued a single CDO to the farmers in the Morro Bay watershed valleys, the implications of which should require some serious thought.

Bev’s comments:

Part I:

January 22, 2006

We who reside at [redacted] Street in Los Osos, California are not guilty of polluting the waters of the State of California. In fact, we have done everything within our power to protect the waters of the state, including pumping our septic tank within the last three years, paying a regular sewer assessment, and signing the settlement proposed by Sullivan & Associates, which indicates that we will hook up to a WWTF when one is available. We have submitted documentation in evidence to that effect. The prosecution has presented no credible testimony or evidence to the contrary.

I incorporate by reference every shred of futile prior evidence and testimony and all the objections presented thus far. I incorporate by reference all the heartache and all the tears shed in this room and throughout the whole year of this tragedy. I incorporate by reference all the confusion, all the consternation, all the sleepless nights, all the fear, all the desperation, all the grief, all the excruciating indignation, all the numb disbelief, all the humiliation, all the physical, mental, and emotional distress, and all the time lost, never to be retrieved, brought before this Board.

I incorporate by reference all the trembling hands, all the shaky voices, all the thumping hearts, all the tight throats, all the shallow breathing, all the constricted chests, all the high blood pressure, all the heart conditions, and all the recurring medical consequences of this proceeding thus far. I incorporate by reference all the health costs, all the health lost, never to be recovered.

I incorporate by reference the horrified paralysis, the persistent nausea, all the pain, and all the anguish in the bodies of each member of the 45 families randomly selected for the senseless, relentless, ruthless progression of this Board, as though by a kind of reptilian programming, to a single, inexorable goal. I incorporate by reference all the profound trauma, all the deep emotional wounds, all the hopelessness, and all the duress that have come before this Board in the course of these proceedings. I incorporate by reference all the damage wrought to families, to marriages, and to the children of the Los Osos 45 by the actions of this Board of unelected appointees and employees. I incorporate by reference all the lives changed forever.

I incorporate by reference all the logic, all the reason, all the wisdom, all the determination, all the courage, and all the trust in the authority of our constitutional rights that brave defendants have brought before this Board thus far. I incorporate by reference all the truth spoken to power in this room up to this point. I incorporate by reference all the simple, sensible solutions brought before this Board and rejected in the course of this proceeding. I incorporate by reference the supremacy of right over wrong, the power of integrity over intimidation, and the force of facts over fabrication, manipulation, and prevarication. I incorporate by reference all the common sense, all the ingenuity, all the compassion and all the dignity of ordinary, hard-working people in the face of a cynical, hypocritical regulatory body bent on using with impunity its authority to harass, stalk, and break unsuspecting, law-abiding citizens to bend their political will.

I incorporate the suggestion by prosecution staff that we need to “rally the citizens” to save our homes. I incorporate by reference the self-serving lecture by Chairman Young on December 15, as though chastising some corporation’s board of directors for failing to develop a unifying vision statement, linking our voting record to our predicament. I incorporate by reference Chairman Young’s inability to explain when this Board has ever taken responsibility for its actions. I incorporate by reference this Board’s impotent hand wringing, bemoaning the conflict between hearts and heads in deciding the identical, predetermined outcomes of each case, when they themselves had set the scope of this prosecution and the range of our defense.

If this Cease and Desist Order is merely a tactic to wake up a town, it is a failure. We meet Prohibition Zone residents every week who do not know what a CDO is. A government regulatory body that singles out a tiny group of citizens in an irresponsible, ineffectual, disgraceful experiment simply to put a town on notice has exceeded the bounds of common decency and humanity.

We reject the notion that the RWQCB is legally constrained by the narrow, self-imposed boundaries of this proceeding from doing the right thing. Perhaps you believe that you are right, but you have an obligation to do right. This prosecution team had a duty to Los Osos. This Board had a duty to Los Osos. The costs have been enormous for 45 families. The future costs to Los Osos are incalculable.

The prosecution team and the Chairman defend the notion that property is not at stake in this action brought against us. Yet not a single approved method of compliance, short of vacating the premises, is available to us. Our property is at stake in this CDO enforcement action.

Already targeted by this prosecution are at least four special educators. I am familiar with six others who also live in the Prohibition Zone. We alone are ten highly qualified individuals with specialized degrees and training who live in homes with septic systems fully permitted by San Luis Obispo County.

How many other educators and support personnel, who work with children inside and outside Los Osos have been affected already by the CDO enforcement and how many more await CDOs? If the RWQCB decrees in 2011 that Los Osos has failed to make “reasonable progress” toward a WWTF, and we all must cease discharging, how many will be forced to “vacate the premises?” Where will we go when we “vacate the premises?” Who will replace us? I don’t know, but the RWQCB should know.

How many children, able-bodied and disabled, live in the Prohibition Zone in homes with septic systems fully permitted by San Luis Obispo County. I do not know, but the RWQCB must know how many children will be forced to vacate the premises in 2011 if it decides that we are not making “reasonable progress” toward the installation of a WWTF. Where will they go? Who will shelter and protect them? Who will take their places?

I don’t know how many health care practitioners, health care support personnel, and caregivers live in the Prohibition Zone in homes with septic systems fully permitted by San Luis Obispo County, but the RWQCB should know. What will happen to health care in this county if in 2011 the RWQCB decides that Los Osos has failed to make “reasonable progress” toward a WWTF, and these health care workers, who work in all parts of the county, must vacate the premises? Where will they go? Who will replace them?

How many fragile elderly and disabled people live in the Prohibition Zone? When they must vacate the premises, where will they go?

How many thousands of workers, business owners, professionals, retirees, working students, and people from all walks of life who contribute to the infrastructure of this entire county who live in homes in the Prohibition Zone with septic tanks fully permitted by San Luis Obispo County must walk away in 2011 if the RWQCB determines that Los Osos has failed to make “reasonable progress” toward a WWTF? I don’t know how many, but the RWQCB should know. Where will they go? Who will replace all these citizens who help weave the fabric of community in San Luis Obispo County?

If you cannot answer these questions about the outcome of your 2011 deadline, you have no authority to destroy an entire community.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine said, “The first obligation of government is to protect our people.” When raw sewage flowed through the streets of New Orleans, the result of gross government ineptitude, neglect, abuse, and failure to act following Hurricane Katrina, Senator Collins did not place the responsibility on the citizens for that health and safety disaster. She held the government accountable.

Citizens across this country demonstrated on November 7, 2006, that they no longer support public officials who, with cynical impunity use blame, cover-ups, obfuscation, baseless detention and prosecution of innocent citizens, and protestations of moral authority to mask a broad range of incompetence, malfeasance, and failures.

We have been “on call” to the Water Board for eight days short of a year. Throughout this time, whenever a conflict with the Board’s tentatively scheduled business has arisen, we have had to modify our plans. We have been forced to justify our personal business and professional responsibilities like convicted felons on parole. This interference with the lives of law-abiding private citizens over this span of time is abusive and unconscionable.

Sitting here today are the very individuals we trusted to maintain the waters of the state for our protection. They accuse us of not fulfilling our obligation to keep the waters of the state clean. These same individuals argue today that simply by living in the Prohibition Zone, we along with thousands of others have recklessly, knowingly, and willfully polluted the Basin for years.

We expect you, as public servants, to maintain a clean water supply to ensure that we may live confidently, safely, and comfortably in our community. We expect you to have the expertise, experience and judgment to work with local governments, to make wise and prudent use of public funds, and to do what is necessary to protect those you serve. We expect you to do it well enough that we don’t have to think about it. That is what infrastructure means, that we entrust public servants with managing the network that supports our community, so that we may go about the business of our lives.

Board members have demonstrated repeatedly that they have the power to vote only YES, to support the prosecution team. You DO, however, have the power to stop being helpless pawns of this prosecution team. You have the power to require that this prosecution team make wise and prudent use of public funds. You have the power to throw this case out. You have the power to require the prosecution team to follow this agency’s own regulations for levels of enforcement and environmental justice. You have the power to broaden the parameters of this case to include a re-examination of the Basin Plan. You have the power to make certain that the actions you have brought and plan to bring today will, to the best of your ability, promote the highest level of benefit for the waters of the state while protecting the welfare of all the people of the state.

Does any one of you dare to admit that when your heart is in conflict with your head something is fundamentally wrong? Examine the parameters you yourselves have set for this case. Ask yourselves if the core of this case is to “protect our people.” Ask yourselves if Roger Briggs, whose absence is the most imposing presence in this room, brought you this case because he wanted to protect the people or because he wanted to punish the people. Ask yourselves if this case is truly about improving lives by improving water quality, or if it is simply about winning, no matter the human expense.

You have power to affect profoundly the lives of thousands of families in the Prohibition Zone of Los Osos. With that power comes grave responsibility. As public servants you have the power, the duty, to abandon this adversarial posture and to cultivate a cooperative relationship with the citizens of Los Osos, dedicated to resolution instead of retribution. You have the power to abandon your allegiance to making a point at all costs. You have the power to make a difference. You have the obligation to protect the people.

“The first obligation of government is to protect our people.”
-Senator Susan Collins of Maine

I reserve further comments for my rebuttal and closing arguments.

Part II: [Note, the January 22 hearing was not a full Board hearing, as was offered to the previous defendants, but merely a panel, sub-hearing, whose recommendations would then have to be brought back to the full board at some unknown time. The missing board members would have to review the written transcript or the video (ironically supplied via donations by AGP and the people of Los Osos) but would not be able to ask questions, yet another unfair disadvantage to those two people being “tried” on the 22nd. Unless, of course, one is cynical enough to think that the Board’s vote on these CDOs is and was all predetermined from day one?]

January 22, 2007


I OBJECT that a sub-hearing abridges our right to equal protection.

I OBJECT that we are being treated differently from all other Proposed CDO recipients whose cases were heard and voted on by a quorum on December 15, 2006.

I OBJECT that when we are referred to as defendants, then the property is NOT the defendant, and each of us is entitled to fifteen minutes of testimony.

I OBJECT that any part of the record, which I might use for appeal, has been severely limited by the attack on my due process right to have sufficient time to be heard.

I OBJECT that SWRCB lawyer, Ms. Helen Arens’s assertion, on page 2 of her OBJECTION, REQUEST TO QUASH AND OPPOSITION TO “EX PARTE APPLICATION OF PETITIONERS FOR ISSUANCE OF ALTERNATIVE WRIT OF MANDATE” of December 8, 2006, in reference to my request for a continuance constitutes a deliberate distortion and a warped description of the facts.

I OBJECT to Chairman Young’s repeating to the Board Ms. Arens’s erroneous portrayal of my request for a continuance, having already received the twenty-page document I submitted at his request to provide substantial justification for a continuance.

I OBJECT to Mr. Young’s deliberately disrespectful reference to my name near the close of the December 15, 2006, hearing, particularly given that I was not present.

I OBJECT that, after ignoring me for months by omitting my name on any and all correspondence, only in very recent months has my name been included in RWQCB correspondence and when it is included staff consistently renders it incorrectly.

I OBJECT that cases have not been heard in the random order of the CDO selection, which the Board itself said indicated their efforts toward fair treatment of all defendants.

I OBJECT that the use of alphabetical order as the order of presentation, instead of the random order of the Cease and Desist Order numbers discriminates against individuals who share the same Cease and Desist Order number but do not share the same last name and constitutes yet another example of de facto gender discrimination by this Board.

I OBJECT that simply by our position in the order of presentation we are prevented from incorporating by reference all testimony presented by all defendants.

I OBJECT to Chairman Young’s statement on December 15, 2006, following the testimony of defendant #1034 and prior to the decision regarding the issuance of her Cease and Desist Order that defendants had not taken responsibility for their circumstances.

I OBJECT that the Chairman in the above context indicated that the way we vote had something to do with our circumstances.

I OBJECT that after an entire year no other recipients of Proposed Cease and Desist Orders have been targeted, violating our right to equal protection under the law.

I OBJECT that the water board has attenuated the CDO hearings well beyond what a reasonable person would consider an acceptable disruption of the lives of private citizens who are not accused of any criminal activity.

I OBJECT that the RWQCB continues to fail in its duty to extend due process to all citizens of the Prohibition Zone by failing to provide notice to them that they reside illegally in the Prohibition Zone.

I OBJECT to the secrecy of this enforcement action by singling out randomly, without observers, 45 out of almost 5000 households and by failing to reveal a Master Plan for enforcement.

I OBJECT to this Board’s failure to provide a comprehensive explanation of the phrase, “reasonable progress,” in reference to the Los Osos WWTF beyond its requirement of passage of a 218 vote by June, 2008.

I OBJECT as a taxpayer to the waste of government funds in salaries, expense accounts, and infrastructure to conduct a protracted government proceeding that has already gone on for a year with no Master Plan, no framework, no exit strategy, and no end in sight against a statistically insignificant number of citizens chosen as subjects in a reprehensible experiment, all at taxpayer expense.

I OBJECT that my participation in these hearings directly affects my future retirement income.

I OBJECT that Roger Briggs is not present at this hearing to allow us to face our accuser.

I OBJECT that this agency has engaged in public waste by failing to utilize mediation.

I OBJECT that the settlement agreement was negotiated in secret among two Proposed Cease and Desist Order recipients and Mr. Sato, and is, therefore, essentially a limited agreement meeting the needs of those three individuals.

I OBJECT to the prosecutor’s statement that cooperative dischargers are those, and only those, who sign the prosecution’s settlement agreement.

I OBJECT that the Cease and Desist Order proceeding has been from inception to culmination here today a sordid example of government ineptitude and abuse of power.

I OBJECT to the completely arbitrary, capricious, and abusive disregard for our civil rights as demonstrated in all of the above actions of the RWQCB.

Part III [Mr. Reed Sato objected to the settlement agreement being referred to as something being crafted by” one or two citizens.” Moylan was not allowed to reply or explain or expand her statement. From what I have been told, many of The Criminal Los Osos 45, were not aware of the negotiations and had no opportunity to participate in the crafting of the document. So Mr. Sato’s attempt to try to imply that this settlement was some community effort to craft an acceptable document in some sort of win/win situation, or even as a Los Osos 45 effort, was misleading. Moylan’s statement that the negotiations were broken off early so these show-trails could begin illustrates yet another tragedy in this saga: What Moylan calls the “triumph of expediency over justice.” I would add , “triumph of expediency over common sense.” The failure of the Grand Inquisitor, who is self described as a negotiator who believes in settlements, further calls into question what the real motives of the RWQCB and staff are. At any rate, the “settlement” was not something the public was aware of, and clearly was not something the full 45 were involved in.

Also of interest, the settlement was offered as an “alternative” to getting a CDO, but copies of the settlement were only available shortly before the Dec 14 & 15 hearing ,and presented as a take-it-or-get-a-CDO proposition. In addition, some of The Criminal Los Osos 45 phoned in or sent notes the day of the hearing promising to sign even before they had a chance to read it – circumstances that a normal person would call “duress.” But not the RWQCB.

More interesting, apparently a few of The Criminal 45 who agreed to sign have since informed the RWQCB that after reading the document ,they have changed their minds and won’t sign. That doesn’t sound like a “settlement” to me. .” I mean, aren’t settlements something you participate in, agree upon, read carefully and are satisfied with BEFORE you sign? What Sato crafted and rushed to closure so the show-trials could go on sounds more like some high-pressure, used-car-salesman’s contract. The State of California at least gives the buyer a three-day “cooling off period.” Not Mr. Sato or the RWQCB.]



The settlement agreement was developed by one or two citizens, with Mr. Sato, essentially to assist those particular citizens to avoid the unintended consequences of a CDO.

That this settlement agreement does not carry with it those three letters, C D O is its only advantage. By signing this statement, citizens give up their right to appeal based on a vague promise of future consideration and special treatment when the drop-dead date comes and they must cease all discharges.

This settlement agreement is unattractive, because it is a CAO without the letters and retains the January 1, 2011, drop dead date. Negotiations for this agreement were begun in secret without input from other citizens. When an agreement was worked out, a few citizens were informed they could attend an informational meeting.

In the intervening months since Mr. Shipe proposed negotiating a settlement for himself, which was later offered to others, citizens have begun to approach the one-year mark in the CDO process. Many are old, tired, sick, occupied with family and personal responsibilities. Many need to resume the normal conduct of their lives. For that reason, some of the former proposed CDO recipients have signed your settlement agreement.

Please do not flatter yourself, Mr. Sato, that this settlement agreement appears so attractive that the smart people have signed while only the most incorrigible, recalcitrant dischargers reject it. It is no “agreement.” Its negotiation was never authorized by me nor entered into with my consent on my behalf. I have not spoken to one person who says they signed because they thought your settlement was fair and just. This is what I know. People have signed your settlement agreement because this process has gone on much too long. Some defendants are elderly and need to move into assisted living. Others need to be able to sell their houses so that they may complete plans for their own lives. Settlers have many reasons for signing, but I have heard no one say that they signed because they thought the settlement agreement was worthwhile.

The reasons I have heard cover this span. Their family life is disintegrating. They have lost touch with children who have begun having problems in school. Their marriages are threatened. They cannot focus at work or at school. Their health is impaired and deteriorating. They are physically unable to go on. They see no hope against the unfettered power of this agency. They simply do not have the emotional stamina to continue to fight for their rights any more, no matter how bad they think your agreement is. They simply cannot take it anymore.

Do not flatter yourself, Mr. Sato, that you have brought the Los Osos 45 to the table. What you have accomplished is the gathering of an anguished, distraught, harassed, desolate, desperate collection of people isolated deliberately from their community by being singled out in a tiny group from the entire population of the PZ ghetto.

You rejected the possibility of negotiating a better agreement that many of us had developed with counsel. You, who believe in settlement, determined that it was better to go forward with the hearings than to work out a better settlement agreement that we could all sign and avoid the enormous cost and waste engendered by a hearing for which we had waited most of a year that had now to be rushed into, a hearing which this Board cannot afford pay AGP Video to broadcast and record.

Following your failure the worn out assemblage with whom I am familiar have dragged themselves to your table, because they believe they have no other choices. If this is not duress, then I do not know the definition.

To demonstrate our good will and cooperation we have already agreed to, signed, and submitted as evidence the settlement agreement developed by Shaunna Sullivan, the aborted agreement, which you stated you did not have time to finish, because you, who believe in settlement, had these hearings to attend.

We believe in settlement. No one is more motivated than we are to reach a settlement, to get you out of our lives, out of our home, out of our heads. 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.

We believe in settlement. We believe in fairness. We believe in justice. We believe in humanity. We believe in truthfulness and disclosure. This current settlement agreement is ample evidence that the prosecution team, which developed it, and the Board, which approved it, fail to understand any of those concepts. This settlement agreement is a triumph of expediency over justice.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Curtains Up For The RWQCB’s Production of “Torquemada’s Mad Hatter Tea Party & Traveling Auto-de-fe Beheading, Part Uh, I’ve Lost Count, CDO Show Trial” for the last of The Los Osos 45, with over 4,655 Left To Go, Monday, January 22 at 1 pm. at the RWQCB headquarters on Aerovista Place in SLOTown.

Press release from PZLDF (Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund)

Gail McPherson, Alan Martyn PZLDF

The Regional Water Board is continuing enforcement hearings against homeowners

Monday January 22, 2007 begin at 1:00 PM. at 895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101, San Luis Obispo.

5000 properties are required to stop using their septic tanks or face stiff consequences.

The Water Board targeted the first 45 of 4700 homeowners last year in a regulatory 'test case' after the $163 Million Los Osos sewer project was stopped by voters. The Water Board contends that the use of Septic Tanks in Los Osos has been illegal since 1988.
All homeowners and businesses must stop use of Septic Tanks by hooking up to a wastewater plant or propose alternatives. But there is not plant available, and Individuals who face the enforcement orders say it is wrong to target individuals for government failures. Enforcement action could result in a regulatory taking of property and undermine current actions to deliver a project.

Individuals can't build a project alone. They say they have already done everything possible to comply with the order, including pumping tanks to insure they are working properly, voting and paying for a sewer assessment, and have agreed to hook up when a project becomes available. Enforcement orders can destroy property values, and individuals may have to consider installing individual treatment systems on their own lots, even though the water board as refused to approve them in the past.

Public officials have been asked to testify that enforcement is counter-productive and can undermine the county project. Among representatives requested : Assemblyman Blakeslee who put in place the legislation to move a project forward, Bruce Gibson, supervisor for the area, and Paavo Ogren, the new project coordinator.

The public is encouraged to attend.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Press Release

The following press release is from PZLDF (Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund)

January 16, 2006: 14 of the 45 residents and property owners in Los Osos targeted for enforcement filed a petition for the State water Resources Control Board to review the actions of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. (RWQCB)The appeal is brought on behalf of all individual property owners and residents of Los Osos who have been, or will be, subject to the issuance of individual Cease and Desist Orders, or who oppose the issuance of CDO’s. Representation is by Sullivan and Associates. The appeal and the first step in contesting the “lottery style” enforcement actions taken by the Regional Water Board. Petitioners include designated parties who were issued Cease and Desist Orders at the December 14 and 15 hearings before the RWQCB. Named in the appeal is Rhian Gulassa, Alan and Jacqueline Martyn, Christopher D. Allebe, Edwin and June Ingan, Laurie McCombs, Julie Miller, Cinthia T. Coleman, Lawrence Kleiger, Clint Koch, and anonymous CDO recipient 1040. The petition is also brought by the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund (PZLDF) on behalf of individual and entities targeted in the future, including the Los Osos CSD, who is a designated party in the proceeding. Petitioners also include at least five more designated parties who had “agreed” to settle, based upon misrepresentations or who were under duress and entered into a “settlement agreement” at the December hearings. They since learned the settlement is actually a Clean up and Abatement Order-(CAO), and could lead to $5000 per day in fines if the project does not move forward.
The Los Osos septic systems are county permitted, and functioning as they should, but do not remove nitrates. Nitrates can affect drinking water over time. The petitioners contend the water board is abusing their authority in this unprecedented action against individual citizens using regulations meant for government agencies and industry. Application of these regulations to individuals violates citizens rights, property owners cannot possibly comply with the terms, and could lose their homes if a collection and treatment facility is not available for them to hook up to by 2011.

The orders, along with reporting requirements, mean property owners must pump and inspect septic tanks. Most, if not all have met this requirement, and are paying a sewer assessment bill. The concern is they must stop discharging and hook up to a sewer, but what if a sewer is not available? Petitioners contend that government agencies build Wastewater Treatment projects, not individuals. They cannot accept responsibility for something an individual cannot control.

It took the water board nearly a year to hear just 4 cases, but the Regional Water Board expects to issue similar orders on all 5000 properties in the near future. “That isn't a cost effective or prudent use of taxpayer’s funds” according to Gail McPherson, spokesperson for PZLDF “Experts testified at the hearing that the enforcement requirements had no water quality benefits whatsoever. No one is against complying with the terms of the CDO, and petitioners have voluntarily complied with the requirements that are within their control. Individual enforcement in this form does noting for cleaning water, and undermines confidence in the Blakeslee bill and the county process to deliver the needed project. The issue of enforcement orders coercing a 218 vote ought to be a valid concern.”
The petitioners are requesting the SWRCB to "dismiss all enforcement actions and vacate all rulings, orders and CDO, CAO, and stop the RWQCB from pursuing further enforcement against individuals." The SWRCB petitions are usually resolved without an evidentiary hearing, and often the State Water Board will hold a workshop to discuss the matter. In this case the petitioners have requested an evidentiary hearing if the actions are not dismissed.
In the meantime, hearings resume for at least four more of the original 45 Los Osos property owners on Monday January 22, 2007 at 1:00 PM.895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101, San Luis Obispo. The public is encouraged to attend.

Donations to the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund (Checks to PZLDF) can be made at Coast Bank or mailed to P.O Box 6095 Los Osos Ca 93412
for additional information on enforcement:
SWRCB office of Chief Counsel
Dolores White
RWQCB Prosecution Staff
Matt Thompson: 805.549-3159

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons,The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA for Jan 17, 07

New Year’s Questions

This year, instead of New Year’s Resolutions, here’s my list of New Year’s Questions. Like Resolutions, I doubt much will come of my list, but, you never know.

1) What was so all fired important about keeping a sewer plant in the middle of town that three of the recalled Board members were willing to pound millions of dollars into the ground before the election, and then later get involved with actively attempting to dissolve the whole CSD? And why was the whole might and power of the State brought to bear in order to “punish” a community for simply wanting to move a sewer plant facility out of the center of their town? Especially when, during the “October Compromise,” almost every citizen who spoke at the CSD meeting admitted, “Well, I never was really married to that [Tri-W] site . . . .” For not being married to a site, this has been one hell of a down-and-dirty, world-class, messy divorce, that’s for sure.

2) Exactly who pulled the plug on the second payment of the SRF Loan, when did that happen, and were there any provisions in that SRF loan contract that required mediation of any changes before simply withholding a payment check? Who made the decision to withhold? I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but I do know that in regular law, you’re not allowed to shoot your neighbor because you think he might be fixing to steal your trash cans sometime in the next 90 days. But in contract law, who knows? That’s one of the questions that the CSD’s breach of contract lawsuit was supposed to answer. With the bankruptcy, it’s a question temporarily held in abeyance, but it’s a doozie and I hope it gets answered.

3) Who in the heck was responsible for monitoring the State Revolving Fund Program in the first place? In a 2005 press release, the State Water Resources Control Board states that it “takes its responsibilities to protect taxpayer funds very seriously . . . . ” Really? Then somebody needs to explain to me exactly how serious was the State Water Board in piling additional gazillions onto an existing unsecured loan, then sending the first chunk of money down the pipeline to a clearly divided community only weeks before a recall election that could change the terms of the original loan. This is due diligence?

4) Besides an attempt at electioneering and coercing a Prop 218 vote out of the residents, (Vote for whatever project the county comes up with no matter how cockamamie or we’ll shoot your dog AND fine you $5,000 a day!), just what IS the point of the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s CDO process? The Regional Board’s own documents state that putting CDOs on a whole community is not recommended because it’s an inappropriate enforcement mechanism. We’ve heard expert testimony that the mitigation requirements of pump, inspect, repair used to justify the CDO may look good and feel good, but they won’t do diddly to the ground water. Clearly, these “show trials” are costing the Board a bundle in time and money. And, it’s also clear that these show trials have no impact on moving the county project forward any faster than it’s already moving. So, what’s the REAL point of jerking hapless citizens around for a whole year? If it is indeed electioneering and voter coercion, is that a legal activity for the RWQCB to be engaged in?

5) And, finally, the County’s Basin Plan is now up for its Triennial Review. Will the County, the CSD, The Regional Water Board and other agencies finally – FINALLY -- take that review seriously and make the desperately needed changes to get rid of the scientifically indefensible Prohibition Zone, re-configure the map to make a scientifically defensible rationale for all Water-And-Wastewater Projects BEFORE the county finishes designing the sewer? And will these critically important revisions also result in a basin-wide septic management plan that will be ready for the AB885 regulations that will be coming down from Sacramento – regulations that may well put all septic tanks in the county under the direct control of the same RWQCB that brought you “The Mad Pumping Scheme” and “Torquemada’s Mad Hatter Auto-de-fe & Public Beheading CDO Show” that’s now running amok at the water board offices near you.

Now, there’s a thought and a question to seriously chill the New Year.


Because the Regional Quality Control Board’s budget is busted on these pointless Mad Hatter Auto-de-fe & Public Beheading CDO Shows, there is no money in the budget to have AGP Video televise the upcoming January22 “trial” of the remaining Los Osos 45 and the discussion and decisions regarding the other 4,500 Los Ososians. So, if it were up to the Board, all this would be done with no cameras present so members of the public who cannot attend the hearing wouldn’t know what the heck happened to these people.

But several citizens have chipped in to hire AGP for the day and AGP Video has agreed to pay for any extra time out of their own pockets to make sure this show trial remains accessible to the public.

I’m going to be sending AGP Video a few bucks to help cover their costs. I invite all of you reading this blog to do the same. What’s public access worth to you? Clearly it’s worth zero to the Water Board, but if it’s worth something to you, then send AGP Video a few bucks. You can mail your contributions to:

AGP Video
1600 Preston Lane
Morro Bay, CA 93442.

Then I invite you to think seriously about a Water Board that has such a limited budget that they can’t afford a modest amount to videotape public hearings, yet has spent gazillions and wasted a year’s worth of staff time on these useless show trials. This becomes especially appalling when you consider that their limited budget could have been spent oh, say updating the Basin Plan so they’d end up with really effective changes, changes that can have a real effect on . . . oh, let’s say . . . .the GROUND WATER that they’re supposed to be protecting.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ding! Ding! Ding! Incoming Message! Anybody Home? Helloooooo?

The following press release was received from the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund. Some of the Los Osos 45 will be filing an appeal, both to the State Water Board and then go into a “real” court. The outcome of their efforts may well impact the rest of the citizens of Los Osos. The Chair of the RWQCB has indicated that negotiations for improving the “alternate” settlement agreements are still open for discussion before they proceed against the rest of the community – Yes, that means YOU..

Considering what an appalling mess they’ve made of this Mad Pumping Scheme, CDO Kangaroo Court, Torquemada’s Mat Hatter Auto-de-fe & Traveling Public Beheading Show, I’m sure the Chairman and Board would like to figure out a better way to approach all of this. So would PZLDF.

Your support now may save you a ginormous headache (and big bucks) further down the line. So, Los Osos, wake up, get informed. The Regional Board wishes you to believe that the difference between a CDO and their 9present) Alternate Settlement (a CAO in form if not in name) are but minor matters, sort of like the sleazy insurance salesman who tells you, “Don’t worry, all homeowners’ policies are alike. The language in the policy? It’s just standard, one policy’s like the other. The wording’s there for some one-in-a-million just-in-case, so don’t bother with the fine print. Sign here. Nothing’s going to happen.”

Until it does.

THAT’s why what PZLDF is doing actually does matter . . . to you.

A message from the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund

The PZLDF is heading up the organization of the appeal for about half of the enforcement defendants. 12-14 defendants are filing their appeal through Sullivan and Associates. The appeal (petition for review) is first considered for a hearing before the state board (SWRCB) and then (if necessary) in superior court.

Not only is an appeal about challenging the RWQCB enforcement method, but to propose better solutions. PZLDF has been proactive in alternatives to CDO's, and proposed interim workplans that improve water quality, and interim compliance measures within better settlement agreements, (Not a CAO that has severe unintended consequences).

The efforts by those appealing the CDO's have the potential of protecting nearly 5000 properties from getting CDO's, and providing cooperative efforts toward regulatory relief.

Even those who served as the first "test case" within the first 45 ---but who settled because of personal reasons --stand to gain a better settlement from the efforts of this first group of CDO holders who are petitioning for review (appeal) .

The cost for review is high and your help is needed. Because of the direct benefits to you and your property, I ask that you donate NOW to help fund the appeal process. The Water Board IS going to send you an enforcement order.

You can make a donation directly at Coast Bank to PZLDF, or send a check in any amount to P.O Box 6095, Los Osos Ca 93412

Help your neighbors and help yourself....Give generously....the next wave of enforcement depends upon the few that are holding the line for you now.

Thank you for your consideration!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Woof! Woof!

The Tribune ran an editorial Jan 12 on the proposed off-leash dog park down in the five cities area, “Let dog owners in Arroyo run with their idea.” One statement in the editorial was a perfect example of the curious thinking that surrounds dog parks and another, a perfect example of our curiously muddled approach to “private” and “public” spaces as well as an illustration of how degraded our idea of The Commons has become.

First, the editorial notes that it will cost $11,500 to build the park and about $4,124 a year to maintain it, a cost that is expected to be covered by a private group calling themselves the Five Cities Dog Park Association. Then the Tribune adds, “What puts the wag in our tail about this plan is that all of the improvements and maintenance won’t cost taxpayers a dime: donations from area businesses, service clubs and the 200-member association will foot the bill.” And then concludes, “This is an excellent example of what can happen when residents take responsibility for providing for special recreational needs, such as dog parks or community gardens, rather than looking to government to underwrite their desires.”

I volunteer on the Board of the group that created the first off leash dog park in the County at the El Chorro Regional Park off Highway 1. When we started that project about 7 years ago, I was amazed at how clueless people in this county seemed to be. Letters to the editor always concluded, --We don’t need parks for dogs! We need parks for people! -- the writers completely missing the point: Dog parks are for people who just happen to be with their dogs. Indeed, after the park was finally built, it was amazing to observe just how intensely social a place it was – not for the dogs, but for the people. In short, dog parks WERE people parks.

The second thing that became clear at the time was that “recreation” has been defined in a certain narrow way. When city or county departments of recreation and parks fund a baseball field, or soccer field or skate board park or kids’ playground equipment, they do so using public funds and nobody says a thing. Those activities are considered “public recreation,” even though very few people own in-line skates or a baseball bat. Indeed, I suspect that there are more dog owners in this county than there are skateboarders or baseball players. Yet using tax money for those forms of recreation doesn’t raise an eyebrow.

But here’s the Tribune on the proposed Five-Cities dog park: “This is an excellent example of what can happen when residents take responsibility for providing for special recreational needs, such as dog parks or community gardens, rather than looking to government to underwrite their desires.”

First, of course, community gardens are limited to those assigned a plot. The public is NOT invited to come in and pick tomatoes at will. Dog parks, on the other hand, are open to all the public. Indeed, you can enjoy dog parks and socialize with the people in dog parks even though you don’t own a dog.

But, can you imagine the Tribune editorializing that parents wanting a baseball field should “take responsibility for providing for [this] special recreational need” and go raise the money needed to build and maintain it?

Hence the ongoing problem of defining what “recreation” is and who benefits.

But there’s another, far more troubling reality at work throughout the country and certainly here in this county. The devaluation of The Commons, that is, the idea that there are certain things that we, as citizens, should hold and pay for in common since they offer all of us, in one way or another, a benefit.

But since the so-called “Reagan Revolution,” a counter philosophy has been at work, that of Privitization of the Commons, which says that, except for a standing Military, most everything else should be paid for by private funds. Want a park? Go build it yourself. Think Yosemite’s nice? Privitize it and charge people the market rates to go see it, just like Disneyland. It is this philosophy that’s at work in the Tribune’s description of a dog park – but not a ball field – as a “special recreational need,” forgetting entirely that a dog park IS a public park for people, exactly what the various taxpayer-supported Departments of Parks and Recreation are funded to provide – parks for people.

This distinction with no difference is exactly what allows various cities and counties to foist their Common responsibilities off onto the private sector. If the taxpayers no longer believe in The Commons and refuse to adequately fund public parks, (a real problem in this county, where Parks & Recreation, properly funded, could be buying up land for more parks but now has no budget to buy OR run them, a tragedy in the making once park land is eaten up by development and everyone – too late – stands around saying, Oh, well, too bad ), then the situation is simple: You want a park, go build it yourself – unless, of course, it fit’s our definition of “recreation,” i.e. baseball, soccer, playground equipment, THAT we’ll fund with tax money, but . . . dog parks? Oh, no, that’s a “special recreational need” and you’ll have to fund that yourself.

Fortunately, as we found with the El Chorro dog park, there is a middle way: Public/Private Partnering. The key thing that makes the El Chorro Off Leash Dog Park so successful IS the participation of the private sector, park users who help with maintenance, fund-raising, park improvements and amenities. It is their commitment to this particular form of public recreation that keeps that park such a wonderful place for anyone to go to and enjoy. This type of partnering can also help keep ball fields working, skate-parks safe and maintained, our own Elfin Forrest here in Los Osos clean and invasive-weed-free, and so forth.

So, Tribune Editorial Board, I hope you’ll stop and think a bit on what you mean by “special recreational needs.” The Five Cities Dog Park Association isn’t trying to build some private enclave just for them. What they’re trying to do, as PRIVATE citizens, is to build a PUBLIC park. And to do that, they need equal partnering from the county and the surrounding cities’ Parks and Recreation Departments.

After all, that’s what Parks & Recreation Departments are all about: Parks and Recreation for people, whether they’re holding a tennis racquet, a baseball bat or a dog leash.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Gaaak! I see everything twice, again!

Yes, it’s déjà vu time. Again the questions: Why wouldn’t the Regional Water Quality Control Boards want to get stuff done right the first time instead of jamming artificial, arbitrary deadlines onto municipalities then threatening FINES!FINES!FINES! which buffalos communities into what could well be the wrong technology which creates MORE water problems further down the line when everyone then stands around wringing their hands saying, “Oh, Dang, we cudda hadda V-8, but Oh, nooooo, YOU hadda make us drink this stuff?”

Or as my sister once observed of the phone company she worked for (the biggest) “Why is it they never have enough money to do it right the first time but always have enough money to do it over again at twice the cost?”

Hold onto you seat, it’s Rerun Time:

New Santa Paula sewage plant in limbo
City faces $25,000 per day in fines if deadline is missed
By Tony Biasotti, tbiasotti@VenturaCountyStar.comJanuary 7, 2007
The city of Santa Paula isn't getting any closer to building a new sewage treatment plant, despite the $25,000 a day in fines that hang over its head if it misses its 2009 deadline.
More than a year ago, the City Council hired a designer, and last year it zoned land for the new plant, but the price tag — about $75 million, the biggest public project in city history — has the council stepping carefully. It's pausing for as long as six weeks while it considers scrapping the design and moving to a different technology that's potentially cheaper.
However, the clock is ticking. The water that the current treatment plant dumps into the Santa Clara River doesn't meet Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board standards. The board has agreed to suspend the fines normally associated with such violations, but if Santa Paula doesn't have its new plant up and running by October 2009, a $25,000 daily maximum fine is back on the table.
If construction work began immediately, the new plant would be finished in late 2009 or early 2010, said Cliff Finley, Santa Paula's public works director. If the city starts over with a new design, it would set the project back 12 to 14 months, he said.
"If we proceed down the road we're currently on, we're barely going to make it, or we're not going to make it, but at least we're going to be close," Finley said.
The current road now leads toward a new plant with a technology known as a membrane bio-reactor. Waste water is filtered through tanks and treated until it is clean enough to use in landscaping.
The new option the City Council might consider is Vertreat, a proprietary system owned by a Canadian firm called Noram Engineering and Constructors Ltd. It filters the water through deep wells instead of aboveground tanks. It requires one additional step to produce reusable water, Finley said.
Vertreat was ruled out when the city first studied it because it hadn't been used yet in a city sewage plant in California. However, there's some hope it might be cheaper than a membrane bio-reactor system. Finley said the city's initial study showed about the same price for the two, but it was based on rough estimates because Noram didn't participate in the study.
Now the city has invited the company to make a pitch to the City Council before Feb. 15. Noram's president wants to appear, but he hasn't committed to a date yet, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told the council Tuesday.
Bob Gonzales and Ralph Fernandez, the two new members of the council, were the most vocal advocates of giving Noram a chance at the project. A small delay is worth it if it saves money, Gonzales said.
"I don't like to be put into a corner when it comes to spending the public's money," he said.
If the new plant comes in at the current estimate of $75 million, Santa Paula residents will see their sewage bills go from $42 a month to more than $60 a month by 2009.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

CLARIFICATION of the January 5, 07 Tribune Viewpoint, (previous post)

PZLDF Clarification:
Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund (PZLDF) was organized to support those faced with enforcement in Los Osos. Membership cuts across the “political factions” and represents ALL 5000 faced with eventual enforcement actions. The issue IS property rights and regulatory abuse, and has NOTHING to do with which version of a project is favored, or how one votes. NO, the abuse of civil rights is not appropriate even if you think Los Osos, or the individual deserves it. Supporting civil rights is NOT about agreeing with the particular issue, but not allowing anyones rights to be violated.

PZLDF supported those faced with hearings and also worked to broker a settlement for others. PZLDF did NOT take a stand against enforcement in general, but the misapplied and misrepresented enforcement orders that are designed for industry and government agencies. The use of the water boards own progressive enforcement guidelines indicates a community-wide work plan is a better tool. The greatest concern is the trampling of citizens rights, and unintended consequences the enforcement puts in motion. The enforcement undermines the Blakeslee Bill, and the County’s ability to succeed in delivering a new project, and the mission of the water board. It further divides the community, and that should be a huge concern to everyone who favors a project in the foreseeable future, and an end to the madness in Los Osos.

Gail McPherson
Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund

Friday, January 05, 2007

Letter to the Editor from PZLDF

The following ran in the 1/5/07 Tribune as a Viewpoint.

Two weeks before Christmas the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) began issuing Cease and Desist Orders (CDO’s) to randomly-selected LO residents. The individual enforcement came after nearly a year of RWQCB foibles and delays, including the exit of key prosecutor and witness, Roger Briggs. Enforcement proposed long before the Blakeslee Bill and the County assuming the sewer project makes these belated actions both obsolete and counter productive. The Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund (PZLDF) mission is to assist and support individuals targeted for enforcement. PZLDF developed a "Settlement Work Plan" based on RWQCB guidelines for progressive enforcement. Cooperative compliance was demonstrated and the negotiations with RWQCB were hopeful. While the RWQCB Settlement failed to protect individuals and their properties, PZLDF continues to support enforcement being focused only on individuals who refuse to comply with interim measures or to cease discharges when a sewer system is available.

Several polls have shown the vast majority of LO residents want a community sewer system and will vote for a new project assessment under the County and Blakeslee plan. The conditions in the enforcement orders (RWQCB settlement “order” and CDO) are identical. Residents have also testified and demonstrated that they will voluntarily comply with the RWQCB’s interim measures (have pumped and inspection of septic tanks and will hook up to a sewer). Further, the cost/benefit (based on the RWQCB funding derived from fines) makes this a poor investment since the RWQCB stated the likelihood of fines resulting from these prosecutions is remote (unless the AB 2701 process fails). Thus, the costs of the actions and resulting hearings and court costs wasteful to taxpayers as well. (The estimated cost for just 4 days of hearings in April alone, and related work for 45 residents was $100,000 to 200,000. -And the RWQCB has 4,700 more prosecutions to go.)

There at least three reasons for the RWQCB to adopt progressive enforcement measures besides the exceptionally high cost of punitive "enforcement orders" in both time and taxpayers monies.

First, enforcement for the RWQCB’s decision to tie the enforcement actions directly to the Proposition 218 assessment vote provides the perfect opportunity for anyone not happy with the Blakeslee process to sabotage it. What better justification for protesting an assessment than to claim it was coerced?

Second, the Water Board’s hard-nosed actions destroy the trust and cooperation between residents and controlling agencies that the Blakeslee Bill seeks to restore. The actions will cause all participants, including the County and LOCSD, to suspect that the RWQCB intends to control the process and its outcome. The actions are divisive and rekindle the equity issues the Bill sought to overcome. The enforcement provides risk to some while sharing decision making with the community outside the Prohibition Zone. People in the Prohibition Zone will fund the highest per capita sewer project in national history for a system that benefits the Morro Bay National Estuary, and the clean water supply for entire community. And if the Blakeslee plan fails, their homes are the payment for any enforcement fines (up to $5000/day).

Third, the RWQCB is throwing away the political capital it needs to protect all citizens. Anyone attending the December hearings couldn't help but sympathize with the residents who could not afford the cost for legal assistance (upward of $20,000) as they stood up to the Water Board members, staff, and several attorneys, alone. The lopsided spectacle left no doubt that the considerable powers and resources vested in the RWQCB are not meant to subjugate individual citizens with functioning septic tanks. Very likely, individual taxpayers will eventually prevail in this David and Goliath struggle in the press and Legislature, harming the credibility and status of the State Water Boards, possibly permanently.

Unless it has better reasons to use the powers granted it by the State and People of California, the RWQCB should avoid abusing such power in an effort to demonstrate "we have teeth" against a few defenseless individuals. A settlement for a community-wide work plan containing all the protections the RWQCB wanted , and more was offered by citizens and supported by PZLDF. Assemblyman Blakeslee provided a means to end the Los Osos sewer war through a peace process known as the Blakeslee Bill. Instead of the RWQCB setting land mines that will defeat its objective, look at folding in progressive enforcement work plans, that will improve water quality -and deliver a project unabated.

Alan Martyn, Gail McPherson, Keith Wimer
Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund
P.O. Box 6507 Los Osos Ca. 93412

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA , for Jan 3, 07

Verdict First! Evidence Never!

It was an Alice in Wonderland Moment. I refer to the recent Torquemada’s Mad Hatter CDO Tea Party, Public Beheading & Auto-de-fe held by the Regional Water Quality Control Board for The Los Osos 45. You remember those folks? Your friends and neighbors who have been put through hell for a whole year by the same Board that first cooked up the scientifically unsound and totally unworkable Mad Pumping Scheme, only to have that go ker-blooey. So they started all over again, targeting the same 45 people in an endlessly changing, goal-post-moving process that wasted even more gazillions, while claiming that they were too poor to hire a mediator to come up with a much better win/win interim alternative.

Instead, we had a two day spectacle of truly bizarre proportions. Consider: One of the reasons given for issuing CDOs was to “ensure that pollutant loading [to the groundwater] within the prohibition area is minimized to the extent possible.” So the Board wanted everyone to pump, inspect and repair their septic systems. Yet Tim Cleath of Cleath & Associates (The Water Experts) testified that pumping, inspecting and repairing septics until the new sewer can be built will have no appreciable benefit to the groundwater. Which means that this proposed short-term regimen will look good (Hey’ we’re working hard over here, see?), but it won’t do diddly to the groundwater.

Next we heard Mr. Cleath testifying that trying to link well data to specific properties is not advised, expert information which, of course, was totally ignored. When staff was repeatedly asked, Do you have any evidence specifically linking Property X with nitrate pollution? the answer – under oath – was always, “No.” But the owner of Property X was declared “guilty” and beheaded anyway.

So much for “science.” So much for “evidence.” So much for due process.

But there were two, highly telling moments: First, there was the spectacle of CDO Recipient X, with his wife weeping at his side, finally recanting. He was given two minutes to decide whether to sign the settlement agreement (Actually, a Clean Up & Abatement Order that in many ways could end up offering fewer protections than an actual CDO would have, something I am positive Mr. X was unaware of at the time.) Mr. X declared that he would sign, but would be doing so “under duress.”

This blindingly clear and truthful description of exactly what Mr. X was laboring under – duress – caused the Board members to recoil in faux horror. Duress? DURESS? Why, we are shocked – SHOCKED – by such a notion! Wereupon they tried to help their victim find different words to use, suggesting that, perhaps, he could use the word, “disgust,” or that the agreement “stinks,” but duress? Oh, perish the thought.

It was THE Grand Inquisitor Moment in this auto-de-fe, the public ritual kissing of the sacred relics, the confession tearfully but “freely” made before the body is consigned to the flames.

But the final creeping horror of watching the incompetent bumbling and unnecessary cruelty and waste that has gone on for a whole year, was when Board members claimed that THEY were the helpless victims in all this. Said Board member Press, “ . . . [for years] . . .the [RWQCB] has patiently waited for something to happen . . , ,” utterly ignoring the fact that the Board was the ONLY player in the room that had all the power to MAKE “something happen.”

Yet even now, with a variety of regulatory smart options and alternatives in their toolbox, the Board repeatedly CHOSE to proceed down one of the worst possible paths, wringing their hands in faux victimhood all the way.

Well, they’ll have plenty of time to wring. Despite the verdicts all being done deals, with no-shows being tried and hanged in absentia, it still took 8 hours to “process” about 6 citizens.

There are 4,955 left to go, including you, Dear and Gentle Reader. Which means, you can do nothing, or you can get more information by calling some of The Los Osos 45 who have joined together to form the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund, at 534-1913, and join with them and their attorney’s efforts to stay legally informed, protect their due process rights, and to try once again to work jointly with the RWQCB’s staff to craft a far smarter alternative than this appallingly sadistic and ultimately pointless spectacle.

More Tea! More Tea for Torquemada! Move Down! Move Down!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Mistah Kurtz --he dead. A penny for the Old Guy.

Saddam Hussein is hanged. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Happily, with his death, we can now easily forget that he was our boy, helped into office by the CIA, kept in power by Reagan and Rummy and the American Arms Merchants, our cat’s paw in the Iran-Iraq war, a war that saw hundreds of thousands of young men slaughtered, each calling upon Allah to smite the other. It was smiles and handshakes with a mass murderer so long as he kept the oil coming. No ethical qualms on our part with supporting a brutal dictator. No, indeed.

Now he’s dead, nearly 3,000 American soldiers are also dead. Countless Iraqis are Shocked & Awed into their graves, more will follow in the murderous sectarian chaos Bush and his incompetent airheaded NeoCons unleashed. Saddam’s death will not bring back a single one of the dead for another moment to feel the sun on their faces, or feel joy at being with their loved ones. All dust now, collateral damage in the ego-drive for power, and to make the world a safer place for corporate greed and, most important, to secure the God given, absolute right of Americans to drive their Hummers, and the arms dealers to make a profit. It’s the American way.

Which means there will be more Saddams being put into place, and then later hanged, and more deals cut, more murderers and their victims awaiting us in this brave Happy New Year to come.

Mistah Kurtz is never dead for long. And he always costs far more than a penny.