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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Yes, Actually, That IS A Lawyer In My Pocket, But I’m Still Happy To See You, Anyway

In my Jan 1 posting,(“Is that a lawsuit in your pocket . . .”), I mused on the Taxpayers’ Watch lawsuit filed against five of the post-recall LOCSD Board members – individually, personally, not as a Board –alleging “sham settlement monies to their political supporters,” regarding the CSD’s settlement over the Measure B lawsuit originally filed by the recalled CSD Board majority.

In the comment section, a person identifying himself as Richard Le Gros (remember, Anonymous commenters are always anonymous, no matter who they say they are) had this to say about my posting . . .

“ Regarding the $600K settlements.....remember that the GRAND JURY found the settlements VERY QUESTIONABLE. As for that shrill McClendon, his reasoning will be very easy to dismiss in court.”

Well, apparently, “shrill McClendon” reads this blog on occasion and read both my posting and this “anonymous” poster’s comments, and emailed me the following. (It’s weird. My memory of Mr. McClendon was someone who was the exact opposite of “shrill.” Soft spoken, calm, measured, but “shrill?” Naw. Not that I ever saw. And since the subject line on his email stated “Re: That Shrill McClendon’g 2-2-06 LOCSD Public Meeting Presentation. . .” I would have to conclude that Droll McClendon would be more like it.)

In any event, as the person calling himself Richard Le Gros will see (below) the courts apparently have found just the opposite of “easy to dismiss.” What still remains a mystery, given the long history of the court’s ruling against people who try to stop elections, is why on earth the pre-recall Board majority ever filed that lawsuit in the first place. Unless they wanted to set up a post-recall board with a time bomb that would cost the citizens dearly? (If that’s the case, then we’re looking at Medea rather than mendacious.) Which is also why I wondered why some citizens haven’t also filed a lawsuit against Stan, Richard & Gordon – personally and individually – for gross negligence in filing a lawsuit that had such a clearly dangerous track record, thereby setting up the community for a hellacious financial hit. It’s a puzzle.

Then at the CSD meeting on 1/3/07, we learned that the Insurance Company that should have defended the Board Members under the policy requirements (Errors and Omissions Board coverage & etc, which covers this sort of thing) denied the claim--(Jeeze, they must think they’re Blue Shield or something) and so the CSD voted 5-0 to spend mo’money to hire an attorney to deal with both the Taxpayers’ Watch lawsuit and the denied claim.

(A side note: CSD attorney, Julie Biggs, noted that under California law, the district is compelled to furnish legal help when members, acting as a board, are sued. To that end, a law firm was found that agreed to take the case. And for good citizens who actually ARE concerned with the taxpayer’s money, it can only be hoped that the case won’t take too long (i.e. take too much money) to conclude.)

Also at that meeting, Joyce Albright of Taxpayers’ Watch accused the five Board members being sued (Tacker, Schicker, Cescena, Senet & former member, Fouche) of using the settlement money to pay” personal debts out of public coffers.” Personal debts? What? they each took the money to pay off their American Express bill for that Christmas purchase of 100 ginormous brand new HDTVs and a new Bentley??

Al Barrow also went to the podium to note that CCLO and CASE were the entities involved in the case and the settlement and none of the Board directors were members of either of those organizations at that time. So it will remain for a judge to decide what the definition of “crony” is. Or what a “personal debt” is. Or if he finds Mclendon’s settlement reasoning “easy to dismiss.” Or if there are other aspects of the case that are not so easy to dismiss.

On the other hand, IF Taxpayers’ Watch loses the case, will they be able to pay the court costs, seeing as how they still haven’t paid their LAFCO bill? (The CSD’s share of that LAFCO bill, to my knowledge, is being paid for by the citizens of this community, the very folks Taxpayers’ Watch claims to be looking out for.)

Well, it’s quite an interesting approach: Present yourself as the guardian of the people’s pocketbook, file lawsuits claiming fraud and public waste and private use of public coffers & etc, the defense of which costs a bundle out of the people’s pocketbook, and if you lose the cases but don’t pay the court costs, thereby causing the people to have to eat those costs, you still maintain that you’re the guardians of the people’s pocketbook. Very droll, I’d say.

Even more interesting, I spoke with Richard Margetson, who had had a restraining order filed against him before the recall by two recalled Board members. If you remember that case, the former Board Members swore, under penalty of perjury, that Margetson was a danger to them, they feared for their lives, and wanted him kept out of CSD meetings and etc, then lost the case when it was clear that it was all ginned up phony crap designed to use the law to silence a vocal critic. (I referred to it as the Emily Latella Case, from the wonderful Saturday Night Live skit with dear confused Emily nattering on about “violins” in the street, when the topic was “violence” in the streets, only to be corrected, at which point she looks into the camera with a wan smile and says, “Oh, Well, Nevermind.” )

At any rate, the recalled CSD two lost the case, but according to Richard, they have yet to pay the court costs and his attorney’s fees. If true, then an irony: One of the former board members involved with that fiasco, is still living in this town, so there’s a question: Until he pays that legal debt, doesn’t that launch the Dear Silly Donkey’s various comments on this blogsite about fiscal prudence and responsibility into the realm of Hypocritical Hokum?

And finally, I find of great interest, the final sentence of “shrill McClendon’s” piece, which I’ve bolded. Hmmmmm, very interesting. [Posted with permission.]

1
WHY SETTLE THE LITIGATION?
SHORT ANSWERS: (1) To eliminate the District’s litigation costs associated with these actions;
(2) To minimize the amount of attorney’s fees the District might have to pay;
(3) To help implement the settlement the SWRCB presented to the District.

Factual and Procedural Background:
• The LOCSD initiated the Measure B lawsuit against County Clerk Julie Rodewald in an
effort to prevent Measure B from going before the voters.
• Judge Hilton ruled in favor of the LOCSD and ordered Rodewald to keep Measure B off the
ballot.
• The Measure B proponents filed an extraordinary writ with the Court of Appeal seeking a
stay of Judge Hilton’s ruling.
• The Court of Appeal immediately issued an Order staying Judge Hilton’s ruling; later, the
Court of Appeal issued an “Order to Show Cause” commanding Judge Hilton to appear and
explain to the Court of Appeal why his ruling should be allowed to stand.
• Thereafter, Measure B went on the ballot and was approved by the voters.
• On October 14, 2005, attorneys for the Measure B proponents threatened to sue the LOCSD
if it failed to abide by Measure B.
• In October, the LOCSD engaged in Blakeslee-facilitated negotiations with SWRCB staff
regarding the SRF Loan.

Relevant Legal Authority:
There is a long-standing judicial bias against granting pre-ballot challenges:
California Supreme Court: “Finally, "‘it has long been our judicial policy to apply a liberal
construction the [the] power [of initiative and referendum] wherever
it is challenged in order that the right not be improperly annulled. If
doubts can reasonably be resolved in favor of the use of this reserve
power, courts will preserve it. [Citations.]’"” (Assembly v.
Deukmejian (1982) 30 Cal.3d 638, 652. Note: the Supreme Court
cited this case in its August 12, 2005 opinion in Costa v. Superior
Court, where it “conclude[d] that it would not be appropriate to deny
the electorate the opportunity to vote on Proposition 77 at the special
election to be held on November 8, 2005 . . . .”)

2
However, courts will uphold pre-ballot challenges in two situations as long as the defect is clear:
“We recognize that "it is usually more appropriate to review constitutional
and other challenges to ballot propositions or initiative measures after an election
rather than to disrupt the electoral process by preventing the exercise of the people's
franchise, in the absence of some clear showing of invalidity." (Brosnahan v. Eu
(1982) 31 Cal.3d 1, 4 [181 Cal.Rptr. 100, 641 P.2d 200].) However, the courts have
recognized two exceptions to the general rule limiting judicial review of ballot
measures to postelection proceedings. The first is where the electorate lacks the
"power to adopt the proposal in the first instance . . . ." (Id., at p. 6; italics supplied.)
"Thus, for example, election officials have been ordered not to place initiative and
referendum proposals on the ballot on the ground that the electorate did not have the
power to enact them since they were not legislative in character [citations], the
subject matter was not a municipal affair [citations], or the proposal amounted to a
revision of the Constitution rather than an amendment thereto." (Id.)

The second exception to the general rule proscribing preelection judicial
review, and the one invoked by the council in the present case, is where the
substantive provisions of the proposed measure are legally invalid.
"[Even] if a proposed measure is within the scope of the initiative power,
courts retain equitable discretion to examine the measure before the election upon a
compelling showing that the substantive provisions of the initiative are clearly
invalid. (See Harnett v. County of Sacramento (1925) 195 Cal. 676, 683 . . .; Gayle
v. Hamm (1972) 25 Cal.App.3d 250, 255 . . .; Note, The Scope of the Initiative and
Referendum in California (1966) 54 Cal.L.Rev. 1717, 1725-1729.)" (American
Federation of Labor v. Eu (1984) 36 Cal.3d 687, 696, fn. 11 [206 Cal.Rptr. 89, 686
P.2d 609].) We shall therefore proceed to consider the council's claim that the
referendum would be "clearly invalid" if enacted by the voters.” (deBottari v. City
Council (1985) 171 Cal. App. 3d 1204, 1209-1210; underlining added.)

The relevance of the foregoing legal authority to the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the Measure B
election is that the Court of Appeal was not persuaded that Measure B fit under either of the two
exceptions for pre-ballot challenges. In other words, it concluded that the LOCSD failed to make
a “compelling showing” that (1) the voters lacked the power to put Measure B on the ballot, or
(2) the provisions of Measure B were “clearly invalid.” If the Court of Appeal had thought
otherwise, then it would have affirmed Judge Hilton’s ruling, and Measure B would have not gone
before the voters.

Legal Analysis:
By successfully bringing Measure B before the voters despite the District’s efforts, attorneys
for the Measure B proponents claimed eligibility to recover their fees even if (1) the vote had gone Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 provides: “Upon motion, a court may award
attorneys’ fees to a successful party against one or more opposing parties in any action which has resulted in the enforcement of an important right affecting the public interest if: (a) a significant benefit, whether pecuniary or nonpecuniary, has been conferred on the general public or a large class of persons, (b) the necessity and financial burden of private enforcement are such as to make the award appropriate, and (c) such fees should not in the interest of justice be paid out of the recovery, if any. With respect to actions involving public entities, this section applies to allowances against, but not in favor of, public entities, and no claim shall be required to be filed therefor.” (1) the other way, or (2) a court later invalidated Measure B. The basis for such a recovery of fees is the Legislature’s codified of the judicially created “private attorney general” rule for recovery of attorneys’ fees in Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 (“Section 1021.5”).1 The purpose of awarding fees under Section 1021.5 is “to encourage suits effectuating a strong public policy by awarding substantial attorney’s fees to those who successfully bring such suits.” (Daniels v. McKinney (1983) 146 Cal.App.3d 42, 49.) According to the court in Woodland Hills Residents Assn. v. City Council (1979) 23 Cal.3d 917, 933, the private attorney general statute reflects a legislative policy that privately initiated lawsuits are often essential to the effectuation of the fundamental public policies embodied in constitutional or statutory provisions, and that, without some mechanism authorizing the award of attorneys fees, private actions to enforce such important public policies will as a practical matter frequently be infeasible.

The Measure B proponent would have been entitled to recover their attorneys’ fees under
Section 1021.5 if they showed that (1) their defense of Measure B “has resulted in the enforcement of an important right affecting the public interest,” (2) “a significant benefit, whether pecuniary or onpecuniary, has been conferred on the general public or a large class of persons,” and (3) “the necessity and burden of private enforcement are such as to make the award appropriate.” (Woodland Hills Residents Assn. v. City Council, supra, 23 Cal.3d at 935.)
It was likely that the Measure B proponents could have shown that they met all three factors.
Given the relevant law, there is no question that they met the first factor:
“. . . [T]he "state constitutional right of initiative or referendum is 'one of the most
precious rights of our democratic process." [Citation.] These powers are reserved
to the people, not granted to them. Thus, it is our duty to " ' "jealously guard" ' "
these powers and construe the relevant constitutional provisions liberally in favor of
the people's right to exercise the powers of initiative and referendum. (Rossi v. Brown
(1995) 9 Cal. 4th 688, 695 [38 Cal. Rptr. 2d 363, 889 P.2d 557].)" (Pala Band of
Mission Indians v. Board of Supervisors of San Diego County (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th
565, 573-574.)” (Wal-Mart Real Estate Trust v. City Council of the City of
San Marcos (Sept. 7, 2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 614.)
(See also Hull v. Rossi (1993) 13 Cal.App.4th 1763, an opinion from the local Court of
Appeal awarding attorney’s fees to a real party in interest.)
4
Since more than six thousand voters voted for and against Measure B, this factor would have
been met as well. Finally, given the type of action that the Measure B proponents were defending – the right of the people to exercise a constitution right – the third factor would have been met.

Once eligibility to be awarded attorney’s fees is established, the inquiry focuses on the
amount of fees to be awarded. Here, the court sets a reasonable hourly “touchstone” or
“lodestar” rate based on that prevailing in the community for similar work by attorneys with
comparable experience and expertise. (Serrano v. Unruh (1982) 32 Cal.3d 621, 640-641.)
“The Court is not limited to using standard billing rates in setting reasonable hourly
compensation . . . , rather the Court is obliged to use the ‘market value’ approach which is
more likely to entice competent counsel to undertake difficult public interest cases.”
(San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, Inc. v. County of San Bernardino, supra, 155
Cal.App.3d at 755.) In approving market rate awards for the enforcement of statutory rights
without pecuniary recovery, the United States Supreme Court has said, “the amount of fees
awarded [under section 1988] shall be governed by the same standards which prevail in other
types of equally complex . . . litigation, such as antitrust cases and not be reduced because
the rights involved may be nonpecuniary in nature.” (Blum v. Stenson (1984) 104 S.Ct. 1541,
1547 fn.11.)

Based on my own experience in similar cases, the attorneys for the Measure B
proponents would have likely sought a lodestar in the $300-$400 an hour range. However, in
settlement negotiations, the District got them to agree to not only cap their total fees at less than their full hours, but to also accept a significantly reduced lodestar of about $200 per hour. As a result, the attorney’s fees paid were roughly half of what they would have been had the court set the lodestar at market rates.
Moreover, after multiplying the number of hours spent by the reasonable hourly rate, the
lodestar can be adjusted up or down by using a “multiplier” that’s based on several factors. (Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 49.) We knew that the Measure B attorneys were going to seek an upward “multiplier” to their lodestar based on the fact that (1) their contingency representation of the Measure B proponents during the litigation; (2) their intensive and expedited work that was required during their opposition to the District’s lawsuit, and; (3) the complexity and importance of the litigation. Notably, in Greene v. Dillingham Construction, Inc. (2002) 101 Cal. App. 4th 418, the court expressly held that refusing to consider contingent risk as a factor in a decision not to apply a multiplier is reversible error.

However, in all of our settlement agreements, we got the attorneys to agree to waive their
right to seek a Serrano multiplier, which further reduced the District’s potential exposure.
In sum, by settling the Measure B litigation, the District reduced its potential exposure to a
judgment for private attorney general fees to a fraction of what it could have been. For example, if the Measure B attorney had established their hourly lodestar at $350 per hour and had been awarded a multiplier of 1.50 (neither number is uncommon), the District would have had to pay in over $325,000 in attorney’s fees in the Measure B litigation alone – $200,000 more than it actually did.
If one adds to this number the amount it would have cost the District for its attorneys to continue prosecuting the Measure B litigation, and the additional amount of hours the Measure B attorneys would have spent defending it, the District’s potential exposure for continuing to pursue this action after the Court of Appeal’s ruling might well have exceeded $500,000.
A similar analysis applies to the other cases.

As a practical matter with contingency lawyers, they have no “end game” to recover their fees except to win. Consequently, they do not usually give up until all possible avenues to achieving victory are exhausted. Had they been successful on even one of the remaining cases, the District could have found itself facing the prospect of having to pay significant private attorney general fees – again, in addition to the significant fees it would have paid to its own attorneys.

The SWRCB’s Settlement Offer to the District.
The final factor relevant to the District’s settlement of the Measure B litigation was the District’s
efforts to obtain certain concessions from the Measure B proponents that would have helped
facilitate the District’s implementation of the first “final offer” settlement proposal SWRCB staff
presented to the District in negotiations brokered by Assemblyman Blakeslee. The District was
hoping to (1) fast track a new election to modify or rescind Measure B by conducting the election
itself, and (2) forestall a future lawsuit by reaching consensus with the Measure B proponents on
which “feasible” alternatives would be presented to the voters if the vote required by Measure B hadto take place. Unfortunately, after the District obtained these concessions from the Measure B proponents, two things happened. First, the County declined to enter into a stipulated judgment addressing these issues.

Second, thanks to a Public Records Act request presented by the San Luis
Obispo Tribune to the SWRCB, it was revealed that the SWRCB had undertaken the Blakeslee
negotiations in bad faith and had presented their “final offer” to the District knowing full well that
the SWRCB never intended to approve it even if the District accepted it.
[emphasis mine]

And Now Onto Something REALLY Serious

At the 1/3 CSD Board Meeting, Maria Kelly announced another Water Conservation Faire,” Saturday, January 19, 10 – 2 at the Methodist Church at Pine and LOVR. There’ll be a variety of experts there to help you figure out ways to reduce your water use.

In addition, at the CSD meeting, during public comment, it was noted that on Jan 15, the Board of Supervisors will be discussing the water conservation and retrofit issues. Right now, the plan is to allow building outside the PZ if builders or developers retrofit X-number of existing houses. The concern expressed was this: You now allow builders outside the PZ to build by “cherry picking” the retrofit opportunities, while those inside the PZ are forbidden to do the same until the sewer is built. Then, when they can finally build, all the easy retrofits will be gone, thereby giving outside the PZ folks an advantage denied those lot owners living inside the PZ.

Also, of course, is the strange notion that when you have NO WATER, why should you allow anyone to building anything anywhere? Folks building outside the PZ are still sucking the same water out of the same overdrafted aquifer, so when the sewer’s built and the folks inside the PZ are allowed to build and there’s now no water left . . . oh, darn? . . . what then?

19 comments:

Ron said...

Great report, Ann.

Ann wrote that McClendon wrote:

"Second, thanks to a Public Records Act request presented by the San Luis Obispo Tribune to the SWRCB, it was revealed that the SWRCB had undertaken the Blakeslee negotiations in bad faith and had presented their “final offer” to the District knowing full well that the SWRCB never intended to approve it even if the District accepted it."

I reported on all of that, in December 2005, at this link:

http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2005/12/step-back-and-blur-your-eyes-memos.html

and, in that story, I supply a link to the official memos found in that Public Records Act request, and those memos -- two years removed -- are freaking excellent!

(You know, if you ever wonder why you should support independent journalism, this is a good example. I just went and re-read my piece above (excellent piece, by the way) and the link to the memos that I originally created in that story (to the Trib's web site) was no longer valid, so I just went and fished out my own personal copy of that important file on my hard drive, and then uploaded all 1.6 megs to my own web space, and then redid the link in my story so everyone can now download and read those amazing documents... easily, and for free. And, as far as I know, SewerWatch is the only place you'll find that document. Gotta love independent journalism, huh?)

Wow... two years later, those memos so great. Talk about a "who's who" of public officials that f-d up and trusted Nash-Karner for six years. Roger Briggs, Celeste Cantu, Barbara Evoy, Darrin Polhemus, Richard Katz, William Rukeyser, Gerald Secundy, Gordon Hensley... oh, lord, it just goes on and on and on.

Wanna have some fun with those memos from 2005, shortly after the recall election? Notice how embarrassing all those water officials that were so gun-ho (gung-ho?) for the Tri-W project look these days, in light of recent county analysis of that embarrassing, illegal, park-project-that-also-included-a-sewer-plant.

grasshopper said...

How much is it going to cost to settle the actual validity of measure B?

If it costs $600,000 for filing a appeal brief that can be handled by a law clerk, how much is a bargain settlement for the completion of the appeal against the validity of measure B itself???

Perhaps, Mr McClendon can weigh in on this? Mucho millions I would imagine to appeal the decision that measure B is invalid!

Ohh Lucy there is a lot of 'plainin to do!

Richard LeGros said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

"Any settlement you can make without a lawyer or in court is better than any settlement you can make with a lawyer or in court"

Churadogs said...

Grasshoppe sez:"How much is it going to cost to settle the actual validity of measure B?"

Actually, there's so many lawsuits, each of which will cost pots of money but many of which are all linked together. One of the most interesting to me, is the SWB/SRF Loan/contractor's "Breach of Contract" lawsuit. If you read Ron's entry above, the question still remains: Who pulled the plug on the SRF loan, who actually "breached" that contract. If I understand what's at stake, it's a critical question since it's the linchpin for so much of what follows.

In addition, what we also need here is some kind of Truth & Reconciliation Hearings. Amnesty all round, but can we please have the truth from everyone just who did what, when and why. Everyone wants Los Osos to "heal." Well, a T&R Hearing would go a long way towards "splainin'" a whole lot.

Richard LeGros said...

Hi Ann,

YOU WROTE: "....what we also need here is some kind of Truth & Reconciliation Hearings"

RESPONSE. I agree....the hearings are to occure in the SLO Superior Court. The Judge will rule and the truth be revealed.

Regards, Richard LeGros

PS: TW WON the lawsuit against the LOCSD over the validity of Measure B. The LOCSD could have ended that lawsuit by settling the TW lawsuit costs ($15,000)as awarded by the courts....but chose to spend $50,000 to appeal the case (unintentinally allowing TW a seat on the bankrupptcy creditors committee). To date, the LOCSD refuses to proceed with that case. Only a matter of time before the Appeals Court rejects the Appeal due to failure of the LOCSD to prosecute their case.

TCG said...

I just read the proposed resolution for the Board of Supervisors on tomorrow's agenda regarding the possible dismissal of the CDO's.

I like the way that the staff recited the history of the issue and recommend that your other bloggers review it.

Mark said...

tcg:

I think that the "cost sheet" on page 5 and the "motion" itself are the interesting parts- "That it is the "hope" of the County that CCRWQCB will rescind those individual enforcement actions initiated after failures of the LOCSD in 2005 and that the PZLDF will concurrently agree to dismiss all litigation associated with those individual enforcement actions."..They are kidding, right?

I know I am relatively new to the proceedings between the WB & LO,so could someone explain the status of the 700 CDO's detailed on page 7?

http://slocounty.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=31&meta_id=80763

I hope that the SLO BOS and CCRWQCB personnel perform their fiduciary duties in a timely manner. No kidding..

*PG-13 said...

> And the seasons they go round and round
> And the painted ponies go up and down
> We're captive on the carousel of time
> We cant return we can only look behind
> From where we came
> And go round and round and round
> In the circle game


Just can't get that tune out of my head every time I read about yet another new development, accusation, RWQRB determination, legal judgment or law suit regarding anything to do with a Los Osos sewer. Circle game indeed. More a Sisyphean challenge. Are we forever to be cursed with still more of the same? (sigh) What planet did these people come from? And why won't they just go home? They can't possibly think they are improving the neighborhood can they? Their seemingly endless internecine fighting, legal wrangling and CYA activity is only costing all of us money. Really big and serious money. All to what purpose? Mutually assured destruction. I'm all for public debate, challenging discourse and lawful legal challenge as tools for forging communal decision. But when it gets to this point I can't help but think we've become too, uh, civil for our own good. By a half. I'm thinking tar and feathering and a run out of town on a rail might be a fair and well earned reward. And this from a forever forgiving always hopeful democrat. Just goes to show everything has a limit.

I guess I'm just too simple. Or maybe I need to go back and re-read the last few blog entries more closely. I gotta admit, at some point my eyes just glaze over and I lose interest in trying to make sense of it anymore. That seems to be happening more and more with me. Still, what does TW gain from this? How does it help? How does it help anybody? Them, the community, who? Why are they doing it? Especially now? Is it all just a ploy to recover some funds so TW can pay previous legal debt? Surely there's more than that. Richard, you seem willing to discuss this and give perspective which I often have difficulty seeing. Can you help me out here?

Also. I recall asking something similar to this over a year ago. But a lot has changed since then and I'm curious about an updated answer. How are these on-going PZ sewer-related CSD legal liabilities shared by the larger CSD membership? The various CSD responsibilities and their associated accounts seem to be so mucked up, covered up and/or bankrupted is there any distinction or separation any more? Is all of Los Osos in for a common shared debt for PZ-sewer related legal expenses? Is the entire community paying the costs or incurring debt for these on-going legal battles? If so, why? What percentage of the community does the PZ represent and, inversely, what percentage of the community falls outside of the PZ? And how are these percentages reflected in the tax base? The county doesn't want the CSD to go bankrupt but if it did would the county at-large inherit these debts? And their legal liabilities? Or would these be levied back upon the properties which created the liabilities in the first place? Specifically, which properties? And how can the CSD NOT be bankrupt now? Current litigation not-with-standing.

And how can anybody or any agency rationalize any new development in and around Los Osos until a good piece - if not all - of this is resolved? Faustian Dude! That doesn't mean the PZ is holding the rest of the valley hostage. It means the rest of the valley HAS TO OWN UP TO REALITY. Until there is a comprehensive water plan playing games like this is akin to playing Russian roulette with no empty chambers. A new line for being tarred, feathered and run out of town starts right here.

Richard LeGros said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron said...

While I have a moment...

Damn, I hate it when I do this...

This morning, I wrote this e-mail to Paavo Ogren:

- - -

Hello Paavo,

In the Resolution concerning the RWQCB enforcement actions for tomorrow's meeting, it reads:

"the failures of the LOCSD in 2005"

Which "failures" is the Resolution referring to?

This one?

The failure to construct a mid-town sewer plant that was called "bait and switchy" by Dave Potter of the Coastal Commission in 2004, and that also relied on an unsupported, and therefore illegal, Statement of Overriding Considerations to retain the sewer plant at its unpopular mid-town location, and also included, for absolutely no logical reason whatsoever, a multi-million dollar public park that not only dictated the expensive and unpopular sewer plant location, but also included an amphitheater, picnic area, and tot lot that was all being funded by the State Revolving Fund (while dozens of other California communities couldn't get a dime of SRF funding for their badly needed, amphitheater-less water quality projects), despite the fact that the SRF Policy so brilliantly states: "Ineligible for (SRF) funding -- Decorative Items?"

Is that the "failure" that tomorrow's Resolution is referring to... the "failure" to build that project?

If that's not accurate, please clarify which "failures" the Resolution is referring to.

As always, much thanks,

Ron

- - -

and I wish I would have wrote:

"... and that also relied on an unsupported, and therefore illegal, Statement of Overriding Considerations to retain the sewer plant at its unpopular, ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE mid-town location."

Damn, I hate it when I do that.

If someone reading this is going to speak at the BOS meeting tomorrow, you might want to get county staff to clarify the meaning of "failures of the LOCSD in 2005."

Are they talking about the failure of the 1999 - 2005 LOCSD to develop a legal project that actually makes sense, or are they talking about the post-recall LOCSD's failure to construct an illegal project that doesn't make a lick of sense? Because, if it's the latter, that's not a "failure" at all. Just the opposite, in fact. That was an over-the-top, spectacular success.

Ol' *pg-13 (good to have ya back) wrote:

"Is it all just a ploy to recover some funds so TW can pay previous legal debt"

What do you think? They don't make a move unless there's some type of creepy, hidden agenda behind it.

Richard LeGros said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shark Inlet said...

Ron,

I always get a giggle-jag going when I see you post your e-mails to public servants that question their analyses and conclusions. Sort of funny when you so resent others questioning your analyses and conclusions.

As usual you will probably not see the humor in the double-standard just like you've never seen a double standard that in 1998 promising a cheaper solution which doesn't end up passing RWQCB muster is bad bad bad but that in 2005 promising a cheaper solution that won't end up passing RWQCB muster is good politics.

Mark said...

The CSD board avoided it until they could get under the cover of the bankruptcy filing in August of 2006.-Nice work Board??

Is every agency/political subdivision reading the same manual?

Where were taxpayer's watch dogs when they were really needed?

Where are they now as the county is "processing" with red ink?

Mike said...

Tell me WHY Juile Tacker is still on the LOCSD...???

I thought the CSD was for the goood of the entire community, not as a landscape company for her "boy friend".... I see see is still an unwed mother who walked away from her husband and 3 daughters...

What a lovely moral leader for our community...

Sewertoons said...

pg-13,

To answer you question are - "CSD legal liabilities shared by the larger CSD membership (?)"

No, the money that comes into the CSD from the County (through state tax returns filtering back to us) is earmarked for very specific things. It comes in through taxes and assessments. Bond money paid by us through our taxes now circumvents the CSD altogether (thereby stopping the revenue from interest the CSD once enjoyed) and goes directly to pay the bond (as the present CSD (sans Joe) "spent" the bond money they held somehow on other things (lawyers) and the privledge of handling the money was taken away!

The fire tax money pays for fire and emergency services. There are a bunch of tiny assessments for things like lighting in Cabrillo and Bayridge. (This small money right now is pooled and doled out where needed.)

There is really no money to fund administrative costs, except from the CSD's Water Department. The water department services area covers a little less than half of Los Osos, but much of the PZ. (The other almost half of water coverage is by Golden State Water Company and the third water company is teeny - S & T Mutual - neither of these has any obligation to pay anything to the CSD - one is a public utility, the other is a privately held company by the residents in their little area).

The payments to lawyers then, comes out of the water rates of the LOCSD Water Company.

I might add that the CSD - from 1999 to the 2005 recall spent $800,000 on lawyers. The amount since fall of 2005 to the present is a minimum of $2 million that I know of, but probably more.

Hope I haven't been too depressing here.

Oh, the PZ is about 85% of Los Osos. So 15% are getting a free ride. I live in the PZ, and I don't like paying for these lawsuits. I'd rather the money go to build back up the reserves, which are way, way below what they once were, due to spending on - guess what - lawyers.

Special Counsel, General Counsel, Bond Counsel, Bankruptcy Counsel, PZLDF Counsel, and now defend the 5 directors counsel. I think I may have forgotten one.

Mark said...

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Members at today's TAC meeting never discussed the issues raised by me below.

I wonder if or when the Tribune will give similar front page attention to the real costs staring the citizens in the face.

Oh well, we have AC to thank for this venue! Thank you Ann!


----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Low
To: Patel, Sona - SLO
Cc: tom@nowastewater.com
Sent: Monday, January 07, 2008 2:13 PM
Subject: improper use


“With the challenges that our board is facing, I really don’t want to pick on each other over things that are not top priority,” Cesena said.
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/story/238850.html


Sona,

I think "Fraudulent Use of 218" would be considered a top priority story worthy of coverage if this one is...

Happy New Year,

Mark

Here is another worth tens of millions of dollars and it is "ongoing":
I think that today is your day off from the office, but I know that given your crack reporting skills and good relationship with the County you should be able to develop the basis for a decent piece on exfiltration, gas, carbon foot print and Native American burial sites in the long (40+ miles) road through the process to a "project".

By the way the Tuesday's BOS should be interesting as staff has recommended the Supervisors vote to hope.
See Below


----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Low
To: LOWWP@co.slo.ca.us
Cc: Mark Low ; Harvey Packard ; rbriggs@swrcb.ca.gov ; pogren@co.slo.ca.us ; Mark Hutchinson ; tom@nowastewater.com
Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2008 9:02 PM
Subject: TAC Agenda for 1/7/08 SEWERAGE


Please address these components of the county's proposed 40+ miles sewerage and treatment:
EXFILTRATION & Hydrogen Sulfide Gas.

Carbon footprint of construction and operation(including electricity).

Native American Burial Sites

Mark Low

He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it.
Plato

Mike said...

Sorry Mark...

"SHe who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than She who suffers it." now used when speaking of Julie Tacker, never to be Edwards...

Mark said...

No reason to be sorry on my account, Mike.

I will "hope" that you and newspapers will hold all community leaders to an equal standard.

"There ought to be a law"-