Oh, Gosh, what' this? I see everything twice! Front page of the Tribune Local section, "Online note alerts supervisors," by Bob Cuddy, about the "Alleged conflict of interest involving public works director draws board's attention." Yes, Paavo & Maria are now officially official since the Tribune has apparently been forced to pay attention and now the Board of Superviors is looking into things -- "reacting to an online posting" -- is how Bob put it.
But, Uh, Bob, I don't think Cal Coast News is properly known as an "online posting," is it? I think's it's more an Online Newspaper, and the story was posted by Karen Velie, with her name on it and all. An "online posting" makes it sound like something that popped up in a random note in the comment section of the Tribune's online edition or even the comment section of this blog. You know, some anonymous comment tossed into the mix. So "online posting" doesn't quite fit.
Or, perhaps it wasn't some wierd, random, anonymous "online posting," that caused the BOS to "react," since several members of the BOS have expressed disdain for and dismissed as trash anything appearing in blogs or other online sources. Maybe the Board of Supervisors are actually reacting to the email (below), sent a few days ago to the BOS with a request it be put in the public record.:
"Dear Chairman Hill and Board Members:
Please place this letter in the official public record, to be included for consideration at your next Board meeting.
This letter serves as an official request that the County Board of Supervisors reopen a 2009 investigation and inquiry into allegations of ethics violations and wrong-doing by its current Public Works Director, Paavo Ogren.
As a prior elected official for the Los Osos Community Services District (2004-2008), I filed a formal complaint with your board regarding Ogren's handling of public money and the Los Osos wastewater project in the spring of 2009 - this formal complaint remains open and ongoing. I appeared in person before the Board and public on numerous occasions; I wrote letters, provided public testimony and provided supporting documents to your Board and County Counsel.
When I asked repeatedly (by email and phone call) to meet with each Board member during their regular open office hours, in order to discuss details of what I had discovered as an elected official, my requests to meet, by all five members, were repeatedly denied.
County Counsel Warren Jensen provided a report to the Board in the fall of 2009 to supposedly dismiss my formal complaint, yet his report ignored all but one of the allegations raised by it. Any mention or response to the allegations made about conflict of interest, divided loyalties, violation of design build and public contracting codes, ethical violations, backdating and awarding no-bid contracts to prior business associates, improper contract procurement and selection of engineering firms for large county contracts, etc. were all missing from his report.
I request that my complete 2009 complaint, in its entirety (approx. 500 original pages, and omitting all duplicated pages), be reincorporated into the public record again today. All allegations remain valid to this day and take on additional importance with new revelations that have just surfaced this week, regarding a non-disclosed, long term personal relationship between Mr. Ogren and a currently elected official of the LOCSD (who resigned today). This non-disclosed personal relationship may have compromised all decisions made regarding the Los Osos Project, the water supply for Los Osos, the ISJ discussions and any and all business matters between these two public agencies during the past few years.
I request that Mr. Ogren, an “at-will" employee, be immediately and permanently removed from all decisions regarding Los Osos and that he be placed on leave while a complete investigation takes place. I request that an independent investigator be retained by the County, similar to the procedure followed by your Board in 2009, when it was discovered that a high ranking public employee (G. Wilcox) was involved in a similar non-disclosed personal relationship with a public employee/official, where both were also in positions of making and influencing financial decisions using public money. This matter was investigated by an independent personnel specialist in the summer of 2009, and Ms. Wilcox was terminated.
Just like the Wilcox matter, this is not a matter that can be addressed by County Counsel. Mr. Jensen may have a personal relationship with Mr. Ogren that limits his abilities to be fair and impartial in this matter. By refusing to investigate the bulk of citizen concerns already raised about potential legal and ethical breaches made by Ogren in the past, he has already demonstrated an inability to provide impartial review. An independent investigator is required to evaluate whether Mr. Ogren’s history of multiple and repeated instances of questionable ethical behavior, including the most recent activities and actions, rise to a level of criminal code violations.
Nothing less is acceptable in light of yet another high-level County scandal; swift action by you and your Board not only protects the County, the taxpayers, but the integrity of your position and the public process.
Lisa Schicker , Past President and Board Member, LOCSD 2004-2008"
Bets are now being placed as to how quickly County Counsel will shove this (above) complaint off the table, and how quickly County Administrator Jim Grant can investigate the Paavo & Maria story and dismiss it all as baseless.
O.K., not exactly baseless. Karen Velie's story spilled the beans about the relationship between these two and now the Tribune confirms that with quotes from Maria as saying that she and "Ogren have been dating for six months" but that the sewer isn't the basis for their relationship so they don't discuss sewerish things. Which is part II of the Velie story, the allegation that this "relationship," while Maria was on the CSD Board, presented a possible conflict of interest, especially since the CSD and the County are involved in ongoing (ISJ) water litigation matters as well as the ongoing sewer project. Since Maria resigned from the CSD Board, that allegation is now moot.
But now that the cat has jumped out of the bag TWICE -- first with the Cal Coast News story (which was re-posted and linked on this blog) and now with Bob Cuddy's story -- perhaps the County, in the form of Jim Grant, can square away what, if any, county rules have been broken here and what can be classified as Walking While Stupid.
Meantime, I'm tickled by Cuddy's (actually, the Tribune's) use of the term "online posting," that makes NO MENTION of Cal Coast News or Karen Velie. The reader would have NO IDEA that the online newspaper existed since it is not mentioned by name in any way, shape or form. Which reminds me of how proper ladies were taught never to mention their husband's mistresses by name and only refered to them distastefully as "that other woman," or "that. . . creature." So, silence rules, which is what the Tribune did with the Wallace story that Cal Coast News first broke as well. No mention of that when they did the follow up. Or, should I say, follow after?
Well, stay tuned. There'll be some huffing and puffing and some cat-in-bag noises, then the County will come out with a report that says, "Everything's fine, no laws were broken, nothing to see here, time to move along."
That's the SLOTown way.