Saturday, October 01, 2011

Mother Calhoun Goes Out On A Limb

So, I get home from a visit to my sister and there's the Trib's local page headline: "Report set on Public Works head."  Ah, yes, the Paavo & Maria story is heading to it's official end when Tuesday afternoon County Administrator Jim Grant issues his official investigative report on the claims that Paavo Ogren and Maria Kelly's private canoodling involved any professional conflict of interests.  The report is slated to start at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday,Oct 4. 

Based on the Tribune story and from what Mother Calhoun knows of both the Los Osos Sewer Wars and the County's business-as-usual M.O., let me speculate that here's what will Happen Tuesday.  1) Paavo won't be fired.  2) The report will find no conflict of interest, no laws broken.  The public will be told that everything is fine, that the complaints were unfounded (You know how those Los Osos Crazies love to file unfounded complaints.)   Nothing to see here.  Move along. 

Of course, the second cat was let out of the bag by the brief Tribune story:  "Grant said the alleged conflict factored into Ogren's annual performance evaluation but only in a larger context that also includes work products, leadership abilities, budgeting and feedback from staff, peers and the board, etc. So, yes this issue would be included as part of the annual evaluation," he wrote in an email, " but weighted based upon its overall significance determined by my findings."

Translation:  Paavo's career advancement in this County just hit its glass ceiling because his reckless, unprofessional lack of judgement went public and so this couldn't possibly have been swept under the "personnel rug" so everyone could just continue with business as usual.  So, after a decent interval, I suspect we may well read about Paavo accepting another well-paid job in another county so he can become their lawsuit-in-waiting problem. In SLOTown, there will be public smiles and congratulations to Paavo about his new job.  Followed by lots of private sighs of relief that once again, SLOTown ducked a bullet.

On the entertainment side of this sorry story, if public comment is allowed on Tuesday following the report, there could be lots of raised voices, gavel banging, red faces and threats of adjorning the meeting.  Happily, there'll be no hurled chairs, though, since the seats in the BOS room are bolted to the floor.


Anne R. Allen said...

So glad to hear about those bolted-down chairs.

Soap operas may be going out of fashion on TV, but they're alive and kicking in the Valley of the Bears.

Sewertoons said...

Gee, the fact that the publicity from a romance gets a mention in a performance review is hardly in the category of illegal!

The report isn't even out and "County corruption" is thrown out as "business as usual." Translation: In certain circles every move that SLO county makes on the sewer is illegal! I doubt that is the opinion held by most Los Osos residents or the assessment and the rates and charges 218 would not have passed.

(Just because people make "claims" that incite hope and sprouts a new twist to those hating the County's sewer project does not mean that those speculations are founded in anything other than the wishful thinking of a few!)

Yes, disappointment can incite bad behavior, but that is a choice that each individual makes.

(Correction, the date is October 4! And it would not be SLOTown dodging a bullet, but SLO county.)

Churadogs said...

Toonces sez:"Gee, the fact that the publicity from a romance gets a mention in a performance review is hardly in the category of illegal!"

Who said anything about illegal? Near as I can tell, this is all about alleged unprofessional, improper, possible conflict of interest, "bad form" assorted nincompooperies, not illegalties.

Well, rest assured, the report will declare that everything's perfectly all right, so I hope everyone in the BOS chamber will mind their manners and there'll be smiles all around.

BTW, thanks for the Date note. Oct came up so fast my mind set was still in Sept. And, more BTW, welcome back. Havent' heard from you in a while. Figured you were on another trip to Turkey or something.

Sewertoons said...

Hi Ann, glad to be back, I was in Colorado, Ohio and So. Cal, nothing exotic this time!

I guess I was confusing your comments with the multiple and incendiary other comments (asserting illegality) that have been posted on articles in Cal Coast News and the Trib. The comments calling for an investigation by the state and that Paavo should be fired and the sewer project has to be re-evaluated (code word: shut down) for "taint," although how a monetary gain - which is what conflict of interest is actually about - seems laughable in this case. Yes, I hope they will mind their manners too - it is the loud, disruptive behavior that has given them a bad name, not their actual words.

Yeah, I can hardly believe that it is October too and there might even be rain this week! I'm hoping the rain arrives - our poor oak tree in the front had all its leaves demolished by California Oak Moth caterpillars and it could use a jump start of water to grow them back!

M said...

Sewertoons, what would it take for you to admit that anybody other than the CSD5 as you refer to them, has done anything improper? It seems to me that Paavo's entire history with Los Osos is a conflict of interest.
Sincerely, M

FOGSWAMP said...

Today, it seems that flying foot-ware has become the weapon of mass distruption at meetings.

Word on the street has it that many disgruntled middle class folk from Los Osos will show up at the meeting wearing soft loafers for shoe-throwing.

Others will go bare-footed as a signal to their elitist supervisors to demonstrate that they are too poor to buy shoes because of their utility bills.

Since the Iraqi-Bush incident, shoe-hurling has become a required subject in journalism schools, covering correct target aiming and also recovery of the shoes, even shoe-hanging in pairs from the wires with messages.

Sewertoons said...

M, you are entitled to your opinions, but that is what they are - opinions. You have no fact to back them up. Velie's articles were crafted from innuendo made to sound like fact. Re-read them with an objective mind and see that she says really very little - nothing concrete that could get her and CalCoast sued, it's just material designed to increase readership like the cheesy magazines at the supermarket counter, "Brad cheats on Angelina!"

If you are not using those innuendos as proof, then what is it that you have? Please show us. What is illegal? If it is not illegal, how does it matter? (Thinking something is illegal, wishing it was illegal, does not make it so.)

Funny Fog...

M said...

There you go with the "illegal" again. I said "improper". Back-dating a contract is not illegal?
Sincerely, M

FOGSWAMP said...

It appears "Toons" is stuck on "legal vs illegal".

In business being merely legal is not enough if it is about what one can get away with.

Abe Lincoln said ,"Calling a tail a leg, doesn't make it a leg".

Purely in legal terms, there is no reason to disagree with her, however that which is legal is not always by definition just, moral or ethical.

In other words purging a community of the have-nots under our current dire economic circumstances is a problem that can be regarded as legal, but certainly not just.

So, I guess one could say our Dept of Justice is in reality a Dept of Legalities.

Sewertoons said...

FOG, what you describe is how our country operates - with laws. However, if you want to try to get a ballot measure going to assess ourselves for monetary support for the have-nots, go for it. I would sign your petition.

M asks, "Back-dating a contract is not illegal?"

Sloppy maybe, but not illegal. The CSD board backed up the signing of that contract at the next meeting. Had they not, you would have a case, but as they did, you don't.

M said...

Yep, everything was sloppy and improper, but legal apparently, so we give them a pass. I just stumbled across the 2004 picture again in the park with the "MOVE THE SEWER" signs. Alot of property owners in that picture. ALOT of people in that picture. The community was engaged, but the fix was already in. There was no stopping that "IMPROPER" locomotive.
You are a piece of work.
Sincerely, M

Sewertoons said...

Whatever the picture shows, there were only 20 votes that stopped the old project. There was more than enough people agreeing to assess themselves for the current project, which you might have noticed is NOT the same as the old project. Those are the facts which you may color with whatever verbiage you like. I respectfully disagree with the words "improper" and "fix." I will overlook your put down.

Churadogs said...

Fogswamp sez:"So, I guess one could say our Dept of Justice is in reality a Dept of Legalities."

Yup.Plus, nothing is really "illegal" until a DA, for example, says it's illegal and the only way he/she will proceed to prosecute anyone for breaking any law that's on the books, is if he/she thinks they can win a case. So a person can break any number of laws and be guilty as hell, and a Sheriff/police officer can investigate the heck out of something, but none of it will matter until/unless a DA somewhere says it's illegal and moves to action, and of course that doesn't happen unless the DA's pretty darned sure he/she can win the case, or thinks the case has political value in getting reelected or has a personal stake in the matter, one way or the other, and so forth. All of which puts "the law" into the falible human relm, not the cool neutrality of a printed "law." How many times have we heard, "Well, yes, it's illegal, but . . . ." Or the wonderful, "Yes, it's a violation of law, so sue me!"

So, two quotes come to mind: , Oliver Wendell Holmes:"This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice." And Edward Bennet Williams: "In the law there is a presumption of innocence. It is a legal concept, not a moral one. I defend my clients from legal guilt. Moral judgments I leave to the magestic vengeance of God."

Sewertoons said...

Jim Grant spoke maybe 15 minutes ago. There is no conflict of interest and there were no shrieks or throwing of objects.

FOGSWAMP said...

Not surprising, no conflict, no Interest, move along folks, nothing to see here.

Common refrain from people in power when they don't want the public to focus on a perceived problem to mitigate a damaging story, or used by police officers to dismiss onlookers from the scene of an accident.

I suppose we shoud all have known Paavo wouldn't do anything to jeopardize his justifiably awsome reputation and career.

M said...

And the beat goes on.
Sincerely, M

Sewertoons said...

I know it is hard for some to believe, but just because a giant case was made out of fluff, there really CAN BE NOTHING there. But I know, when your mind is already made up, people don't like to be bothered with contradicting FACTS. (BTW, the FPPC found NOTHING in Julie's complaint, and returned their answer in a record-breaking 4 days - that's how flimsy it was.)

Word verification - mists.

Billy Dunne said...

Sewer birthers. Those who see conspiracy in everything, regardless of their inability to prove their conspiracies or the solid evidence that refutes their conspiracies. I'm just curious what the next grand drama will be in their efforts to stop the inevitable.

Mary Malone said...

Sewertoon, really thou doth protest too much.

We can all follow a timeline. We are not Ogren Sewer Vision groupies, and I, for one, believe LO needs a wastewater treatment facility.

It's about ethics and abuse of power, and after Paavo Ogren--just 2 years ago--was up to his pits in an investigation into Public Works' staff ripping off the County by using its equipment for private business and personal chores, well, you would think he would have learned.

But then, when you have Paavo's Sewer Vision, and all of the Sewer Vision Groupies, I can see why he would think he's just too danged special to get caught again.

Sewertoons said...

Fine. Maybe you can show us what laws have been broken. Show us the ethics law and the abuse of power laws broken. Please do! (This isn't the court of personal opinion no matter how hard you try to make it be.)

A sewer vision groupie!? Hilarious!

BTW - How would you know what Paavo thinks - do you even know him?

The question is: Are you happy with the sewer we are getting? If you are not, that might help to explain your bitterness. Just remember, if you are mad at Paavo, please realize that you are mad at the rest of us too - those of us who agreed to assess ourselves and passed the 218. It took all of us to make this sewer happen, not just Paavo.

M said...

True or false? In 2006, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Brown acknowledged that “falsification of a public record by a public employee is a felony,” and that a criminal act relating to the backdating apparently had occurred. But Brown declined further investigation by determining that a three-year statute of limitation had expired.
Sincerely, M

Sewertoons said...

Yes, someone - please point us to a valid document that accuses Paavo of a crime. What we have above is a contextless internet quote. Anyone could have made this up.

The other thing about it is: The CSD Board backed up this action of backdating. It would be quite another if they had not.

In any case, even if allegedly guilty of an alleged crime, it has NO BEARING on the current sewer project but is being brought up now as PUNISHMENT to the department head in charge of bringing in a project. Well, why don't you accuse each and every homeowner who agreed to this project as well of some trumped up crime? It would not be happening without us, would it?

M said...

So are you saying this quote was simply made up? If indeed it was spoken by the who it was attributed to, who was responsible for backdating the contract? A felony that was acknowleged to have occured. And what exactly do you mean by the CSD backed up this action? The person you are staunchly backing up has been involved in three Los Osos sewer projects with the first two failing to be pulled off. What makes this man qualified to bring us a project now? Did he have a hand in stopping the ready to go County sewer plan in 1998 as well?
Sincerely, M

Sewertoons said...

I have no idea if the quote was made up or not. I don't see a source for it, so I will not take it as real at this point. Also, the quote being out of context, I can't be sure of the intent. You put in a general quote that could have been said about anyone, and then you have no quote marks around the criminal act relating to back dating. See what I mean? Too loosey goosey to mean anything but a slam.

The CSD Board did not fault Mr. Ogren. If this was something they did not give him the authority to do, don't you think they would have fired him? No - I'd have to go back to the meetings to tell you which one, but it would be easy to find - it was after he signed the contract.

Please state Ogren's job title for the first sewer project, he was Interim General Manager on the second and Director of Public Works on the third. He did not live in Los Osos, so how would he have any control over the first project? Again, WHAT was his position?

It is an amazing facility that humans have, to establish a hypothesis and then selectively blend and tweak support materials to "prove" the hypothesis.

Churadogs said...

Toonces sez:"I have no idea if the quote was made up or not."

I believe the quote in question was in a letter from the DA, I believe, to, I think, Lisa Schicker/CSD Prez etc.and was in response to an inquiry regarding the backdating of that contract. Not made up at all.

FOGSWAMP said...

Because of the large dollar amount and perhaps other factors intended or unintended, "Perception of Wrongdoing" at the highest levels played a large part in many people's thinking at the time of the backdating and is still ongoing today.

IMHO the two most significant factors that fueled the contract backdating "perception of wrongdoing" was (a) Tte timing due to the recall and (b) No good reason was found that prevented the contract from being in place as required by law, prior to the rush to perform work.

The community was asked to believe that a rather large national Corporation that have contract lawyers
onboard and deal in contracts on a daily basis "just forgot". To many of us that's a big stretch.

Then the question arises, was this just and unintended act of wrongdoing, or an intentional behind the scenes act of fraud by the party or parties thereto as described in The California Civil Code On Contracts -- Section 1623 which states;

"Where a contract, which is required by law to be in writing, is prevented from being put into writing by the fraud of a party thereto, any other party who is by such fraud led to believe that it is in writing, and acts upon such belief to his prejudice, may enforce it against the fraudulent party".

But I guess it's all fog in the gunwales at this point in time eh?

Sewertoons said...

One point we overlooked - Bruce Buel signed the contract.

In a letter to Steve Brown from CSD attorney Julie Biggs dated March 8, 2006 she writes,
"We understand that you contend that although falsification of public records by a public employee is a felony under California law, prosecution of Mr. Buel and/or Ms. Vega is barred by the statute of limitations set forth in Penal Code Section 801."


"Your position seems to be that because the Board of Directors, legal counsel and other concerned parties knew that MWH had commenced work prior to approval of its contract with the Board, the “victim” had knowledge of the crime and did nothing to address it within the statutory period."

If anyone wants a copy of this letter, please contact me at

M said...

What are you, the sewer police?
Sincerely, M

Sewertoons said...

No. I just try to correct misinformation.

M said...

Yes. Policeing the blogospheres, the news sites comment sections making sure your word is inserted in place of everybody elses. Why should anybody believe your word over somebody elses? The fact that your life is consumed by this sewer to me, is a telling sign.
Sincerely, M

Sewertoons said...

I am hardly the only one consumed! You're here aren't you? Look at the faithful weekly speakers at the BOS! Now that is much more work than sitting at a computer and typing!

My word is certainly not inserted in place of everyone else's, but along side. Policing? Interesting choice of words.

I offer the actual documents or cite the references when I can to counter and correct misinformation. How can anyone make correct assessments of situations without knowing the facts? I don't ask people to believe me, but to read the actual documents.

You and I are as allowed to speak here and other blogs as long as our blog hostess and hosts are OK with it. (I have been kicked off The Razor for instance.) Some people I've noticed, do not like their opinion on things challenged. Others believe in free speech as they do not feel personally threatened by it, like our ever-patient hostess here, Ann, a most tolerant lady! She certainly doesn't agree with many of my opinions and I certainly don't agree with many of hers, but we seem to agree to respectfully disagree. You seem respectful too M, as you sign off, "Sincerely, M."

Razor Online said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SLOTowner said...

You're still at it! What a loser. Didn't you get kicked off Razor because you harassed him and his family? Mary Malone showed me this:

Sewertoons said...

No, I did not harass him or his family. In fact, I have a very cordial relationship with both Ed and Pam. We cordially agree to disagree on sewer topics without harsh words. Aaron is a separate person and is entitled to his opinions, although what drives them is a mystery to me. If he has other family to which he refers, I have not met nor talked to them.

Sewertoons said...

SLOTowner - is Mary Malone family?

SLOTowner said...

Shut up.

FOGSWAMP said...

Whilst still on the LOWWP subject, is anyone following the manslaughter trial in L'Aquila, Italy of 6 scientists and one former government official because they were more interested in pacifying the local population than giving clear advice about earthquake preparedness and risks?

The tragic earthquake in April 2009 killed 309 people and prosecutors allege that at a town meeting a week prior (following swarms of tremors for months) the Commission of scientists provided "incomplete, imprecise and contradictory information". They even jailed one scientist for "scaremongering" using his website and a van with loudspeakers.

Many of us are strongly convinced that scientists should speak loudly and clearly when insane decisions are made such as placing 45 miles of floating fecal filled pipes deep into the upper aquifer in a Red Liquefaction Zone.

Thomas Jordan, director of So Cal Earthquake Center USC in LA said the trial has "no merit", but nonetheless is a "watershed case" that will force officials to rethink the way they describe risk....
"The public expects authoritative, transparently available information...and we need to say what we know in an explicit way".

It's not too late to rethink Red Zone Liquefaction and floating pipes in Los Osos.

I'm at a loss to understand why the Italians didn't name the Vatican in their lawsuit, after all wasn't this an Act of God?

Great detailed article in Nature News and Scientific American on the case which came to trial last week and continued Oct 1, 2011.

Sewertoons said...

Yes, it is too late to rethink our pipes. Pacifying a small group of activists would not be beneficial to our water supply or our pocketbooks.

SLOTowner said...

Your obsession with the "small group of activists" is really creepy.