Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Deja Vu All Over Again -- The Trib's Idea of Newsworthiness

I don't know... maybe it's just me.

Maybe I'm wrong about what is newsworthy, and the Tribune is right, because one of us has got to be wrong.

For example, I thought it was newsworthy when a proposed sewer project -- developed by a small citizen's group in Los Osos, and sold to voters as "better, cheaper, faster," and was responsible for getting the CSD formed in the first place in 1998 -- failed in 2000. Its failure marked a $5 million waste to county taxpayers, because they got stuck with the tab for the project that "better, cheaper, faster" replaced.

To me, all of that was newsworthy. To the Tribune, it wasn't. None of it. That's the only reason I can think of why they have never written a word on the apparently important -- to me and New Times at least -- failure of the Solution Group's heavily marketed, yet dead-on-arrival project.

These days, the Trib has me questioning my idea of newsworthiness again.

Just a few weeks ago, the Los Osos CSD Board rescinded a little-known, 2001 document called the "Statement of Overriding Considerations."

The document, it turns out, is a bombshell.

It's a simple, 4-page document that was drafted and adopted by the 2001 Board, and it completely overrode the seemingly important environmental review process. The environmental review process for the Los Osos sewer showed that treatment facility sites out of town were "environmentally preferable," and therefore, the Board was required by state law to choose one of those sites, unless they quickly and quietly adopted a "Statement of Overriding Considerations," which they promptly did. The SOC is the sole document that locks in Tri-W.

It also turns out that the rationale behind the "Statement of Overriding Considerations" doesn't hold a drop of water. It's completely invalid.

Furthermore, since the SOC was recently rescinded by the District, there are now some serious lingering questions... with some serious implications.

Like:

"Is it now a violation of state environmental law to build at Tri-W considering there's now nothing around to override those laws?"

and;

"Was the Regional Water Quality Control Board aware of the SOC when one of their staff members wrote in a recent letter to the District:
    WARNING REGARDING SALE OF TRI-W SITE, LOS OSOS

    Your August 3, 2006 meeting agenda indicates that you are considering sale of the Tri-W site, an attempt to negate the Community Services District's previous environmental approval process for its selected project..."?

(Quick memo to the RWQCB: You might want to put the kabash on future references to the "Community Services District's previous environmental approval process." After all, they did decide to override that process -- a process that pointed to out-of-town, downwind sites, and I know you guys aren't down with those sites.)

To me, all of that is newsworthy, that's why I wrote a huge piece on it.

And again (again!) the Trib just doesn't seem to share my idea of newsworthiness. It's been about a month since the District rescinded the SOC, and the Trib has yet to write a word on it.

Deja vu all over again.

That's why I wrote the following letter to the Tribune's executive editor, Sandra Duerr:

    8/28/06

    Hello Mrs. Duerr,

    Recently, the Los Osos CSD Board of Directors rescinded a 2001 document titled, the "Statement of Overriding Considerations."

    That document was drafted and adopted by the 2001 LOCSD Board, and it overrode the entire environmental review process for the siting of the treatment facility in the Los Osos sewer project -- a process that showed that out-of-town sites were "environmentally preferred" because most have been environmentally degraded due to decades of agricultural use, unlike Tri-W.

    The 2001 LOCSD Directors decided to override the environmental review process with their SOC, and that decision locked in Tri-W for their second project. (Their first project was a ponding system that was also proposed for Tri-W. That project failed in 2000, yet it was highly influential in establishing the CSD in 1998.)

    Additionally, the two "benefits" listed in the SOC as the only reasons to override the environmental review process for their second treatment facility -- a facility that required exactly ten times less land than their first treatment facility -- are clearly invalid.

    I wrote on the SOC, why it is invalid, and the dramatic effect it had on the entire LO sewer story here:
    http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2006/08/loopiest-of-loopholes-recently.html
    (Please scroll past my brief "pledge drive.")

    The recent action by the current CSD Board to rescind the SOC is extremely newsworthy and timely, yet I have not seen a story on it in your paper.

    Here are my questions:

    Is your paper planning on covering that extremely newsworthy and timely story?

    and;

    If not, why not?

    Thank you,
    Ron
    sewerwatch.blogspot.com


Mrs. Duerr has yet to reply. I also "cc'd" my letter to several other Trib staffers, and none of them have replied.

If you would like to contact Mrs. Duerr and ask her if they plan on covering this seemingly newsworthy and timely story, you can e-mail her here: sduerr@thetribunenews.com.

###

(By the way, the SewerWatch Fall Pledge Drive is still going on [details below]. THANK YOU so much to those that have taken the time to support independent journalism!)

46 Comments:

  • Ron,

    Could you provide a scanned copy of the SOC so that we can read it ourselves and judge whether it is as bad as you say?

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 9:31 PM, August 30, 2006  

  • The previous SOC is on file at the CSD office, as is the recently rescinded SOC.

    By Blogger Churadogs, at 6:23 AM, August 31, 2006  

  • On file in the CSD office and accessible via the web are, uh, two very big differences.

    I gotta say, despite the fact that quite a bit of the supporting documentation relating to various aspects and permutations of the Los Osos sewer are posted on-line (if you have the patience & skill to track them down) there is an even greater amount that IS NOT posted but should be posted. If its on file in the office, and if its important to the issues at hand, and if scanning and posting it is not an undue or technical hardship (4 pages?) why isn't it posted and accessible via the net?

    By Blogger *PG-13, at 2:33 PM, August 31, 2006  

  • Ron's been pretty helpful in the past about putting documents online.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 9:56 PM, August 31, 2006  

  • Shark said:

    "Could you provide a scanned copy of the SOC so that we can read it ourselves and judge whether it is as bad as you say."

    I did. In my previous post. And I included a link in this main post to that post.
    But, here it is again.

    PG-13 said:

    "... despite the fact that quite a bit of the supporting documentation relating to various aspects and permutations of the Los Osos sewer are posted on-line (if you have the patience & skill to track them down) there is an even greater amount that IS NOT posted but should be posted."

    That is an excellent point. Both the Final Project Report (an absolute mess) and the Final EIR (a key document, that was completely overridden, by the way) are almost impossible to hunt down. When I wrote Three Blocks in 2004, the only available copy of the Project Report the day I was in Los Osos was in the the CSD office (the library was closed that day). And, at first, they weren't going to let me take that copy to read. It was only when I said, "It looks like I'm going to need a lot of pages copied," did the receptionist disappear for a few moments, and then returned and said I could take home their one, one, public copy. I was stunned by what I read in that document. What a mess.

    Sure, a .pdf of that document would be huge, but I would have still opted to download a huge file over driving an hour to Los Osos.

    By Blogger Ron, at 9:26 AM, September 01, 2006  

  • Ron,

    As an investigative writer, you might want to a bit-o-research on this idea of "rescinding" a SOC.

    It seems the courts consider an EIR "certified" after 30 days if no challenge occurs. Since the SOC is part of that document, the Courts give the entire EIR and the SOC a presumption of adequacy.

    I do agree with you about the Trib's method of deciding what's news - screwy! For instance I think it is strange that no one has done a story on the fact that all the pre-recall warnings of fines, loss of SRF loan, bankruptcy, etc. have all come true in less than a year.

    And all the while, 1 million gallons of relatively untreated sewer water leaks into our ground water, some finding it's way into Morro Bay, every day!

    Gordon Hensley,
    San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:15 PM, September 05, 2006  

  • Hello Gordon (if that's really you... and I'm just going to assume it is [you and Richard should sign-up on Blogger, that way, we could confirm your identity by the time stamp. It's much better that way.] Thanks for stopping by SewerWatch.

    You said:

    "It seems the courts consider an EIR "certified" after 30 days if no challenge occurs. Since the SOC is part of that document, the Courts give the entire EIR and the SOC a presumption of adequacy."

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing that the EIR wasn't certified. It, unfortunately for LO and California taxpayers, was certified. I'm arguing that the SOC that was used to override the environmental review process was completely invalid (well, actually, I'm not arguing that, I can easily show that). The fact that your board was able to slip that little-known, invalid document past the public for 30 days, and then past the agencies that certify EIRs isn't my point at all. (By the way, who certified that EIR? Names would be great. I have some questions for them. Thanks.)

    My points are:

    1) Your board decided to override the entire environmental review process.

    and;

    2) The only document that overrode that seemingly important process -- the SOC -- was completely invalid.

    You said:

    "I do agree with you about the Trib's method of deciding what's news - screwy!"

    See? We can agree on some things. Screwy, indeed.

    "For instance I think it is strange that no one has done a story on the fact that all the pre-recall warnings of fines, loss of SRF loan, bankruptcy, etc. have all come true in less than a year."

    I don't know if the Trib did stories on that stuff, but I did. For example, on the fines, I reported that Pandora Nash-Karner coordinated a "strategy" to have the Regional Water Quality Control Board fine the CSD and your neighbors before last September's election results were even certified.

    You may have missed that story. I have it archived here. It's a very interesting story. Did you know that local realtors Jerry Gregory and Leon Van Beurden helped her out with her strategy? So did someone named Mike Hensley. (Any relation?) That was a good strategy. It worked.

    "... loss of SRF loan..."

    You mean, "temporary loss" right?

    That reminds me, have you contacted the SWRCB and supported the latest application for the SRF loan? Of course, if you help get it back, that means you won't have the "they lost the SRF loan" argument anymore. Sounds like you have a decision to make.

    "And all the while, 1 million gallons of relatively untreated sewer water leaks into our ground water, some finding it's way into Morro Bay, every day!"

    That does suck, doesn't it.

    If I lived in the prohibition zone, and was a former member of the Solution Group/initial CSD Board, and signed my posts "San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper," I would rip out my septic tank and then rent a Honey Hut to come in to compliance with the "zero discharge" law before I posted comments like that.

    Gordon, here's their web site.

    I recommend one of the big white ones... roomier.

    By Blogger Ron, at 11:39 PM, September 05, 2006  

  • Here's news:
    The sewer belongs to the county. The CSD is dead. We PZ homeowners will be paying $300.00+ per month for whatever comes down the pike after 30 years. (Coulda been $86.00; coulda been $120.00; coulda been $200.00....) Those that cannot afford that will have to move. Nobody was to blame. Wait, everybody was to blame. Los Osos is the laughingstock of the county, the state, hell maybe the world. It's all a sad story indeed. But one hopefully and happily fast approaching it's denouement (except of course for those that just can't let go). Glory days Ron. I see you in 20 years rocking in your chair recounting your 2 articles in the New Times to a room full of elders and orderlies as you patiently wait for the grandchilren to come visit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:06 PM, September 06, 2006  

  • If Gordon Hensley is actually the person who's logged on, and not some poseur, here's something he could 'splain to your readers:

    A CSD board majority votes to buy a sludge pressing system that's about $5-6 million cheaper BUT results in wetter/heavier sludge having to be trucked out.

    The CSD board majority announces it has "saved" the community $5-6 million dollars, Hooray!

    It is pointed out that shipping heavier, wetter sludge out of the community will cost MORE than shipping dryer, lighter sludge out of the community.

    So, here's a math problem: How long would it take for the original "savings" to be eaten up in higher shipping costs?

    Is it a "savings" when you move a capital cost off the capital expenditure side of the ledger and stick it on to the Operation side of the ledger, where it will remain forever, rising yearly with, say, increased fuel costs & etc.?

    By Blogger Churadogs, at 7:36 AM, September 07, 2006  

  • Hi Ann,

    Easy question.

    The answer is 220 years.

    The cost difference to the CSD between hauling "dry vs. "wet sludge is $25,000/year ($69,000/year dry vs. $94,000/year wet)

    ($5,500,000) / ($25,000/yr) = 220 years.

    Taking in inflation is a moot point because you have to borrow the capital cost to build a sludge pressing system. That loan rate would be higher than the general inflation rate.

    Therefore, the CSD saved the property owners a substantial sum of money by not buying the equipment.

    Bray away baby!

    Regards, Richard Legros

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:02 AM, September 07, 2006  

  • Ann,

    I am glad you're starting to consider finacial questions ... it's a nice change.

    So here's my question ... how high will the cost of electricity need to rise to justify the cost increases of having the plant out of town (assuming a $100/month increase in cost for the next 20 years)?

    Seriously, without answering such a question, the statement that sustainability is worth it is sort of ... um ... baseless.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 1:21 PM, September 07, 2006  

  • Hi Ann,

    I forgot this in the last blog.

    To purchase and install the sludge press and have the dryer sludge hauled, the cost per month to the property owner is:

    [($5.5 million over 20 years at 2.4%)/(12months/year)/(5000 prop owners)]+[($69,000/year)/(12 months/year)/(5000 prop owners)] = [($5.77/month)+($1.15/month)] = $6.92 per month.

    To forgo the sludge press ans have the wetter sludge hauled, the cost per month to the property owner is:

    [($94,000/year)/(12 months/year)/ (5000 prop owners)] =
    $1.56 per month.

    Again, much cheaper per month to the home owner to forgo the sludge press and have the wetter sludge hauled to Ingles and Grey for composting.

    Regards, Richard LeGros

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:33 PM, September 07, 2006  

  • And of course the whole sludge argument is meaningless if there is no, or very little sludge. Right?
    The Ripley plan deals with it by keeping septic tanks- go figure.
    the TriW plan ignores it by getting rid of septic tanks- go figure.
    Am I the only one seeinig this reality?
    WHY CANT YOU REMOVE THE LEECH LINES AND HOOK A SEPTIC TANK TO A GRAVITY SYSTEM????
    Sorry sometimes reality is hard to take.

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 7:46 PM, September 07, 2006  

  • Hi Mike,

    No matter which system you use, there will always be sludge....sluge from ponds, from septic tanks, from batch reactors, etc. You can transform matter, but you cannot destroy it.

    Physics is a bitch, isn't it? LOL

    Regards, Richard

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:15 AM, September 08, 2006  

  • Gee Richard, do you realize that your statement actualy verifies the one above?
    Tansform the sludge.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:48 PM, September 08, 2006  

  • Jumping in late but I love the company.

    Gordon H > "And all the while, 1 million gallons of relatively untreated sewer water leaks into our ground water, some finding it's way into Morro Bay, every day!"

    Ron-the-never-wrong-out-of-town-reporter > That does suck, doesn't it. If I lived in the prohibition zone, and was a former member of the Solution Group/initial CSD Board, and signed my posts "San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper," I would rip out my septic tank and then rent a Honey Hut to come in to compliance with the "zero discharge" law before I posted comments like that. Gordon, here's their web site. I recommend one of the big white ones... roomier.

    Oooooohhhhh, far wittier - almost rapier-like - than some of the lame exchanges back on Ann's blog. This is the stuff of good blogging! .... I'm still chuckling. Even after checking out Harvey's Honeypots. Truth-be-told, I bookmarked them. These are the kinds of things that really come in handy on special occasions.

    Anon > I see you in 20 years rocking in your chair recounting your 2 articles in the New Times to a room full of elders and orderlies as you patiently wait for the grandchilren to come visit.

    Come'in back at you, eh? Pretty good too. If ya give you're gonna get or something like that. Truth is, as good as some of your early stories were they do seem to be growing a little stale. Still current but stale. Interesting. I've thought about this a good deal. It's not your fault your old stories are still current. Its not your fault that so much of what you've written, seemingly so long ago, still has currentcy and meaning today. But the impact of the story is dissipating and becoming almost dreary. So what's a reporter to do? On a bigger stage you could write a book. But that's not an option on this dinky little back-water stage. Repeating the same-old same-old, over and over again, embedded in a new column isn't the answer. At some point even embedding the old into the new via a hypertext link grows weary. Sad to say I think you've run that one out too. I think you are experiencing a kind of new-age reporter's existential angst. Although nothing truly old is ever really new. It's something to think about. How did columnists in the old days maintain currentcy and keep focus even when their stories grew stale? William Allen White redux.

    Ann > So, here's a math problem: How long would it take for the original "savings" to be eaten up in higher shipping costs?

    Responded to by a moderately anal Anon > The answer is 220 years. ...... Bray away baby!

    (Oops, make that Richard Legros who for whatever his reasons continues to respond as an anon but signing his name. Hey, I got no problem with that. I appreciate and respect your posts and that you sign them but wish you would post as a registered blogger.)

    Who was seconded by Shark > Seriously, .... the statement that sustainability is worth it is sort of ... um ... baseless.

    and then amended by Richard-the-still-anal-Anon > .... $1.56 per month.

    No disrespect intended. Anywhere. But, gentlemen, you have proven nothing other than limited short-sightedness. Beyond the end of you nose and your pencil lies an uncertain future. I appreciate your calculus - which is well founded, I don't fault that - but I wonder if tomorrow's energy and sludge expenses will respect today's math. Projecting into the future is always an iffy thing. But if the last 50 years is any indication we can probably not project energy costs into the future except with fantasy like dreams - no, make that nightmares. And, as I noted previously on Ann's blog, the realm of sludge distribution is a total crap-shoot extending into the future. (No pun intended.) Ya best not count on planting your dried, desiccated crap elsewhere without paying a serious fee. I don't see these factors in Richard's and Shark's calculations. That's not surprising as they are indeed hard to factor. But does anybody realistically expect that they won't become factors? Which brings us back to "the statement that sustainability is worth it is sort of ... um ... baseless". Oh, man, if I could get a bet down on the other side of this one I would everything in my retirement account. Not this year, maybe not even in 5-10 years, but in 15-20 years when I really need it that's gonna be a handsome payoff. Can I get some odds too?

    Richard > Physics is a bitch, isn't it? LOL

    You bet it is. To paraphrase Max Headroom: 20 minutes into the future anybody without a good source of clean water and a place to dump their crap is gonna be in big trouble. And you best not be depending on cheap transport to move it and a cheap place to dump it. All your calculations aside the less stuff to move and dump the better. I can't prove it. But I will bet on it. And I'd be willing to bet on a fore-sighted sewer design. History is filled with those who couldn't see the future coming, were unwilling to change with it, or who calculated it wasn't gonna change too much.

    By Blogger *PG-13, at 4:55 PM, September 08, 2006  

  • PG-13

    Oh....I see the future.

    Sludge will be a logistical problem for the ENTIRE county, just not little old Los Osos. The solution rests in a regional sludge-handling project....one where the costs will be spread over the entire poplulation of the County so that no one commnity (like Los Osos)gets hit with a huge infrastructure bill.

    MEANWHILE (read short term: 20 years or so), the solution of hauling sludge to Ingles and Grey was prudent financially and the correct decision. Over time, as regulations deepen and hauling / processing costs escalate, Los Osos would have taken part in a County-sponsored regional solution. Until that happens, I could not, nor would I support, a sludge-handling facility as part of the Los Osos waste water project. The cost to include such a facility in a project would have added about $20,000,000 in capital costs, and $250,000 per year in OM&R to the cost of the project (just to serve Los Osos). So, if you want the cost breakdowns as to how much more that would have cost the property owners per month, I will gladly show you.....it would have added about $35 per month to compost compared to $1.56 per month to haul. Quite frankly, most residents of Los Osos would not tolerate such an payment when an alternate 2200% LESS expensive exists.

    Regarding my blog to Ann's question...go ahead, attack me personally; but the fact remains that my calculations are valid; and show Ann (and you) that the costs to haul wetter sludge was waaaay cheaper than unnecessarily investing $6 million in sludge-pressing equipment in order to haul drier sludge.

    Finally, you have proven that you are the short-sighted one. You feared, opposed and took part in killing a valid and econonically prudent solution that would have brought you into complance with Federal and State water laws within 12 months.....all for an unknown project with a guaranteee of bringing CDO's, CAO's, fines and rapidly-rising costs for the next 5 to 10 years....all the while crapping into your water.

    Regards, Richard LeGros

    PS...Who the HELL are you PG-13 to criticize me about signing my name to my blogs, when you hide behind your handle of PG-13. Scared to tell me and others your name?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:23 PM, September 08, 2006  

  • From the bottom to the top.

    Richard Legros > PS...Who the HELL are you PG-13 to criticize me about signing my name to my blogs, when you hide behind your handle of PG-13. Scared to tell me and others your name?

    Feeling a bit short this evening? Please go back and re-read my comment and tell me how you draw so much negativity from it? Nevermind, here it is again:

    *PG-13 > (Oops, make that Richard Legros who for whatever his reasons continues to respond as an anon but signing his name. Hey, I got no problem with that. I appreciate and respect your posts and that you sign them but wish you would post as a registered blogger.)

    I appreciate your posts. I respect your posts. I'm pretty sure I've always said that even when taking issue with some of your conclusions. I didn't t like it when there were questions regarding whether it was really you or somebody pretending to be you. Apparently I am more concerned about that than you. That's cool. My statement was a simple wish wishing you would register. I like knowing whether a post is really yours. And I prefer knowing it when I start reading rather than when I get to the bottom of post. Simple preferences. Sorry you took it so negatively and so personally. Bummer.

    Scared to tell you and others my name? Not really. I do enjoy the anonymity of blogging. It allows me to say things I might not say if I was being more circumspect. It's a key aspect of the game and I believe there is value in it. You, on the other hand choose to sign your name and own up to whatever you post to these blogs. That's one of the reasons I respect your posts even if I don't always agree with them. But please recognize you do that voluntarily and with purpose. You are choosing to publicly explain, defend and expand upon on past decisions made in public while serving in elected office. Because of that your posts have a degree of gravitas few of the rest of us carry. That's cool. But remember, you do that by conscious choice to gain some personal benefit. Oh, you might take issue with that but there must be some reason you sign your name.

    Richard Legros > Regarding my blog to Ann's question...go ahead, attack me personally; but the fact remains that my calculations are valid; ....

    Poor RIchard. I admited your calculus was valid and I could find no fault in it. Other than to point out that it was missing some factors which are indeed hard, nee impossible, to factor. Your numbers are good. As far as they go. And it would be tough to rationalize $20 million citizen dollars for a low sludge solution. But then again, I have a different view of the entire project wherein minimal sludge is an integral part of the plan. Not an add-on expense. And I think we already found out what most of the citizens of Los Osos are willing to pay for - albeit by a very slim margin. (Uh oh, did I just say that?)

    Regarding the personal attack? Not hardly. Face fact, you're a numbers guy. That's not bad. You should be a numbers guy. And you bloody well should have more and better numbers than the rest of us. That was your job. If you didn't have a better handle on the numbers than all the rest of us we were triply screwed. And that is what you are still selling with your signature. You are choosing to push your numbers with the gravitas of your previous role. Cool, I got no problem with that. Many times before I have noted that your numbers are a good place to start. Heck, they're usually the only numbers we got. That doesn't make them perfect. Or necessarily valid. You use them to present and support your perspectives. They have often been shown to be, uh, slightly slanted. We expect them to be slightly slanted. As budgetary and project planning numbers they should also be open to scrutiny. Not all numbers are attacked with other numbers. Get use to it. No, its not fair but that's the way it is. Numbers are often confronted by ideas. Up to a point. There would be very little progress if every idea or projection had to first be quantified before it could be discussed. I admit I like numbers and I regret I don't have as many numbers as you. But that doesn't mean I can't hold my ideas up to your numbers. Especially when we're talking about futures where its anybody's guess what factors are going to be most significant. I will say categorically that the future is going to be different than today. Fuel costs, hauling costs, sludge depositing costs, O&M costs for different kinds of sewer designs, any and all costs are going to be different tomorrow than they are today. Using today's costs to predict expenses 20-30 years into the future is not even an estimate. It is a guesstimate. I still think sustainable technology and less sludge is better than non-sustainable tech and more sludge. But then, that's just me.

    Richard > Finally, you have proven that you are the short-sighted one. You feared, opposed and took part in killing a valid and econonically prudent solution that would have brought you into complance with Federal and State water laws within 12 months.....

    Oh gawd, its that same broken record. Won't somebody please turn it over? I think we've all been around and through this one every which way possible and some that aren't possible. Absolutely nothing can be gained spinning it again. We've all heard it ad nauseam. What you call a valid and economically prudent solution I call a white elephant. Where you claim compliance I see pounding dollars into the ground in an attempt to derail a recall election. I thought it was already agreed, you can call me short-sighted and I can call you short-sighted. In all things sewer anybody can call anybody else short-sighed. Pick a place to stand - any place in the sordid history of this sewer - and most every other view is going to appear short-sighted.

    Richard > Oh....I see the future......

    I'm glad. I hope we make it. Let's get together for a cuppa coffee in 2030. My treat.

    By Blogger *PG-13, at 11:18 PM, September 08, 2006  

  • Hi PG-13,

    All your blog tells me is that you want to continue arguing about the sewer ad nauseum, all the while never getting around to actually solving the problem (by building a project).

    What matters is resolving the problem NOW, not waiting for some pie-in-the-sky scheme that will take in problems of an unknowable future. Face it, your human; and have no better sense of the future than the rest of us. All we can do is face the realities of TODAY.

    Regards, Richard LeGros

    PS. Feel free to call me at 528-6594 if you wish to talk. I won't bite. Or email me at archrbl@aol.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:09 AM, September 09, 2006  

  • PG-13 said:

    "Ron-the-never-wrong-out-of-town-reporter..."

    Funny.

    "It's not your fault your old stories are still current. Its not your fault that so much of what you've written, seemingly so long ago, still has currentcy and meaning today. But the impact of the story is dissipating and becoming almost dreary. So what's a reporter to do? "

    I'm tellin' ya, it is a balancing act. If the Trib had done any follow-up, and I mean any follow-up, on my two New Times stories, I wouldn't have to refer to them all the time. But the fact that the Trib refuses to acknowledge the history of the story -- which is the story -- makes it difficult on me. If I don't keep bringing that up, it will fade away again, as it did from 2001 - 2004, and nothing would make the folks behind the "behavior based marketing" strategies in Los Osos happier. After all, another key component of an effective BBM strategy, along with falsely discrediting, is deliberate confusion. And without someone around that has a decent grasp on the history of the project, that deliberate confusion will run rampant, and no one, including regulatory agencies, will know what in the hell is going on... again.

    So to your excellent question, "What's a reporter to do?" I don't know... I think a lot about that too. I just shake my head when I think about how almost all the subject matter in Three Blocks, from 2004!, is still on the table. Everyone in Los Osos should immediately cancel their subscriptions to the Sun Bulletin and the Tribune, if they haven't already. They have badly hurt Los Osos over the past 6-9 years.

    Also, a lot of that past stuff collides with my current stories. For example, it's impossible to cover the extremely important, and recent revelation of the Statement of Overriding Considerations without also discussing the Solution Group, and their relentless pursuit to put a park in a sewer plant. It's all tied together. And I just learned of the SOC about a month ago. So, again, what's a reporter to do? I think Newsstand Greg put it nicely when he said:

    "For those with a close-up lens on this stuff, Ron can be repetitive. But he must be, to make it clear to the casual readers just what the actual players have done and when they did it."

    It's a juggling act, to be sure. It's a very complex, convoluted story, and if I don't repeatedly bring up a lot of that past stuff, in six months, no one will know what in the hell I'm talking about.

    On that subject, an Anon said:

    "I see you in 20 years rocking in your chair recounting your 2 articles in the New Times..."

    To tell you the truth, I think my blog is much better, more impactive, than my New Times stories. The thing I'm most proud of on those NT stories is that I wrote both of them before they came to fruition. For example, in my first story (I'll spare you the link) I showed how the Solutions Group's plan was going down the drain, and a month later, it was down the drain. Tooooooo cool. (Although, here's an interesting little past story that I've never brought up -- my favorite part of that sequence was this: I showed how the Solution Group's plan was going down the drain, then the Solution Groupers flooded the following issue of New Times with articles and letters on how full of "rat crap" I was, and then three weeks after that issue, their plan was down the drain. Another great example of falsely discrediting.

    PG-13 said to Richard:

    "Please go back and re-read my comment and tell me how you draw so much negativity from it? "

    Yea, I'm with you on that. I didn't glean anything negative either. I said in a post above that it would be better if both Richard and Gordon registered for their own protection. That way, if some signed their post, "Regards, Richard LeGros," and that post didn't match Richard's registered name and date, we would know it wasn't him.

    Because, like PG-13, I really respect that they come in here, give input and sign their names. That's great. I'm a huge fan of healthy debate.

    Richard said to PG-13 (I think):

    "You feared, opposed and took part in killing a valid and econonically prudent solution..."

    Richard, unless you can show how those two "benefits" in the SOC are valid, that project was technically invalid (and if it ever comes to the point where I get my revocation hearing, I'll also show you how it was legally invalid).

    Economically prudent? That's a stretch, but at least arguable.

    Valid? Not even close.

    (In fact, now that I think about it, that would be an interesting debate: "The Validity of the Tri-W Project." Me on one side and Bruce Buel on the other.)

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:35 AM, September 09, 2006  

  • Ron,

    You blog baloney,as usual.

    Regards, Richard LeGros

    PS. Feel free to call me at 528-6594 if you wish to talk.

    PPS. Your not much of an "investigative journalist" if just last month you discovered the Statement of Overriding Concerns posted as a LOCSD public document since 2001.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:54 AM, September 09, 2006  

  • Why do you keep referring to your NT pieces as "stories" or "articles." They were neither. They were opinion pieces, which is fine. Just refer to them by what they are, for full disclosure so people are clear what you are talking about.

    By Anonymous Frank Adams, at 1:30 PM, September 09, 2006  

  • Richard > All your blog tells me is that you want to continue arguing about the sewer ad nauseum, ....

    Curious your take on that. That's what I was feeling about your retort.

    > PS. Feel free to call me at 528-6594 if you wish to talk. I won't bite. Or email me at archrbl@aol.com

    Thanks for the offer. And the assurance. Nice gesture. I would call if we had something to talk about. Something different than the same-old same-old tossed about in the blogs. I would you call you immediately if there was any probability that you and I could see enough of the other's side to allow for some practical discourse which might nurture a workable, economical and effective solution to the issues. But we can't even agree on the issues. Not trying to put words into your mouth but it seems you are fully committed to the cheapest and fastest (or fastest and cheapest) sewer that will call off the agency dogs. I'd like that too. But not at the expense of an effective and sustainable water eco-system of which the sewer is just one part. These two ends are not likely to ever meet. I wonder why you would even make this offer if you feel so strongly that I am interested only in arguing and am not interested in converging on a solution. Besides, I see value in the exchange of ideas in a public forum. If blogs have any value at all it is because they are so open.

    Richard > What matters is resolving the problem NOW, not waiting for some pie-in-the-sky scheme that will take in problems of an unknowable future. Face it, your human; and have no better sense of the future than the rest of us. All we can do is face the realities of TODAY.

    Sadly I'm only too aware that I am human. Nor can I see the future as clearly as I would like. Bummer. I'm not making claims I can see the future better than anybody else. I do spend a lot of time - much more than most - considering what the future might look like. That's part of my job description. So I'm not hesitant to highlight future factors which I think are not being adequately considered when planning for an uncertain future. (I prefer to use that term over 'an unknowable future'. A subtle distinction but an important distinction I think.) When I see somebody running numbers and presenting those numbers as precise projections ($1.56 per month!) based on calculations too rooted in today's parameters I can appreciate the projection while still pointing out its weaknesses. Above all, one should not get too attached to one's projections least they become expectations. Or worse.

    Lastly, please know I had nothing what-so-ever to do with any of the ugly spoofing and name calling going on over in Ann's blog. The chronology implies there might be some association. There is none. I value language and character too much to do anything like that. At least I hope I never sink to such levels.

    namaste'

    By Blogger *PG-13, at 3:20 PM, September 09, 2006  

  • PS -

    > At least I hope I never sink to such levels.

    Somebody please shoot me if I do. TIA.

    By Blogger *PG-13, at 3:25 PM, September 09, 2006  

  • *pg-13 > .... So what's a reporter to do?

    Ron > I'm tellin' ya, it is a balancing act. ..... If I don't keep bringing that up, it will fade away again, .... I don't know... I think a lot about that too. I just shake my head when I think about how almost all the subject matter in Three Blocks, from 2004!, is still on the table. ... Also, a lot of that past stuff collides with my current stories. ..... It's a juggling act, to be sure. It's a very complex, convoluted story, and if I don't repeatedly bring up a lot of that past stuff, in six months, no one will know what in the hell I'm talking about.

    Yeah, that's the nut. Old news continues to be new news. But when you're the only one beating the drum you run the risk of becoming a boring rhythm. It's a dilemma. As you say, you gotta keep hauling the past along and keeping it alive even while trying to report on new but closely related stuff. Even the big news carries limited shelf-life. See: the Valerie Plame story. Any reporter covering that story has a similar problem to yours. I'm an interested reader but I am now having a hard time staying invested in that tale. Even the latest big news in that story fell flat cuz people just can't stay sufficiently invested in such a long, twisted and now boring tale. Important yes. But boring overrides important.

    So what's a reporter to do? I don't claim to have answers but here might be something you could try. This is a derivative of something Mike Green suggested over on Ann's blog. His only slightly facetious suggestion to create a timeline history of the sewer to be mounted on the wave wall, complete with brass bass-relief plaques of all the key junctures and people and things, might hold some solution for you too. Part of your problem is this tale is just so dang long and twisted with so many points of deceit and mis-direction its hard to keep it straight in the mind. Every time you reference one of your articles/pieces/editorials/exposes' it is more numbing than enlightening. Each article is so full of more-of-the-same details it is hard to keep it fresh in the mind. As is the constant referencing of 2-3 articles. Consider constructing and publishing your own hypertexted timeline. Each juncture on the timeline could be linked to a section(s) in your articles. The timeline maps linear, functional and political context allowing readers to quickly drop down into the details as they need to to maintain historical perspective. The timeline itself then becomes part of the story (which you've already noted). Your don't need to rewrite anything new. Just anchor link your stories and publish a graphical interface to them. Then, when you need to reference something that has gone before link to the map (and the context specific anchor). I think over time the map will become as important, if not more important, than the details.

    Yeah, some people will claim this additional level of storyboarding only reflects your myopic mis-focus and represents another level of psychological imbalance. Still, it shows intent to report the story effectively and creatively. And something like this will eventually be used by the major media to catalog their content and present their slant on the story. (See: developing search and publication tools. See also: Google)

    You're a pro at on-line content so I feel kinda funny suggesting this. And maybe its just not worth your time. After-all you're not getting paid to do this kind of stuff. Still, it might be an interesting exercise. You probably can't publish a linked graphic on the blog but you could link off to an independent website which could host such content. Just an idea ....

    namaste'

    By Blogger *PG-13, at 4:26 PM, September 09, 2006  

  • Hi PG-13,

    Yeah, I agree....don't bother to call me.
    You talk (blog) too much anyway.

    Regards, Richard LeGros

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:15 PM, September 09, 2006  

  • Richard LeGros> All your blog tells me is that you want to continue arguing about the sewer ad nauseum, .... PS. Feel free to call me at 528-6594 if you wish to talk..... Or email me at archrbl@aol.com

    Still a little confused on the concept of blogging?

    Richard LeGrunt > You talk (blog) too much anyway.

    Perhaps. Some days more than others. I can live with that. At least I'm not on the hook for burying millions of community dollars on a futile effort to deny citizens their right to recall elected officials they no longer had confidence in. The scheduling of the recall election being clearly and terribly suspect. Then being voted out of office in that recall. All the while, and still yet, claiming you had to postpone the election till the very latest date AND burn the millions AND commit the project to admittedly over-priced contracts with single bid vendors. Haven't you noticed that you seem to be the only person in town still using the questionable rationale that you had to do all of that, just that way, because we were - news flash - breaking the law by continuing to pollute? Being released from your duties has given you the time to publish the kind of numbers you should have been providing while in office. The kind of numbers you were repeatedly asked for, begged for, demanded of before committing to Tri-W. You've been willing to engage in comparative analysis of alternative projects only after you committed Los Osos to a highly controversial project and then were immediately voted out of office. Ever since being voted off the board it seems you've been trying to rewrite history by claiming you were never a Solutions Groupie. I'm baffled. How could your association with that group be any tighter? It probably wouldn't serve you well if there was an easier and clearer way to keep track of all of this, eh? But you might be right, I blog too much. I can live with that. I'd have a much harder time living with the rest of this.

    By Blogger *PG-13, at 10:04 AM, September 10, 2006  

  • Hi PG-13

    Baloney...all you offer is opinion.

    Those million spent were bringing you and Los Osos into compliance with the law. Stopping the project threw those millions away and brought on the disaster that has overcome Los Osos.

    Los Osos got exactly what it voted for by recalling Stan, Gordon and I; a futile and expensive fight with the State and contractors, continued violation of the law; and all the consequences thereof.

    Regards, Richard Legros

    PS: I have performed comparitive analysis ever since being associated with the CSD (2000). They are a personal way of analysis to assist my making decisions. These analysis are not official CSD documents as they were not produced by staff.

    PPS: It is odd that you criticize me personally for using these forms of analysis, yet have never contested any of the analysis I produce.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:33 AM, September 10, 2006  

  • Richard > It is odd that you criticize me personally for using these forms of analysis, yet have never contested any of the analysis I produce.

    Quite the opposite. In every instance I have gone out of my way to commend you for producing such analysis. That doesn't mean I necessarily agree with it and I reserve the right to comment on it. Richard, this is what public discourse is all about. And that is my complaint. There was never enough public discourse about the decision making criteria for Tri-W nor open and fair public comparison with other alternatives. Read my lips, your willingness to engage in this kind of analysis now is commended. It just seems a bit late. Wasn't there a responsibility to produce such reports before you committed to Tri-W?

    > I have performed comparitive analysis ever since being associated with the CSD (2000). They are a personal way of analysis to assist my making decisions. These analysis are not official CSD documents as they were not produced by staff.

    Cool. Good for you. Well done. What comparative analysis were the rest of the board using to assist the board's decisions? Where are these official staff reports? Are they still available for review? Many have asked for them but have been strangely denied. Why?

    Are the numbers you've been publishing the comparative analysis you used when you were on the board? Bummer. They're a step in the right direction and better than nothing but hardly a rigorously sound basis for choosing Tri-W. Yes, that's my opinion.

    Richard > Baloney...all you offer is opinion. .....

    What about blog do you still not understand?

    By Blogger *PG-13, at 12:44 PM, September 10, 2006  

  • PG-13,

    Again, you criticize me for producing analysis; but offer nothing to show that they are incorrect other than say you do not agree with them. Pretty lame on your part.

    As for project reports and analysis by the staff and consultants, find them yourself. I do not have any more time to try to educate silly donkeys such as you.

    The reality of TODAY is that you threw away a viable, permitted, funded waste water project because you were fearful of (pick your excuse here). The result of your stupidity is you will be fined, continue to violate the law by polluting your groundwater, and in the end pay hundreds more dollars per month for a sewer. So blog all you want with your opinions. They do not mean a damn thing.

    Richard LeGros

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:19 PM, September 10, 2006  

  • > ... please shoot me if I do.

    Somebody please load the gun. I'll be around in the morning to be shot.

    By Blogger *PG-13, at 3:20 PM, September 10, 2006  

  • PG ... you had a really good point to make in your comment of 4:55pm on Sep 8 (I've been away for a few days).

    You sugested that the calculus of payoff is subject to future events which cannot be predicted with certainty, like the price of oil, the price of electricity and the like. You are dead on right.

    Any reasonable engineer or politician knows these things and does several versions of any projection of the future, one for each reasonably plausible scenario. For example, if one thinks that oil will double in price every decade for the next 40 years but electricity will only double every 20 years, the time until the extra payments for a sludge dryer (for example, but essentially any "sustainability" issues) to be worth it would change.

    It is much like the choice about which car to buy. One could buy a hybrid Toyota, a Volvo wagon or any other car out there. Depending on whether one thinks that gas will skyrocket or not may affect one's decision.

    In this case we can't know all possible futures but we can at least figure out whether the extra cost of a sludge dryer would be worth it according to each one. If the vast majority of likely scenarios show that the sludge dryer isn't a good investment but a few, but the least likely scenarios show that the sludge dryer is a good idea ... the sludge dryer shouldn't be purchased.


    Such a cost-benefit analysis should have been done by the CSD board before they stopped the project back in October. If they had given reasonable credence to the idea of fines, lawsuits and bankruptcy they might not have run up some mega-millions of debt. Whatever project the County goes with, we'll have to pay off those debts ... and any project the County goes with will be more expensive because of these choices.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 3:52 PM, September 11, 2006  

  • I had that debate mentioned above, in front of the Chamber of Commerce board of Directors (Summer 2003); the one with Bruce. We went toe-to-toe on the location of the project. CCLO had asked the Chamber to take a position on the Tri-w site, they didn't but, it sure was a great debate. The worst thing Bruce could have said, he said, when comparing Tri-w to the Pismo site (next to the middle school), he said "there are afffluent neighbors " that would fight a sewer plant going in at that location. Boy, did his true colors show, it was sickening. But, in reality, look at thte Tri-W site, mostly rentals and community services, no loud educated voice to say "Hey, no way!" Until the price went up so high did we all pay attention to what was driving up its cost -- the site! Wave walls, stainless steal woven gates, MBR tech., over the top odor control (negative air pressure), drainage features ($60K just in boulders in the retention basin), park features (restrooms, play structure, amphitheater, parking lot, dog park, walking/bike path, etc.), and the biggie, ESHA mitigation (preserving Broderson)... not to mention the ripple effect on the property values and the stigma of a sewer in the middle of town, how much would that have all cost?
    ankrupt and divided community, we're still better off than life with the downtown sewer.

    Julie Tacker

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:33 PM, September 13, 2006  

  • Julie - I would be curious to know what you thought about the sewer plants in Montecito and Beverly Hills and The Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Vay Nuys. Thank You.

    By Blogger Sewertoons, at 9:31 PM, September 13, 2006  

  • Julie,

    Losing a SRF loan, getting fined $6,600,000, going bankrupt, throwing away $20,000,000 in bond assessments, and having accumulated $28,000,000 in liabilities is BETTER than having the sewer built at Tri-W: finally bringing Los Osos into compliance with the law?

    Are you insane? Obviously you are, for your actions and "feelings" have caused ALL property owners financial harm.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:47 AM, September 14, 2006  

  • "ankrupt and divided community, we're still better off than life with the downtown sewer."

    Perhaps the most unbelievable statement I have ever read. Just utterly, stunningly, unbelievable.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:47 AM, September 14, 2006  

  • Julie,

    The "stigma" of a sewer in the middle of town? Is there a "stigma" associated with the Montecito sewer? Is that all you are worried about? We know it isn't cost anymore, because you have all but guaranteed a bill higher than $200. The "stigma"? Are you kidding me? Your narcissism knows no bounds. You can forget about becoming the "saviour" of Los Osos (isn't that what you've expressed privately - your desire to be beloved by the community?). You will now go down in Los Osos history as the hysterical bitch who single-handedly bankrupted an entire community. Good job!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:15 AM, September 14, 2006  

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

    An exaggerated sense of one’s own abilities and achievements.

    A constant need for attention, affirmation, and praise.

    Persistent fantasies about attaining success and power.

    Exploiting other people for personal gain.

    A sense of entitlement and expectation of special treatment.

    A lack of empathy for others.

    See: Julie Tacker

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:22 AM, September 14, 2006  

  • Julie,

    The site wasn't the reason the costs were climbing month by month ... inflation is the reason.

    As an example, back at the time the project was $100M, a 6 month delay in construction would equal approximately an additional $4M cost, assuming 8% inflation in construction costs.

    How much was the wave wall? How much was the park? How many months and years was the project delayed because of CCLO actions and your actions?

    I'm not a huge fan of the TriW site, but no other sites are any less expensive. Furthermore, paying to design a new plant at a new location costs considerable money.

    If money really is the issue, shouldn't we move forward with TriW?

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 10:43 PM, September 14, 2006  

  • If we really knew what Tri-W was going to cost, perhaps going forward on the Tri-W project would be prudent, but NO ONE ever did the analysis. The closest thing I ever saw, long after inflation implications was the October '05 Blakslee Compromise, Rob Miller and Darrin Polhehus ran the numbers, saving $24 million just by switching to an out of town pond. Taxpayers Watch couldn't stand it and lobbied SWRCB members to kill the compromise, kill the loan, and also lobbied the RWQCB to fine individuals, all costing the community far more than any slight delay CCLO may have cost, which technially was in June of '05, when the 4/5's vote lawsuit was held on appeal ceased progress for 22 days. I was already serving on the LOCSD board, Keith Swanson was/is the CCLO Pres.
    The tragedy goes back to the beginning, like Ron always points out, false community goals and egos kept the project going, no one in power cared to see what the impacts of a sewer on downtown businesses, homes (a skateboard park has devalued homes next to the park), health, etc.
    As for other communities with sewer plants downtown, they were not force fit into the towns, the sewer was there first, check those very same community's sewer bills, no one is paying $205 per month, like Tri-W was coming in at.
    Shark, I tried to find out how much the wave wall was and couldn't, it was lumped into the Monterey Mechanical bid for concrete, the park features were over $2.4 million, the restroom over $100K, and polished/brushed stainless steal gates were about $10K, the drinking fountain was $5,000.00, now tell me downtown didn't drive up the cost.
    If the sewer plant were designed out of town in the first place, the creature features wouldn't be in my sewer bill. I still don't want to pay for those things and inflation can't cost more than throwing money at it after its built trying to tweak int into compliance, after we're fined for odors and spills, the downtown location just asked for the RWQCB and APCD to set up shop in LO and hand out pink slips for violations. No thanks!
    Shark, you're not a fan of Tri-W, so where were you when this was all coming together, why didn't you speak up and join me early on?
    The debt incurred by going to construction prematurly does not translate to your sewer bill, nor can we tax you for it. There were risks involved, the contractors took them, the SRF representative told the contractors (in the meeting I was barred from), that "funding was secure". It is in the best interest of contractors to go after the state for their lost money, the state has it, Judge Piquette even recommended it. There is no nexus to the homeowners for the debt incurred by the LOCSD unless you pass some sort of 218 vote to cover it, but all of that would have to be legally spelled out for you to want to vote on...I for one would vote "no", the contractors knew what they were coming into, and the mess just got worse with TW meddling.
    I have to take some blame and I do, but I will never take all the blame for the damamge of the former board action going to construction before the recall.
    Oh and Annon, the $20,000,000 in bonds was not thrown away, it was spent by the old board, leaving less than $200K in the pot on their way out. They bought Maria Singleton, a model of the plant, glossy brochures and surveys for you to chose what your pump station would look like, the money was spent defending the district from Cal Cities lawsuit, and pusuing legal action against Al Barrow and Budd Sanford, that's good money spent. It was also spent on Tri-W, Broderson, 7 pump stations ( all prime coastal pieces of real estate) and studies for archeology, environmental impacts and pursuit of permits, that can all be used in the next project, and believe me much of it will be used again.
    That's all for now, my lunch hour is over,
    Julie

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:24 PM, September 16, 2006  

  • Julie writes lots of interesting stuff. I quote (in part):

    "If we really knew what Tri-W was going to cost, perhaps going forward on the Tri-W project would be prudent, but NO ONE ever did the analysis."

    So what you are saying here is that before you stopped constuction you should have had someone run the numbers first. Too bad you didn't ... there were plenty of people asking the board to take no action until such an analysis was finished.

    "The closest thing I ever saw, long after inflation implications was the October '05 Blakslee Compromise, Rob Miller and Darrin Polhehus ran the numbers, saving $24 million just by switching to an out of town pond."

    I don't remember the $24M figure. Where did you get that? Even so, Polhemus, under oath at the ACL hearing said that those figures didn't include any design costs and any costs associated with inflation and delay. Suppose for a moment that such an out of town project could be started exactly four years after the TriW project was stopped (which is an awfully optimistic timetable). If TriW was a $140M project, the new out of town project would pencil in at $116M. Add four years of inflation at 8% and you get a $157M project. Add another $10M for design and legal costs and it sounds as if this "cheaper" out of town project would actually cost about $27M more.

    How is this saving money?




    "The tragedy goes back to the beginning, like Ron always points out, false community goals and egos kept the project going, no one in power cared to see what the impacts of a sewer on downtown businesses, homes ..."

    And the tragedy continued when others insisted in stopping TriW "no matter what it costs" (It was Chuck who said that, right?).


    "As for other communities with sewer plants downtown, they were not force fit into the towns, the sewer was there first, check those very same community's sewer bills, no one is paying $205 per month, like Tri-W was coming in at."

    Fine ... but how can you justify stopping an expensive project when the alternative is even more expensive?

    "Shark, I tried to find out how much the wave wall was and couldn't, it was lumped into the Monterey Mechanical bid for concrete, the park features were over $2.4 million, the restroom over $100K, and polished/brushed stainless steal gates were about $10K, the drinking fountain was $5,000.00, now tell me downtown didn't drive up the cost."

    You are offering up a false choice. You are suggesting that if the project had been put out of town to begin with it would have been less expensive so you voted to stop the project on these grounds. Well, I stand behind what I wrote before ... stopping TriW to move the project, even if successful, would cost more ... far more ... than the Wave Wall and the rest of the expensive bits you didn't care for. Ask our seniors on a fixed income if they would prefer a $2.4M park added into their sewer costs or whether they would prefer an additional $27M in sewer costs to move the plant out of town. I have a hunch they'll go for the cheaper plan.

    "Shark, you're not a fan of Tri-W, so where were you when this was all coming together, why didn't you speak up and join me early on?"

    Because, like Richard (who opposed the formation of the CSD to begin with) I saw that you weren't offering a solution, just additional costly delay. By the time we came around to 2001-2002 it was pretty clear that any delay in TriW would cost us money.


    Julie ... a question on another issue. Who do you support for CSD board and why?

    Myself, the only candidate I can fully support of those running would be Joe Sparks. He is the only one who has made sense when discussing these CSD issues pretty much everytime he speaks out. Even if I may disagree with him sometimes, he at least has clearly put some thought into his point of view.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 7:47 PM, September 16, 2006  

  • Shark,
    Thanks for paying attention, but you must not have been paying close attention. The new board "Suspended" work, we sent Rob Miller to do the analysis of inventorying the damages done by the premature costruction, and to bring us back a recovery plan, he did, and just as we sent contractors back to work (not Monterey Mechanical, we were going to let them do the road and drainage improvements at Tri-W only) TW were lobbying hard to have and succeeded in having SRF was withdraw funds. the board was proceeding on the collection system, even though it was against the new law of Measure B to do so. We had meetings nearly every day in October, you must have missed the one where Rob gave a power point, Ann Blogged about it and linked the spread sheet, that showed the cost savings of $24 million to move the plant and change technology. I believed we could have a Measure B vote in front of the community by January, when the current neighborhood collection systems would have been constructed to flow to the nearest pump stations. The vote would then change the direction and horsepower of the pump (which had not been purchased yet). Pollhemus new that a design build pond would have been cheap and I believed we could have had it under construction and maybe even completed by the same timeline of the 2 year project, Tri-W's timeline was front loaded, the plant would have sat idle for 6 months waiting for flow, so why didn't the old board wait to begin construction on the plant? Nevermind that now, I thought we could move the sewer in that 6 month window and really believed we could almost hit the same mark. Naive maybe, but stranger thngs have happened, if we hadn't had the distractions; i.e. ACL's, CDO's, Dissolution, lawsuits, etc., we could have been working towards an out of town sewer. It wouldn't have been the Ripley plan, it would have been a hybrid of the two, but now look. The County is going to take us all the way back to square one, or right back to Tri-W, whichever fight they chose, it's an uphill battle for any project.
    I'm truely sorry for rising costs, but again, no one has done the anaylisis for downtown vs. out of town with regard to property values and health risks, common sense tells you not to put the sewer downtown, that's all I've got and no money to study it, nor do I think we need to study it...out of town impacts are less significant (CEQA process told us that), thus cheaper on the community ("dollars" are not always what is measured in "cost").
    As for a candidate endorsement, not yet, I haven't learned enough about them all. Don't get me wrong, I like Joe, I appointed him to the Wastewater Advisory Committee, I like having diversity in our recommendations and Joe has an analytical mind. Doesn't mean I agree with him always but, that's not what I need to hear all the time, I want to hear all sides of an issue and prefer the folks had constructive critisizm instead of a lovefest. As for the lady candidates, I don't think they know enough of the history to fully understand the issues, but they could be fast learners and catch on quick, if they do, they will no longer agree with a downtown sewer, too (if they believe in it now, which I haven't heard one way or another).
    Julie

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:25 PM, September 17, 2006  

  • Julie,

    The problem of "suspending" work is that the SRF contract doesn't allow the CSD to suspend work without prior approval of the SWRCB staff. The contract only allows the SWRCB to suspend work. There is a portion of the contract that allows for temporary stoppage of work if archeological artifacts are found during digging, but this was not the case.

    I didn't miss any of the October happenings. Every single bad thing that happened during the October-January period seems to be linked to stopping (oh yeah, you call it suspending) work.

    One quesiton for you about that time period. I remember one Sunday the Trib ran an article about why moving the sewer out of town would add an additional $70/month to the bill. The day after that article, Dan had a press release where he said that the SWRCB was going to release more funds to the LOCSD so that the LOCSD could continue construction on the collection system and do some "winterizing" of the TriW site. That did not happen. Was Dan fibbing with us? There has been no follow-up in the press on this matter and it concerns me a lot. If the SWRCB said one thing and then did another, I want Dan to be able to justify his statement somehow and if he had that press release without a solid promise from the SWRCB I think that we have a case of malpractice against WillDan. After all, had Dan not made this statement, the contractors wouldn't have hung out so long and their claim against Los Osos wouldn't be as high. Frankly, until we have some proof that the SWRCB did jerk us around, I tend to believe that Dan simply fibbed. What happened?

    While you may be sorry about the rising costs, please remember that the LOCSD board could have easily done such an analysis of out-of-town versus TriW back in October. You guys chose to take action to stop the TriW project before even knowing whether that move was sound or unsound in terms of dollars and sense. I would also suggest that common sense may indeed argue that a WWTF should be out of town ... but only if it out of town doesn't cost considerably more.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 4:04 PM, September 17, 2006  

  • I'll look into your theory on Dan's fibbing, but recall that he'd had conversations with SRF reps that represented that if we resumed work we would recieve our second drawdown which Bruce told us Oct. 1st was "in the mail."
    I disagree with your claim that we needed SRF blessings to suspend work, it is our project, and extraordinary circumstances, such as arch. findings or Measure B were plenty of reason to suspend work.
    Our out of town anaylsis was begun with Willdan and then handed over to Ripley, but to date no one has done an economic impact study that would anaylize the impact to downtown propoerty values and the loss of ($12 million with Tri-W project) millions of Los Osos dollars year after year, the money just leaving our community in the form of sewer bills...no more pizza at the Tacker house, that's for sure. Talk about a ghost town.
    If you didn't miss October happenings, why don't you recall the $24 million savings Rob shared with us in a meeting at Sunnyside? The Blakeslee Comprimise could have worked, the project could still be being built, and there'd be a community sense of accomplishment. Really too bad. That comprimise was the hardest thing I ever had to do, giving up STEP was no picnic, but now I've morned it and would be willing to let it go if it were up to me again. I believe it's too much for the regular foldk to accept, us sewer savvy would be fine with it, but the newcomers wouldn't understand that their yard needs to be dug up, and that they can't enlarge their garage, billard room, or put a hot tob over the septic tank. Easements didn't scare me either, but I sure remember Jon Seitz freaking out about it, I don't know if Los Osos can handle another battle like we've had.
    Once again, I'll look into what you said. Thanks for the tip, that's just what we need, another lawsuit.
    Julie

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:33 PM, September 17, 2006  

  • Julie,

    The SRF contract, which the CSD signed, defines the project as owned by the SWRCB and not the LOCSD. The LOCSD is the "contractor" for the work. In other words, the contract says the project is not not "our project" but rather the state's. If you can show me language in the contract that says otherwise, I would like to see it. Otherwise, I'm just a "contract guy" who reads contracts carefully and calls em like I sees em.

    If Measure B was a good reason to suspend work, the state was the party which could make that decision. Hell, at least get a legal opinion on the matter before making a decision. Did you all consult with Jon Seitz or Bruce Buel on the issue of stopping (er ... suspending) work based on Measure B before taking action?

    I've agued for some time now (both here and in Ann's blog) that had you all wanted to play your "Measure B" card most effectively you should have sent the state a message that says "we believe that Measure B requires us to stop work ... please advise" along with "and if you don't tell us to stop until the matter is resolved in the courts we believe the proponants of Measure B will sue to stop construction and we'll seek counsel on whether we're obligated to join that suit."

    The state would likely have continued to fork over funds and construction on the collection system could have continued along a change in the nature of the work at TriW. Essentially the work that would have been performed would have been nearly exactly like what you guys agreed to during the "negotiations". Had the proponants of Measure B lost the first round, a judge would likely have ordered a stop in the TriW constuction until the appeal was concluded. Essentially you could have painted Al and Julie Biggs as the bad guys and let them do the dirty work. If Measure B legal merit worth stopping construction for, it could have worked.

    Again, you suggest that the high cost of the monthly sewer bill is an issue. If that is the case, why did you all make a decision which has a high chance of raising the ultimate cost before considering the issue. Seems very unwise to me. Suppose you are driving to a new town where you've never been before, don't you look at a map before you go to determine which way might be best? Frankly I don't care if you can't have any more pizza. I care that people I know and care about will have to move out of town because they cannot afford to live here at all. The County project that we passed on when the CSD was formed would have come in about $100/month and TriW, had it not been stalled and delayed would have come in about $150/month. With the delay it was to be about $200/month. Now with the project stopped for a year, the best we can do is about $250/month with the County (look at Richard's cost analysis).

    Lemmie ask you a personal question. Was it worth it? Your public involvement, dating back to running for the board the first time and your CCLO days seems to have been all about stopping the TriW project and it does appear that now we'll have to pay a lot more, maybe a whole lot more, than had you never been involved. For some time now (since 2001 at least) this has been about a trade-off between money and location and each passing month has raised the stakes in this poker game.

    Again, the $24M in savings. We already discussed that and determined that if there was any delay to speak of (and four years seems pretty optimistic considering the out-of-town locations are outside the LOCSD boundaries) it will actually cost more.

    Furthermore, I recall in Lisa's meeting where she spend an hour on a powerpoint where she told us how great the negotions results were and how evil the SWRCB was for not signing on ... she said that continuing work on the gravity collection system was likely cheaper than switching to STEP. Essentially she admitted that the most expensive part of the project couldn't be done more cheaply. (Note: later Ripley says it can be done considerably less expensively but I gather from talking with folks who install and replace septic systems that the Ripley numbers are ... um ... a bit unrealistic.) Also, in terms of "sustainability", the figures Lisa trotted out for us showed essentially a $10/month savings with out-of-town. Even if energy costs go up 200%, the savings would still only be $30/month. Hardly a wise idea if out-of-town is going to cost $70/month more.

    While I don't relish another lawsuit, I would suggest that if Willdan shipped us their worst employee and if we acted on his advice, advice that would not be considered "standard" for the industry, they are liable. BWS has settled a malpractice suit themselves for advice they gave another community government which later appeared to have caused problems. In business these days a firm such as willdan or BWS has malpractice insurance. If we're out some $15M because of Dan's advice (not that we can pin a number to it that easily, but let's just suppose this one for fun) we can recover some money from Willdan. If our goal is keeping the CSD afloat, wouldn't taking such actions which are likely going to get money coming into the CSD instead of moving out of the CSD be a wise choice?

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 10:13 PM, September 17, 2006  

  • Hi Sharkinlet and Julie,

    Just wanted to add to this blog.

    The reality of the current situation of the CSD is that its' very survival is the issue. I have no doubt that unless the CSD finds a new, substantial revenue source, that the CSD will not exist one year from today. I say this because if you review the 2006-2007 CSD budget, a single new large liability (such as having to repay the $2,900,000 to assessment bond prepayees)will result in the collaspe of the CSD.

    I whole-heartedly agree with Sharkinlet that the CSD board must review the performance of Wildan and BWS: and determine if these firms provide the CSD with advice that harmed the CSD. A malpractice lawsuit against these firms could result in millions of dollars that could offset that liabilities of the CSD; and insure its' survivial. There are respectable lawfirms that would prosecute such a lawsuit on behalf of the CSD (read at no initial cost) for a percentage take of the judgement / settlement (usually 30%).

    Regards, Richard LeGros

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:23 AM, September 18, 2006  

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