Monday, September 22, 2008

My Open Letter to Tribune Executive Editor, Sandra Duerr

Hello Mrs. Duerr,

I have a couple of quick questions involving your extensive coverage of a recent story, and your non-existent coverage of a similar local story.

Your paper recently published a series of reports involving the SLO Blues baseball team owner, and how he fell behind on the payments he owed to the city of SLO for the use of the city's facilities.

However, at the same time that story was on-going, a similar, seemingly much more important story, was also taking place. That story involves (present tense) a "citizens group" out of Los Osos -- Taxpayers Watch -- which has also fallen behind on the payments that they owe (present tense) to another local government agency, LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission).

I originally covered that story at this link:

Here's what I find interesting about the Tribune's handling of these two stories: The SLO Blues baseball team owner story involved, primarily, a roughly $11,000 debt over the lease of a city-owned baseball facility by a single individual that is NOT a "group" of recalled elected officials, yet, the Taxpayers Watch story involves (present tense) roughly $9,000 that they are late paying LAFCO to cover the "entire cost" of Taxpayers Watch's attempt to "dissolve" the entire Los Osos Community Services District in 2006, an attempt that was spearheaded by the three former LOCSD Directors that were recalled from office in 2005. In short, Taxpayers Watch attempted to dissolve the very government agency that they were recently, and democratically, recalled from.

That dissolution attempt, according to LAFCO staff, spanned "four hearings over nine months," and, in the end, LAFCO determined the maneuver to be so frivolous that they charged Taxpayers Watch the "entire cost" of the proceedings, over $40,000, and, when Taxpayers Watch balked at the cost, LAFCO was forced to sue them, in Superior Court, to recover their money. It was only after that lawsuit was filed, did Taxpayers Watch settle it by signing something called a "Stipulation for Entry of Judgement" that stated, among many other very interesting things, "In no event will the balance (that Taxpayers Watch owes LAFCO) be paid later than June 30, 2008?"

However, Taxpayers Watch was forced to request a payment extension in June, and on July 31, LAFCO granted it.

So, here are my questions:

Please explain to me why your newspaper considered the SLO Blues baseball team owner a story worthy of a series of reports, yet, the Tribune has yet to write one sentence on the Taxpayers Watch story -- a story that involves a local "citizens group" of recalled elected officials, that is overdue paying a $40,000 bill owed to a local government agency?

Why did the Tribune cover one of those stories extensively (a story that involved money owed to a local government agency by an individual for the use of a baseball facility), yet, the other (a story that involves [present tense] money owed to a local government agency for the attempted dissolution of the Los Osos Community Services District by recalled LOCSD Directors), you haven't covered at all?

How do you respond to those questions?

(By the way, IF Taxpayers Watch had succeeded in dissolving the LOCSD in 2006, up to $80 million worth of Los Osos' "liabilities" would have been transferred to county taxpayers, according to LAFCO documents.)

Thank you, and I'm looking forward to your timely response,

P.S. If you do a quick Google search for 'los osos sewer', out of the nearly 13,000 results, SewerWatch is #1, and I have published this letter on SewerWatch. You can view it here:

Thanks again.



  • "In no event will the balance (that Taxpayers Watch owes LAFCO) be paid later than June 30, 2008?"
    "In no event" I wonder what exactly that means. I guess not the way I interpret it.

    By Blogger M, at 4:40 PM, September 22, 2008  

  • Lemmie ask some interesting questions, Ron ... if the LOCSD has $80M in liabilities ... how did these liabilities get there? Who is owed and how much? Who is to blame? Are these liabilities "real" or will many be settled for less?

    I think the answer to these questions would be interesting.

    Oh ... one more thing ... in this game one is not allowed to blame Richard and Stan without at the same time blaming Julie and John. The reason is simple ... both the pre and post recall boards had choices. For example, the pre-recall board chose to enter into contracts with the contractors and the post-recall board chose to stop those contracts. Even if would have been wisest to have the recall vote before the start of construction ... the post recall board was dealt a hand and they played it poorly ... to a tune of $80M in the hole.

    Perhaps it ought to be advocates of the recall who ought to pay the $80M. That would be fair. Ron, have you written your check for $16000 to the LOCSD yet?

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 4:43 PM, September 22, 2008  

  • On a related issue, I wonder about the amount CCLO owes their former law firm. Is CCLO even making payments on their debt?

    Lastly, I've really gotta wonder about those who would complain about $40k owed to the County (less than $0.25 for each County resident) but who don't seem to mind $80M owed by the LOCSD (more than $5000 per Los Osos resident). Doesn't it seem a bit out of whack?

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 4:48 PM, September 22, 2008  

  • Na-na-na-na-na-na ....

    Get real Ron!

    > Why did the Tribune cover one of those stories extensively, yet ... the other, you haven't covered at all?

    Dude! One story is about baseball! And the other is about a sewer?

    Next ......

    By Blogger *PG-13, at 1:16 PM, September 23, 2008  

  • Kudos Ron "The Man" Crawford!

    Holding Mrs. Duerr's feet to the fire is tough, hard and dirty work.

    I too will look forward to reading "the response".
    Even though I scuba, I won't be holding my breath;-)

    Way to go! You have made the record.

    By Blogger Watershed Mark, at 3:54 PM, September 23, 2008  

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