Monday, May 04, 2009

"The Morph Lie" -- A 9-year-and-counting Cover-Up

[Note: Local radio talk show host, Dave Congalton, recently invited Los Osos residents Linde Owen, and Piper Reilly on his show to discuss the Los Osos sewer situation. The following e-mail is in response to that show.]

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Hello Dave,

After listening to your show yesterday... wanna hear something very interesting? (And, if anyone's going to "get" this, it's you, due to your long history with the story -- an essential ingredient for understanding Los Osos.)

I can show, using nothing but excellent, primary sources, how the entire town of Los Osos is the victim of a cover-up.

This story is so awesome, and I'm the only one that touches it.

Here's the cover-up (and, Dave, I know that you know these details... so, you are going to see this):

Remember the mid-town ponding system that was the basis for forming the LOCSD in the first place, in 1998?

That project failed in late 2000. (In fact, the collapse of that project was the focus of my FIRST New Times cover story on this subject, in July 2000, when Steve Moss was running things, as he was when he published my SECOND New Times cover story on this subject, in 2004.)

Ever since that "better, cheaper, faster" project failed -- in late 2000 -- the people behind that project have done everything and anything in their power, including lying, as elected officials (documented), to the California Coastal Commission, to cover-up the fact that their project failed in 2000.

Think about it, Dave. It makes perfect sense.

That failed "better, cheaper, faster" project was solely responsible for forming the LOCSD in the first place, in 1998, AND it was solely responsible for tanking the County's then-"ready-to-go" project.

I don't know if you remember that, but the county had a sewer project "ready to go" in 1998, estimated at HALF the cost of today's project. THAT project was dumped in the trash in early 1999 by the newly formed LOCSD Board, in favor of their "better, cheaper, faster" project, and then THAT project failed in late 2000.

In other words, the LOCSD was formed for no reason whatsoever, AND it caused the demise of a "ready to go" sewer project. (As I've also first reported, two other attempts to form a CSD in Los Osos failed in the 90s. It wasn't until "better, cheaper, faster" came along, did it pass.)

Often, I'll hear the word "morphed" to describe what happened between the failed "better, cheaper, faster" project, and the SECOND project the LOCSD proposed at the Tri-W site. (On your show last night, Linde Owen even used the "morphed" word to describe that transition) but the use of that word to describe that transition is completely inaccurate.

In fact, that word -- "morphed" -- originates from the 2001 - 2005 LOCSD, and it's actually part of their strategy, and it's an extremely important component of their cover-up.

They tried to make it seem like the "better, cheaper, faster" project that was solely responsible for forming the LOCSD in the first place, AND responsible for the trashing of the County's project, was STILL in play after it failed -- that it had just "morphed" into the second Tri-W project, through some "design changes."

But that's not what happened at all.

The "better, cheaper, faster" project failed outright, and their second project was a COMPLETELY different project, almost to the point of the exact opposite of the plan that formed the LOCSD, and the ONLY way they were able to retain the second project at the Tri-W site, in an effort to make it appear that their first project was still on the table, was to lie to the County of SLO AND to the Coastal Commission.

There was ZERO "morphing." There was no REAL reason whatsoever why the SECOND sewer plant had to stay at the Tri-W site.

I can show all of this, documented.

I've actually coined a phrase for the 2001 - 2005 LOCSD Board's strategy there: I call it, "the morph lie," and that strategy worked (well, until I caught onto it with my second New Times cover story, then it stopped working, as you can imagine).

If you're interested in reading-up on this subject (and I highly recommend it), I recently published a blog piece at this link:

At the top of that post, you'll see a Viewpoint I wrote that was published in the Sun Bulletin, below the Viewpoint, I actually answer the extremely interesting question that I pose in my piece, where I lay-out, air-tight-ly, my case for cover-up.

Dynamite stuff.

It's WHY Los Osos is "a mess."

Interestingly, Dan Blackburn's recent story about the backdated MWH contracts? The cover-up is WHY they did/do stuff like that.

Think it through... like I said, it makes perfect sense. (FINALLY, something makes sense on why there's such a mess in Los Osos)

So, to recap, I can show, using nothing but excellent, primary sources, how the town of Los Osos (and, by extension, the people of SLO County and California) is nothing more than the victim of a cover-up -- a deliberate 9-year-and-counting effort to cover-up the fact that the "better, cheaper, faster" project that formed the LOCSD and caused the demise of the County's project (at a cost of $6 million to COUNTY taxpayers), had failed in 2000.

No doubt about it.

Actually, there's nothing left to explain why the second project ALSO had to be built in the middle of Los Osos, other than to cover-up the fact that the first project had failed.

If you have ANY questions whatsoever on this, trust me, I can answer them, using nothing but primary sources.

Anyhoot, thought you might find all of this as interesting as I do.

It certainly does clear up why there's such a train wreck in Los Osos, huh?


P.S. King Harris was the editor at New Times when they published my second cover story. If you want to hear something else interesting, ask him about that story's impact.

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Now, I want to do something that, shockingly, has never been done before... anywhere!

Here's what I'm going to do (and this will blow your mind, because you're going to see the cover-up in 2-seconds)... I'm going to take the graphic of the Solution Group/early LOCSD's "better, cheaper, faster" site plan from 1998 - 2000, a project that required "50 to 70 acres," was solely responsible for forming the LOCSD in the first place, AND tanking the county's "ready to go" project, and then I'm going to take the LOCSD's second Tri-W project, a project that required "5 - 7 acres" that was designed by the engineering firm, Montgomery, Watson, Harza, and I'm going to overlay the MWH project on top of the Solution Group/initial LOCSD's project... strap yourself in:

Here's the Solution Group/initial LOCSD's "better, cheaper, faster" ponding project site plan from 1998 - 2000:

Here's (one of) the Montgomery, Watson, Harza site plan(s) from 2000 - 2005:

Now, check this out -- an amazing SewerWatch exclusive -- here's the MWH "5 -7 acres" site plan (lower right corner) on top of the Solution Group/initial LOCSD's "better, cheaper, faster" ponding project "50 -70 acres" site plan:

THAT's what the Solution Group/1998 - 2005 LOCSD Board wants you to believe is a "morph"... to this day, they STILL have to call that a "morph," just a couple of simple "design changes," because once someone is locked into a cover-up, they have to commit to it. That's the nature of a cover-up.

Like I wrote to Congalton, "no doubt about it" -- there was absolutely no reason whatsoever why the second project -- a near-exact opposite of the first project -- had to ALSO be built in the middle of town... OTHER than to cover-up the fact that the first project had failed.

All of a sudden, things like why there's a civics train wreck in Los Osos, and why there are backdated contracts, and the recalled Directors' scorched earth policy of "fining out of existence," and attempting to dissolve the LOCSD, and personally suing individual post-recall Board members... start making perfect sense, for a change.

The people of Los Osos, SLO County, and California are merely the victims of a 9-year-and-counting cover-up by, well, to be frank, the Solution Group.



  • I like the graphic of the 5 acre sewer overlayed onto the 50 acre sewer.

    The story is how can anyone give an ounce of credibility to the residents of Los Osos? Look at the graphics. They voted overwhelmingly to dump the County's edge of town sewer and build the 50 acre in-town sewer. Then that sewer became a 5 acre sewer that would be contained within a building and they voted against that sewer.

    If I could, I would run a savvy marketing campaign that would put the sewer in Palm Springs just to show how easy it is to sway the people. They vote for anything.

    The graphic reveals that the residents of Los Osos are nuts!

    Please submit the graphic to the TV news and newsprint.

    The town could change it's name to Sewer Acres (spin off of Green Acres, TV program of a zany town).

    By Blogger Commentary, at 8:56 PM, May 17, 2009  

  • Funny comment, Commentary.

    However, in defense of the people of Los Osos, they WERE told, over and over and over again, through an aggressive marketing campaign by Solution Group marketing director, Pandora Nash-Karner, that the 50-70 acre ponding system in the middle of town was going to be "better, cheaper, faster" than the county's project, and that it wasn't going to smell, and that it was going to be "drop-dead gorgeous," AND that it would only cost a "maximum monthly payment of $38.75/month."

    Of course, at the same time they were being sold that bill of goods, the people of Los Osos were also being told by just about every regulator, that Nash-Karner's "better, cheaper, faster" project was never going to work, and, it never worked... but not until she, as LOCSD vice-president (and Montgomery, Watson as "project manager"), wasted two years (two years, I said) chasing it, and Roger Briggs at the RWQCB, inexplicably, allowed her to waste those two precious years.

    Where the people of Los Osos blew it, is they, like many-a-regulator over the years, f-d up and trusted Nash-Karner in 1998, and voted to form the LOCSD so she would have the opportunity to chase her "better, cheaper, faster" project.

    GINORMOUS mistake!

    Of course, after "better, cheaper, faster" failed in late 2000, she then had to launch into full-on cover-up mode, and lied (including her "morphed" lie) to everyone (and I mean everyone) in an effort to keep her second failed project (also designed by MWH) at the same location as her first, when, in reality, there was absolutely no reason whatsoever to keep her second project in the middle of town... other than to cover up the fact that her first project had failed.

    Extraordinary story. And now, of course, the people of California are the victims of that cover-up, but the Attorney General's office (Jerry Brown) doesn't care about the people of California, and, instead, is defending all of those state agencies that f-d up and trusted Nash-Karner over the years.

    As I recently posted over on Ann Calhoun's blog:

    Here's the link to the AG web site: where it reads:

    "The Attorney General represents the people of California in civil and criminal matters before trial courts, appellate courts and the supreme courts of California and the United States. The Attorney General also serves as legal counsel to state officers and, with few exceptions, to state agencies, boards and commissions."

    Those "state officers... state agencies, boards and commissions" utterly failed Los Osos by never verifying the ONLY reason to build a wildly unpopular "sewer-park" in the middle of town -- a reason that never existed -- and now, instead of representing the people of California, the AG's office is forced to serves as the lazy "state officers... state agencies, boards and commissions" legal counsel.

    Such bullshit.

    Commentary wrote:

    "Please submit the graphic to the TV news and newsprint."

    Isn't that graphic great? And that's the first time it's ever been shown like that.

    But, trust me, Nash-Karner's close friends at the Trib wouldn't know what to do with it.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:06 AM, May 18, 2009  

  • And the Tribune wonders why it can't sell newspapers.

    Anyways, I maintain that the town of Los Osos has to carry some responsibility. Yes, they believed the marketing for the 50 acre sewer-park. And they were swayed by the next Pandora, Julie Tacker. I sure wish you had followed that case; it was unbelievable and you are a skilled journalist who could have pulled it together (and b.t.w., skilled journalist can avoid the use of f word because they are skilled wordsmiths.) :)

    I'd like to see another graphic that would show the costs; like a chart: Cost to switch off County project (7 million?). Cost to switch off Sewer-in-a-Building (SIAB)($$).

    And I'd like to see the cost of the 5 acre (SIAB) overlayed on the graphic.

    I submit, if that graphic could be circulated showing the cost and if the cost is considerably less than the current flavor of sewer of the month, then people would vote for it. They really would.

    They are not victims. They are nuts!

    Maybe I could put together a Hedge Fund or something that would bet against Los Osos building a sewer; maybe that's how I can make millions off of the results of the towns' behavior (.. based marketing--somewhat a pun). They voted against the County's sewer, the first CSD voted against their own sewer project, the people voted against the next project (SIAB). Sell it Short! (New phrase like 'play it forward'). Ha!

    By Blogger Commentary, at 1:46 PM, May 18, 2009  

  • Commentary wrote:

    "Anyways, I maintain that the town of Los Osos has to carry some responsibility."

    Yes, they do. That is correct.

    "they were swayed by the next Pandora, Julie Tacker. I sure wish you had followed that case;"

    The reason I didn't follow that, is because I just don't see what the story is.

    Julie and Lisa (and later John, Chuck, and Steve) said if they were elected, they would stop the mid-town sewer plant. They got elected, and they stopped the mid-town sewer plant -- just what over 90-percent of PZ residents wanted, according to the recent county survey.

    I don't see how that's a story. They did exactly what they said they were going to do.

    Now, what would have been a story that I would have followed, is if they got elected, and DIDN'T stop the mid-town sewer plant, AFTER saying they would. THAT would have been an interesting story.

    Plus, contrary to what the Tri-W nut jobs would have people believe, the post-recall board DID have a plan.

    I have a DVD of an October 2005 LOCSD meeting -- just one month after the recall election -- and on it, Lisa Schicker is laying out, point by point, a detailed plan for a viable STEP/STEG project, and then they hired Ripley Engineering to pop out a report, which they did in a relative short time.

    The problem?

    There was no way in hell that the Tri-W nut jobs were going to let the people that beat them in a recall election, solve, in just a couple of months, the wastewater problem in Los Osos, after the Tri-W nut job boards wasted nearly seven years, and some $25 million botching one project after another.

    So, the Tri-W nut jobs, after they were booted from office, launched their scorched-earth policy of developing strategies to have the entire town fined out of existence, and wasting (even more) of everyone's time and money attempting to formally "dissolve" the LOCSD, and suing, personally, the people that beat them in an election -- all the while hiding behind their silly "groups," like Taxpayers Watch and SLO Coastkeeper, without ever revealing that they're just a bunch of bitter, recalled CSD Directors.

    Now, THOSE guys make for a HELL of a story. That's why I love 'em so much. Bless their tiny, bitter, scorched-earth little hearts.

    "They are not victims. They are nuts!"

    Maybe, but the people of California sure are victims of the Tri-W "bait and switchy" cover up. The amount of money that has cost this State over the past 9-years-and-counting? Aye-yai-freaking-yai!

    Too bad Jerry Brown doesn't care about us. If he does decide to run for Governor, I'll be sure to repeatedly report the fact that when it came down to the people of California vs. lazy state agencies, ol' Jer chose to defend the lazy state agencies.

    (Almost made it all the way through without using some version of the f word... almost ; - )

    By Blogger Ron, at 3:04 PM, May 18, 2009  

  • I think my comment was too long to fit here so I posted it on my blog:

    By Blogger Commentary, at 3:22 PM, May 19, 2009  

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