Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hey, Pre-Paid Los Osos Sewer Assessment Folks? How's THIS taste?

So, picture this: You're a responsible Los Osos property owner, and you've been squirreling away a little money here and there, month after month, over the past several years, in anticipation of a whopping sewer assessment comin' down the pipe, just so you could pay the entire tax at once, and save a bundle by not having to pay interest rates over the ensuing years.

Then, after years of diligent, financial squirreling-ness, where you now have, sitting in your bank account, the $25,000 that the County of SLO will be collecting, eventually, from ALL property owners in Los Osos (well, most of them), to pay for their Los Osos sewer project, and the County finally comes a-callin', and says something like, "Hey, if there's anyone in Los Osos that wants to pay their entire sewer assessment up front, now's the time," you get to say, "I'd be happy to. After all, I think my town badly needs a sewer system, and I'm glad I can immediately help clean our water, plus, I'll be saving a good chunk of money by paying up front, so, it's all good," and then you, proudly, hand the County a $25,000 check.

This blog post is specifically for the first six property owners to go that responsible, reasonable route... and, oh, is this great!

I'm going to track what happened with the very first six pre-paid sewer assessments that were collected by the County.

In case you missed it, SLO County Supervisors, yesterday, at their weekly Tuesday meeting, approved, among other things, two payments to local consultants, as part of their update on their Los Osos wastewater project.

The first payment was for $86,000 to "Rick Engineering," for "design of the mid-town site restoration" [note: that's just for the "design"... not the "restoration" itself.]

The second payment was another $60,000 for the Wallace Group, for "engineering consulting services."

According to the staff report for that item, to pay for those consultants, County officials, for the first time in their four years-and-counting sewer project development process, are using funds that were collected from the pre-paid sewer assessments, that I just detailed above, that totaled just over $2 million, or, a tiny fraction of the property owners in Los Osos.

Prior to collecting those assessments, the County's entire development process -- some $8 million worth -- was paid for using County coffers from places like "the roads fund."

For the purpose of this piece, I'm going to take that $86,000 payment, and that $60,000 payment, and just round it off at $150,000, or, six pre-paid, $25,000 sewer assessments... the FIRST SIX, right out of the gate, poof! Gone... just like that [snap!].

And, at yesterday's meeting, here's where County Supervisors unanimously voted to spend that years and years worth of diligent financial squirreling:

  • $86,000 to "design the mid-town site restoration" -- a "site restoration" to a site that, all things being equal, WOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN TOUCHED in the first place, had:

    1) The 2005 Los Osos CSD Board majority NOT deliberately set their own recall election date at one of the latest possible dates, when they had the opportunity to set that election date BEFORE they began ripping up the "mid-town site" in September of 2005, as I first exposed at this link:

    http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2006/09/californias-recall-elections-code.html

    ... and this amazing link:

    http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2010/07/los-osos-whos-your-quarter-million.html

    AND;

    2) Had former State Division of Financial Assistance official, Darrin Polhemus simply listened to me on the phone that day in August of 2005, when I originally called him just to get some question answered for a story, yet ended up explaining to him how he was about to make a gigantic mistake by releasing an illegal loan (according to his office's own policy) to the LOCSD, and then that illegal loan was going to be used to rip up the "mid-town" "Tri-W" site, as I first exposed at this link:

    http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2005/08/sewerwatch-challenges-funding-for-los.html

    HAD either of those tiny, easily accomplished, SIMPLE little things happened, the "mid-town site" wouldn't even need $86,000 worth of pre-paid sewer assessments to "restore," today.

    Almost unimaginably, this story gets worse.

    That second payment that Supervisors approved yesterday -- another $60,000 to the Wallace Group?

    The Wallace Group... wait for it... was the Los Osos CSD's "District Engineer" in 2005, when they ripped up the Tri-W site for no reason whatsoever, to begin with!

    In other words, the main reason the County has to spend that $86,000 to "design restoration" of the mid-town Tri-W site today, is because of the Wallace Group's disaster in 2005.

    You can't make this stuff up: In the EXACT same meeting where County Supervisors coughed up $86,000 worth of pre-paid assessments to "design the mid-town site restoration" (which they are actually forced to do by the California Coastal Commission, as part of the development permit) -- a "restoration" that should have NEVER been needed in the first place -- they also cough up another $60,000 to the exact same engineers that were, in HUGE part, responsible for the site being ripped up, for no reason whatsoever, in 2005! -- the Wallace Group.

    And, again, as with a lot of posts here at SewerWatch, here's where this entire mess goes flying off the rails, and into over-the-top-excellent-story-land, two things:

    1) Right now, today, the County has sitting on its desks, a 2005 insurance policy, that was arranged by the 2005 (pre-recall) Los Osos CSD officials, specifically FOR the "mid-town site restoration," that would pay for nearly $250,000 (or TEN pre-paid assessments) of the overall cost to "restore the mid-town site," but for reasons that are not clear, they are NOT going to use it, as I first exposed at this excellent link:

    http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2010/07/los-osos-whos-your-quarter-million.html

    And, of course, to top it all off...

    2) In the 2001 report that launched the Tri-W sewer project disaster in the first place, it reads:

    "We (the Los Osos CSD, and the engineering firm, Montgomery Watson Harza) thank Paavo Ogren and Rob Miller of John L. Wallace (Group)..."

    And, also of course, Paavo Ogren is now the Director of Public Works for SLO County, who keeps hiring his old friends at the Wallace Group, to clean up the mess they ALL got paid to make in Los Osos... years ago.

    Poof! Six pre-paid assessments. Gone, for that.

    Ann Calhoun calls the place, "Chinatown." I call it "Chinatown on Steroids."

    ###

  • 13 Comments:

    • Um Ron, that restoration should have been done during the time the Lisa board had the reins - we're lo-o-o-o-n-g past the expiration date on that one.

      Why don't you ask Julie why the Board didn't do it? Oh wait - she was busy trying to SELL Tri-W to Jeff Edwards! Well, until it came out she was "working" for him and Mrs. Biggs had to write a report about conflict of interest! Don't think you'll get an answer… but then, you are used to that.

      By Blogger Sewertoons, at 8:24 PM, April 27, 2011  

    • 'toons writes:

      "lo-o-o-o-n-g past the expiration date"

      For the CSD... but, as I showed to Warren Jensen, the County can now "elect to do the same" (use that policy to pay for the Tri-W restoration), and, in that insurance policy, there's NO expiration date whatsoever on the county's end.

      So, you and Pandora should really contact him and get him to use it, right? Instead of fighting its use, riiiight?

      Of course, using that insurance policy, that would save TEN complete pre-paid assessments, is basically an admission by the County that ripping up the Tri-W site just before a recall election was a complete disaster, so, in order to save face for their friends (i.e. Rob Miller, Paavo Ogren, Pandora, etc.), and the heavy equipment for Pandora's friends at Monterey Mechanical (that they foolishly used as collateral for that policy), the County's NOT going to cash it in, and, instead, completely waste TEN pre-paid assessments.

      Awesome!

      "Don't think you'll get an answer… but then, you are used to that."

      I'll be damned, you finally got something right ; -)

      By Blogger Ron, at 9:42 AM, April 28, 2011  

    • So Toons, is Ron right or wrong?
      Sincerely, M

      By Blogger M, at 1:16 PM, April 28, 2011  

    • Hello M,

      Monterey Mechanical would have had to willfully abandoned the work which was part of that bond agreement - in fact the only part of that agreement that would make Ron's idea work. It is very clear that Monterey Mechanical was FORCED to abandon the work after the LOCSD "suspended" and eventually terminated the Project. How could MM be forced to restore the site if they had not willfully abandoned the work to begin with?

      The LOCSD decision to kill the project made moot any idea that MM could be held responsible to enact the conditions of the bond.

      Ron has been so helpful in posting documents, maybe he could post this contract so that we could see it for ourselves.

      PS - I'd like Ron to provide a .wav file of his conversation with Jensen - just to be certain Jensen got the correct info from Ron to respond to!

      By Blogger Sewertoons, at 3:07 PM, April 28, 2011  

    • In case anyone is still following this, I will add a few words. I went to Bruce Gibson's Office Hours today and explained what Ron is supposing above. This insurance was attached to the grading permit for Tri-W (Gibson TOTALLY KNEW what I was talking about). He said that it was EXTREMELY unlikely, in fact, almost impossible, to tap that money because of the way the conditions were written.

      So Ron's supposition that the County is holding out on us, or that we could influence access to that money in any possible way- is pure - this being a family blog - used plant matter excreted from the nether end of a ruminant animal. Plop and steam!

      By Blogger Sewertoons, at 6:57 PM, April 28, 2011  

    • And of course Bruce Gibson has nothing but the communities best interest in mind. Ha.
      Sincerely, M

      By Blogger M, at 6:41 AM, April 29, 2011  

    • Chura writes:

      " That 3-2 vote was total scorched earth and a total gamble, with the community the one put at risk."

      And what's so damn interesting about that these days, is, like I show in my piece, for the FIRST TIME since that disastrous vote SIX years ago, Los Osos taxpayers, in the form of the pre-paid assessment-types, is just now starting to pay real, FAT cash for that 3-2 "F-you Los Osos" vote.

      Can you imagine?! Paying the County $25,000 -- your ENTIRE sewer assessment -- only to have the ENTIRE amount go to partially fixing that over-the-top disastrous 3-2 vote... six years ago.

      Wow. What an amazing, timely, local story. Think we'll see it in the Trib anytime soon, like we first saw it here, on SewerWatch?

      By Blogger Ron, at 10:43 AM, April 29, 2011  

    • 'toons writes:

      "(Gibson TOTALLY KNEW what I was talking about). He said that it was EXTREMELY unlikely, in fact, almost impossible, to tap that money because of the way the conditions were written"

      Uh, you might want to consider your source on that one. You DO realize that Gibson is FRIENDS with all of those people that don't want that insurance policy cashed, right?

      What a great take: "We MIGHT not save TEN pre-paid assessments, so we're not even going to try."

      Here's the funny thing with you and Gibson, and his friends on that policy... that would save nearly TEN complete pre-paid assessments: You guys argue against it like y'all are Monterey Mechanical's lawyers.

      Um, shouldn't we leave those made-up arguments to MM's lawyers?

      I mean, for god's sake. It was the COUNTY's idea to demand that policy in the first place in 2005, BECAUSE they KNEW ripping up Tri-W just a few days before the recall election was a stunningly stupid thing to do.

      The rationale on why the COUNTY demanded that policy played out perfectly! And now, they're looking for ways to weasel out of it, just to save face for their friends, at the expense of Los Osos taxpayers?

      Huh?

      You know what Gibson SHOULD be doing? DEMANDING that they immediately cash that bond, and then just sit back and see if Gibson's appointed Parks Commissioner's (Pandora's) friends at Monterey Mechanical do anything... after all, as I first exposed, if MM tries to stop that policy, and fails -- and it sure looks like they will -- they'd have to pay for Jensen's "lawyer fees," as well.

      If the County were to just simply cash the policy -- you know, just do it -- I'm as sure as can be that MM wouldn't say a word, because they'd have to pay ANOTHER fortune in lawyer fees, but the County's not even going to ATTEMPT it... because Gibson wants to save face for his friends, over saving money for Los Osos taxpayers.

      If I was a pre-paid assessment type, trust me, I'D be showing up at Gibson's office hours these days.

      Now, 'toons, you and your friends go and scrape up some more fake reasons on why the County can't use that policy, and I'll continue to fight for Los Osos taxpayers, while you and Gibson, and Paavo, and Pandora can continue to fight to save face.

      Weird.

      By Blogger Ron, at 10:46 AM, April 29, 2011  

    • Ron, you seem to think that your suggestions would be free. You assume that the County would win, so you are "sure" MM would have to pay Jensen's lawyer fees. You seen to be saying:

      1. MM would pay a fortune in lawyers fees to fight this.

      2. MM would not fight this, therefore spend no money in lawyer's fees.

      3. MM, but not the County would spend money on lawyer's fees.

      4. The County is trying to "weasel" out of something that if they had a snowball's chance of winning it, it would make them look like rock stars.

      5. There is some "saving of face" to be had for not going after the money.

      Talk about weird! Like Los Osos is even remotely interested in another loser lawsuit that WE GET TO PAY FOR! Don't forget, YOU were the one urging us in 2006 to send money to PZLDF!

      How about posting that contract that you seem so sure about so we can see how the conditions were written? Then why don't you call up all your Los Osos friends and get them out for the next office hours meeting to support your bizarre contentions? I'll report next month on how well that went.

      By Blogger Sewertoons, at 12:32 PM, April 29, 2011  

    • You've already read the bond agreement haven't you Sewertoons? That seem to be what you posted earlier. Or was that just some more of your rallying for MWH?
      Speaking of your side, wonder whatever happen to Mike? His silence is deafening.
      Sincerely,M

      By Blogger M, at 12:56 PM, April 29, 2011  

    • I do not rally for MWH, but rather for the principal to not condemn a person or entity based on newspaper articles. The Trib regularly gets blasted in the blogs, its article contents deemed biased tripe, but a newspaper article from some unknown newspaper from some other state is taken as gospel. That just shows ignorance and agenda.

      I might have read the bond agreement in the past, but have no copy myself. I know some things about it but a refresher course would be useful to the arguments here. Neither Ron nor I are attorneys, so we are just writing lay person's opinions. I'd like him to share the document though. Wouldn't you like to read it too, M?

      By Blogger Sewertoons, at 2:24 PM, April 29, 2011  

    • Ron, in my opinion, it's total folly to pay that $25,000 up front, given the County's "track record" of miserably FAILED PROJECTS. The "project" that comes to mind is the totally F----- up Santa Ysabel "street beautification" SCAM! If the County is so INCOMPETANT that they cannot even do a SIMPLE street project correctly, what makes Lynette & her Pals think the County is "experienced & knowledgable" enough to do a project a huge as the Los Osos sewer? Trust me on this, THEY (the County) WILL manage to screw it up! After all, the County SHOULD have REALIZED before they even started the Santa Ysabel project that the street is NOT WIDE enough for all those medians in the middle of the street. Hell, a fire truck can barely maneuver that street. I'm saving my 25 grand, it looks better in MY bank account than in the corrupt hands of Paavo & his cronies. Lynette is failing miserably as the SLO County/Gibson cheer leader.

      By Blogger hugh jass, at 7:43 PM, May 05, 2011  

    • The reason Monterey Mechanical is on the bond is due to the fact the CSD/Buehl could not obtain one due to their finances and the pending recall election.
      Monterey put pressure on their personal bonding Co, Safeco, to issue the bond. Monterey Mechanical had to pledge a hugh amount of heavy equipment toward the bond.
      Why doesnt the County present the Bond to Safeco and say pay up? Why the wont is the big stinker.

      By Blogger ososgrande, at 6:57 PM, May 28, 2011  

    Post a Comment

    << Home