My previous article blossomed to about 40 comments. Most of the comments were between Sewertoons and I. I’m happy that there’s finally some discussion going on in the blog, but sometimes I wonder about being careful of what I wish for.
I remember attending one of the first PZLDF (Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund) meetings a few years back and it was a small group of people who happened to be people that received proposed CDOs (Cease and Desist orders) from the Regional Water Quality Control Board. At the time, there was a small cluster of CDO recipients who put some money in a jar to hire a lawyer to represent them and defend them from future enforcement. I thought that was reasonable. Start simple.
After a while, the name changed to Citizens for Clean Water and the executive director of the group was Gail McPherson. Oddly enough, she lives outside the Prohibition Zone. After that, the mission of PZLDF was clouded with mixed messages of water board compliance and fighting regulatory enforcement. When McPherson became part of the equation, the message was no longer simple and they no longer had any solid foundation to defend themselves.
Upon looking at PZLDF’s court filings in May 2008, I knew even then that they did not specify a suitable cause of action(s). Upon looking at their most recent filing of the Second Amended Petition for Writ of Mandate, I noticed that PZLDF attorney Shaunna Sullivan felt that it was more of a compelling case to analyze the issue and background information of what the petitioners went through instead of the rule challenging the issue. Moreover, the petition for writ of mandate did not make the intent of the filing clear. Instead, Sullivan petitioned for a long laundry list of causes of action that were not thoroughly touched upon in the text on prior pages.
It was not a surprise to discover that the San Luis Obispo Superior Court ruled (in a ruling filed on January 15, 2009) in the favor of the respondent as it sustained the RWQCB’s demurrer. It was even revealed that the challenge against the issuance of CDOs was “untimely” because the complaint was filed more than 180 days (the window of opportunity to file a CEQA complaint) from the issuance of the last CDO.
To not understand the criteria to file a proper challenge is shameful. To not take action within a reasonable amount of time shows a great deal of neglect. To base a part of the complaint on a resolution (Resolution R3-2008-0005) that has not yet been approved is catastrophically incompetent. The ignorance of such major issues outline — and to a greater extent symbolize — Gail McPherson and Shaunna Sullivan’s lack of understanding. The consistency of this lacking of understanding borders on the intent to deceive.
I’m disappointed by the string of disappointments that were crafted by McPherson. You can take an issue with her for her autocratic micromanaging tendencies, you can take an issue with her inciting divisiveness by personally slandering community members and leaders, but the biggest problem I have is that she keeps failing to meet the bare minimum for creating effective change in Los Osos. The inclusiveness of her initiatives (the coercion of having to unite behind the initiatives) starves other challenges that have a better probability of evolving if not succeeding outright.
The now cash-strapped CCW-PZLDF must make the decision to establish a professional creed that sets the standard for making concise, qualitative assessments of the Prohibition Zone homeowner’s rights. This creed cannot be established if Gail McPherson and her loyalists were to remain on PZLDF or as any significant role in the Los Osos wastewater project.