The Razor

The Razor is now online along with the archived content from Ochs Nation.

Here are some changes that have been made:

  • Readers can either register a new account and contribute regularly to earn status as a Contributor or post anonymously, but you must provide a name and an e-mail address.
  • Ed Ochs will also contribute to the blog as a co-administrator.
  • The Razor is now part of The ROCK and its site. Discussions will be monitored and elements pertaining to that discussion can be incorporated (with permission from the comment author) into an article on the main site.
  • Readers can now send tips and comments without having to be publicized as comments. E-mail us at if you have something to say.

I hope you enjoy the site as we will continue to expand it.

Change is Coming

I’m going to be switching things up over the weekend.

I am moving my blog off the Blogger servers and there will be a name change. The new blog should live by sometime next week.

The content from this blog will be transferred over to the new site. Those who posted comments using Blogger accounts will be able to register a new account on the site. Anonymous can still post anonymously.

Shamelessly Irresponsible

EDIT (4:52 PM PST): Today, Bob Cuddy wrote an article on news that’s not exactly breaking. It’s not the article that amuses me (But the “Los Osso” typo? Well done, Cuddy!) so much as the comments made by the anonymous. If any of them want to elaborate on their — in my opinion — wacky statements, they are more than welcome to on the blog or if they want to speak to be privately, they are more than welcome to send me an e-mail.

Last Monday, I checked the SLO County Web site at the section that stored all the Los Osos project updates and documents. For the entire day, I checked and there was no report from County Counsel regarding the formal complaint filed by former CSD board member Lisa Schicker. The complaint was sent to the County more than a month ago.

County Counsel Warren Jensen has already verbally denied the allegations in a series of e-mails to Schicker. Only a week into reviewing the complaint, weeks before Jensen said the report was going to be due, Supervisor Bruce Gibson had already decried it.

Supporters of the County has hailed the leaders of the process as moral arbiters without taking into consideration the lack of consistency between the County’s words and actions.

There are a few strains of arguments provided by the County — none of them seem to be thoughtful or give benefit of the doubt.

1. Backdating contracts happen all the time. Who cares?
When a former interim GM for the Los Osos Community Services District, an unauthorized, temporary employee, orders Buel to backdate a 1999 contract with a contractor that’s now on the short-list for both collection and treatment 10 years later, that is where reasonable suspicion is raised. When the District Attorney‘s Office of San Luis Obispo stated that the backdating was a felony, that’s when the whole “Who cares?” tone is completely thrown out the window, especially when the contracts were illegally signed by Bruce Buel. First there was the motive and then the commitment to act on that motive, which makes the case against Mr. Ogren more plausible.

The act of backdating contracts, in this case, is in violation of California Penal Code § 424 and Government Code § 6200 (falsifying public records) as cited in the May 8, 2006 letter to Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve Brown.

2. Investigating the complaint is unnecessary because it unfairly utilizes dwindling County resources. Therefore, it’s counterproductive to the process.
Last month, County Counsel Warren Jensen stated that he would fulfill his obligation as counsel to investigate the complaint and release the findings in a timely manner. The investigation was part of a legitimate process and the complaint is highly relevant to the process. Montgomery Watson Harza, which is now once again in the spotlight, has been deeply involved throughout the history of the Los Osos wastewater project.

Not only does this not hurt the process, it strengthens the process and encourages the County to look at all the bidders that are new to the Los Osos playing field. Granted, the County addressed MWH’s qualifications in light of the accusations brought forth in the formal complaint, but the problem is that MWH has dominated the conversation. What ever happened to the competition? Why should they compete with a contractor who has — for at least five years — had such deep involvement with the town and its politics?

It is crucial to utilize County resources in order to ensure fairness of competition.

3. Lisa Schicker has a clear agenda to delay and undermine the process. She is merely trying to compensate for her shortcomings when she was on the LOCSD.
As part of her fiduciary duty and legal obligation to district taxpayers she served as an elected official (by an overwhelming majority), Lisa Schicker first reported the incident(s) to law enforcement almost a year before the recall. Following the recall and before the bankruptcy, a resolution was passed for the board to send information regarding the backdated contracts to the Attorney General and the District Attorney in 2006.

Due to MWH appearing prominently on the short-list combined with the contractor’s pending litigation with the district — which, only if settled, would qualify them for the RFP — there was a clear incentive to file a formal complaint. Prior to the formal complaint, the County did not investigate the matter. Maybe not in the court of law, but for speculative purposes, one could argue that the County had knowledge of such information, since analyzing the past wastewater projects was part of the process. For the County not to pick up on this abnormality attests to their level of competence… or complicity.

There is foul play afoot here — and perhaps a grand jury investigation would uncover more information than the County’s own less than objective, internal review of themselves.

Ron Crawford

Some of the readers of the blog have been critical of the way I isolate people. While a good deal of that criticism is valid, I think people in Los Osos are not used to being in the hot seat — at least, not in the form of blog entries. At the same time, the people I talk about appeal to larger issues. People look at a lot of my work and think, “Uh oh! Character assassination!” but the larger issue has mostly been about accountability.

Some have read the comments over at Calhoun’s Cannon regarding Ron Crawford.

The conversation keeps on turning because there are a few supporters of this guy who think I’m totally off the map when I claimed he was implying plagiarism in an e-mail he sent to the publication.

The discussion ultimately turned into how I misinterpreted the e-mail instead of why Mr. Crawford felt the need to cite quotes from our article and refer to himself as the original source of that information.

Ms. Calhoun wrote on her blog comments today, “That makes me wonder if it was you who hadn’t thoroughly analyzed Ron’s email and/or didn’t analyze the nonexistence of ‘plagiarize’ in Ron’s original email, or even thoroughly analyze the word plagiarism in the first place?”

I’ve already made my case. The questions were already answered even before she asked them.

It was clear to me — in his initial correspondance with us — that this “journalist” has been trying so desperately to convey the message that he is the sole source for all things regarding the Los Osos wastewater project. He’s been beating his chest like this for several years especially on Calhoun’s Cannon.

Mr. Crawford’s actions are a slap in the face to the whole premise of journalism.

Many reputable news sources use news wire services such as Associated Press and Reuters to cover the basic facts of the news story, but the beauty of journalism is the analysis and research that is based on the facts presented by others, but none of these news wire services feel the obligation to take ownership of the news they deliver to the masses.

There is no such thing as taking ownership of subject matter. Not understanding reality, which is that information — but not analysis — is public domain, Mr. Crawford stands firmly behind his delusions of grandeur.

Mr. Crawford often refers to his efforts as a means that could save Los Osos “millions upon millions of dollars.” On Sunday, June 7th, Mr. Crawford wrote on his blog, “Assemblyman Blakeslee’s office did not pursue my ‘clearly intriguing question,’ that could potentially save the community of Los Osos millions upon millions of dollars.”

He later writes on Calhoun’s Cannon on June 10th, “I’ve got REAL journalism to do… you know… like saving Los Osos millions upon millions of dollars.”

How is that journalism? Don’t say you’re going to do something. Just do it and leave the self-righteous bravado at the doorstep. Journalists don’t brag about how pertinent their articles will be. Just focus on the facts. Mr. Crawford can’t seem to do that.

Like me, Mr. Crawford runs a blog. Blogs aren’t the most persuasive sources of information out there because it’s mostly opinion and subjective analysis. Members of the Board of Supervisors called the blogs a source of “wild speculation.”

Mr. Crawford, it’s a little silly to market yourself as the journalist who will save the town when all you have is a blog and a comprehension of events in Los Osos that occurred up to 2005. You still believe we’re in 2005. Fast forward your TiVo to 2009 and then you’ll be up to speed.

Come on Ron, get with the program.

Kumbaya, My CSD…

I briefly attended the LOCSD Saturday morning meeting at their office.

The newly added strategic planner gave a presentation that one would see at a hostile work environment when the boss feels compelled to bring in a motivational speaker to boost workplace morale. Recruiting this strategic planner and having him talk about members of the board getting along on the taxpayers’ dime is a clear indication that our current leaders are unable to reach a consensus about anything.

Director Maria Kelly talked about the necessity to improve dialogue from different standpoints. Steve Senet talked about building a “culture of communication” with new members of the CSD. Therein lies the problem.

It’s not right to have conflict resolution pow-wow meetings that we’re ultimately paying for, especially when disagreements on a district board are being used as a scapegoat for problems that people personally have with their individual ambitions and conflicting agendas — or what amounts to personal opinion.

When Maria Kelly goes up to the podium at a BOS and PC meeting and says something like, “I won because I supported the County process, deal with it,” that’s not a problem with members of the district. That’s a problem being created outside the district’s administrative jurisdiction. That’s someone with a political agenda injected into the district’s business and conflict is the inevitable by-product of that intrusion. Several weeks later, Director Kelly starts pushing for Kumbaya-style strategic planning and conflict resolution. I find that to be ironic for obvious reasons. Start with hypocrisy.

Let’s stay on track for solvency and leave pyschology or psychiatry outside the CSD. We can’t waste any more money on silliness… when looking in the mirror is a lot cheaper.

The Talented Mr. Garfinkel Strikes Again

I was watching the Board of Supervisors meeting, enjoying the comments made during public comment until former TAC chairman Bill Garfinkel showed up. Here’s some of what he had to say today:

To follow the speech, cue the meeting of the video at 263:13.

I’m representing the majority of the residents of the community of Los Osos who do not come to your meetings because they are either working or uncomfortable to be here or just tired of the unending process of trying to get a sewer built for Los Osos.

Many feel intimidated by the confrontational attitude of the few dozen people who claim expertise and attend most of your meetings with their same protests that have delayed this process for far too long.

Although they claim to speak for Los Osos and to be working for our best interest, they are not. They told the community to deny the County 218 vote but we voted overwhelmingly in favor. They came before you and said that we were intimidated by the RWQCB. They appealed to the community to elect CSD directors who would continue to fight the county process. We voted overwhelmingly to deny their appeals and change the direction of our CSD board.

They campaigned heavily to the community to fill out their surveys and support their solutions of the wastewater project when we overwhelmingly rejected their solutions, asked for a gravity collection system and showed our support for the preferred EIR project, they came before you and said that the survey was biased.

Bill Garfinkel was not elected to be a representative. He was appointed by the County to be a member of the Los Osos Technical Advisory Committee. The purpose of TAC was, according to the TAC’s bylaws, “… to assist in the development of a Pro/Con analysis of Project alternatives, receive public input, and make recommendations to the Board on that Pro/Con analysis.” The purpose of TAC was not to appoint community representatives, but to accept people who filed applications as part of an open application filing process.

Garfinkel did issue a viewpoint in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, which was also signed by 82 other concerned members of the Los Osos community who support his position. The problem is that he’s accounting for 82 people out of 8,167 property owners and renters inside and outside the Prohibition Zone. That comes to roughly 0.01% of the community he represents. I would imagine that if there were more community members on his side, he would have gotten more signatures on his viewpoints.

Garfinkel goes on to complain about how people are delaying the process through protest. I took that as a statement supporting oppression.

The fact of the matter is that these “protests” of sorts have been limited by time. However, on the first Tuesday of every month, the County Board of Supervisors has allowed public comment for the maximum of three minutes per speaker and they still manage to vote on staff recommendations and approve the monthly project update without hindrances — hindrances like pending litigation, 1960s Civil Rights-era sit-in protests, fist fights, death threats, etc. For every Tuesday other than the monthly update, members of the public are allowed to comment on the Los Osos wastewater project for a total of 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the evening, which is allowed under Section III.B in the Rules of Procedure. So far, there have not been any delays of the County process. The only protests have been protests that fit perfectly within the confines of the law and common decency.

None of the “few dozen” speakers that Garfinkel talked about have claimed to speak for Los Osos. None of the speakers from Los Osos have declared that they are representatives for anyone other than themselves, their friends and family. All of the speakers have made it abundantly clear that they are fighting for what they think serves the best interests of the community. Some of the former and present CSD speakers — while their accomplishments are hotly debated — were elected by a majority vote.

On September 27, 2005, Chuck Cesena, John Fouche and Steve Senet were elected by more than 50% of the community. To be exact, the average voter turnout in favor of the three CSD directors was 51.1%. While that is not a mandate, the vote was certified by a majority of voters. Meanwhile, on November 2, 2004, Lisa Schicker and Julie Tacker were elected with an average voter turnout of 37.8%, which was still a considerable turnout compared to the voter turnout of Maria Kelly and Marshall Ochylski on November 4, 2008, which came out to an average of 30.6%. There was no indication of any landslide or vote of confidence by the majority. No, Mr. Garfinkel, you are quite wrong there.

On November 5, 2002, Stan Gustafson, Gordon Hensley and Richard LeGros won with 20% of the total amount of voters. The average voter turnout for those three was 19.3%, which was the lowest turnout in history for LOCSD directors. It appears that Garfinkel is in step with those CSD directors. Mr. Garfinkel, there’s no overwhelming majority there. Keep looking!

Without addressing the legality of the recent 218 assessment vote, the majority that did vote (not everyone in the community did by a long shot) voted to be assessed for a sewer, not because they were in support of the County’s process or the County’s handling of the process. Everyone had their own reasons for voting yes, but that vote was also not a vote of confidence in the County. The community (CORRECTION: those who voted for the 218) voted overwhelmingly for a sewer.

And finally, 34% completed the survey, 66% of the community didn’t. The majority of that 34% overwhelmingly supported gravity collection, but the community did not. The survey, even by the majority of the BOS’ own admission on April 7th, was considered to be biased, but they concluded that the results surpassed any concerns about the survey being biased.

So Mr. Garfinkel, as it turns out, you were wrong about pretty much everything except for your name. Yes, you really are Bill Garfinkel (and not Garfield), but no sir, you don’t represent me. You don’t represent my family. You don’t represent my friends or my neighbors. You don’t represent the Prohibition Zone or the district. If you were an elected representative of the community, chances are you would have already been recalled and laughed out of town. You already got me in stitches since you became chairman of the TAC.

While I have no doubt that you’re great at manufacturing machine controls, Mr. Garfinkel, I think the only machine you haven’t managed to control is your brain.

Since you didn’t reply to my last blog article about you, I would like to take the opportunity to let you know that the offer still stands. You know where I am. I would love a rebuttal. I would be glad to post it, but if you can’t (or won’t), then you wouldn’t mind me calling you the village idiot, right?