STEP vs. SLO County: The Case for Product Disparagement

Corporations have been sued for product disparagement before, but the San Luis Obispo County government may be the first governing body to be held liable for such an act if they’re proven to be wrong about their facts in dismissing the STEP collection system.

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‘Torn Fabric’

During ex parte comments by commissioners at the June 11 Coastal Commission hearing in Marina del Rey — which resulted in a Coastal Development Permit unanimously granted to the Los Osos Wastewater Project — Commissioner Mary Shallenberger disclosed that the day before the hearing she had met with San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Gibson, County Counsels Jensen and McNulty, and County Public Works Director Ogren. She said in part:

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BREAKING NEWS: Coastal Commission Unanimously Approves LOWWP CDP

On Friday, the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved the currently proposed wastewater treatment facility for Los Osos and issued the Coastal Development Permit. After receiving comments from San Luis Obispo County staff and a handful of public speakers who raised objections to CCC staff recommendations, the Commission concluded their short de novo meeting by approving the CDP via an unanimous roll call vote.

Live-blogged developments after the jump.

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EXCLUSIVE: Tom Murphy Busted in Arizona

Apparently, Tom Murphy, self-described inventor of the quirky “Reclamator” home water-reuse device, has been busy inventing new professions for himself. At least one particular profession might force him to hire an attorney — a real one — to keep him out of mounting legal troubles. The sometimes volatile Murphy was arrested Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at his residence in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, for impersonating a public servant, according to Lake Havasu City Police Department Sgt. Joe Harrold.

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June 8, 2010 San Luis Obispo County Election Results

Click here to view the unofficial election results.

9:30 AM – The County-Clerk Recorder reports that Bruce Gibson is now keeping his seat as 2nd District Supervisor. With 100% of the precincts reporting, Gibson won 69.65% over Ochylski with 30.13%. This is a landslide victory.

June 9 (12:00 AM) – As I’ve reported on Razor Online, there has been a race for the County 2nd District representative seat between incumbent Bruce Gibson and Los Osos Community Services District President Marshall Ochylski. With just over 30% of the precincts reporting, Bruce Gibson (70%) now has a commanding lead over Ochylski (29%). It’s going to take nothing short of a miracle for Ochylski to break even by morning, but we will keep you up to date on the results. We’re unsure if Los Osos precincts have been counted already, but if they have, it would be heartbreaking defeat for Ochylski, who was expected to capitalize on the wave of anger and disappointment from those who voted for Gibson in 2006. That anger and disappointment stems from the belief that Gibson did not follow through on earlier promises he made regarding the wastewater project.

The ROCK: Ogren’s MWH Gravity Bias Costing Los Osos Tens of Millions

UPDATE: Orenco’s Mike Saunders replies to the Coastal Commission. On Thursday, June 10, Mike Saunders of Orenco challenged the California Coastal Commission staff’s last-minute addendum, which echoed the County’s preference for a conventional gravity system and its concerns regarding the STEP collection system. “While we have an obvious interest in this project we have a greater interest in protecting the integrity of our core business,” wrote Saunders in a detailed e-mail to the commissioners and staff on the eve of the Commission’s de novo hearing in Marina del Rey. “While we understand that this is not your direct concern, we do believe that correcting poor information is part of your responsibility in properly administering the California Coastal Act.”


Why was the cheaper, environmentally-preferred STEP collection system suddenly dropped from the County’s design-build process for the Los Osos Wastewater Project last year? Why didn’t the only STEP design-build team in the mix appeal that decision? In a fascinating glimpse into Public Works’ dirty little secret war against STEP to promote MWH gravity collection, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Frank Mecham, occasionally the lone dissenter on the Board of Supervisors when it comes to voting more money for County Public Works to spend on the Los Osos project, has served as middle man in recent behind-the-scenes correspondence from Orenco Systems’ Bill Cagle and County Public Works Director Paavo Ogren. Their comments from this still-smoldering debate reveal some of the back story on Ogren’s STEP vendetta, his vicious disregard for the truth, and the brutal price Los Osos “Prohibition Zone” homeowners and the people of Los Osos will have to pay for it.

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The ROCK: Gibson Under-Estimating Sewer Bills to Win Los Osos Votes


If it’s Tuesday and you happen to be visiting Los Osos from out of the area, perhaps thinking about moving there, and want to know more about the future of this nature-lover’s seaside paradise, you may want to sit in on a rare Los Osos Update or weekly public comment at a San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors’ meeting in charming downtown San Luis Obispo. There you can hear Los Osos residents ask question after question about the County’s proposed $165 million – now $180 million – Los Osos Wastewater Project. And, if you hang around long enough, you can catch Los Osos’ County representative to the board, Supervisor Bruce Gibson, administer frontier justice by turning his blowtorch on Los Osos speakers complaining about having to pay $250 a month to flush their toilets with the most expensive sewer project a disadvantaged community’s dwindling dollars can buy in a desperate economy. You’ll find what’s in store for Los Osos and more at weekly County Board of Supervisors’ meetings, but it comes with a stern warning: they aren’t for the thin-skinned, faint of heart or short of breath.

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