The County is tired of hearing from Los Osos residents about the County’s handling, or mangling, of the sewer project, for which Los Osos is paying, not the County.
How tired are they? So tired that Supervisor Bruce Gibson, at a recent after-hours session in Los Osos, narrowed his usual lava flow of caustic, inflammatory comments to two words: “Sue me.”
For misfit politicians there are huge benefits to living in the Lost County of San Luis Obispo: Few in America can bask in the arrogance of power like the wealthy Orange Farmer — and no one outside the sparsely-populated, media-poor county ever hears about it.
In front of the camera he can barely contain his disdain for his critics as he whines his mind-numbing mantra of denial, which we’ve mercifully shortened here for our tortured readers: “We’ve heard it all before, from the people we’ve all seen before, and responded to all before… many, many times.”
But when the cameras and microphones are off, he boils it down to screw you and “Sue me.”
The County has done nothing right and everything wrong since they worked with then-Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee to seize control of the Los Osos Wastewater Project from the LOCSD, and they are tired of hearing how corrupt and incompetent they are. They want Los Osos critics to stop threatening to sue, and sue or shut up. That sounds familiar.
When the County and RWQCB played good cop/bad cop to force “Prohibition Zone” homeowners — faced with either being fined out of their homes or taxed out of their homes — to vote “yes” on the Proposition 218 vote for a megasewer, and Los Osos residents complained about blackmail, electioneering and the whole district benefiting, not just the PZ, the County said: “Sue me.”
When Public Works Director Paavo Ogren formed the phony “Technical Advisory Committee” stacked with old-gravity-guard, Tri-W diehards, and non-technical ringers like then-failed LOCSD candidate Maria Kelly and widget salesman Bill Garfinkel to rubber-stamp the County’s predetermined MWH gravity-collection technology – the most expensive of all – and Los Osos residents grumbled about the clear bias and big bill, the County said: “Sue me.”
When the County dropped any and all alternative technologies from the their much-ballyhooed, cost-lowering design/build competition in April 2007 – promised to the community as part of securing “yes” votes for the Prop 218 – because STEP and vacuum systems were far cheaper and the County knew its preselected gravity system couldn’t compete, Los Osos residents cried foul, and the County said: “Sue me.”
When the County first decided to build the treatment facility on the Tonini Ranch property – with hundreds of excess acres of sprayfields to spray the treated effluent into the air to evaporate outside the recharge basin – wasting Los Osos’ water and taxpayers’ millions on a stillborn plan, and Los Osos residents appealed to the Planning Commission, the County said: “Sue me.” (But for Sarah Christie of the Planning Commission, who was fired for courageously rejecting the Tonini farce.)
When for years Los Osos residents presented clear proof of the alarming acceleration of seawater intrusion into the community’s primary, severely-limited drinking water supply and the ultimate threat it posed, and the County did nothing to stop it – and residents objected to the $200 million sewer that wouldn’t stop it, either — the County said: “Sue me.”
When Los Osos residents questioned why the County reneged on conducting its previously announced 218 vote on vacant properties, heaping that $29 million share of capitol costs on already-voted-and-taxed “Proposition Zone” homeowners instead – on top of their $25,000 per home assessment, which the Orange Farmer once insisted was the total cost of the project to homeowners — the County said: “Sue me.”
When the County accepted the higher-interest $80-million-plus USDA loan for the collection system — 70% of the cost of the project – for the officially-declared “disadvantaged community” to pay for a $200 million project, Los Osos residents questioned whether the lower-interest SRF loan for the collection system, rather than the USDA loan, wasn’t a better deal for homeowners, and the County said: “Sue me.”
When Los Osos residents presented clear evidence that the County’s recent Rates & Charges Ordinance for monthly sewer water usage in Los Osos was based on inappropriate, incomplete or inaccurate information, therefore flawed as it stands now as law, the County said: “Sue me.”
County counselor Warren Jensen and his SLO County Legal Orchestra are tired of cracking their knuckles in the wings waiting for the overture to begin. They’re ready to play “We Are the Champions” in the face of anyone claiming to be an attorney (including Tom Murphy) who dares approach the bench with a piece of paper in their hands trying to stop the sewer.
The reality is, the disadvantaged community of PZ homeowners can’t afford to sue the County any more than they can afford to pay $200+ a month sewer bills. Who in Los Osos’ PZ, in this economy, could raise $250 from 250 homeowners to hire a good lawyer to fight the County in the County-owned and operated courts of San Luis Obispo, and beyond to state court? If that isn’t tough enough of a trail to blaze, the County enjoys partly paying its legal team in Los Osos sewer dollars to fight Los Osos taxpayers, while the District Attorney will only defend the county against the taxpayers. It’s a long, lonely, expensive road with no certain ending.
In scared-shitless, sewer-fried, agenda-divided Los Osos, tapped out by the doomed PZLDF suit and other tricks, cons and distractions, the financial levee has broken for thousands, the waters are rising fast, and all the exits are sealed but one — to road out of town.
The County knows this and is counting on it.
That’s why the arrogant Orange Farmer, tired of hearing the cries of thousands from eight citizens and no one else, just says, “Sue me.”
— Ed Ochs