UPDATE (December 23): According to the RCLO web site, Marshall Ochylski was removed from the board of directors roster.
After our article about ReCreate Los Osos was published, many residents came forward to raise concerns about the non-profit organization, their intentions, and the mystery surrounding the group’s formation. Here is some more information about the organization and its founders.
RCLO legal counsel and Los Osos Community Services District Marshall Ochylski filed as an Articles of Incorporation on behalf of RCLO in February 2011, but the formation of the group was announced by Ochylski at an LOCSD meeting on August 5, 2010, the same day that the district signed a settlement agreement involving Taxpayers Watch. If he was involved with the non-profit at that point in time, Ochylski did not — at the very least — disclose his specific involvement with RCLO. He also did not disclose that some of the board members were also board members and significant financial contributors to Taxpayers Watch.
Ochylski signed the agreement without disclosing information that was potentially potent enough to merit recusal.
Without mentioning his involvement with RCLO, Ochylski had helped vote in Lynette Tornatzky, wife of the current board president, twice to two advisory committees in the LOCSD by unanimous roll call. Currently, there is no one citizen that serves on more than one committee. According to the minutes from the February 3 (when Mrs. Tornatzky was voted in as a member of the Utilities Advisory Committee) and July 7 (when Ochylski approved the staff recommendation to appoint Mrs. Tornatzky to the Emergency Services Advisory Committee) meetings, Ochylski did not disclose his involvement with her husband’s organization. Legally, this merits disclosure as ex parte communication. Given the closeness of their relationship as a result of RCLO’s formation, it can be reasonably deduced that ex parte communications between Ochylski and the Tornatzkys had a substantial likelihood of taking place.
Calling herself a “volunteer,” Mrs. Tornatzky defended the existence and mission of her husband’s non-profit organization.
When Calhoun’s Cannon published an article that also questioned the motives and the mission of RCLO, Tornatzky wrote in response, “There are whole professions based on healing injury and pain that was not caused by those practicing those professions.” When the sewer portion of her non-profit’s mission was addressed by local blogger Ann Calhoun‘s readers, Tornatzky wrote, “People are sick of the drama, sick of the divisions. Time to move on.”
Repeating several times that she is a “volunteer,” Tornatzky said RCLO was “aware that people need free stuff to attend, and that is what the goal is — RCLO pays the big items like rent, props (like a popcorn cart or something like that) and the insurance on the venues. There needs to be funding to do things like that.”
Funding may not be as lacking as Mrs. Tornatzky is loosely suggesting.
Mr. Tornatzky, who is a professor of Industrial Technology and Co-Director of University Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business, earned a total of $114,345.38 in annual income last year, according to the Sacramento Bee’s State Worker Salary Search. In comparison, the controversial Community Survey report from March 27, 2009 had 30% of residents inside the Prohibition Zone earning under $50,000. Forty-two percent of the same respondents indicated that they would definitely or probably apply for financial assistance to pay for the Los Osos sewer. Mr. Tornatzky can be more aptly described as a local member of the “1%” that prioritizes funding for “big items” — like renting popcorn carts and insurance for venues — over record-breaking sewer expenses and additional mitigation costs that the “99%” incomes would be paying for, or “something like that.”
The “volunteer,” who said that “sewer talk” was prohibited at RCLO’s events, took aim at her critics and their “sewer talk” by saying, “The thing that gets me about this, is when there are true things brought forth, those who believed something else, or don’t like that answer just say that isn’t what happened, and accuse the fact finder as lying! Some just prefer to stay mad [...] Many of the answers ARE out there, but they don’t satisfy those who don’t want to move on or didn’t like that particular truth.”
Therein lies the fundamental flaw of ReCreate Los Osos.
The non-profit organization, whose mission is comprised mostly of “sewer talk,” never once mentions the group’s political origins. The majority of RCLO board members backed the 2005 Tri-W plan, which was later defeated by a community referendum in 2005, the Los Osos Technical Advisory Committee in 2007, and San Luis Obispo County Public Works in 2009.
Though the almost-universal, resounding “no” from voters and authorities on Tri-W officially set the trajectory for the project, the majority of RCLO was not satisfied. Instead, they formed and clearly supported an uninformed association of recalled board directors in hopes of suing Tri-W critics and board successors for public waste and conflict of interest — thus spurring more division in the community. Once it was clear that they couldn’t prove their case with the preponderance of evidence in a trial court, they focused on dissolving the district — and they were ultimately unsuccessful.
The answer “no” to Tri-W had become cemented in the history of the Los Osos wastewater project, but “no” was still not accepted even though it was past time “to move on.” RCLO board members continued to fight for their vision by fighting to diminish the opposition, while telling everyone that the “war” is over, that 5,000 homeowners are at risk of losing their homes over a sewer is merely one of the “bad things in every life that just need to be gotten past.” That’s because the real problem, says RCLO, is the lack of “free events.”
RCLO is the shining example of why Los Osos is in serious trouble. When one drives through the town, they see businesses closing down and people walking around wondering what’s next for them. Some have lived in this seaside community for several decades, watching every wastewater project incarnation come and go, in and out like the tides in the bay. Nonetheless, people love living there. Unfortunately, the sewer costs will change forever the way people live, the ones that can survive the eventual $250 month sewer bill, in Los Osos.
But there are some people — especially those who can personally and easily afford the sewer, just like the politicians on the County Board of Supervisors — who believe that this burden is simply a “part of life” or it’s some divine punishment for those who were unable to accept the vision of a select group of homeowners isolated to pay exclusively for the project. But when “healing” is invoked by the very same people, you must stop talking about a sewer that is unjustly expensive in a historical era of severe economic decline, and bring out the popcorn carts. Forget about the repression, the social engineering of elected officials, the gentrification, or the forceful and antagonistic deprivation of the people’s rights to protest. Who else but the socially tone-deaf ReCreate Los Osos could brush aside the writings on the wall, and disingenuously draw over it with bright-colored crayons?
There is no reason for ReCreate Los Osos to exist, and it would be an insult to the Los Osos people for this group to solicit donations and spend other people’s money — for the sake of “creating venues for having fun together” — when they refuse to spend their own money in restitution for the political and economic turmoil that they either concocted or contributed to. There is no reason for a sitting CSD board president to do them any favors.
This is corruption in action. Contributing to any RCLO events only endorses it.
– Aaron Ochs