The Los Osos Sewer Wars: Fought in Cyberspace

Los Osos Internet Troll promotes "healing"

This report is based on research that tracked online activity of Los Osos residents since the 2005 recall elections, which effectively stopped the controversial wastewater project on the Tri-W site. The recall was followed by a handful of lawsuits filed by contractors and a local group run by two of the three recalled district board members. Online, there was outcry from anonymous residents who — for more than five years — have conspired to undermine the “obstructionists” who were in support of recall efforts. Their campaign against the “obstructionists” persists to the present.

“Check this out. This is scary,” wrote former Los Osos Community Services District president Lisa Schicker to supporters in July 2006. Elected in November 2004 as a candidate who fought for an “affordable, environmentally superior sewer project,” Mrs. Schicker provided a link in her e-mail to comments made about her by anonymous pseudonyms on a message board operated by The Tribune.

The pseudonyms, who adopted an overwhelmingly hostile tone in their messages, expressed anger over the 2005 project being stopped. On The Tribune message board, Los Osos residents complained about the decline of their property values and the continued degradation of the groundwater in their community. There was a sense of hopelessness — that the sewer was no longer going to be affordable due to rising construction costs, inflation, and lack of competency by the post-recall board.

The 2005 recall was successful. On September 27, 2005, three board members of the LOCSD — president Stan Gustafson, vice-president Gordon Hensley, and director Richard LeGros — were recalled by a narrow margin. All three men were staunch supporters of a wastewater treatment project that was located in the middle of town. It was a historical turnout for Los Osos. More than 6,000 residents — in a town with a total estimated population of 14,000 residents — went to the polls, and a majority voted “Yes” for the recall and the controversial Measure B, which attempted to forcibly move the sewer out of town by a now-defunct local ordinance. This was widely perceived as a surprise to the establishment because they outspent the grassroots recall movement with media buys and slick public relations marketing. The campaign was partially funded by a $10,000 donation from MWH Americas, a controversial contractor that was tapped to oversee the design and construction of the 2005 project.

Losing in the recall election rekindled nearly 30 years worth of bitterness, but once it was clear that the 2005 MWH project was going to be scrapped, a boiling point was reached.

Meet the Mastermind

“We’re going to have to do something about this — even if it means fighting dirty,” said Tribune member “SHARKINLET.” SHARKINLET was perceived to be the intellectual mastermind of the anonymous angst. He wrote a series of lengthy and thorough essay-style posts that argued the merits of the Tri-W site, and the use of gravity collection. He appeared on a handful of other local blogs (including Razor Online), and passionately debated recall supporters like Ann Calhoun of Calhoun’s Cannon. SHARKINLET also had a notable temper, and his posts would sometimes strike a violent tone toward the post-recall board, including then-interim general manager Daniel Blesky.

“I’m going to punch Blesky in the face one of these days,” said SHARKINLET. “Next would be Lisa [Schicker].”

He tried to reduce his sharp outbursts, and compensated for them by writing with level-headed eloquence. As a self-described evangelical Christian, SHARKINLET tried so desperately to keep his distance from the others, who resorted to speaking so crudely about the ones who undermined their cherished plans with the recall election, by never condoning violent acts or threats made by others. Yet he appeased them, and he spoke with them like a sober friend who tried to inject reason into their arguments. Though he remained anonymous and members claimed that he did not know the man personally, SHARKINLET was respectfully elevated to a position of high regard. He was the Los Osos version of Karl Rove: a sharp-witted, silver-tongued sewer strategist from behind the curtain.

SHARKINLET was the one who initially floated the idea of dissolving the district because he felt that establishing a CSD, to begin with, raised the costs for the sewer with delays. Given the results of the recall, he felt the voters made a “grievous error” in reinforcing the district’s authority over the wastewater project. He mused that the dissolution of the CSD would result in the County of San Luis Obispo assuming authority for the project. He would later endorse Taxpayers Watch, the non-profit organization led by Mr. LeGros and Mr. Hensley, and their push to dissolve the district in late 2006.

SHARKINLET was critical of Mrs. Schicker and board member Julie Tacker. Mrs. Schicker and Mrs. Tacker were the dissenting opinion on the 2005 LOCSD, and had pushed for moving the sewer out of town. SHARKINLET argued that the two board members were conspiring to pocket money from the district offers to help their supporters. That premise later became the argument made by Taxpayers Watch in lawsuits filed shortly after the recall. He criticized the two women at length, and would sometimes rant incoherently with mixed metaphors, confusing analogies, and a call for justice to be done. Mrs. Schicker was puzzled by his critique, and had e-mailed people with a link to his diatribes in July 2006. In that e-mail, Mrs. Schicker wrote, “Why is he so obsessed with me? Who is this guy? Very creepy.”

In October 2008, SHARKINLET was unceremoniously revealed to be a man named Steve Rein, a Statistics professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo who had repeatedly criticized the founders of a site called Growing Families International (GFI), a parenting ministry with teachings that Rein found to be alarming. Mr. Rein started a website Ezzo.info, which houses his critique for the ministry. Authorities say that in 1997, Rein was detained by campus police at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) — where he worked as a professor — for hacking the GFI web site, and illegally retrieving private documents found in a password-protected area of the site. The suspicious activity was traced back to Rein’s computer on campus. The desktop also hosted a web site code-named “RedRhino,” which housed several documents that he illegally obtained from GFI. Rein was not charged, but VCU issued Rein a reprimand. Rein subsequently left campus later that year, but maintained the departure was on “good terms.”

Mr. Rein never openly denied the incident, but he criticized the site that first discussed it on his web site and sidestepped the specific accusations. He alleged that any and all criticism by GFI, and their supporters, was questionable given the negative press they received.

By the time the accusations were revealed, Mr. Rein had faded into obscurity but posted once in a while. None of the accusations phased his anonymous fan base on The Tribune message board. Instead, they were inspired by his actions, and often credited his tenacity for “exposing the truth.” Inspired by his actions at VCU, others would eventually follow his example.

The Jester

A member by the name of “Wonky1” coined the term “the fecal five” to describe the post-recall board, and the “butt sisters” to describe Schicker and Tacker. Wonky1 was considered the beloved jester — the wordsmith with a “refreshingly wicked sense of humor,” according to one supportive member. Wonky1 was known for crafting parody lyrics that mentioned both Mrs. Tacker and Mrs. Schicker in a lewd fashion topped with vivid, misogynistic-sexual innuendo.

He was eerily fixated on Mrs. Tacker. Unlike the punditry on television where people discuss their opposition of politicians based on their positions, Wonky1 limited his opposition to trivial assessments about her clothes, her weight, and alleged promiscuity. Intertwined with trivialities were statements that accused Mrs. Tacker of criminal impropriety. In one post, Wonky1 described Tacker as a “pond scum bitch” who deserved to “get blindsighted and porked.” The comments came after Tacker moved in with Jeff Edwards, a local developer with whom Tacker had a relationship. The relationship spurred a series of accusations involving conflict-of-interest violations. Wonky1 wrote several sexually-charged parody lyrics to make light of the accusations, and implied that she would be raped once she was behind bars. Mrs. Tacker did not face any criminal charges as a result of her tenure at the LOCSD.

In more extreme cases, Wonky1 created and promoted scenarios of the “obstructionists” being dead as retribution for their opposition to the sewer project, though he did not name anyone specifically.

The jester would target other members of the community, including residents who regularly spoke during public comment at board meetings. He would occasionally make anti-Semitic statements about community members who he presumed to have Jewish descent. He posted photos of known Jewish celebrities including comedian Jackie Mason and actor Abe Vigota, and compared their “big noses” to residents that he thought were Jewish under the presumption that having a big nose “was the sign of a liar.” Other comments showed that Wonky1 had a particularly disturbing disdain for women who opposed the Tri-W project and the current project. He often described his female adversaries as “weak” and “sluts” who needed to “get their purses out,” and pay for the sewer.

Wonky1 was unabashedly vulgar, though he hid the vulgarity in satirical prose. When he wasn’t playing the crude jester, Wonky1 — who was articulate when he was asked a serious question — repeatedly accused Mrs. Schicker, Mrs. Tacker and the “fecal five” of “moral turpitude.”

Using an arsenal of pet expressions and uniquely worded satirical lyrics to describe his feelings for the “obstructionists,” Wonky1 appeared as other pseudonyms.

Wonky1 once claimed to be a reputable business professor at Cal Poly, who had moved into Los Osos in mid-2005, and wrote several books. He changed his initial story, and explained to members that he was, in fact, an “University English Instructor” who was going to leave Los Osos, move to British Columbia, and marry his high school sweetheart.

Lou Tornatzky, who also moved to Los Osos with his wife Lynette in mid-2005, is currently a business professor at the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly. Mr. Tornatzky was a regular critic of the post-recall board, and from the audience, he had threatened “to take [the board] down” with legal action if they did not reverse course and reinstate Tri-W at one meeting in January 2006. When it became clear that they were going to halt the project, he stopped speaking at LOCSD meetings until July 7, 2011. At that meeting, Mr. Tornatzky came out in opposition to Mrs. Tacker, who was one of the candidates seeking to replace former director Maria Kelly.

“And then I frankly got disgusted with the level of discourse that evolved on this board, particularly after the recall election,” said Mr. Tornatzky. “What I request of you is: anybody but Ms. Tacker. I believe she only has one note, and that note is confrontation. That’s what she knows. You don’t need to come back to that. She’ll be here confronting you anyhow.”

Mr. Tornatzky, himself, was confrontational and had a fiery temper. He had a score of violent outbursts when he was watching the meeting as a member of the audience. “He was like a guy, at a football game, who watched his team lose, but was in constant, angry denial that his team actually ‘lost,'” told one observer, who saw Mr. Tornatzky kick an empty chair in front of him at a CSD meeting in March 2006. At the next meeting, standing at the back of the South Bay Community Center where the meeting was held, Mr. Tornatzky turned to then LOCSD Utilities Manager George Milanés and criticized Mrs. Schicker as she spoke.

“Someone should hit that bitch with a hammer,” remarked Milanés.

Mr. Tornatzky laughed. “Sure, sure,” he replied. “Maybe some poison instead. Don’t worry. We’re working on it.”

There were times that he behaved civilly, and watched the meetings attentively. But when Mrs. Schicker or Mrs. Tacker spoke about the sewer project, Mr. Tornatzky often displayed anger by standing up from his chair noisily and shouting, “For God’s sake!” He stormed out of the South Bay Community Center several times, leaving his associates concerned.

According to sources close to him, Mr. Tornatzky had a penchant for penning poetry with sewer references. Friends reportedly encouraged Mr. Tornatzky to share his work online.

Los Osos students, who attended Mr. Tornatzky’s classes, explained that their professor would often joke with them and tell them to “get out their checkbooks.”

Mr. Tornatzky is also the board president of ReCreate Los Osos, a local 501(c)(3) non-profit founded on the intent to “heal the rifts in our community by creating venues for having fun together.” In their program strategy, it is written that the non-profit intends to “studiously avoid becoming involved as an advocate or adversary in community politics.”

The Enforcer

Lynette Tornatzky has been the most vocal of all the anonymous and non-anonymous supporters of the Tri-W project, and continues to argue the merits for it nearly three years after San Luis Obispo County Public Works dismissed the project as a “clear social infeasibility issue” on June 29, 2009. Shortly after the San Luis Obispo Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) struck down Taxpayers Watch’s push to dissolve the district, Tornatzky — a proud supporter of Taxpayers Watch — ran for the LOCSD in 2006. She ultimately lost the election, garnering 12.82% of the total vote.

Mrs. Tornatzky developed a reputation of appearing friendly and diligent. Even her political adversaries gave her high marks for her civility, which was a treat that many could appreciate in Los Osos. She often attends LOCSD meetings, and has proven to be informative and laid back — a sharp contrast to her husband. However, she was also a member of the Los Osos anonymous, and proved to be more cantankerous than her spouse.

Mrs. Tornatzky assumed the pseudonyms “sewercrazed” and “Sewertoons.” She assumed the responsibility of debunking and disparaging opinions expressed on The Tribune message board and elsewhere. The 55- year-long Los Angeles native and homemaker showed she was capable of disputing claims and opinions expressed by “Move the Sewer” advocates, and showed a strong political backbone. She’s known for having a condescending and combative variant of the Socratic dialogue, which frequently frustrates those who challenge her views. Supporters perceive her as a skilled debater, though she remains undeterred by criticism and facts that often contradict her positions. Many have found her comments to be callous, cold, and out of touch with the plight of homeowners residing in the Prohibition Zone.

Mrs. Tornatzky has a morbid fascination with illnesses and death suffered by her adversaries. She has repeatedly talked about the medical misfortunes of her critics, and has tried to establish a connection between their disagreeable views and their stress and ailments. She defended her peculiar views by expressing sympathy for her targets and their health, but speculated that their physical misfortune was somehow related to their sewer politics. Mrs. Tornatzky has repeatedly urged her critics to move out of town for “worrying” or being “stressed” over their opposition for the project. She was heavily criticized for her comments about the late Dr. Thomas Ruehr, a reputable Cal Poly professor and soil scientist, who passed away in January 2009.

On July 7, 2011, Los Osos resident Bo Cooper assailed Mrs. Tornatzky at an LOCSD meeting for comments she made on a temporarily used pseudonym, “Lie_Detector.” In her comments on The Tribune site, she expressed a desire for Cooper to succumb to leukemia after opining about his wife, Lacey, and her opinions of the Rates & Charges Ordinance. Mrs. Tornatzky removed her controversial comments only 15 minutes after posting them. Though she responded to being called Lynette, Mrs. Tornatzky denied that she used the pseudonym, and vehemently denied making those statements.

Mrs. Tornatzky recently endorsed attacks on Mr. Cooper — after his letter to the editor was published on December 9, 2011 — which accused him of “abusing time at the podium, bankrupt[ing] the community of Los Osos, default[ing] on low interest loans, and pollute[ing] the environment without once providing a viable alternative.” Mr. Cooper never served on the LOCSD, and his positions on sewer alternatives have been well-documented at the podium and on his column, “The Common Good,” which is featured on The ROCK. These attacks were one of many that were intended to incite anger, and publicize that anger to people inside and outside Los Osos.

In later years, her aggression went beyond politics. Things escalated into criminal harassment and psychosis in her pursuit of dissent to the County’s $189 million wastewater project.

“Expect me to stop you if you have an opinion, or put up an opinion piece. I have every right to,” warned Mrs. Tornatzky in a March 2010 e-mail to a “Move the Sewer” supporter and a regular speaker at BOS meeting public comment. Shortly after the e-mail was sent, two anonymous members on CalCoastNews accused Mrs. Tornatzky’s e-mail recipient of being violent and “clearly unstable.” The comments were removed. It was unclear whether one of them was Mrs. Tornatzky.

In October 2010, under the name “Lie_Detector,” Mrs. Tornatzky reportedly entertained the idea of reporting Tacker to the Department of Social Services after a member complained about her young son crying during a few CSD meetings.

“Julie’s [Tacker] son needs to be with better parents if she thinks the CSD will babysit,” wrote Mrs. Tornatzky under a Los Osos sewer-related article in The Tribune, who sympathetically asked the complaining member to call Social Services.

In 2008, Mrs. Tornatzky attempted to terminate the employment of one of her most vocal critics. She sought to terminate the employment of ECOFluid spokesman Mark Low, who heavily criticized her on the local blogs. She claimed that she was being harassed by Mr. Low. In a March 14, 2009 e-mail to SHARKINLET, Mr. Low wrote this about Mrs. Tornatzky: “Lynette still has her deceit to account for, so unless and until she admits her lie[s] how can she be ‘forgiven?’ How can the healing begin? I’ll continue to ask about her deceit until she admits it […] I dislike liars.”

Mrs. Tornatzky was unable to get Mr. Low fired.

She had made calls to local businesses — including Carlock’s Bakery — and threatened them with boycotts if they continued supporting people like Schicker, a candidate that the bakery owners previously endorsed in 2004. Business owners scoffed at the boycott threats, stating that it had no impact on their business. However, some were quick to mention that the wastewater project itself would impact their sales because Prohibition Zone residents would have to cut down on their discretionary spending.

Some critics of the wastewater project have reported that Mrs. Tornatzky followed theirs cars, and parked outside their homes on several occasions.

“I looked out my window one afternoon [on March 12, 2009] after I came home from office hours at Sea Pines. She was there, parked in front of the house. She was just staring at me. It was weird. I wanted to ask her, ‘Why are you here? What do you want?'” told one elderly resident who regularly criticizes the County’s wastewater project. “Friends tell me she’s paid them ‘visits’. Doesn’t she have anything better to do?”

After spying on property of project dissenters, posts were published on The Tribune message boards, which provided her target’s home address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and miscellaneous descriptions about their property. As one of her several proxies, Los Osos resident Judith Reilly (posted as “alabamasue” and “judith”), a long-time friend and supporter of Mrs. Tornatzky, supplied personal information on the message boards to reinforce her beleaguered ally’s narrative, and posted rumors that were wholly undocumented. Rumors included accusations that post-recall board members and supporters used drugs, committed infidelity, and invested in the flawed “Reclamator” system. Mrs. Reilly claimed that she received information from tax records and “curious neighbors who dug through the trash and some mailboxes.” Mrs. Tornatzky incorporated a lot of Mrs. Reilly’s “information” in her own posts, and praised her loyal friend for her exploits — though nothing actually happened as a result.

Mrs. Tornatzky preferred talking about where the sewer critics worked and where they were educated, though she was unable to establish a connection between critics’ opinions and their occupations. The disclosure of personal information appeared gratuitous. There were times when she posted personal information about project critics, and suggested that people should “take action,” though the kind of “action” was left undefined. Many of those comments were swiftly deleted after her targets complained to The Tribune.

Lately, she has written e-mails to known project dissidents in hopes of “countering the lies,” as she put it, about the County wastewater project and their supporters. Some have reported that Mrs. Tornatzky had sent more than 30 e-mails a day to project dissidents with the intent to “stop” them from supporting the STEP/STEG collection system, and other alternatives that County Public Works had previously torpedoed. She made similar vows on the local blogs.

Similarly, Mrs. Tornatzky has a peculiar habit of hijacking online discussions with talking points that contradict the views of the “obstructionists,” despite the County already achieving a series of milestones that have made her ideal sewer a reality. She has posted on many local blogs and news sites, telling people to accept the project or move. The online, obsessive-compulsive tirades against the opposition have mired her current tenure as a volunteer of two advisory committees that serve the LOCSD. She was voted into both committees by board president Marshall Ochylski, who also helped incorporate her husband’s non-profit organization and once served as a board member.

The Accountant

“I have access to many important CSD documents,” bragged “InsideTheCSD,” a member of The Tribune message boards. The anonymous, self-described “in-the-know accountant” uploaded several classified documents from the LOCSD office that showed “impropriety by the current board.” The documents were, in actuality, fiscal reports that were drafted by the general manager. The leaked documents were dated usually one week after InsideTheCSD disclosed them on the message boards. He would debrief the anonymous with his reports, and subsequently receive praise for his vigilance.

In between leaked documents and rants about voters who deserve his wrath for recalling three “honorable” board members, InsideTheCSD provided financial spreadsheets that forecasted economic devastation for Los Osos residents. According to his projections in July 2007, the sewer that once cost $154 million in 2005 would balloon to $200 million in 2007, and maybe $250 million in 2009 if he was lucky. These projections were not based on any sources. InsideTheCSD speculated that monthly costs would skyrocket to at least $300 a month — and he was unusually exuberant about the idea that thousands of residents would have to pay for the high pricetag. “They deserve to pay for it,” said InsideTheCSD. “They fucking earned it.”

Drumming up support for Taxpayers Watch lawsuits, which were initially filed in February 2006, the accountant accused the post-recall board of misappropriating more than $1 million from the district coffers, and alleged criminal conduct. Specifically, InsideTheCSD alleged that the board settled with non-profit organizations that they once belonged to with the intent to profit from those settlement agreements. However, authorities never investigated the post-recall board for criminal activity, and the lawsuits never reached the trial phase.

Richard LeGros announced that was the man behind InsideTheCSD, and he was completely shameless. He didn’t care that people knew that a bitter, recently recalled board director was riding the seas of anonymous discontent and profanely castigating the very same voters who elected him into office. He wanted nothing more than to destroy the establishment that he once served, and highlight the faults of the post-recall board in hopes of vindicating himself, and clearing his reputation. Ultimately, while LeGros was able to document some legal problems with the post-recall board, his vindictive tone against those who unseated him overshadowed the benefits of the settlement his group ultimately struck with the LOCSD.

When people, such as Ann Calhoun, criticized him for his extravagant scenarios of Doomsday for Los Osos residents, Mr. LeGros snapped back at his critics, calling them “mentally ill” for “mau-mauing” and making “theatrical nonsense,” though critics have accused him of being theatrical and over-the-top.

Notwithstanding the recall that ousted him from the LOCSD, Mr. LeGros had a few accounting problems of his own. In the mid-1990s, Mr. LeGros was reportedly sued for fraud by a lot owner in Paso Robles. The lot owner claimed Mr. LeGros had failed to disclose that the lot required major improvements — such as water main and street improvements — before it could be built on. The lot owner sued and prevailed. But by 1998, Mr. LeGros filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and went into straight liquidation (Bankruptcy Case ND 95-12641-RR). He left behind $225,000 of debt, including his liability to the lot owner that was set to recover damages. Mr. LeGros has denied the accusations, though the court records are readily available at the SLO County Courthouse.

Nearly 10 years later, he co-founded Taxpayers Watch and spear-headed the dissolution for the LOCSD. When LAFCO demanded the unincorporated association to pay $40,247.50 in expenses, LeGros’ name and signature was nowhere to be found in the Stipulated Entry for Judgment filing from March 20, 2007. Though he aggressively pushed for dissolution since he started posting as “InsideTheCSD,” the burden of debt was shifted to group’s lead organizers, yet he personally owed nothing. This was history repeating itself.

“I don’t regret anything,” said LeGros in March 16, 2009 during a casual, friendly conversation at his residence in Cabrillo Estates: a part of town that draws from the groundwater in the Prohibition Zone, but doesn’t pay for the sewer. “I have to tell the truth about these problems. Can’t help it, really. That’s who I am.”

Sitting cross-legged in his white loveseat, LeGros looked down at the Prohibition Zone and chuckled. “Online, we called the shots. We chose the candidates. We laid out the issues. We made things happen, and I didn’t have to leave the house,” he told me.

Conclusion

Think boiler-room, but in the form of anonymous, hyperbolic electronic communication between the self-described elites of Los Osos. The theory is that a group of Los Osos citizens came together and decided to take down the people who wronged them — and they would do anything to make it happen. Politics is still very dirty in Los Osos — and a small but dedicated core of politicos continue their fight a childish, high-tech war. There are others who continue to participate, but their comments are nothing more than your typical cyber-bullying that commonly appears in political discussions and Facebook discussions with high school students.

There’s something very ghoulish about these people — very cult-like. There is a lineage of obscene, criminal behavior that spans more than five years. The recent embrace of digital communications by political-savvy residents gives tremendous insight into the dark underbelly of Los Osos politics — and why a sewer would do nothing to prevent civility from being a permanent pipe dream.

For every twist and turn in the Los Osos sewer saga, the boiler-room crew descend on the discussion, and warp it with revisionist history lectures and finger-pointing until the subject matter is no longer recognized — and people outside the Hatfield-McCoy struggle are unable to discern the issue as it applies to them so they turn to cynicism, and wait for the chips to fall. The same people, who wage these sewer wars in cyberspace, have already had their story told in Barbara Wolcott’s “Small Town Perfect Storm: The Los Osos Sewer Saga,” but apparently the book was not enough. With the County’s project hurtling toward construction, they are often hard-pressed to explain why they persist in their attacks.

Even other proponents of the 2005 Tri-W project cannot explain why the war continues to be waged. “I don’t understand it,” said an exasperated local realtor who supported the “Move Forward: Save the Dream” campaign in 2005. “We’re good people. I don’t like being misrepresented by the angry few.”

The County of San Luis Obispo has remained mum regarding the ongoing hostility. Since AB2701 was signed into law, District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson has personally met with each known member of Los Osos boiler-room. Some continue to attend his office hours in Los Osos, and remain well-versed in County actions. None of the former anonymous actively attend board meetings, but they continue to stay informed and ready to attack if someone challenges the County. Many of their attacks mirror the conduct observed by former board chairman and District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill, who instructed The Tribune to peg the “obstructionists” as rude, violent, and requiring police supervision. The Tribune delivered, and the boiler-room cheered.

When I announced that anyone supporting that article would be noted for future reference, they accused me of trying to scare them away from posting any agreement with the article: an ironic charge when considering their previous objectives.

While some can say this online activity is insignificant and irrelevant to the project as it currently stands, there remains a very painful truth: no sewer will heal these rifts. For $189 million and counting, the Prohibition Zone may have a sewer, but there will always be the nagging nuisance of being told that sewer critics are responsible for the delays and rising costs by those who refuse to take accountability for their own actions. For $189 million and counting, the sewer will not bring peace — even if it’s able to clean up the groundwater and do everything the County projects that it would do.

Here’s the sad reality: For every person who criticizes the sewer, there are a handful of people who are dedicated to destroying that person from the inside out with unabashed, unparalleled hatred. For every person who speaks at the podium during BOS meetings, seeking answers about a project with still so many unanswered questions, there are several people who want nothing more than to ruin that person’s life by any means necessary. They have shown the intent instill fear into their hearts of their adversaries the very moment they step outside the confines of their home.

Whatever the boiler-room is trying to accomplish, it’s not working. Residents — on many sides of the debate — remain concerned about the wastewater project, and they have every right to be. There are reasons why people fight this project, but they choose not to wage their battles under aliases with a never-ending desire for vengeance, self-vindication and self-righteousness.

— Aaron Ochs