New Times / News
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 34
Oceano GM fired, again
BY RHYS HEYDEN
It’s become a tired refrain for the Oceano Community Services District: Another year, another general manager departure.
On March 14, the OCSD Board of Directors unanimously fired Lonnie Curtis, the district’s eighth general manager since 2007. Curtis had served in the position for just more than five months.
“We are a headless horseman right now,” OCSD board president Matt Guerrero told New Times. “It’s really unfortunate and incredibly frustrating—we’re just trying to provide the people of Oceano with a well-run CSD.”
The litany of complaints and allegations against Curtis included frequent plagiarism, mistakenly overcharging ratepayers, Brown Act violations, and haphazard agenda drafting—all repeatedly aired out in public by OCSD gadfly Julie Tacker.
“The OCSD needed someone who was at least competent, but they got a complete dud,” Tacker said. “The board members gave Lonnie all the rope he needed, and then he hung himself.”
Over his five-month tenure, the OCSD board had reviewed Curtis’ performance four times in closed session before firing him for cause on March 14.
At the March 14 meeting, OCSD board members declined to provide a reason for why they fired Curtis. Curtis blamed his firing on Tacker, calling her a “hemorrhoid.”
“Lonnie was lucky it was me who was dogging him, or else he wouldn’t have even lasted five months,” Tacker told New Times. “The OCSD board hates me and they didn’t want me to be right, but I was.”
After longtime general manager Mitch Cooney resigned in 2007, the seat was filled by interim general manager Arnie Dowdy, Patrick O’Reilly (resigned after a year), interim general manager Kevin Walsh, Raffaele Montemurro (fired without cause in May 2011), Tom Geaslen (fired for cause in April 2013 after overpaying himself), interim general manager Gary Keefe, and Curtis.
“It was a unanimous vote; that’s all I can really disclose,” Guerrero said. “It just became clear that Lonnie wasn’t working.”
Guerrero said he has confidence in district staff and his fellow board members, and the district plans on moving forward with drafting plans for a five-year budget, addressing staffing needs, and making infrastructure improvements.
“It’s a challenging situation, but we’re trying to make lemonade,” Guerrero said.
The OCSD board will meet on March 21 to discuss goal setting as well as filling the interim general manager position.