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The following article was posted on July 24th, 2014, in the New Times - Volume 28, Issue 52 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 52

Fired Oceano general manager runs for a seat on the board that fired him

BY RHYS HEYDEN

The last time Lonnie Curtis was in an Oceano Community Services District Board of Directors meeting, he was unanimously terminated by the board, he called a critic a “hemorrhoid,” and he stormed out of the boardroom.

About four months later, Curtis has changed his tune. Although he was fired from his position as OCSD general manager on March 14, he told New Times that he’s decided to run for a Board of Directors seat in the November general election.

“I think there’s a lot of value I can add to the board, despite being terminated by them,” Curtis said. “They were wrong for terminating me, but we will settle that at some point in the future.”

Curtis is running for the two-year seat currently held by Jennifer Blackburn, who plans to run for re-election. Board members Lori Angello and Karen White—whose four-year seats are also up for grabs—will be running in November as well.

When asked how he’d be able to work with a board that will likely be very similar to the one that fired him, Curtis said he’d “work towards consensus” while also adding that “this board has not served the interests of the community.”

“Their issues with me don’t hold water, and it doesn’t do the community any good to whip the dead horse and keep bringing up my past,” Curtis said. “This district needs serious improvements in leadership, planning, and policy, and I bring lots of that kind of experience.”

The OCSD board reviewed Curtis’ job performance four times in closed session during his five months on the job before he was fired. The litany of complaints and allegations against Curtis included frequent plagiarism, mistakenly overcharging ratepayers, Brown Act violations, and haphazard agenda drafting.

Curtis was the district’s eighth general manager in seven years. The OCSD’s ninth general manager in that span—former SLO County public works director Paavo Ogren—started work on July 21.

When asked how he felt about frequent OCSD critic Julie Tacker—whom he blamed for his firing and labeled a “hemorrhoid”—Curtis said he’s looking to rise above her.

“I won’t let Julie Tacker define me,” Curtis said. “She can support me or not support me, I don’t care.”