Friday, October 14, 2016

Really? Trib columnist, Tom Fulks, is giving up tens of thousands of dollars of "political consulting" work, just to continue to write his "unpaid" column? I mean, Huh?

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TO: Stephanie Finucane, Opinion Editor, The Tribune

Hello Stephanie,

I'm researching a story, and I just have a quick question for Tom Fulks, but I don't see a contact email for him in the tag line of his columns, so, I'm hoping that you would be so kind to forward this email to him.

Thank you! : -)

- - - - - - -

Hello Tom,

I'm researching a story, and I just have a quick question regarding one of your recent columns, at this link:


... where you write:

"The last time I was paid by (Supervisor) Gibson for campaign consulting work was June 2014."

I'm just curious: 2014 was the last time Supervisor Gibson ran for office, and, if he decides to run again, he'll likely be firing up his 2018 campaign sometime in 2017.

Now, as I've shown in my past reporting, for example, at this link:


... when Supervisor Gibson campaigns, his campaign pays you tens of thousands of dollars to be his "evil genius in the back room" (his phrase)/"political consultant."

Additionally, in his latest campaign filing, Supervisor Hill, in just the past few months, paid his "consultant," and your friend/colleague, Paul Hughes, of poliARC, more than $40,000 -- almost twice the amount of all contributions the Hill campaign received for that statement ["Monetary Contributions: $28,434.98"] -- with tens of thousands more from previous Hill statements going to your counterpart, Paul Hughes.

So, with all those huge stacks of cash in mind, I'm a little confused: When you write, "The last time I was paid by (Supervisor) Gibson for campaign consulting work was June 2014," are you saying that you have now somehow retired from your job as a "political consultant," and will now, for future elections, be giving up those huge stacks of cash that you are paid for your "political consulting" work, in order to continue to write your "unpaid" column for the Trib, or, when/IF Supervisor Gibson fires up his campaign next year, will you be giving up the Trib column in order to get paid the tens of thousands of dollars again by the Gibson campaign?

Trib Opinion page editor, Stephanie Finucane has hinted to me that you can't do both, understandably.

So, again, just curious: Next year, IF Supervisor Gibson fires up his campaign, will you be giving up the tens of thousands of dollars that he normally pays you for campaign "consulting" work, in order to continue to write your "unpaid" column for the Trib?

As always, much thanks,
Ron

Oh, and P.S: As usual, this email posted to my blog, SewerWatch, at this link:


Thanks again.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Los Osos Sewer Hook-Up Percentage Question

TO: John Waddell, SLO County Public Works Dept., Project Manager, Los Osos sewer project

- - -

Hello John,

I'm researching a story, and I'm just curious on what the sewer hook-up rate is in Los Osos?

For example, on the county's web site, at this link:


... it reads:

"Phase 1 of the sewer lateral connections of individual properties began on March 28, 2016..."

The site also reads, "... connections are required to be done within 180 days."

So, now that it's been almost "180 days" since "March 28," this is my question: As of August 30, 2016, what percentage of properties in "Phase 1" have hooked up to the sewer?

80-percent? 90-percent? 50-percent? Less?

The total number of properties in "Phase 1" would also be useful in my reporting.

Finally (and again), what happens to the property owners that do not hook-up "within 180 days?"

As always, much thanks,
Ron

P.S: This email posted to my blog, SewerWatch, at this link:


Thanks again.

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sewerwatch.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

An Open Letter to the Local Media on Why They Should Foot the Bill for a $150 Report, and NOT Me

[Note: The following is an email I sent today to editors and reporters at three local media outlets: Tribune, New Times, and Cal Coast News]

Hello Tribune, New Times, and Cal Coast News folks,

I am contacting all of you kind, generous, local media people to, well, ask you for a quick, fun, interesting, and, yes, kinda hilarious favor.

I'm hoping that one of you will buy a $150 report.

Here's the dealio:

As I've shown you over the past few weeks, by cc'ing all of you on a couple of my recent emails, that I also published on my blog, first at this link:


... and then a follow-up at this link:


... the bond rating agency, S&P Global Ratings, was recently forced to "suspend" its "BBB-" rating that they placed on the "Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District... 2002 limited obligation improvement bonds," due to "lack of information."

That story is mind-blowingly newsworthy, on many levels, but here's the catch: If you go to the source, at this link:


...  that I used in my recent emails to expose that great local story, you'll see that the only thing S&P Global Ratings provides to announce their action on those bonds, is just a quick, one paragraph press release. However, the full 3-page report that (hopefully) explains exactly why S&P was forced to "suspended" its "BBB-" rating on the Los Osos CSD's bonds -- with all the juicy details (I'm assuming) -- costs $150-bucks to purchase.

And that's the point of this email: Me asking one of you fine, local media outlets to, please, fit the bill for a copy of that 3-page report, and then do a story on it, and, if you legally can, post the report on your web site (there might be some sort of "Fair Use" argument there that would allow you to post it), and then that, in turn, would allow me to continue my on-going reporting on this super-important story ('cause, I really don't want to shell out the $150-bucks, and I'm very curious to see what that report says).

Like I say, that report is, almost certainly, extremely newsworthy for not only the people of Los Osos, but also to the people of SLO County, and California, and, frankly, all of the United States, and that's why I think it should be a local media business that foots the bill for that report (as opposed to, you know, little ol' me. I mean, do I look like a have New Times-type money? ; -)

[By the way, speaking of businesses and money: Are we all in the wrong business, or what? I mean, $150 bucks for a copy of a three page report? Good lord. If I were to sell copies of my reports at $50-bucks/page, I'd be a thousandaire by now.

And, as long as we're having some fun here, I also want to quickly point out an interesting, and funny, fact: Notice how the "suspended" rating is... uh, was?... "BBB-".

For municipal bonds -- that were issued by a local municipality -- I find that rating hilarious.

Notice how they are not "AAA" rated bonds.

Nope.

Not even "BBB."

Nope.

But, "BBB"-friggin-"minus"... the absolute lowest "investment grade" bond rating S&P offers.

And, to continue the hilarity, if you want to get a fun sense of what a "B" bond rating means, especially when it comes to things like over-the-top shady Los Osos CSD, I highly recommend (re)watching the excellent movie, The Big Short, and pay close attention to what "Margot Robbie in a bubble bath" has to say about B-rated bonds. HIGHlarious.]

So, yeah, a detailed report -- that, hopefully, shows exactly why S&P was recently forced to suspend their "BBB-" rating for the nearly $18 million worth of bonds sold by the Los Osos CSD in 2002 to partially fund their now-failed "mid town" sewer-"park" disaster -- a disastrous non-"project," that will never exist, yet "more than 4,000" Los Osos property owners are now stuck funding on their property taxes until the year 2033/34, as I first exposed at this link:


... really sounds like it could be worth the $150 investment for the local media.

The story is spectacular.

Again, just a quick favor: If one (or all) of you, would please purchase a copy of that report, and post it on your web site(s), I would really appreciate it, and, I'm sure that the people that invested in the bonds would also VERY much appreciate it.

If you have any questions, please just ask.

Thank you,
Ron

Oh, and P.S: As usual, this email posted to my blog, SewerWatch, at this link:


Thanks again.

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sewerwatch.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Los Osos CSD bonds information IS hard to get

TO: Kaiti Wang, S&P Global Ratings credit analyst

Hello Kaiti,

I'm a blogger in San Luis Obispo County, and I'm researching a story on the Los Osos Community Services District, and I recently read a press release from S&P Global Ratings, at this link:


... where it reads:

"Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District No. 1, CA Rating Suspended On Lack Of Information
SAN FRANCISCO (S&P Global Ratings) June 21, 2016--S&P Global Ratings has suspended its 'BBB-' underlying rating (SPUR) on Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District No. 1, Calif.'s series 2002 limited obligation improvement bonds. At the same time, S&P Global Ratings has removed the rating from CreditWatch with negative implications. 'This action follows repeated attempts by S&P Global Ratings to obtain timely information of satisfactory quality to maintain our rating on the securities in accordance with our applicable criteria and policies,' said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Kaiti Wang."

Now, I'm sorry to have to bother you with this inquiry, but, in your press release, you are SO right when you write, "This action follows repeated attempts by S&P Global Ratings to obtain timely information of satisfactory quality," because, about two weeks ago, I emailed the LOCSD's General Manager, Peter Kampa, asking him about what's happening with the bonds, and why S&P Global Ratings is having so much trouble getting "timely information of satisfactory quality" regarding those extremely important bonds, but, of course, Mr. Kampa never replied (to me, as well), so, yes, I can now understand why your company was forced to "suspended its 'BBB-' underlying rating... on Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District No. 1, Calif.'s series 2002 limited obligation improvement bonds," because, apparently, prying any information out of the LOCSD regarding those over-the-top important bonds is seemingly impossible.

You can read my full email to the LOCSD GM -- including information on what makes those bonds intensely newsworthy today (and until the year 2033/34) -- on my blog, at this link:


So, that's why I now have to apologize to you, for bothering you on information regarding the LOCSD's secretive bonds, but that agency just simply won't reply, despite the fact that they write on their web site:

"District Transparency
As a local goverment [sic] agency, this Los Osos Community Services District has a responsibility to remain transparent to the public. We are held accountable by our community."

Uh, not so much.

So, now, considering that LOCSD officials refuse to answer my questions, despite their highly hypocritical (and spell-check challenged ; -) statements on their web site, I'm hoping that you could answer just a couple of quick questions I have involving the state of the "Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District No. 1, Calif.'s series 2002 limited obligation improvement bonds."

For example, I'm not exactly an expert on municipal bonds, so, when you write, "S&P Global Ratings has suspended its 'BBB-' underlying rating (SPUR) on Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District No. 1, Calif.'s series 2002 limited obligation improvement bonds," I'm not quite clear on what that means.

For example, I'm not clear on how suspending the "BBB- underlying rating" impacts the bonds. Can the bonds still be sold/purchased/etc. on the "secondary market" (I believe it's called) when the bonds' "underlying rating" is "suspended?"

Any information you could supply me with on the impact "suspending the "BBB- underlying rating" has on those bonds, I would very much appreciate.

Also, your press release is dated June 21, 2016, and it's now July 28, 2016. In the time since your press release was released, have you been able to "obtain timely information of satisfactory quality to maintain our rating on the securities," or is that still a problem?

Again, I apologize for having to bother you with my questions, but, as we both know now, it is very difficult to "obtain timely information of satisfactory quality" from the LOCSD, despite what their highly hypocritical and less-than-truthful web site states.

If you have any questions, please just ask (and, unlike the Los Osos CSD, I will reply in a "timely" fashion : -)

Thank you,
Ron

P.S: This email posted to my blog, SewerWatch, at this link:


Thanks again.

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sewerwatch.blogspot.com

Friday, July 15, 2016

LOCSD's wastewater bond rating "suspended" by S&P Global Ratings

TO: Peter Kampa, Interim General Manager, Los Osos CSD

Hello Mr. Kampa,

I'm researching a story, and I just have couple of quick questions involving the municipal bonds that the LOCSD issued back in 2002/03 for the LOCSD's now-failed, "mid-town" wastewater "project," and that are being paid off by "4,203" Los Osos property owners (on their property tax bills) until the year 2033, as I first exposed in 2013, at this link:


Well, I recently read, at this link:


"SAN FRANCISCO (Standard&Poor's) March 13, 2015--Standard&Poor's Ratings Services affirmed its 'BBB-' underlying rating (SPUR) on Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District No. 1, Calif.'s limited-obligation improvement bonds outstanding and removed the rating from CreditWatch with negative implications. The outlook is stable. 'The rating had been placed on CreditWatch with negative implications on Dec. 15, 2014, due to the lack of timely information, a situation that the district has since resolved,' said Standard&Poor's credit analyst Misty Newland."

However, that report was published on "March 13, 2015," and, in a more recent report, dated, "June 21, 2016," at this link:


... it reads:

"Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District No. 1, CA Rating Suspended On Lack Of Information

SAN FRANCISCO (S&P Global Ratings) June 21, 2016--S&P Global Ratings has suspended its 'BBB-' underlying rating (SPUR) on Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District No. 1, Calif.'s series 2002 limited obligation improvement bonds. At the same time, S&P Global Ratings has removed the rating from CreditWatch with negative implications. "This action follows repeated attempts by S&P Global Ratings to obtain timely information of satisfactory quality to maintain our rating on the securities in accordance with our applicable criteria and policies," said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Kaiti Wang."

Here's my question: What happened there? Why is S&P Global Ratings having so much trouble "obtaining timely information of satisfactory quality" from the Los Osos CSD for something so important as the more than $17 million in bonds that the LOCSD issued back in 2003 for their now-failed "mid-town" sewer disaster, and that more than 4,000 Los Osos property owners are stuck paying for until the year 2033?

Is there all of a sudden a problem with securing the bonds? For example, are more and more Los Osos property owners finally waking up to what I first exposed at this link:


... that those property owners are stuck funding a fraud for the next 18 years, and, therefore, understandably, they now refuse to pay that fraudulent assessment -- a fraudulent assessment, for a now-failed sewer disaster, and a fraqudulent assessment that is the ONLY thing that is securing those bonds -- and, perhaps, have contacted their attorneys, and THAT's why this: "Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District No. 1, CA Rating Suspended On Lack Of Information?"

Is it that, or is it something else? I mean, what's the deal there?

This whole mess smells really fishy.

I'm very curious to know the answer, because, on the District's web site, at this link:


... it reads:

"District Transparency

As a local goverment [sic] agency, this Los Osos Community Services District has a responsibility to remain transparent to the public. We are held accountable by our community."

Well, this:

"This action follows repeated attempts by S&P Global Ratings to obtain timely information (from the LOCSD) of satisfactory quality to maintain our rating on the securities..."

... doesn't sound much like this:

"... a responsibility to remain transparent to the public. We are held accountable by our community."

Any information you could supply me with on why, just a few weeks ago, "S&P Global Ratings has suspended its 'BBB-' underlying rating (SPUR) on Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Assessment District No. 1, Calif.'s series 2002 limited obligation improvement bonds," would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Ron

P.S: This email posted to my blog, SewerWatch, at this link:


Thanks again.

-- 
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sewerwatch.blogspot.com