So, a few weeks back, a little source-elf emails me a seemingly boring, yet, upon further review, extremely interesting document.
It's something called a, "Debtor's Claims Register
," from the Los Osos Community Services District, and it's a list of people and companies that filed a claim (and either got paid, or didn't) in the District's bankruptcy proceedings over the past few years.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "How in the world can a boring government document called a, "Debtor's Claims Register," from the Los Osos Community Services District, be considered, in any way, 'extremely interesting?'"
Well, here's how:
If you look at that document closely (it's only six pages, so it goes pretty fast), you'll notice that there are numerous (about 80) claims from individual property owners, that are in the $2,000 - $6,000-ish range, and, almost
all of those claims would go on to be rejected.
For example, according to that document, former [recalled] LOCSD Director, Gordon Hensley
, filed a claim for "$6,511.76," however, under the category, "Objection Status," it reads, "Objection sustained," and then under the "Final Claim Amount" category, it reads, "$0.00," which means Hensley didn't get a penny of his claim, due to some sort of "objection" by the District.
And that's exactly how it goes for almost all
of those same type of individual Los Osos property owner: $2,000 - $6,000-ish range claims: "Objection sustained," "Final Claim Amount: $0.00," over and over and over again.
, and here's the weird/interesting part, seven of those exact type of claims were NOT "Objection sustained," "Final Claim Amount: $0.00."
For example, one of those seven is, "Hans & Pam Langfeldt," and under their
"Objection Status" category, it's blank -- no
"Objection sustained" -- and, then, under their
"Final Claim Amount" category, it reads, "$3,299.06."
Same with Lenora Gentry, "Final Claim Amount: $3,299.06."
Frank Merrill? "$4,950.93."
John & Vivian McNeil? "$6,395.48."
Richard & Paulette Staley? "$3,464.01"
Cal & Rosemary Wilvert? "$3,299.06."
Mr. & Mrs. C.D. Mussey? "$3,299.06."
And it's just those seven, out of about 80 of the exact type of claims, whose "Final Claim Amount" category has a dollar figure in it, and no
After reviewing the "Debtor's Claims Register," I sent the District a public record request for a copy of the processed check between the LOCSD and "Hans & Pamela Langfeldt."
What they sent me is interesting.
It's a full page of the District's checks
that were made out to various people and companies in February, 2014.
And, sure enough, one of those processed checks?:
"PAY TO THE ORDER OF: Hans & Pam Langfeldt," DATE: 2/5/2014, "AMOUNT: $1,353."
Same with Frank Merrill, Lenora Gentry, etc.
So, apparently, there's another
interesting twist in play here: The seven claims that were NOT "Objection sustained" (for reasons heretofore unknown) in the "Debtor's Claims Register," when it came time to cut the actual checks for those claims, the amount ended up being far
less than the "Final Claim Amount" from the "Debtor's Claims Register."
For example, Frank Merrill's "Final Claim Amount" from the "Debtor's Claims Register," was "$4,950.93," and he ended up getting a check for "$2,030.00."
Now, I have no idea why
that discrepancy exists, but I'm just going to chalk it up to some confusing bankruptcy-settlement type thingee. (Maybe the District will be cutting Merrill another
check in the future for the balance? I don't know, but if I ever find out, I'll post it.)
But, there it is, clear as day: The Los Osos CSD, earlier this year, cut checks to just seven property owners, and NOT to the 70-something others that filed an official, and similar, claim found in the "Debtor's Claims Register."
I recently asked Keith Swanson, from the LOCSD Finance Committee, "Why did the District issue those checks to those people?"
And, he told me, "... the checks were part of the bankruptcy. Issued to those who pre-paid their (2001) assessment."
And there's my (usual) SewerWatch
You see, back at this link (from about a year ago):
... I exposed how "more than 4,000" property owners are STILL paying that exact assessment that those seven got (partially) refunded, and those "more than 4,000" property owners will continue to pay it until the year 2034
As I also (fairly) recently exposed, at this link:
... that 2001 assessment -- that SOME Los Osos property owners got (at least partially) refunded, while the vast majority didn't -- is going towards "paying" for a now-miserably-failed, non-sewer-project, that will never exist,
"more than 4,000" Los Osos property owners are now stuck paying, until the year 2034
, for a public works embarrassment that will never exist
, Los Osos has made property tax history.
That situation -- where property owners are stuck paying (for the next 20 years) for a public works disaster, that will never exist -- has never happened... anywhere. [I asked numerous sources, and the standard response is, "I've never heard of this before," and I've Googled the heck of it, and I can't find another instance. YOU try to find somewhere else where that situation exists. At least Boston's "Big Dig" fiasco eventually got built. But, the 1999 - 2005 LOCSD's mid-town-sewer-plant/"picnic area" disaster, that they wasted 7 years and some $25 million "developing," and that MOST Los Osos property owners are now stuck paying for, for the next two decades? Uh, not so much, of course.]
So, there you have it: The unbelievably fascinating situation currently
in Los Osos, California: SOME property owners getting a refund on their 2001 sewer assessment, while the vast majority of Los Osos property owners are now stuck paying that exact same assessment for the next 20 years, for a public works embarrassment, that will never exist, and thus, have made property tax history in the process.
Journalistically speaking? Doesn't get much better.
And THAT's the story of how a boring document titled, "Debtor's Claims Register," is "extremely interesting."
: Just a quick addendum:
I meant to include in this story the following, 9/2/14, email I sent former [recalled] LOCSD Director, Gordon Hensley:
- - - - - - - -
Howya been? Long-time, no email, eh? ; -)
Hey, real quick, I was just looking over the LOCSD's "Debtor's Claims Register," from the bankruptcy settlement, and I noticed on page 2 that you filed a claim for "$6,511.76."
I'm just curious, what was that claim for? Why were you saying that the LOCSD owed you "$6,511.76?"
By the way, throughout that 5-page document, there are numerous individual Los Osos property owners that filed claims in the $3,000 - $6,000 range, however, the vast majority of those claims, like yours, were "Objection sustained," and then "$0.00" was paid to the "Creditor."
However, seven others, like Lenora Gentry ("$3,299.06") on page 2 (highlighted) were NOT "Objection sustained," and they, apparently, got a check from the CSD.
So, now I'm wondering why your $3,000-$6,000-range claim was "Objection sustained," and you got "$0.00," while only seven others in that exact $3,000 - $6,000 range (including Lenora) got paid every penny of their
So, you know, what were you claiming? Maybe it was different from what the other seven were claiming, and that's why you didn't get paid.
However, if your claim was
similar to what the other seven (that DID get paid) were claiming, well, that doesn't sound too fair to you... and
all of those other "Objection sustained" $3,000-$6,000-range claimers. I mean, why did Lenora (and six others) get paid, and you guys (what looks to be about 100 of you) didn't?
Do you know the answer to that question?
As always, much thanks,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hensley, never replied, of course.
I also sent LOCSD General Manager, Kathy Kivley, this email on 10/16/14:
- - - - - - - -
I'm researching a story, and I just have a quick question involving the District's 2.28.14 Statement, where the LOCSD cut checks to:
Lenora Gentry, $1,353
Hans & Pam Langfeldt, $1,353
Frank Merrill, $2,030
John & Vivian McNeil, $2,622
I'm just curious, why did the District issue those checks to those people?
Was it for different reasons, or for the same reason?
- - - - -
Kivley never replied, of course.]