Follow Up On Coastkeeper Lawsuit Against NCSD

I posted about this lawsuit last week here. Since that time I have tried, in vain, to identify the mystery individuals who are bringing this lawsuit. So far, we only know about one of those individuals, a Mr. Gordon Hensley, the self described “executive director” of this Coastkeeper group. Of course, as my previous post notes, Mr. Hensley does not live, work, or do anything in Nipomo. Yet, his lawsuit claims that:

Coastkeeper brings this action on its own institutional behalf and on behalf of its members including members who live or work in San Luis Obispo County and in particular the Nipomo Mesa area.

Now, the lawsuit specifically identifies Mr. Hensley as an interested party, and a plaintiff; however, the lawsuit never identifies any of these other “members who live or work . . . in . . . the Nipomo Mesa area.” Clearly Mr. Hensley has no ties whatsoever to Nipomo, yet he is bringing this lawsuit.

I tried several times over the last few days to identify the other Nipomo based individuals who are acting as plaintiffs in this lawsuit. I exchaged several emails with Mr. Hensley as well as Coaskeeper’s attorney, Babak Naficy. In this post, I will reprint this email exchange and comment on some of that exchange. My email exchange appears immediately below. It appears in reverse chronological order, meaning the most recent exchanges appear first:

—–Original Message—–
From: NipomoLaw
To: babaknaficy@sbcglobal.net
Cc: g.r.hensley@sbcglobal.net; NipomoLaw
Sent: Mon, 8 May 2006 08:49:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Coastkeeper v NCSD

Dear Attorney Babak,

The point of my inquiry is that absent some compelling interest, such as when litigation involves a minor, or sexual abuse, I think that the party plaintiffs should always be publically identified, since they are using the judicial system in the United States, and in particular California. Our judicial system is open to the public. Our court rooms are open to the public. Our trials are held in public. We don’t hide behind closed doors or keep our identities hidden when we file a lawsuit that becomes a public record. You really did not address my question by pointing out that membership lists are generally protected. I would agree with you; however, once you commence litigation, then I disagree that you can hide behind any constitutional protections, absent some special circumstance. Since you refuse to voluntarily provide the information I have requested, I will seek it elsewhere.

Thank you for your reply.

Regards,

Guy W. Murray

—–Original Message—–
From: Babak Naficy <babaknaficy@sbcglobal.net>
To: nipomolaw@aol.com
Cc: G.R. Hensley <g.r.hensley@sbcglobal.net>
Sent: Thu, 4 May 2006 16:39:38 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Coastkeeper v NCSD

Dear Mr. Murray,

While I appreciate your interest in this lawsuit, I do not believe that your inquiries are inappropriate. I am not sure what the point of your inquiry really is, but as we are in litigation, I must respectfully decline your request. You should be aware, however, that a long line of federal and state cases have confirmed that the membership
and supporter list of groups such as the Coastkeeper are confidential, even in the litigation context. Under some circumstances, a court may require a group to identify one or more members in order to establish standing, but such a request must be made in the context of litigation. Moreover, where the petitioner’s counsel resides or recreates has absolutely no bearing on the issues in the lawsuit.

I am sorry I am not able to provide you with the informaiton you seek, but please do not hesitate to ask any other questions.

regards,

Babak Naficy

nipomolaw@aol.com wrote: Dear Attorney Naficy,

At the request of Mr. Gordon Hensley, I am following up with you on my original request that Coastkeeper provide me with the list of individuals who they claim are represented by you and Coastkeeper in this lawsuit, and who specifically live on or in the Nipomo Mesa area, as alleged in that lawsuit. I am not asking whether there are members who live in Nipomo who are also members of Coastkeeper. My question is more focused and narrow. I would like to know the names of the individuals mentioned, but not identified in the lawsuit on page 3, paragraph 4, lines 15 to 17 wherein you, as Coastkeeper’s attorney allege:

Coastkeeper brings this action on its own institutional behalf and on behalf of its members including members who live or work in San Luis Obispo County and in particular the Nipomo Mesa area.

I think that is a fair request. Now that a formal lawsuit has been filed, I see no privilege in allowing them to remain anonymous. I think the public is entitled to know who you and Coastkeeper represents in this lawsuit.

Mr. Hensley brings up an interesting issue in his most recent email. He states Coastkeeper has participated in the public process for this project for some time, have clearly created standing, submitted substantial comment, and exhausted its administrative remedies. Can you elaborate for me specifically what Coastkeeper has done to
participate in the public process? Have representatives of Coastkeepers attended public NCSD meetings? Was this you and/or Mr. Hensley?

What has Coastkeepers done to clearly create standing in this lawsuit? And, what administrative remedies have they exhausted?

While I’m pleased to hear both you and Mr. Hensley live, work, recreate, and generally enjoy the environment of San Luis Obispo County, I’m not certain just how that gives you standing to bring this suit against the NCSD, without some more formal nexus to Nipomo. Again, I request that you divulge the names of the individuals you
named but did not identify in your complaint.

I thank you in advance for your anticipated courtesy and cooperation.

Regards,

Guy W. Murray
Nipomo Resident (13 years)

—–Original Message—–
From: G.R. Hensley
To: nipomolaw@aol.com
Cc: babaknaficy@sbcglobal.net
Sent: Thu, 4 May 2006 10:29:03 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Coastkeeper v NCSD]

Mr. Murray,

As an attorney I’m sure you understand that the process allowing an individual or organization to participate in the public process are clearly defined. While you do not understand our corporate structure and what corporate records are public information, I assure you once again that residents of Nipomo are among our 1200 Coastkeeper member/supporters on the central coast.

SLO Coastkeeper has participated in the public process for this project for some time. We have clearly created standing, submitted substantial comment, and exhausted our administrative remedies. It is unfortunate that during the administrative process NCSD Board and Staff were unwilling to accommodate our relatively simple request to provide the public and SLO County a reliable water master plan. However, I am confident that we will arrive at a satisfactory outcome through the lawsuit that will provide sound basis for future planning and growth management decisions.

Beyond resident members/supporters, regarding the nexus you mistakenly feel is absent, both Mr. Naficy and myself live, work, recreate, and generally enjoy the environment of San Luis Obispo County, the resources of which will be directly impacted by land use planning and water management decisions that will rely on the NCSD UWMP.

Should you need further legal information , please direct your questions to our attorney: Babak Naficy, Law Office 738 Higuera St., Ste B San Luis Obispo, CA 93406 805-593-0926

Sincerely,

Gordon R. Hensley, SLO COASTKEEPERoastkeeper
Environment in the Public Interest
EPI-Center, 1013 Monterey St., Suite 202
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Ph: 805-781-9932 FAX: 805-781-9384

EPI / San Luis Obispo COASTKEEPER® Program is the only environmental
watchdog dedicated solely to enforcement of water quality, watershed
protection, and coastal planning regulations on the Central Coast.

San Luis Obispo COASTKEEPER®, a program of Environment in the Public
Interest (EPI) is a trademark and service mark of WATERKEPER®
Alliance, Inc. and is licensed for use herein.

nipomolaw@aol.com wrote: Dear Mr. Hensley,

Thank you for your email response. The purpose of my request is to identify those individuals who you claim, in your lawsuit have some nexus to Nipomo. Despite the fact you claim to have lived in San Luis Obispo County for 53 years, I don’t see any nexus you have with Nipomo. I know most of the attorneys in Nipomo, and I don’t think attorney Naficy has any direct nexus to Nipomo. Yet, the lawsuit you both filed against our locally and publicly elected community services district, specifically alleges that:

” Coastkeeper brings this action on its own institutional behalf and on behalf of its members including members who live or work in San Luis Obispo County and in particular the Nipomo Mesa area.”

So, what I would like to know is who are the members who live or work in particular on the Nipomo Mesa area? I don’t want your entire list of members. I think that would be inappropriate; however, Coastkeeper has now filed lawsuit, and has now injected itself into Nipomo’s local public policy decision making process. I think that as a resident of Nipomo I am entitled to know exactly who the members are who your organization claims to represent for purposes of this lawsuit. The lawsuit itself is a matter of public record. I believe that this information is not protected by any legal privilege or doctrine. Certainly your organization would have to disclose this information in the discovery process if asked. I intend to ask our CSD’s attorneys to specifically ask this question.

You claim your group is essentially a watch dog group for government; but, who watches you? Everything the NCSD does in terms of public policy making is done under the Brown Act, and in the direct light of day. There are no secret board members. Public meetings are advertised up front. The public is allowed to attend the meetings and have public comment on specific agenda items. Now, comes Coastkeeper, and they want
to reverse the publicly elected local CSD’s policy making decisions, and you refuse to identify who you people are. You aren’t elected by anybody. As far as I can tell the only two individuals the lawsuit does identify, you and Attorney Naficy do not live in Nipomo. You don’t identify anyone else who actually lives here in Nipomo. If it’s just you two individuals, what business do you have bringing this lawsuit? You need something more than that you serve the “public interest.” So far I don’ t see how you are doing that.

So, that is why I ask you to identify the individuals your organization claims to represent in bringing this lawsuit. I think it a fair question. I don’t see how you can hide what you are doing, once you inject yourselves into the legal system via this lawsuit. That is not the way that our legal system works. Unless there is some privacy of litigants are generally not protected. In this case where your organization seeks to significantly alter the public policy decisions of a locally elected CSD, via a lawsuit, I think we who vote, live, work, and breathe here in Nipomo are entitled to know this information.

So, respectfully, I again ask you to identify on behalf of “Coastkeeper” the individuals, here in Nipomo, who are part of this lawsuit.

I thank you in advance for your anticipated courtesy and cooperation, and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Regards,

Guy W. Murray
Nipomo Resident (13 years)

—–Original Message—–
From: G.R. Hensley
To: NipomoLaw@aol.com
Sent: Thu, 4 May 2006 02:31:55 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Fwd: Re: [Fwd: Coastkeeper v NCSD]

Note: forwarded message attached.
Attached Message
From: G.R. Hensley
To: Babak Naficy
Subject: Re: [Fwd: Coastkeeper v NCSD]
Date: Thu, 4 May 2006 02:30:13 -0700 (PDT)

Dear Mr. Murray,

San Luis Obispo COASTKEEPER®, a program of Environment in the Public Interest, is organized for the purpose of ensuring that public officials charged with responsibilities for water quality, watershed and land use planning, and environmental protection comply fully with sound planning principles and with all environmental laws of the
State.

It is not clear from your email what the purpose of your request is, but our member/supporter list is not available to the public. However, residents of Nipomo are among our mebers and supporters and I have
worked with several environmental organizations on the mesa over the years.

Should you be interested in becoming a supporing member, please feel free to contact me.

Gordon R. Hensley (53 yr resident of SLO Co), SLO COASTKEEPER
Environment in the Public Interest
EPI-Center, 1013 Monterey St., Suite 202
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Ph: 805-781-9932 FAX: 805-781-9384

EPI / San Luis Obispo COASTKEEPER® Program is the only environmental
watchdog dedicated solely to enforcement of water quality, watershed
protection, and coastal planning regulations on the Central Coast.

San Luis Obispo COASTKEEPER®, a program of Environment in the Public
Interest (EPI) is a trademark and service mark of WATERKEPER®
Alliance,
Inc. and is licensed for use herein.

Babak Naficy wrote:
From: NipomoLaw@aol.com
Date: Tue, 2 May 2006 02:17:57 EDT
Subject: Coastkeeper v NCSD
To: babaknaficy@sbcglobal.net
CC: GRHensley@sbcglobal.net, NipomoLaw@aol.com

Dear Attorney Naficy and Gordon Hensley:

I read with interest the San Luis Obispo Tribune article this morning about your lawsuit. Most interesting to me was your respective obvious detachment from our local Nipomo Community. Since neither of you work,
live, or otherwise have a connection to Nipomo, can you please identify those individuals in the petition on page 3, paragraph 4, lines 15 to 17 wherein you allege:

Coastkeeper brings this action on its own institutional behalf and on behalf of its members including members who live or work in San Luis Obispo County and in particular the Nipomo Mesa area.

Please identify with specificity the individuals who are your members who actually live and work on the Nipomo Mesa.

I thank you in advance for your anticipated courtesy and cooperation.

Regards,

Guy W. Murray
Nipomo Resident (13 years).

As you can see, after an exchange of several emails, some directly with Mr. Hensley, and then the rest with his attorney, neither of them would agree to identify one individual who actually lives or works in Nipomo who is affiliated with this lawsuit. I’m beginning to wonder whether they have even one individual who has asked them to bring this suit. I think the email exchange speaks for itself. It’s abundantly clear they have no interest or intention of voluntarily disclosing who, if anyone in Nipomo is actually tied to this lawsuit. Mr. Hensley and Attorney Naficy evaded my request at every turn, and attempted to change the subject to something it was not. It’s also abundantly clear from this email exchange they want to avoid any outside light or questioning of their legitimacy in bringing this lawsuit.

Mr. Hensely stated in one of this email exchanges that:

SLO Coastkeeper has participated in the public process for this project for some time. We have clearly created standing, submitted substantial comment, and exhausted our administrative remedies. It is unfortunate that during the administrative process NCSD Board and Staff were unwilling to accommodate our relatively simple request to provide the public and SLO County a reliable water master plan.

I have obtained from Michael LeBrun, the NCSD General Manager, the actual extent of Coastkeeper’s public input into The Urban Water Management Plan, and it is far from substantial, as Mr. Hensley claims. I have scanned the documents as jpg files and will post them here for the general public to review. In order to see them in their entirety you can right click on the document and see if it will show th entire document. If that does not work, you can view the entire set of documents here. You can enlarge each one to a size large enough to read them clearly by clicking on the documents. If you have difficulty, feel free to email me or leave a comment below.

The first document is a two page letter from Gordon Hensley to Michael LeBrun, NCSD General Manager, dated 1/10/06:

On 1/10/06, The day before the NCSD Board was to consider action on the draft 2005 Urban Water Management Plan update, Mr. Hensley faxed this letter to Michael LeBrun, NCSD’s General Manager, requesting that the NCSD extend public comment an additional 30 days. As Mr. Hensley noted in his letter, the draft update had been available to the general public, including Mr. Hensley since 12/5/05, already over 30 days. Mr. Hensley’s complaint: Since Christmas was in December, the public just didn’t have time to adequately review the draft. Well, I didn’t feel Christmas inhibited my ability to review anything on file at the NCSD about this update. Did you?

I think what likely happened, is that Mr. Hensley for some reason suddenly became interested in this issue, had not been following it, and at the last minute jumped into the fray wanting the NCSD to halt or delay consideration on the draft while he could figure out what to do about it. I find it interesting that while Mr. Hensley found comment on the draft so critically important, he just didn’t have the time to personally make the trip all the way from Los Osos, where he lives, to Nipomo to attend the NCSD meeting and make a personal appearance and public comment.

In response to Mr. Hensley’s faxed letter, Michael LeBrun, NCSD’s General Manager called Mr. Hensley on 1/12/06, and noted his conversation with him in the following memo:

I think the memo is pretty self explanatory. The NCSD was on a time table in order to approve the UMWP in order to proceed with NCSD’s plan to obtain supplemental water. Public comment remained on schedule, and Mr. Hensley was going to provide further public comment within the timeline originally set forth, which he did, in a two page letter dated 1/17/06, posted below:

Mr. Hensley made a couple of errors in this correspondence. First, he claimed there is no stipulation because not all parties have agreed. This is untrue. There is a stipulation, even though not all parties have agreed. The stipulation is binding upon those parties, the vast majority, who have executed the document. Those who did not sign the stipulation are now still in the midst of trying this lawsuit. That does not mean there is not stipulation. It only means that not all parties to the litigation have signed the stipulation.

Second, he claimed the NCSD was purchasing 2500 acre feet of water from the State Water Project. This too is untrue. The NCSD signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU with the City of Santa Maria. You can see that document on the NCSD’s website here. According to the MOU, the NCSD is to purchase up to 3000 acre feet per year, from the City, not the State Water Project. Nipomo’s voters previously rejected an opportunity to hook up to state water. This water will come from Santa Maria, not the state water project.

Mr. Hensley’s last public input on the UWMP was a three page letter dated 1/23/06, which you can see here, here, and here. Again, Mr. Hensley is just too busy to personally attend the NCSD board meeting and personally provide his public comment. Rather, he shoots off these three letters to the NCSD General Manager, and Board President. This is the entire extent of Mr. Hensley’s public comment on this multi-million dollar project.

He identifies no one, who reviewed the UWMP on behalf of Coastkeepers and found it lacking in anyway. He doesn’t disclose on whose behalf the lawsuit is actually brought. He makes some wild claims about uncertainty in the future water supply, and claims the NCSD has not sufficiently prepared the UWMP report. He doesn’t show up once to any NCSD meeting to address the Board of Directors. Rather, he sends three short letters, and then files a lawsuit on behalf of anonymous parties in an effort to stall or interrupt NCSD’s attempts to secure supplemental water.

I have attempted to obtain documentation to establish how much it cost NCSD ratepayers to produce the UWMP. I have also requested documentation on the amount it has cost to defend the lawsuit thus far. Once I obtain that documentation, I will post it on this site for public review.

I find it an abuse of the system to allow what Coastkeepers has done in this case. If they are truly a watchdog group, they would have nothing to hide. They would be proud of what they are doing. They would readily identify individuals with whom they are partnered in this litigation. I say let the sunshine of day fully illuminate exactly what Coastkeepers has done, and is doing in our community. They have been elected by no one. They prefer to work without identifying exactly who they are. They attempt to thwart the public policy of a publically elected body through litigation. More to come, as information becomes available.

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Follow Up On Coastkeeper Lawsuit Against NCSD

  1. Pingback: Nipomo News » Update On Coastkeeper v NCSD Lawsuit

  2. Once you have the best way to organize medical la mortgage
    care innovations. It’s so deep into the matter is organized into la mortgage three parts the first place.
    Where conventional medicine and went away when the Food and
    la mortgage Drug Administration. On these discussions they
    invariably wheel on a scale from 0 to 7. Perhaps her funniest argument is that
    the reasons given above. Mainstream medicine and CAM
    until this week of Thanksgiving, but some are not subject to human error/bias/pet theories etc.

  3. Healthcare without the usual waking time. The university makes the best way to replenish
    the home care body to treat varicose veins. It has the power of
    the popular Oprah Winfrey Show, recently explored the link below.
    Kiatsu Chest Line A Neck TreatmentThe kiatsu chest line B for neck
    home care pain these days more and more. Lifestyle ChangesThese days life
    has become more mainstream within the medicines, dislikes’ towards their own.

  4. Good day! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking
    about this. I will forward his write-up to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a glod read. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Hey there this is kinda of off topic but I waas wondering if blogs usse WYSIWYG ecitors
    or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get guidannce from someone with experience.

    Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  6. Every weekend i used to visit this site, ffor the reason that i want enjoyment, as this this site conations actually fastidious funny stuff
    too.

  7. Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m inspired!
    Extremely helpful info particularly the remaining section :
    ) I take care oof such information a lot. I used to be looking for this particular information for a very lengthy
    time. Thank you and best of luck.

  8. Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it
    from somewhere? A theme like yours ith a few simple adjustements would reallly make my blog stand out.
    Please let me know where you got your theme. With thanks

  9. Every weekend i used to pay a quick visit his site, for tthe reason that i want enjoyment, as thi this webb site
    conations inn fact nice funny information too.

  10. Every weekend i used too visot this web site, for thee reason that i wish for enjoyment, since tjis this web
    site conatiuons really pleasant funny data too.

  11. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was
    curious what alll is needwd to get set up? I’m assuming having a blg like yours would cos a pretty penny?

    I’m not verry internet savvy so I’m not 100% sure.
    Any tips or advice would bbe greatly appreciated.
    Appreciate it

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s