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Oceano district to pay ex-board member $75,000 in lump sum

The Oceano services district will pay a former board member about $75,000 in attorney’s fees in one lump sum rather than considering spreading the payment over multiple years.

The district board on July 13 was expected to discuss a resolution declaring an “unreasonable hardship” would result if the district wasn’t able to pay $74,441 in attorney’s fees and $691 in costs to Pamela Dean in equal installments over 10 years.

The item, however, was pulled from the agenda so that Interim General Manager Tom Geaslen could discuss new information with the board in closed session. Geaslen said today that the district plans to pay Dean the full amount.

The district was ordered to pay Dean’s attorney’s fees in June, five months after San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall had found the district board had illegally appointed Lori Angello to fill a vacancy on Feb. 10, 2010, in a 2-1 vote in which Dean dissented.

Shortly after Angello’s appointment, the district’s former legal counsel, Alex Simas, wrote the board that he had erred in his advice to former General Manager Raffaele Montemurro on filling the vacancy and that three affirmative votes were required to appoint Angello.

Dean then requested the board reconsider Angello’s appointment. Angello held that she was properly seated. She ran unopposed for a seat in November and is now the board’s president.

Dean then filed a lawsuit against the district in March 2010, claiming Angello was illegally seated on the board.

In his ruling, Crandall did not order Angello to pay any of the attorney’s fees, writing that the district was a public agency and so “there is little risk of insolvency.”

On July 15, Dean’s attorney, Richard Carsel, filed a motion asking Crandall to reconsider that decision and hold Angello liable for payment if the district did not pay the fees and costs because of insolvency. Carsel said today that he would withdraw that motion as soon as the district’s payment is received.

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