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Report set on Public Works head

The county’s top administrator says he will release his investigative report on Public Works Director Paavo Ogren on Tuesday “unless something unexpected comes up.”

“It is my intention to report out after closed session,” County Administrator Jim Grant wrote in an email to The Tribune. Closed session takes place after the morning session of the Board of Supervisors, and the report starts the afternoon meeting at 1:30 p.m.

Grant has been looking into whether the personal relationship between Ogren and former Los Osos Community Services District Director Maria Kelly constitutes a conflict of interest.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson in June asked Grant to look into allegations that the two were “conspiring to help push through a $200 million sewer project,” Grant said.

The allegations come from some opponents of the Los Osos sewer proposal and were highlighted on a website called CalCoast News that caught county officials’ attention.

The nature of the supposed conflict is unclear because the district and the county are two separate organizations. The county is in charge of the sewer project, and the CSD has no role at this time, although it has in the past. Clarifying that timeline and its implications is one of several aspects of the situation that Grant has been exploring.

The county is overseeing design and construction of a sewer for Los Osos. Residents now rely on septic systems, but they have been found to be contaminating the ground water basin.

Both Kelly and Ogren have said the relationship is their personal business and has nothing to do with their professional responsibilities.

The allegations have been magnified by the online publication of details from Maria Kelly’s divorce suit from husband Shaun Kelly, who is with the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

The Kellys were separated in July 2010, and the divorce became final in December.

Shaun Kelly told The Tribune that he has not spoken with CalCoast News and has been trying to keep a low profile. He said he has been trying to “stay out of the public eye and get into a stable situation” and is not happy about the family’s problems becoming public.

Grant said he has looked at the divorce papers, adding “I was just being thorough in my review, since it had been brought up in one of the online articles. I had no idea if it was pertinent or not.”

Grant said the alleged conflict factored into Ogren’s annual performance evaluation but only in a larger context that also includes “work products, leadership abilities, budgeting and feedback from staff, peers and the board, etc.” “So, yes, this issue would be included as part of the annual evaluation,” he wrote in an email, “but weighted based upon its overall significance determined by my findings.”

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