Relationship between Paavo Ogren, Maria Kelly not a conflict of interest, official says

The county’s top administrator said Tuesday that Public Works Director Paavo Ogren had not created a conflict of interest because of his romantic relationship with former Los Osos Community Services District Director Maria Kelly.

County Administrator Jim Grant had been asked by the Board of Supervisors to look into allegations that Ogren and Kelly had been “conspiring to help push through a $200 million sewer project” in the seaside community.

Grant said Kelly and Ogren have had “a dating relationship” since January and were friends before that for at least four years, with the friendship “revolving around their children, work and mutual friends.”

“No conflict of interest exists as a result of a personal relationship between Mr. Ogren and Ms. Kelly,” Grant wrote.

“Neither the materials reviewed nor the interviews of county staff revealed evidence that the relationship between Mr. Ogren and Ms. Kelly resulted in a conflict of interest regarding accusations that they conspired to push through a $200 million sewer project in Los Osos.”

Grant noted in his report that the county has had sole control over the Los Osos sewer project since 2007. Kelly was elected to the Los Osos Community Services District board in November 2008 and neither she nor the current district board have had any control over the sewer. Kelly resigned from the services district last year.

The accusations of impropriety came from some opponents of the sewer project and were highlighted on a website called Cal Coast News.

Grant said he had consulted with many parties in the course of his investigation, including the county counsel.

He added that the sewer project has received “immense scrutiny” from citizens and local governments.Both Kelly and Ogren have said the relationship is their personal business and has nothing to do with their professional responsibilities.

Read the report

Paavo Ogren-Maria Kelly Investigation