By KAREN VELIE
In an attempt to control a director’s speech, the Oceano Community Services District Board voted 3-2 on Wednesday to bar Director Cynthia Replogle from any committee, liaison or subject matter assignments for one year.
The board originally attempted to muzzle Replogle in early 2019, after she spoke as a member of the public at a Pismo Beach City Council meeting. Because of environmental concerns, Replogle opposed plans to build a regional recycling water project in Oceano, which the majority of the Oceano board supported.
At that time, outraged members of the public accused the board of attempting to keep them in the dark by restricting opposing views, and the board majority dropped plans to punish Replogle.
At Wednesday’s poorly attended meeting, Director Karen White made a motion to bar Replogle from representing the board in any manner, noting that Replogle’s opposing views were confusing to Oceano residents.
“I get really tired of the destructive actions she takes in public,” White said.
Director Allene Villa disagreed, noting that Replogle explains that she is not speaking on behalf of the board when she voices a non-board majority opinion.
“It is a little bit obscene for a public body to say that everybody has to fall in line and agree with us when we make a decision,” Replogle said.
Even though Jeff Minnery, Oceano’s legal counsel, said Replogle had a legal right to voice her opinions, White and Director Shirley Gibson disagreed.
“Her behavior undermines our board and is destructive to our community,” Gibson said. “We do expect that after a vote, if you disagree with it, you should be mute.”
Replogle then questioned Gibson’s understanding of freedom of speech.
“That is not what the First Amendment is all about,” Replogle said. “Maybe you should read the Constitution.”
Directors White, Gibson and Linda Austin then voted to bar Replogle from committee assignments for one year. Villa and Replogle dissented.