I already solved this but decided to post because someone else may struggle with this. For whatever reason the css files are being created with only user read/write access. The import directive on the web server requires that the files also be "other" = "read". I do not know why but this causes the server to not import the CSS. My fix is a one time chmod of the files. Perhaps if the programmer were to code that in as well. (:
-rw----r-- 1 merlin users 251 Apr 7 18:49 my_style.css
So the end symptom is simply.. no css works. I am seeing this on a number of multisite css plugins using my apache server configuration.