Mother Calhoun Explains It All While Mike “No Spin” Drake, Los Osos’ Former Public Information Officer Heads Out The Door or To His Attorney’s Office.
Last night the new CSD board voted 5 – 0 to retain General Manager Bruce Buel, but put him on administrative leave until a new team of management specialists arrive. This Rent–A-Management Team is one of those consultant organizations that apparently specializes in “disaster relief.” They arrive at the scene of a civic train wreck and sort things out, get the bodies buried, the fires put out, and hold the fort until the shocked citizens can take over the reins, then they’re off for safer places than Los Osos, say, like Faluja.
Buel will be available to the new team and Board for brain-picking as he knows where the bodies are buried. So his extensive knowledge of the train-wrecked Hideous Los Osos Sewer project left behind by so many of the Buel-recommended Board actions of the Recalled Three will need to be scrutinized and transferred from his brain to the Rent-A-Management Team. As Buel’s contract runs out in ’07, that information transfer will probably work out perfectly for that time frame. After which, Bruce will be free to boogie off to safer places than Los Osos, say, like, Baghdad.
I suspect that closed session vote was a squeaker, but at least Buel kept his job. Not so lucky was our new Public Information Officer, Mike Drake. His contract was terminated. In a recent Tribune report, he threatened legal action if the terms of his contract were abridged, so it’s not known as of this writing whether his contract had been written with a dead-man switch in it –a clause that stated that he was only hired to be the PIO for the duration of the sewer construction project – post street closings, traffic alerts, explain construction delays or problems, & etc. -- and if the sewer project is now in stand-down mode, there’s no PI for the PIO to hand out, so, it’s buh-bye.
I suspect the closed session concerning Mike’s contract wasn’t a squeaker. It was more likely a slam dunk because poor Mike had made some fatal errors going into this job. For him, the learning curve pointed down, not up.
First of all, I think he mistook many Los Ososians for fools, for easy marks just ripe to be sold cheap soap. It’s an easy mistake. We bearish folk often shamble around in Los Osos’ version of dress casual – a cross between an unmade bed and wash-the-car duds. Worse yet, anyone listening in to our wonderfully wacky “public comments” at our local government meetings should be forgiven for thinking we’re a bunch of folks just ripe for the easy con by Florida swamp land salesmen or a PR hotshot from Ventura. But that appearance is, in reality, a deadly disguise that hides an often ferocious intelligence with highly sensitive B.S. detectors built in. And once Los Ososians start casting sly sideways glances at each other and their eyeballs start rolling at some particularly egregious bit of newbie tomfoolery, look out.
Second, Mike publicly declared, right out of the box, he would never “spin.” Ooooo, bad, bad. An awful lot of Los Ososians understand that you do not put the word “public relations” and “spin” in the same sentence. You don’t even put them in the same room together. They are oxymorons. You will get one or the other, never both. And if you hire a “media guy,” you’re gonna get media guy spin. It’s what media guys do.
Third, Mike often either didn’t check his facts or believed the facts he was given, (why should he have doubted information given to him by either Board members or the highest level of “staff?”) and so he ended up often putting out Public DisInformation or partial information (“spin”) or no information at all, which infuriated a whole lot of people. In short, he ended up stuck in an untenable position.
Finally, and most fatal of all, Mike allowed himself to get caught up in the middle of a dogfight because he forgot he didn’t own a dog.
At the end of the evening, the new CSD voted to abide by the provisions of the measure B initiative and invoked Section 15 clause of the contracts to stop work for now. This stand down will stop the massive daily bleed-out of money that was set into motion by the previous Board members who heedlessly put petal to the metal on this train and at full speed set it off the cliff, imprudently and arrogantly gambling that the recall would fail and all would be well.
They lost that bet, but unfortunately for the taxpayers, they were gambling with your money. So, now you’ll pay big time to clean up a mess that didn’t have to happen in the first place.
Too bad Mr. Mike wasn’t given one last Public Information duty: Explain THAT to Los Osos --without “spin.”