Lights, Camera, SCRIPT!
O.K. Los Osos. We know our CSD meetings are theatre, but in theatre, the actors are supposed to pay attention to script changes. When the director reshuffles scenes and takes out certain lines, pay attention! If not, you’ll see your Dramatic Reading from Hamlet end up as nonsensical farce plunked down in the middle of Spamalot.
Case in point. At the Dec 6 CSD meeting, interim attorney McClendon offered an interesting explanation as to the settlement by the CSD with the C.A.S.E. folks. If you recall, the recalled-3 Board majority went into court to block the Measure B initiative from ever getting on the ballot. Judge Hilton granted the stay, it immediately went to the appellate court in Ventura. That court issued a stay to the stay and asked Hilton to, basically, show why he issued the original stay. Apparently, the appellate court was looking at a recent State Supreme Court ruling that said that unless an initiative or referendum was blatantly, obvious-to-all unconstitutional, it should be allowed to go to ballot and then, if passed, it could be challenged in court. The idea behind that ruling is to safeguard the people’s right to vote and so it is better to err on the side of possibly letting a few goofy initiatives in rather than risk blocking a sacred right to vote.
When Measure B passed, the new Board had a risky choice: Drop their predecessor’s lawsuit and negotiate a fair amount for C.A.S.E.’s lawyers’ fees. (Remember, it was the previous CSD Board that brought suit, not C.A.S.E.) or continue to challenge the case and risk that the appellate court had already tipped its hand regarding its looking at the Supreme Court’s ruling and gamble on losing the case and having to settle lawyers’ fees that would be set by a formula by a judge that would surely be waaaaaaay higher. Rock? Hard place? none of which would have happened if the recalled-3 hadn’t filed suit in the first place, thereby putting the district at risk.
The present CSD didn’t want to take a further financial gamble and so settled. They also made absolutely clear that neither Al Barrow nor anyone involved with C.A.S.E. would get a penny. It was all paid directly to the attorneys they had to hire to defend against the previous CSD board’s lawsuit. Let me repeat, Mr. McClendon made it absolutely clear that Mr. Barrow didn’t get a penny.
Why is that relevant? Well, an audience member sat through that whole explanation only a few feet away from McClendon, then during public comment, got up and read from a prepared text. In a wonderful baritone that kept dramatically deepening the more the speaker’s ramped-up outrage grew, he repeatedly excoriated the CSD for paying Mr. Barrow $125,000. All that was missing from the drama was a few well-timed podium thumps.
Alas, instead of a key scene from Hamlet, we ended up with a surreal page from Spamalot. Folks in the audience must have swiveled their heads, rolled their eyes and thought, Huh? What page is he on? Wasn’t he sitting right there? Didn’t he hear?
So, my dear fellow Los Osos Thespians. It’s all well and good to read from prepared speeches. Few people, including myself, are able to speak on our feet. But, for crying out loud, pay attention to new information coming in and edit your written comments accordingly. Otherwise you end up looking like Saturday Night Live’s late, great Emily Latella, she of the rail against “violins in the street,” who, when reminded the topic was “violence in the streets,” sweetly squints at the camera and says, “Oh, well, nevermind.”
When you mix drama and inadvertent comedy you often end up with farce. Not, I suspect, the intended outcome of most folks who stand up to speak during public comment, although it often does come as a welcome relief.