Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, the Bay News, Los Osos, for January 18, 06
Sing-Along in Sewerville
Koooombyyaaaa, My Lord, Koooombyyaaaaaa…Oooohhhh Lord, Koooommbyaaaaaa
Regional Water Quality Control Board member Gary C. Shallcross was quoted in a Jan 6 Tribune story on the $6.6 million fine the board had just levied against Los Osos as saying “that seeing a community ‘go at each others throats in such an ugly way’ was one of the saddest things that has come before the regional board.”
I can only surmise that Mr. Shallcross remains curiously clueless about the role his own Board and Staff played in creating this mess – years of puzzling indifference and questionable “science” alternating with irrational bullying threats that resulted in an unholy collusion that helped create the train-wreck now before him. He is also apparently oblivious as to the complexity of this process and apparently believes that sewering an already built town in about 4 years is “reasonable.” It never was “reasonable.” But Mr. Shallcross apparently never bothered to understand that the Time Schedule Order (TSO) that was the loony engine that was driving this train off the cliff was always nuts. Indeed, four times former General Manager Bruce Buel testified that the TSO was unreasonable, unreasonable, unreasonable, and . . . unreasonable.
With what most likely were crocodile tears, Mr. Shallcross went on, “It makes me sick to my stomach . . . Hopefully someday you’ll all get together and hold hands and sing Kumbaya. But I don’t think that’s going to happen,” once again proving that Mr. Shallcross hasn’t been paying attention to what was supposed to be his area of concern here: Los Osos.
On October, 30th, had Mr. Shallcross been paying attention, he would have heard strains of Kumbaya wafting from the community center as die-hard Tri-Ws and die-hard anti-Tri-Ws, one by one, went to the podium for public comment and said of the “Negotiated Deal That Wasn’t Negotiated,” things like, “Well, it’s not what I wanted but I can live with it.” or “Actually, I was never really married to the in-town site and if we can get a better plant out of town, I’ll vote for that,” and such like. Kumbaya doesn’t sound sweeter than that.
But Mr. Shallcross wasn’t paying attention. He had old tapes playing in his head and was not able to see what was going on in front of his nose despite three grueling days of hearings. Oblivious, was Mr. Shallcross and oblivious was the entire Regional Board, except for one thing and one thing only: Their single-minded search for assets in Los Osos that could be converted to cash in the form of fines and paid to the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
For me, that was one of the “saddest things that has come before the regional board.” It made me sick to my stomach – a water board that spent no time discussing how to move ahead to fix a water and wastewater problem. Not once did a single Board member say, “We’re all about water quality and you folks have hit a rock in the road to fixing your water quality so tell us how we can help you get this water quality project going in a direction the community will accept so we can solve these water quality issues.” Nope, not a bit of it. Not a whisper about water. It was all about money.
Even sadder was a question repeatedly asked and left unanswered: How does bankrupting a community fix a wastewater problem?
The answer to that question would have been obvious had Mr. Shallcross and his fellow Board members been interested in water and water quality. Indeed, had Mr. Shallcross and his colleagues been interested in such things, I have absolutely no doubt at all that the “Negotiated Deal That Wasn’t Negotiated” would have gone through and we’d be on our way to finishing this project. But pre- and post-election emails among certain community members, the RWQCB staff and the State Water Board, emails later posted on the Tribune’s website, show a far different agenda was at work.
So, now everyone will wander into court. Too bad Mr. Shallcross is not able to see just how sad that is and just what role he and his fellow Board members had in creating the situation in the first place. But his head is just too full of old tapes, looping endlessly, bearing out-of-date information and corny old camp songs. Kumbaya, indeed.
For sheer bloviating fatuity, that comment is hard to beat.