Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA for July 19, 2006
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad B-Word?
Well, the spun cat’s out of the bag here in Sewerville: Bankruptcy, The Big Bad B-Word. Before the CSD has even had a chance to officially bring the issue to the public for comment, the Sunday Tribune has already boldly concluded in breathless front-page headlines that “BANKRUPTCY MAY BE A WINNER.” The figures the reporter used to come to that “winning” conclusion had to be “estimated,” since actual figures from the CSD itself were not available and checking actual figures might have delayed the story until, oh, Monday or Tuesday, or changed it all together.
Well, no matter, I can only hope the spin-shaping story didn’t unduly scare heck out of an already shell-shocked community (OhMyGawdWe’reAllGonnaDieTomorow) because there are a number of complex tasks now underway, the success of which depends on everyone getting actual facts instead of “estimated” ones in order to avoid another engineered train wreck.
It is no secret that a certain number of folks here in Sewerville want this particular CSD as dead as a doornail for very personal reasons that have nothing do with their mantra of “simply looking out for the good of the community.” (People who actually care about their community don’t email regulators demanding financial wrack and ruin be brought down on the heads of their neighbors.)
There are also a goodly number of folks here in Sewerville who couldn’t care less whether they ever had or will continue to have a CSD. For them, it was and is, Easy come, Easy go.
Finally, toss in a small group of My Way Or The Highway monkey-wrenchers, and you end up with a pretty large group of disparate players whose various agendas don’t really have room for considering “the best interests of the whole town.”
Right now, a series of delicate, intermeshing possibilities are in play, from the proposed Blakeslee Plan, to the LAFCO Dissolution hearing, several critical lawsuits challenging the breach of contract issues with the state, the speculation about a possible municipal CSD bankruptcy and reorganization, and, most important of all, a sewer update that will be ready for review on July 28th.
All of these complicated issues hinge on the CSD and the community remaining fully engaged, accurately informed with actual facts, and clear-headed about choices and consequences, especially unintended consequences. Hidden agendas, personal vendettas, back-room maneuvering, media spin, and all the monkey-wrenching in the underbrush are nothing but hindrances. It’s time to put the knives away and get everything out on the table.
I read once of an old, battle-scarred veteran who said, “In a war, the main thing is not to take your eye off the main thing.”
In the midst of what may look like the “fog of war,” the first order of business facing this community is to see through to completion a process already started that will result in a sustainable, energy efficient, water-solving, wastewater project that the majority of property owners will support, no matter who’s in charge of the thing. That is the one priority this community can’t lose sight of because a proper process that is heading in the right direction will also allow a number of now hopeless-looking Gordian knots to be untied.
Next, the community has to decide if it wants “local control.” Does a CSD, even one being reorganized under a bankruptcy court, still give the residents a stronger voice in solving their local problems than giving all control back to the county? For example, the Blakeslee Plan could allow for the possibility of the CSD to enter into some sort of MOU/ Inter-Agency Agreement with the County that would allow input on developing the wastewater system. No CSD, no MOU, no input. Ditto for challenging various court cases, like the ACLs, CDOs and the breach of contract suits still in the pipeline. In short, does the community still believe that a CSD (no matter who’s on the Board) inherently has a stronger vested interest in serving and protecting its citizens than does The County?
Those are just two critical choices that require an answer from this community and this CSD board. Your answer and theirs will begin to open a path out of the woods or close it forever. So, what’s it to be, my fellow Ursidaeans: Off another cliff or out into the sunny meadow?