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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Calhoun’s Cannons ,The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA, for Feb 14, 07



On AnnonyMice & The Blogs-O-Fear



To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.
Edward R. Murrow.


The blogosphere is a dichotomous place in which to work . It is at once a place of great honesty and great lies. It is both credible and incredible. It can serve up both heat and light. It gives the illusion of intimacy, but often only delivers the distance of anonymity.

I started writing my blog in 2005 (http://www.calhounscannon.blogspot.com/) at the invitation of “Newsstand” Greg McClure, who started the Central Coast News Mission (http://www.newsmission.blogspot.com/) as a sort of virtual country store with a virtual pot-bellied stove around which local writers and readers could gather to whittle and chew and chat about the day’s events. The only difference would be that while the writers would have to put their names on their opinions and statements, others wishing to post their comments were free to remain anonymous.

And therein lies the most interesting aspect of the blogosphere: Anonymity. That often blessed state is not granted to me as my name is on everything I post and readers can verify or attack my credibility. Either way, I must own my opinions and claim responsibility for my statements. But readers wishing to post comments can do so anonymously and the results are often very interesting to watch.

Los Osos resident Bev Moylan expressed this process very well indeed: “The anonymity of a blog is a way for some people to express their thoughts with no consequences. For others, the choice of anonymity on a blog is a way to act out without fear of being caught. Expressing opinions anonymously when they are obscene, defamatory, or misleading, or are simply untrue statements and suppositions disguised as facts is the equivalent of a drive-by. Destructive anonymous posting is a guerilla tactic to avoid embarrassment and responsibility while allowing those who practice it to vent rage and hostility at will without fear of reprisal. Anonymous assassination does nothing, however, to advance the discussion nor add to the knowledge base.”

But is sure is fun, as any blog reader can tell you. Like taggers running under the cover of darkness to scrawl potty words on a wall, a lot of adult posters revert to juvenile behavior, secure in the knowledge that Mommy can’t catch them and spank. Thus, posting often becomes the cyberworld’s version of the old crank telephone call to strangers to ask them if their refrigerator is running or if they have Prince Albert in a can.

Even more interesting is to watch the displaced aggression that often occurs among the posters, the human equivalent of dogs fence-fighting. For example, Poster A will rage at something I’ve written and before long other posters will join in and in no time I’ve been completely forgotten as the posters start snapping at one another. Can’t get through the fence to get at the real dog? Then bite the one nearest you.

But there is also an even darker side to the blogosphere and that is its inherent ability to be used for deliberate disinformation. As the old saying goes, A Lie can be halfway around the world before Truth gets his shoes on. Anonymous posting can be a great vehicle for people with hidden agendas or personal vendettas to claim a moral high ground in their postings while really engaging in a deadly high-tech parlor game of Telephone: . . . Pssst, did you hear? Pssst, pass it on . . . all the while avoiding accountability for their actions.

And since so many people operate on information fragments anyway– a snippet of headline, a partially remembered factoid that may or may not be true --the possibility for manipulation and falsification of information grows ever greater.

Add in an utter lack of accountability and you can end up with the challenging and potentially dangerous mix we have today: The blogosphere “noise machine” feeding an ever fragmenting Mainstream Media, all chasing those lucrative ratings dollars. It is a double-edged system ripe for abuse even while offering its own antidote: The cure for bad speech is more and better speech.

Meanwhile, the biggest caveat of all when entering Blog-O-World still pertains: If a person is unwilling to own his or her opinions, put a name, a civic and personal reputation behind them, what good are they?

Just more static in a world filled with the growing din of meaningless, furious buzz.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Viewpoint: Osos CSD board must make tough choices

By Joe Sparks

The Tribune

It is time for the Los Osos Community Services District to get serious if the district is to remain an ongoing entity.

On Dec. 28, board members stated a commitment to salvage local governance and not dissolve. In less than six weeks, the board seems intent to continue slipping closer to dissolution.

Board members voted last summer to support AB 2701, and voted to file for bankruptcy late August.

Jan. 1, AB 2701 became law, and almost six months have passed since the declaration of bankruptcy.

The issues that must receive priority are bankruptcy, further reducing expenses, hiring a permanent general manager and ensuring the water infrastructure loan is extended. Everything else is a distant second in priority.

Without the former three, the latter may become moot, and without an extension of the Infrastructure Bank loan, the Los Osos Community Services District might as well pack up its bags. If the district cannot effect capital improvements to the water system, then it cannot manage water management and water conservation as well.

Directors on Feb. 1 pushed out consideration of the mid-year budget (yet again). It seems my fellow directors cannot decide on a budget and have continually deferred to the finance committee in a game of hot potato going back to the spring of 2006. Last June, these directors (via their budget policy, or lack thereof) could not come up with a budget when they should have.

In August 2006, they passed a budget that was not feasible. They have yet to prove they can set a rational budget policy.

The proposed mid-year budget is unacceptable in its present form. Sticking the water users with another $250,000 in administrative expenses cannot be tolerated. The administration budget needs immediate cuts of $50,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year and $200,000 for the 2007-08 fiscal year.

Although I am loath to allocate dwindling wastewater capital funds to administration, it was my fellow board members who entered into discretionary litigation that has drained wastewater funds — if they were willing to spend on those battles, they should be willing to allocate the appropriate administrative expenses and not have the water users fund continued litigation expenses. Amazingly, on Feb. 1, they decided to further spend funds on another attorney, without having the funding source identified. What part of insolvency don’t they understand?

The latest expansion of litigation is an example of an out-of-control Los Osos Community Services District board.

Maybe my fellow board members should consider resigning and ask the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund board to run the district.

I am essentially being asked to cut a blank check for an organization or individuals who were not elected, and without an identifiable funding source. This is truly theater of the absurd.

Director Schicker’s comments (Tribune, Feb. 11) that cease-and-desist order recipients are defenseless is preposterous, given that individuals both represented themselves and some have had an attorney represent them.

I have clearly stated my opposition to the individual cease-and-desist order process, but that does not mean I or the other directors should have committed the district to funding private homeowner litigation.

The 11th-hour foray into the cease-and-desist order appeal process is another example of naive reaction by board members.

As the last 10 years have shown, and with AB 2701 being enacted, the Los Osos Community Services District needs to get out of the wastewater business and wastewater litigation, and stop spending wastewater-related funds and incurring the associated administrative expenses.

I do remain hopeful for the future of the Community Services District, but only to the extent our board will recognize it needs to make tough choices to survive, understand priorities and cannot be everything to everybody. I am committed to resolving on-going financial concerns of the district and the bankruptcy.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Joe Sparks is a member of the Los Osos Community Services District board of directors.

Anonymous said...

What the Finance Committee knows about municipal finance could be put in a thimble!

This group of self-styled "experts", aided by two of the back-of-the-BOD-meeting bullies will never be able to get it right.

Has anyone been to a Finance Committee meeting? You NEED to go, if for nothing more than to see just who is really running thing.

Anonymous said...

IT IS TIME FOR THE 4 TO RESIGN!

Tonight's meeting would be the appropriate place and time. They have done NOTHING for our community!

Anonymous said...

Frankly my Dears, I don't really think that Joe Sparks has all THAT much to offer. Why NOT JUST GET RID OF HIM TOO??? His gravelly voice is REALLY grating on my nerves. I can literally visualize him "SWINGING FROM A TREE".

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sparks, would you like my CDO? I have given a year of life fighting for this community. My efforts, and the efforts of my fellow recipients have prevented you from receiving a CDO for this past year. We will win in a real courtroom.

Why do you expect us to stand alone and protect the rights of all individuals in the PZ? Why do you expect us alone to to shoulder the cost, both physical and emotional? Is there a reason why you would not want to see us win?

The RWQCB divided this community with a line based on political rather than environmental factors. That line needs to be struck down so we can all come together as equals. Then we will be able to come to a consensus and resolve our differences, finding a solution that works for everyone. This can only happen if all parties have an equal investment in the outcome.

Anonymous said...

Joe Sparks is a cold blooded individual.

Anonymous said...

Lisa Schicker is a cold blooded individual.

Mike Green said...

If there had been one ounce of credibility in the way the Water Board had conducted its CDO process I would be all for the district hireing a laywer and protecting ALL of us.
However, the reality is thats its been a kangaroo court, with no coordination or due process.
I'll give Joe the benefit of the doubt , concidering the financial restraints on the CSD, and the obvious ineptitude of the Water Board, hireing a lawer may be a waste of money.
Especialy now that they seem to be throwing in the towel with just the doomed45.
I keep getting the feeling that the current CSD board is not very savey, money wise.

Anonymous said...

If we don't challenge the waterboards with the first 45, the opportunity will be lost. This will validate the issuance of CDOs to individuals, setting precedence in Los Osos and in all of California. Is this the legacy that you want to leave to your children and grandchildren?

The water world is watching what is happening in Los Osos. Too bad the people here don't see the big picture. Too busy blaming each other. Trying to control the process to their own advantage.

Mike Green said...

And, well, getting back to Ann's article concerning Annonymouses, I've done it, and franky, it made no difference to me, I think some people have a way inflated sense of worth.
I will say one thing, I made two good friends, bookends,
Ann Calhoun and Jon Arcuni.
I havent met Ron, but I look foreward to the day, and also Steve Paige

Yo Mama said...

Rather than thinking Joe or Lisa are cold blooded, I prefer to think of both of them as having different issues that they care about.

Joe seems to want the CSD to be able to survive and the point of view in his viewpoint is that if the CSD keeps pissing away money left-n-right they'll go under very soon ... and that won't be good for anyone.

Lisa seems to want the CSD to help the CDO folks.

The problem that I have with Lisa's point of view is that to oppose her is to be "heartless" ... even though she's not identified the way that the CDO defense would be funded. Is the money going to come out of general revenue? If that is the case, it seems odd that the entire district is being asked to pay the legal bills associated with the problems of only part of the district. If the money is coming from raising water rates, again there is a mismatch between those paying and those benefiting.

Somehow some of us will be paying for these costs. It would be nice to at least tell us who is going to pay and how much it will cost so that way we can give input at a meeting before the vote is taken.

To do otherwise is to continue the sort of sloppy half-brained decision making that has caused the board to take the actions which have caused us to go into bankruptcy.

Joe has it right on this issue. Perhaps had Lisa simply told us what the total bill would be (or even an estimate) and how the bill would be paid Joe would have been willing to sign on.

To say that someone is heartless because they want some specifics about how a program is to be funded is worse than heartless ... it is asinine.

Anonymous said...

Mike Green seems to delight in placing all the blame on the current LOCSD BOD for siphoning away all the money. Hell, the old rotten recalled BOD did the same thing. They were constantly taking from one account & paying for something else. You're the POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK.

Is Calhoun a fool? said...

Yo Mamma has it correct!

1. The LOCSD has no money. Bankruptcy and saving ALL property owners in the LOCSD the greatest amount of money should be their first priority. It is very uncertain that the LOCSD can survive. For it to survive will take money from an asessment vote by the PROPERTY OWNERS. There is no way to asess RENTERS.
2. The LOCSD represents the total of those voting in the LOCSD. NOT just those in the PZ. The LOCSD board forgot this when they stopped the sewer and brought ALL of the LOCSD into bankruptcy. They represent ALL: the renters and property owners who live in the PZ and others within the limits. Renters in the PZ were allowed by law to change the nature of governance. (General vote). Their vote effected property owners who were not allowed to vote because of elsewhere residency.

Renters in the PZ comprise 28% of the vote within the PZ. Census figures. How they voted or if, is UNKNOWN. A percentage are illegals with no vote.
They are placed in section 8 housing (county helps) because their children were born here (US CITIZENS). They work hard, show excellence, and I have no issue with them. This is a separate subject. If rents are raised, county will pay, by law. Otherwise the county will lose a large percentage of it's work force, and we all will pay in increased costs of services and labor.

3. Any sewer is the responsibility and LIABILITY of propery owners within the PZ. These property owners receive the far greatest benefit (Lack of CDOs and increase in property value). The county has taken over this sewer for the benefit of the property owners. However, it has the option of refusing this responsibility, if the property owners within the PZ refuse to assess themselves for the costs. Responsibility lies with the property owners within the PZ. It will be their vote, regardless of residency. Read the law.
4. The sewer can only be built within the juristiction of the LOCSD, by law. The LOCSD HAS LEGAL BOUNDRIES, by law. Read the law. It is up to the county, and if the county takes a pass, up to the state. The LOCSD can do nothing except to limit our liability on the bankruptcy.

5. Total speculation: Can those in the Pz bring liability upon the the rest of the LOCSD for thier polution should they can be shown to contribute?
a. Will those in the pZ be found responsible for the liability for those out of the PZ for the bankruptcy?

6. Who will pay for the lawyers? CSD has no money. Bankruptcy has it's consequences.

This person has no answers. This person feels that the situation is hopeless. Those who cannot pay, better get laws changed. Thank you, board of directors and the ANN CALHOUN. Better come up with answers, ANN. We gonna lay this in your lap. Got to blame someone along with the "Foolish Five."
We always blame our representatives and their supporters. Do you have a solution? Write up. Your nit picking makes you responsible.

Anonymous said...

I would agree the directors all have independent thoughts and ideas. Pissing money away? No I don't think they want to pay lawyers hundreds of thousands to defend against the onslaught of ex-director lawsuits. Directors do take an oath to defend the district, and thanks to the Hensley war of vanity, saving the district-our voice from dissolution cost us all a bunch.

No viewpoint against the dissolution Joe? No speech asking for taxpayers watch to back off and let the board have a shot at the '05 project compromise? No call to release the CSD from TW multi lawsuits and let 2701 work?

As a director why haven't these suits been stopped? Because YOU and other directrs are required by law to spend taxpayers money to defend against-ironically--- public waste lawsuits by ex directors Legros and Hensley. Are YOU spending our taxpayers money Joe?

Is anyone is truly interested in public waste, file a complaint against the state water boards in the auditor office concerning the nearly $750,000-$1.2 million on misapplied enforcement.

Joe, calculate the hours of staff, board and attorneys fees. Hours of hearings,trascripts, pratice session, meetings with defendents, the attorney general and special enforcement groups for coaching and even more in document preparation, review, and faulty notices.

The water board has processed exactly 4 -count them FOUR Cease and Desist orders to date. Unit Cost=nearly a quarter million each? 2 more are on shelf and there is 7 more hearings to go!
Stay tuned for May and see more of your Tax dollars used to scare the hell out of folks….! 4500 MORE hearings to go –and to achieve what?

Oh yes, on hiring Shaunna, the district must defend the interests of the district. As far as I know it is the community, specifically the property owners that will have to approve and pay for the wastewater project. That is in the interest of the district. They will pay based on a waste discharge order, and that is tied to 83-13 and the Basin Plan. Getting that right is in the interest of the district. They also fund the district services-their financial well being is in the interest of the district.

Whether services are delivered by a CSD or the Co. the community is the customer of the district and the County. Spending the community’s money to defend the economy of the community is a good business decision, especially if a 218 vote is expected to pass, and their services expand to include wastewater, protection of resources, and increase to revenues. And of course that requires property values to be maintained and grow, not liens and orders that threatend the loss of property.

Infrastructure improvements is good for the tax base, and Joe needs to think much deeper, not knee jerk Legros thoughts or parrot Ms Albright. Joe should not take pot shots at fellow directors, and it is especially bad form to wane sarcastic to non profit volunteers of PZLDF that have been doing the heavy lifting as good neighbors, outside the sewer issue---standing in the gap against a fledgling CSD fighting the exdirector insurgents and a really ticked off water board.

Joe, be fiscally responsible and defend the interest of the district. Make peace in Los Osos and stand up for and defend the property rights of this community, and let the County deliver a project unimpeded by the water board.

Yo Mama said...

To the 11:26 Anonymous who criticizes Mike Green ...

You seem to have little idea about what Mike feels. He certainly doesn't place all the blame on the current board (I am far more likely to do that than Mike) and he certainly places a whole lot of blame on the previous board. Most importantly, he doesn't delight in any of this.

Mike was just saying what many of us know all too well (even Ann ... but she's just too shy to say it) ... the current board is simply lacking in the knowledge or wisdom necessary to make sound financial decisions.

Perhaps your comments are helpful in some way ... they help us understand that the supporters of the current board will eat their own young ... that if you don't support them 100% you will be unjustly castigated.

Anonymous said...

There is only one TW lawsuit.

It's against 5 individuals, NOT the CSD!

*PG-13 said...

Part 1 -----

Yo Mama > (If that is the case,) it seems odd that the entire district is being asked to pay the legal bills associated with the problems of only part of the district. If the money is coming from raising water rates, again there is a mismatch between those paying and those benefiting. Somehow some of us will be paying for these costs. It would be nice to at least tell us who is going to pay and how much it will cost so that way we can give input at a meeting before the vote is taken.

Followed by is calhoun a fool? (excerpts include) > The LOCSD has no money. Bankruptcy and saving ALL property owners in the LOCSD the greatest amount of money should be their first priority.

The LOCSD represents the total of those voting in the LOCSD. NOT just those in the PZ. The LOCSD board forgot this when they stopped the sewer and brought ALL of the LOCSD into bankruptcy.

Can those in the Pz bring liability upon the the rest of the LOCSD for thier polution should they can be shown to contribute?
a. Will those in the pZ be found responsible for the liability for those out of the PZ for the bankruptcy?


Redux, Yo Mama said > To do otherwise is to continue the sort of sloppy half-brained decision making that has caused the board to take the actions which have caused us to go into bankruptcy.

Amen. I can't help but wonder where those detailed spreadsheets of R. LeGros are when we - again - could really use them. No, no, I'm not slamming LeGros. Really. At least I'm trying not to. Sometimes I just can't help myself. But not this time. This time I really and truly want his spreadsheets showing the decline and fall of the LOCSD into bankruptcy. But forget the sewer timelines and finger pointing as to who did what, when, and who's to blame. A simple, clean, full disclosure of the books would be helpful - starting back circa 1998 - showing where the money came from (inside/outside of the CSD), sewer loans, etc and where it went (real ongoing services provided), administration, legal expenses (for the CSD in general separated from those related to the sewer), etc. Surely this info is documented record. And surely LeGros has done so. Or is doing so in his ongoing service to the community. Thank you Richard. Let's parse those numbers differently than they are typically parsed. Let's see just how much of the CSD funds are being used in service of which part of their customer base. I don't begrudge the various CSD's for pissing on the hottest fire. But how long has this been going on? And how much has been - uh - pissed away? No, make that misappropriated. In this case misappropriated doesn't mean Tri-W versus anything but Tri-W. It means how much was collected from who and for what purpose compared to where it was actually spent.

Simply put, the sewer in all its many lives has consumed too much of the village commons. It is easy to get sucked into a game and spend more than you have. Been there, done that. But we've all been so focused on which CSD did what and how each sewer compares to the next we've kinda lost sight that the sewer is not the primary purpose of the CSD. Truth is, it is at best a secondary issue for the CSD at-large. Hey, I truly believe we need clean water and an effective waste treatment solution. And I'm on record for calling the RWQCB a bunch of megalomaniac incompetents and I still totally believe that beyond a shadow of doubt. They certainly haven't helped themselves, us or the environment. But I question whether the PZ sewer and dancing with the RWQCB is the primary CSD function it has become. If we were dealing with a total solution - one that encompasses and protects the whole basin and the water we all drink - then an argument might be made for the CSD to be involved. Otherwise, no. They've blown their (and our) wad. They're bankrupt. We're all bankrupt. We need to step away from the table.

That doesn't mean the CDO-13 or whoever's left should be left blowing in the RWQCB's hot air. I feel for them. I support them. They are us. And we may someday be them. The CSD does have a dog in the fight. But not the seemingly blank checks they've been writing. At some point fiscal responsibility must be respected. I suggest that point passed long ago.

*PG-13 said...

PART 2 -----

All of the Los Osos community needs a monitored waste water solution performing to set values. Even those with well working septics. Even those whose waste may or may not drain to the sea. Even those who only use their home one week a year. With the possible exception of Steve Paige and anybody who has a proven and monitored zero discharge system every house in the valley should have a clean, monitored, waste water solution. An un-monitored septic - no matter how much sand is below it - doesn't count. I don't necessarily think the solution(s) has to be a centralized sewer. Indeed, I personally don't think a centralized sewer is the best solution. But given the situation, the players and the history that's probably the only solution we're gonna get. Given that, we are not served by a sewer that serves only an arbitrary fraction of the existing flushers? We aren't even served by a sewer that serves all of the current flushers? We are only served by a sewer that serves a large part of the basin, including some future build-out that is absolutely going to happen and might as well be planned for now? Just cuz the RWQCB has set some arbitrary boundaries, some token performance targets and some impossible dates doesn't mean that's the sewer we need. Or the sewer we should be stuck with. And certainly not the sewer we should buy. That board of proven incompetent megalomaniacs may be pulling our strings but that shouldn't mean they can force us to create a bad sewer. (Oops, am I repeating myself?) Yeah, time is money. But building a bad and limited solution to a larger problem is even more expensive. I know what I am saying is just spittin' into the wind. That many will say that the die are already cast and we should color inside the lines we are given. But dang, we live here. Why spend a hundred million dollars just to create something that is already broken? If we really want to protect the bay and marshes AND our water supply AND provide for the future a half-ass sewer for the PZ is not the solution. Its not even a good start.

I still hold some hope that the county will take a broader perspective. That they will see that this is so and will do the right thing for the bay, for our water supply and for the long-term future of the county. They're the only player that has the mandate to do that and the bones to make it happen. Yeah, I'm smokin some good sh**. I appreciate the county is a political entity and as such may well bow to political and economic exigencies. Worst case, can they do any worse than we already have? Heck, I don't know. Like many of us I'm no longer as certain as I used to be. I do believe we gotta try to do the right thing. Not just for the PZ. but for the bay and our water supply. Otherwise we might as well sell-out now even at today's depressed prices cuz this place isn't going to be habitable in too many more years.

Anonymous said...

PG - I want some of your smoke! That was a nice post (both parts).

Anonymous said...

Those comments about coldbloodedness are rude, unfounded, and a great example of how low people go in this sewer war. Get beyond individuals, folks. You're acting like the CSD directors!

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem I see with the Lisa viewpoint is that the CSD as a municipality, has no business offering legal assistance, especially considering that all five of the Directors live in the PZ!

This equates to a gift of public funds to THE DIRECTORS!

They need to back off this, and pronto!

Anonymous said...

We need to get rid of the PZ. I am so sick of this divided community. If helping to pay for the defense is working toward this goal, I say that it is money well spent.

Anonymous said...

Getting rid of the PZ does not negate a gift of public funds, eventually encompassing the Directors!

Where does all this folksy bullshit come from?

Have any of you heard of laws, and regulations?

Anonymous said...

Dear anon 2:07- I think,
Ummm, there are many, many of us who will not be going before the water board for "hearings" because we are going to SETTLE! Stop your belly-achin and go join TW if you are so darn concerned about our tax dollars. I'm thinkin' though, that you are one of the jackals that lied through the past 2 elections with "plans and under $100 a month" type of folks so maybe you better just shut your flappin' jaw because we have heard enough of your sorry story tellin'.
Anyone think we are going to even see another election? Think again!
The fat lady is warming up as I blog!
REVOLUTION