Yes, Taxpayers Watch AND Atascadero Are Going To Hell In A HandBasket
Oh, noooo, not another ironic lawsuit! The Los Osos citizen group known as Taxpayers Watch is being sued by LAFCO (Local Area Formation) to get payment of the $27,747.50 LAFCO charged the group to go through the whole Los Osos CSD dissolution preparations and hearings. To date, the Los Osos CSD has not billed the group for its cost to defend against the dissolution of itself. (For more irony, the Tribune story notes that, “Taxpayers Watch has not determined whether its members would approach the services district for support.”
No, that’s not a sick joke. Apparently, TW is thinking that since the CSD has hired an attorney to join with some of The Los Osos 45 [private citizens] who have filed an appeal of their CDOs from the Regional Water Quality Control Board, well, maybe Taxpayers Watch [private citizens] could also get some help from the very group they so recently tried to disappear to death. (Since defending against the dissolution cost a bunch of money, it’s not clear whether any help the CSD might offer now would have to be deducted from whatever TW has already cost them. And, to keep apples from oranges, the CSD itself is a designated party in the CDO hearings, so signing on with this particular appeal may “help” the private citizens only coincidentally—they are simply running on parallel tracks.)
TW is disputing some of the charges and will try to negotiate the costs down. Meantime, I would suggest that everyone in the community who signed the dissolution petitions needs now to step forward and send a few bucks to Taxpayers Watch. Time to put your money where your pens and pencils were and support the folks who were doing your bidding. Supposedly there were some 3,000 signatures on that dissolution petition, so if each of those folks coughs up $10 bucks, that’ll do the trick. (Or maybe $15, if the CSD bills TW for, say, ½ of the $27,000 bill for their share of the costs?)
Also meanwhile, I think all of us might want to think about these charges. The process itself is there to be used by citizens in forming and de-forming CSDs and such like. Being charged for using the process does indeed, as Ms. Albright notes in the Tribune, “. . . [take] away citizens’ ability to petition their government. They’re going after the group that even dared bring up the issue.”
So maybe what was needed here (and is still needed here for the future) is some method of separating “frivolous” (politically motivated, hidden-agenda, anger/personal driven) dissolution requests from “non-frivolous” (clear evidence of financial meltdown, illegal governance, inability to govern, illegal fraud) driven dissolution. It should also be policy that dissolution can only be approached when other methods have failed. In this case, there were options to dissolution – another recall, an upcoming election to change the Board, petitions to create a new measure on the ballot to do such and such, & etc. In that way, dissolution would be a truly serious LAST step that, if lost, could cost you a bundle, which would make citizens very, very cautious about approaching LAFCO in the first place.
Atascadero, hand me that hand basket.
The Atascadero school board has now flip-flopped and voted again, this time to NOT to allow students off campus to attend religious instruction.
I found this whole story so utterly weird. It was modified déjà vu all over again.
When I was in Junior High, way back in the Jurassic Era, Catholic kids, with their parent’s permission, were allowed once a week to attend catechism classes for one hour a day, off campus. When I was in High School, seniors with a certain GPA average who had completed all their graduation requirements, were allowed, with their parents permission, to skip the last period and leave campus at 2 pm, rather than 3 p.m.. In my case, I opted to go home an hour early, thus freeing me up for further study, homework and/or to work on special projects. None of this was a big deal.
Now, apparently, it is a big deal. And apparently, some of the discussion has gotten truly weird. This from the Tribune story: “ . . . sophomore Brandon Istenes, delivered a spirited speech dressed as a pirate in which he explained that even fringe religions wanting to hold classes would have to be considered if the motion [to let kids attend off-campus activities] passed.”
Uh, and your point is? Where I grew up, Catholics were considered a “fringe religion,” but if the parents wanted their kids excused for that “fringe” activity, they were. And in high school, when you were off campus, the school had no say in what you were up to, even dressed like a “fringe” pirate. That was your parents’ concern and the police’s concern, if you were up to no good. Not the school’s.
Our schools are too often doing a cruddy job of educating our kids. What they do need to do is set policy that focuses on exactly what requirements they feel kids need to be minimally educated and if the kid meets those criteria, then so be it. If their parents want them to leave early to attend Holy Basket Weaving classes, fine. What’s the problem? It isn’t the school’s role to decide what religions are “fringe.” It’s the school’s role to try to make sure Johnny & Janey can read, write, do math, Please God think critically, and know enough history to be able to spot bunk and hokum when they see it.