BOS 218 Meeting Today
At 2 p.m today, in the BOS chambers, the Engineers Report, Assessment Ballot & etc. for the Sewer Project will be discussed and voted on. The engineer's report is at the County site at http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/PW/LOWWP/Bos_Items/8_28_2007_Clerk_s_File.htm (which link I hope works)
Couple of interesting things that I hope will get covered today:
1. Does an unreturned ballot represent a "yes" vote? Or simply drop off the radar thereby leaving the remaining returned Yes & No ballots to battle it out. The reason why this may be important has to do with voter coercion and/or Los Osos history.
In the 2002 mini-assessment vote, about 40% of the ballots were never returned to the CSD. At the time, I heard from many people that they were afraid to vote because their name was on that ballot and that ballot was "public information." With the Regional Water Quality Control Board already having hammered and pointlessly disrupted the lives of 45 random citizens for well over a year, with the expressed intention of hammering even more if the vote doesn't go the way they want, how many more citizens will now be seriously intimidated into not voting at all? Is that intimidation and fear sufficient to possibly trigger a lawsuit from somebody that could delay this project? (You don't have to win such a lawsuit, only file it and delay.) If so, can/will the RWQCB remove that threat by rescinding the CDOs and CAO's of the 45, and officially guaranteeing no "retaliation" for any vote, and so help to make this vote "clean" and hopefully lawsuit-proof? (Please God) If the RWQCB refuses (they have a long history of having a totally counter-productive, apallingly tin ear), what can/will the County do to make sure this vote is un-coerced?
As to history, in the previously mentioned mini-assessment vote, and later the hotly-contested recall election, about 40% of the eligible voters didn't bother to vote. If 40% of Los Osos is regularly, "normally" Out To Lunch, then whatever gets decided actually represents the wishes of a minority of the community (50% + 1 of 60%), not really a fully engaged community. (Or I should say 50%+1+40% of Yeah, Like, Whatevers.) If the community and the county and the RWQCB keeps that in mind, then maybe people can stop lying about Los Osos with their false narratives of the place being filled with recalcitrant, apathetic crazies. 40% missing IS our Normal, not some weird aberration.
Of course, if the assessment ballot return rate vote drops far below the "normal" 40% mising this time, a couple of additional factors may well apply: Fear of retaliation from the RWQCB (voter coercion) and/or a refusal of people to cast a vote that will literally put them out of their homes.
Also of interest is the $127 million assessment amount for this go-round. As the Tribune notes, the Tri W alone was guestimated at $150-153 million. Which seems to imply that the County also recognizes that the TAC figures are correct, that no matter how you slice or dice it, Tri-W is still waaaayyy more expensive and so may fall off the table. (Unless some sticky little feet get to jumping up and down on the scale?)
This entire Process is, in a profound way, a Covenant between the County and the citizens of Los Osos. Covenants can be kept. Covenants can be broken. Los Osos has a sad history of bait & switchy broken covenants. Will this time be different?