Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA, for August 29, 07
Oh Looooocy, Now Jooooo Reeeely, REEELY Gotta Lotta ‘Splainin’ To Do!
It was a defining moment. The Pro/Con TAC Analysis Report on the sewer alternatives was out and there it was, in black and white. Something had indeed gone very, very wrong in this community with the sewer project. No matter how you sliced or diced it, the Tri-W project still kept coming up more expensive than any of the alternatives being proposed.
Which meant that when this community was repeatedly told by the recalled CSD directors that there were no suitable sites out of town, that putting a project out of town would be waaaay more expensive, that the Tri-W project was the cheapest project available, that there were no options, that Tri-W was the best and only choice, well, all that was hokum and had been hokum from day one.
Worse, as Ron Crawford has outlined and documented on his website www.sewerwatch.blogspot.com, the now-crashed Tri-W project was indeed what one Coastal Commissioner called “bait and switch,” and to add insult to injury, the community was never asked for a vote on whether they were willing to pay waaaaay more for a sewer system that was deliberately being kept in the middle of town by an unsupported Statement of Overriding Considerations just so it could have some centrally located park amenities attached to it. As the new TAC report now makes clear, the failure to seriously ask and answer that question early on meant that this town was given a deliberately engineered a priori train masquerading as an unchallengeable “given.”
And instead of the vital checks and balances in place that could have made course corrections early, this poor community was subjected to an appallingly unnecessary train wreck caused by a series of lies, unchecked egos, cover-your-behind flummery, bring-down-the-temple Medean weirdness, a crazed RWQCB staff that kept a gun pointed at the head of an already eerily stubborn and dangerously off-course CSD screaming that they had to put MORE coal in the firebox for even MORE speed so the train would fly off the cliff even quicker and if they didn’t it would be FINES!FINES!FINES! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE INNA STREETS LIKE DAWGS!
And all of this insanity compounded by a lack of due diligence, deliberate misinformation, seriously negligent SRF loan managers (Who in their right mind would release a gazillion-dollar unsecured loan to a community awash in lawsuits and countersuits only weeks away from a recall on a critically contested sewer project?), grotesquely negligent CSD directors (Who in their right mind would start pounding millions of that same unsecured money into the ground only weeks away from possibly being recalled?), public apathy, misdirection, confusion and fear, an inexcusably blind county newspaper-of-record, bureaucratic incompetence or indifference that resulted in a cascading failure on the part of a whole array of governmental agencies whose whole point of existence was to look out to make sure the tracks were clear and the train was truthfully constructed and NOT heading for a cliff.
It’s a saga that’s usually the stuff of Grand Jury Reports, Freud’s couch, or a great novel, with the only question being, Should it be written as a comedy, a tragedy or as farce?
Meanwhile, The County Process moves ahead. With the TAC report completed, the 218 assessment ballots being prepared, if the upcoming vote is successful, the various alternatives can then continue to undergo further scrutiny and strategies that could result in even lower “real” prices than the present “guestimates.” Which makes it clear to me at this point that the reasonable “messages” in the recall and in Measure B are finally being heeded: The majority of voters wanted: (1) a cheaper, more “affordable” plan (2) with the treatment plant located out of town and (3) a 218 vote on the matter.
IF everyone continues to keep their sticky fingers off the scale, their eyes on the wheels of The Process to see that it stays clean and clear from behind-the-scenes, hidden-agenda, electioneered monkey-wrenching by various Sewer Jihadis, then it seems to me that at this point the County’s delivered three for three.
If so, then there’s the possibility that The Hideous Sewer Sardoodledom may have a tragicomic ending after all – better than expected, far, far worse than necessary, a state of affairs that always results when The Process falls victim to the slow-motion tar-baby tangle of human folly and an unchecked, repeatedly bungled System Failure.