Yeeee-HAW! Election Time! Crank Up Your Mis-Information Machines!
The morning the BOS met to vote on sending out the Prop 218 Sewer Ballot, the Tribune was off to a great start. In the early morning quiet, I could hear all the bodies of my fellow Los Ososians dropping around town after giving a shriek and blowing coffee out of their noses because right there on the front page, second paragraph, it noted that homeowners “could pay up to $25,000 in property taxes for a sewer . . .” then added the kicker, “That’s on top of monthly bills between $100 and $275 that were estimated in a separate report last week.”
Apparently not separate enough since that $100 and $275 wasn’t “on top of,” but a guestimate of the total cost. The gaffe prompted Supervisor Patterson to suggest to Paavo Ogren that he might want to make sure that important information be sent to the media in the form of a carefully prepared press release with all the critical information spelled out so gaffes like that wouldn’t happen. (I looked to see in this morning’s edition if there was a nice bold correction but couldn’t find anything anywhere. No wonder it’s so easy to fool people out here. Front page whoppers followed by dead silence.)
Well, no matter. It’s now Official Election Time so Sewer Jihadis of all stripes can crank up their misinformation machines and have at it.
Some notes on the meeting:
Paavo was asked if he’d go to the Sept 7th Regional Water Quality Board meeting to present a sewer update and ask that the Board rescind The Los Osos 45’s CDOs and CAO’s and promise to refrain from electioneering threats and any coercive tactics until after the vote. Paavo noted that as staff, that request was outside the scope of his duties, but Supervisor Gibson would be the one to answer that request. So Supervisor Gibson said that he would indeed continue the dialogue on all issues at that meeting, a vague way of saying he may vaguely bring up the “concern” the community has with the RWQCB’s tactics, but I for one am willing to bet the exchange will go like this:
Gibson. “ We’d like to make sure the election is a clean one, with no one group of people unfairly singled out under the gun or under threats, an assurance that you’ll “level the playing field” for the 45 by rescinding the CDOs & CAOs and or officially put them in abeyance, and then issue a public statement that you’ll “stand down” from all threats until after the election since we don’t want anyone to do anything that can be construed as illegal electioneering that could result in a delay and lawsuits and so forth which could result in the ultimate irony of it being the water board who has again sabotaged and delayed this project ”
And RWQCB chairman Young will look wide-eyed and surprised and say, “Why, Mr. Gibson, this BOARD has no power over anything. It’s the staff that has the delegated power as to prosecutions or issuances of CDOs and such like. We’re absolutely helpless to do anything.”
Which will cause everyone in the room who was also in Judge Barry LaBarbera’s courtroom during the PZLDF hearing to snort loudly, remembering that Judge LaBarbera, unequivocally stated that according to statute, it is the Board NOT the Staff that’s the responsible and controlling entity. Bwa-hahahah, so poor Mr. Gibson will be subjected to the old Waltz Me Around Again Willy ploy of, Hee-Hee, don’t look now, but there’s nobody here but us mice.
In addition, the County’s planning on several information mailers on the assessment process, plus a Workshop scheduled for Saturday, Sept 29 at the Sunnyside School that will give people an opportunity to talk with staff and ask questions on the whole process. The Protest Hearing on the vote will be Oct 23 then depending on the outcome, the Board will or will not proceed forward.
Some other notes:
The assessment costs will vary from a guestimate of $25,000 for a single family home, $13,000 for Bay Ridge Estates (since they already have the laterals and collections pipes in the ground, $6,000 for mobile homes & etc.
The water benefits portion of the sewer assessments will be considered a general benefit and will have to be paid by the entire community.
If the project ends up costing less than the guestimated assessments, the assessments will be lowered.
Of all the systems now being looked at, Tri W is still the highest. Under various scenarios, a STEP/Biolac or STEP/PMF-Ponds are the lowest, at this point in the process, which might result in their finally being selected. Which possibility didn’t make Mr. Beardon happy since he went to the microphone to begin campaigning early by asking the community to vote Yes on the 218, then went on to spend his other two minutes 45 seconds detailing how much he hates STEP and “doesn’t want alarm bells going off at any time day or night,” like he thinks the STEP system apparently comes with a couple of HUGE bright red firehouse fire bells attached to the house that will constantly and randomly be clanging at all hours of the early morning, startling the neighbors and scaring the horses.
If the 218 passes, under the due diligence phase and CEQA, other systems and technologies will be vetted. For example, Pio Lombardo’s Purple Pipe Cluster System, Orenco, and any other alternatives will be vetted. Indeed, a Mr. Murphy and a Mr. Mark Low stepped to the podium to note that they had onsite technologies and an onsite system that would result in clean water, qualifies for federal onsite grants and loans that could result in installation costs of $3,500 and a monthly cost of $45. They will be free to submit their systems to Paavo to be looked at, though I did suggest to Mr. Murphy that he could save himself a whole lot of time and simply talk to RWQCB staff member, Harvey Packard, who was in the audience. Mr. Murphy claimed that Packard had no say in what he’s proposing since his system doesn’t pollute or “discharge” and so doesn’t come under Harvey’s control in any way, shape or form. Uh, huh, sure, sure, so I just smiled and walked away.
Supervisor Katcho repeatedly expressed concern for the number of people who will be forced out of their homes by a now-guestimated cost of $200 a month. This is a puzzle to me. When Tri-W was finalized, the guestimated base cost was $205 a month. To my knowledge, no Supervisor stood up and said, Woa! You can’t build a sewer system that will cost $205 to start with, a system that’ll simply escalate upwards from that point, a system that’ll force a whole bunch of people out of their homes. Nope, not a peep. But now the County is looking at a project with a guestimated average of $200 before value engineering and competitive bidding has a chance to lower that guess (not a base starting price) and now people are having cows? Are concerned? I don’t get it. Where the hell were all these concerned folks when Tri-W was on the table and literally being dug into the ground?
As regarding the concern of many in the community that the 218 ballot won’t be secret and so can be used by the RWQCB as a “revenge” tactic, the reply to that was: Yep, the RWQCB can use those documents in just that way, but it’s more important for us to ensure that names and parcel numbers remain on the ballot so we can ensure an accurate vote count and an accurate, unchallengeable process.
Unanswered is this: If a sufficient number of people fear retaliation from the RWQCB for how they vote and so don’t cast any ballots, in what way has that ensured an accurate, un-coerced process, an un-skewed, fair, clean election? If the RWQCB refuses to even issue an official statement that they won’t use that information for prosecution and fines, does that open the door for a lawsuit that may delay this project? As I noted before, you don’t have to win lawsuits to monkey wrench projects.
And an ongoing puzzle: Why do so many people waste their time to stand at the podium asking for science, logic, common sense, fairness, justice, more science when they should know by now that in this Alice In Wonderland Mad Hatter Tea Party DADA RWQCB Sewer World, science and common sense have absolutely NO place. None of that matters in this peculiarly Kafkaesque Madhouse. None of it. All you need to remember is the line from Chinatown: “You don’t understand, Jake, he OWNS the police.”
And finally, Paavo closed with a recap of what the County has done since the start of this Process. With the 218 vote, the County Process pauses and the ball goes into the court of the Los Osos homeowners. They will decide whether or not they want the County to continue on to the next phases.
Thwok! It’s up to Los Osos now. They have been betrayed in the past and led down a failed garden path by a whole series of elected officials, regulatory boards and governmental agencies. Do they now have confidence that they can enter a new Covenant with the County and that the County will enter a new Covenant with them, this time with promises being kept on both sides?