Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, Bay News, Tolosa Press, San Luis Obispo, CA for Oct 26, 07
Bye-Bye Big Lie
Predicting anything Sewerish in Los Osos is a foolishly dangerous occupation. The Hideous Sewer Wars have go on for so long that they have turned into a Saga to rival the endless, arcane and unreadable Beowolf (soon to be a major motion picture), and have had so many soap-opera, cliff-hanging, breathless changes of fortune that the Saga has now become Beowolf Meets Star Wars, Part 37.
And since the copy deadline for this column is a week before the paper’s publication date, as I write this, I do not know how the Proposition 218 vote will go, nor do I know what the numbers will be when the ballots are opened on October 24th.
But here’s what I do know: The time for the Big Lie is over.
For years, the Big Lie has portrayed Los Osos as a community of Anti-Sewer Obstructionists, urine-swilling Moonbeam McSwines opposed to doing anything to protect their groundwater, willfully cocking a snook at regulators, stupidly recalcitrant and thus worthy of the harshest kind of judgment and punishment.
When citizens questioned the viability, cost and placement of the Tri-W project, they were vilified as Anti-Sewer Obstructionists. When a technical task force presented their concerns to the State Water Board in Sacramento, the Board was told, Pay no attention to anything those folks have to say, they’re Anti-Sewer Obstructionists. Present evidence of “bait and switchy” to the Coastal Commission that should have required a closer look? Nonsense, closer looks are not required when dealing with Anti-Sewer Obstructionists. When several pre-recall CSD members pleaded with the State Revolving Fund NOT to add on gazillions more in unsecured SRF loans shortly before a recall election, the message to Sacramento was simple: Don’t listen to those Anti-Sewer Obstructionists.
Even after the recall, before the new CSD Board was even certified, the word went out to the regulators to “fine the CSD out of existence,” and why not? Clearly they were all Anti Sewer Obstructionists! The Blakeslee Compromise? You can’t compromise with Anti-Sewer Obstructionists. Single out and drag 45 hapless citizens through a Regional Water Quality Control Board CDO Mad Hatter Tea Party And Torquemada Auto de Fe Kangaroo Court and thereby ruin their lives for nearly two years? That’s the only thing you can do with Anti-Sewer Obstructionists!
And so it went. The Big Lie was whispered from Los Osos to Sacramento and all around the county. If anyone raised any valid questions or concerns, they were decried as obstructionists. It was an effective lie designed to silence debate, cut off any questions and even shut off critical thought itself. Is it any wonder then that so many government agencies that should have kept this sewer train from the cliffs, thereby preventing the totally unnecessary train wreck that nearly destroyed this town, shrugged instead and turned away? After all, why should responsible agencies listen to anti-sewer obstructionist crazies?
Now, however, the Big Lie’s reign is over, killed off by the County Process, starting with the TAC’s preliminary fine screening report. And if my guess is correct, the Prop. 218 vote will likely show that the majority of homeowners (you know, all those Anti-Sewer Obstructionists?) signed and returned their ballots scant weeks after receiving them, all voting Yes on moving this project in the right direction -- this time away from the cliff.
That likely will be the good news. However, this is Los Osos, so it’s possible that there will be some deus ex machina demented ju-jitsu Grendels popping up to scare us silly before this Saga comes to a close, so vigilance on the part of this community – and a good dose of tranquilizers – will still be a good idea. In short, BREATHE. And keep your eyes open.
POSTSCRIPT: According to the Tribune, nearly 70 percent of the ballots were returned, (about 10% more than the original mini-assessment vote a few years ago) and of those, 79.6 percent voted Yes, and 20.3 percent against.
Like I said, The Era Of The Big Lie is over . . . for now. But, unlike last time, this community better not fall asleep again. Eyes open, stay involved, speak up, keep watch. Otherwise, we could see deja vu all over again.