Saturday, March 31, 2007
The Los Osos Wastewater Project TAC will hold its next meeting Monday, April 2 from 12 - 2:30 pm. at the SLO County Government Center, Room 161. ON the Agenda will be a discussion of the Rough Screening Report with a Q & A session with County Staff, then at 1:30 there will be a Public Comment Period on items NOT on the agenda.
Then the next TAC meeting is tentatively scheduled to be held in Los Osos, at the South Bay Community Center, Monday, April 9, 2007 from 6:30 or 7 - 9:30 pm (watch the paper or check the CSD's office window for any changes of meeting site, dates or times.) The public is encouraged to attend.
Then, the TAC 's new tentative schedule is to meet every other Monday starting April 23 through July 16 from 12 – 2:30 at the SLO Gov. Center Room 161, with further critical meetings scheduled every so often for Los Osos in the evenings, so the community has a better chance to attend.
Please plan to attend as many meetings as you can, both in SLO and in LO, and make any and all comments at the time provided, and/or send any questions and opinions to the TAC or directly to Paavo Ogren. The Rough Screening Report is now available at the Los Osos Library, the CSD Office and online (www.slocounty.ca.gov/PW/LOWWP.htm and click on link for report)
In short, NOW is the time to make sure your 2-cents worth is being heard. Don’t wait on the sidelines until it’s Do-Or-Die-Time, then come out to holler or call your lawyer. It’ll be too late then and may result in another train wreck, something which I don’t think the majority of Los Ososians want. So, Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace. Thank you.
Friday, March 30, 2007
A former Los Ososian, now self-described as “Smiling in the foothills [of the Sierras] with septic management, “ wrote me to inquire why the recent huge Congressional War Bill contains a Pile o’ Pork but didn’t contain one thin dime for wastewater treatment funds for poor old Los Osos. Beats me. Maybe if Los Osos manufactured Christmas Ornaments for the Senate Gift Shop it might get some help? Or what if Los Osos promised to donate land to put up sheds for “peanut storage?” That’d be a $74 mil windfall right there. We could promise to store the peanuts at the sewer plant?
Herewith the email:
Ann, please read these funds and tell me where we get a red dime.
It works out to $130 million or so per vote in the House. The GOA detailed some of this list of the pork that is in the bill that the Senate passed yesterday. As we all know, there's $25 million for a spinach farmer, $24 million for funding for sugar beets, $3 million in funding for sugar cane going to one Hawaiian co-op. There's $20 million for insect infestation damage reimbursements in Nevada, Idaho and Utah; $2.1 billion for crop production losses; one and a half billion for livestock production losses; $100 million for dairy production losses; $13 million for ewe lamb replacement and retention; $32 million for the livestock indemnity program; $40 million for the Tree Assistance Program. The bill includes $74 million for peanut storage; $25 million for spinach growers.
There's a hundred million dollars for small agricultural dependent businesses. Look at how much pork is in this bill for farming- and agricultural-related industries. Six million for North Dakota flooded crop land; $35 million for emergency conservation programs; $50 million for the Emergency Watershed Program. This is in the bill that the Democrats in the House and Senate passed yesterday to pull troops out of Iraq in March of 2008 and not fund the surge. One-hundred-fifteen million dollars for the Conservation Security Program. It was earlier, $35 million for the Emergency Conservation Program, and then another $115 million for the Conservation Security Program, which proves much of the redundancy in all these federal programs, it is pathetic. There's $18 million for drought assistance in the upper Great Plains and in the Southwest; $6 million for the North Dakota flooded crop land and $18 million for drought assistance in the upper Great Plains in the Southwest (a provision that extends the availability by a year); $3.5 million dollars in funding for guided tours of the Capitol is in this bill. Also, it has a provision that allows transfer of funds from holiday ornament sales in the Senate Gift Shop, and $165.9 million for fisheries disaster relief funded through NOAA. This includes $60.4 million for salmon fisheries in the Klamath Basin region; $12 million for forest service money. There's $425 million for education grants for rural areas, the Secure Rural Schools Program. There's $640 million for something called LIHEAP; Low Income Energy Assistance is What LIHEAP is. $25 million for asbestos abatement at the Capitol Power Plant; $388.9 million for funding for backlog of old Department of Transportation projects; $22.8 million for geothermal research and development; $500 million for wildfire fire management; $13 million for mine safety technology research; $31 million for a one month extension of the Milk Income Lost Contract Program. Low Income Energy Assistance is What LIHEAP is? Okay, what was that number on LIHEAP? That's $640 million for Low Income Energy Assistance.
Fifty million for Fisheries Disaster Mitigation Fund; $100 million for security at the presidential candidate nominating conventions; and $2 million for the University of Vermont. Plus: $6.4 million for the House of Representatives Salaries and Expenses Account.
No, Ann this is [********], not anything for Los Osos, Why?
Thursday, March 29, 2007
For March 28, 2007
The Solar Dryer
It was an indulgence, really. A silly conceit. After 23 years of using a dryer, there I was, standing next to my neighbor Phil, an expert at all things concrete, staring at a hole in the ground, calculating a cunning base to support my new umbrella clothesline.
As a child raised in the desert, I knew nothing but clotheslines. What else? Electric and gas dryers were a shameless extravagance only indulged in by rich people with more money than sense. Everybody knew that the only way to dry clothes was to hang them out on the line to dry naturally and be returned to the basket filled with that smell of sun-spanked freshness, a smell that laundry soap makers would spend millions trying to duplicate in little tear-off dryer sheets for folks fool enough to use dryers in the first place.
As a child, my sister and I were assigned the Saturday morning job of hanging out the family laundry. It was a chore I either viewed as a whiningly unfair example of child slave-labor or, if Joan and I both got duty together, a chance for some shared sisterly secrets amidst the wet dresses and tired bath towels, far away from adult ears.
Eventually, when we pulled alternate weeks, I soon began to see real value in the opportunity I had to spend quiet, reflective time among the lines, carefully turning dresses inside out to keep them from fading, snapping the sheets smartly before hanging them as I’d seen my mother do with a practiced expertise I greatly admired. Sometimes I’d rush the whole operation, panties bunched together and drooping from one overstuffed clothespin, sheets hurled crookedly over the line, pillowcases slapped up in an effort to be done with the whole mess and so get free to scamper over the fence to go play with the neighbor kids.
At other times, if the weather was fine, the sun warm, and the breeze smelled of date tree pollen and the swooning scent of grapefruit blossoms, then it was a morning to dawdle, sorting the lines in precise groupings of sheets with sheets, then neat rows of pillow cases, followed by perfectly matched lines of socks, a Saturday morning Mondrian masterpiece moving in the breeze.
College life meant apartment living so clotheslines became a non-existent luxury. Instead, it was the Laundromat at 1 a.m. or a rush up and down stairs to the basement for the communal washer and dryer, quarters clattering in the coin box. But when we bought our first home, up went the line, snaking from avocado tree to avocado tree, and I was back to the familiar weight of the wet laundry-filled basket on the hip, the soft rattle of the clothespins as I rooted around in the clothespin bag, the sweet wooden taste of the pins that would invariably end up in my mouth, laundry hanging being an activity that regularly requires more than two hands.
When I moved to Los Osos, I fell away from my frugal desert ways and figured the damp marine environment required a dryer. And for 23 years, that became my washday reality. Yet here we were, Phil and I, staring at a hole in the ground, putting up a clothesline, a whimsical indulgence, a symbolic conceit that this pole will help save energy, thus Al Gore and I will save the planet one sock at a time.
But best of all, the clothesline has now become a welcome touchstone connecting past and present. Once again, there is the weight of the basket on my hip, the taste of the pins. Once again, there’s the quiet time reaching up to the sky to pin a bed sheet corner to the line, then a quick spin of the pole, another pin, then another. Instead of sweet date palm pollen, there is the tangy whiff of kelp when the tide’s low, and the sharp sweet smell of the eucalyptus trees. The umbrella pole is a cunning arrangement of square concentric rings, so hanging a load once again becomes a Saturday morning Mondrian masterpiece moving in the salty breeze; Sheets on the long lines, socks on the short.
And best of all, I get to snap the sheets smartly, just like my Mother did, with a practiced air of expertise, remembering to turn the dresses inside out so the sun won’t fade them.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Was derailed the past few days by Jury Duty, but finally located the” mysterioso” Letter discussed in the previous posting (3/27/07) with the help of the Tribune’s Sona Patel. (Thanks!) It’s at http://www.sanluisobispo.com/multimedia/sanluisobispo/archive/letter.pdf Very interesting, especially the part about the muddlement with AB2701’s inconsistent sections. I hope that won’t cause problems down the pike as the wastewater project moves ahead.
And the letter certainly points out another interesting dilemma. If the District doesn’t survive, all its debts and assets and liabilities return to the County, something the County really, reeeeeely doesn’t want, Nuh-huh. But if the County buys the Tri-W site at fair market value and repays itself the advancement of $2.1 for the new sewer project, and divvys up the rest, then the CSD will likely survive and the County will be off the hook, Whew.
Oh, what to do? What to do? Well, as I’ve said, this is Los Osos. Stay Tuned.
As for “Who Leaked The Letter?” An even better question is why was it "leaked," i.e. anonymously posted on a public forum blog site, rather than just handed to reporter Sona Patel at the Trib in the first place.
Or maybe the question should be, Why was it leaked at all since it appears to be a preliminary query, something that, while not “secret,” was being kept private among the CSD Board for now, until some answers returned, so was there some motivation to make even the questions public at this early stage? Perhaps by someone who disagreed with the questions being asked? Or the direction being implied by those questions? Are we looking at CSD Board Governance By Newspaper Headlines again? (Hey, it’s an old political practice: The Loyal Opposition takes to the Editorial Pages and/or Front Pages and or “anonymous” Blog postings when the Board (city council, school board, BOS, whatever entity) majority seems to be heading in a direction the minority disagrees with.)
Since there was no confidential warning boilerplate on the letter, making it public doesn’t appear to have violated any closed sessions rules. It appears to be just another official letter from one governmental entity exploring options with another governmental agency. Nothing requiring anonymous “leaking.” So why the drama?
Oh, wait, what am I thinking? This is Los Osos!
Start Yer Engines Online! Vroom! Vroom!
The LO wastewater Rough Screening Report has been posted at the county sewer website: www.slocounty.ca.gov/pw/lowwp.htm and click on the link to the Pdf file. It's about 126? pages, so if you want to print it off, load up your printer with paper and ink since there's all sorts of cool color coded bars and graphs. Happpy reading.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Ah, as if Los Osos doesn't have enough mysteries swirling around it, now we have the March 27, Tribune headline, "Osos asks county for financial rescue: In a confidential letter, an attorney for the town's services district requests that the county bail it out of bankruptcy by buying the land once slated for a sewer plant."
Uh, . . . .well, that does beg a few questions:
1. This matter had been discussed at the CSD meetings long ago, selling Tri W that is. Remember when this idea was floated months ago, more headlines, lots of shreiking, and the County, quick like a bunny, sent a letter citing chapter and verse of ordinances that said the CSD had to give the County first right of refusal if they were selling any "excess" public land, then everyone got into a dust-up as to how the Tri-W wasn't "excess" public land but was part and parcel of the sewer project, followed by a tangle over whether the Blakeslee plan gave the County the whole kit and kaboodle anyway since it now has the wastewater project so that would have to include Tri W & Broderson, and nobody knew, if the county couldn't use all or any of Tri-W and they sold it, whether the "profit" from the sale would be returned to the CSD or kept with the sewer project to reduce the capital costs, then somebody floated a rumor that developer Jeff Edwards was going to buy Tri-W and everyone had a cow with much bellowing and running around, and such like. Remember?
Then everything died down and the idea of selling Tri-W to anyone was off the table, and presumably folks were waiting on a ruling from the Bankruptcy judge as to what constitutes "assets" but now, apparently's it baaaccck as another "old news" front page headline?
2. But when I go to the online story, I can find no link to the letter in question, which is how they usually link such pdf files & etc. But the story does note that the document was "posted anonymously Monday on a public forum on The Tribune's Web site, sanluisobispo.com -- " which causes me to wonder: Was this letter filched out of closed session, is it a work product of lawyer/client confidentiality, did it carry on it the usual "confidential" legal boilerplatet and so there was some serious questions whether officially posting it on their main web page might violate the law? So it just appeared "anonymously" on their forum site, thereby -- heh-heh -- letting themselves off the hook regarding any violtions of confidiality?
3. Which bring us to the wonderful mystery. Who leaked the letter? The Usual Suspects can't be that large. CSD board members, Attorneys, whoever typed it, etc. Was this letter something that was covered by the various Closed Session laws? If so, who leaked a closed session item? Wheeeeeee!
4. Not that any of this stuff is very secret, mind you, having all been discussed before in public and in the pages of the Tribune and even on this blogsite. And as for the financial condition of the district, that was discussed and presented a few weeks ago with the budget session, big ginormous budget report, and discussion with the CPA who prepared the report. Nothing secret about that, either.
5. But it does make for a swell headline, plus, a wonderful mystery: Who Leaked The Letter?
Well, this is The Los Osos Gong Show. Stay tuned.
Missed the first TAC meeting yesterday as I had to report for Jury Duty and our group of citizens had to report at the same time the TAC met. Heard through he grapevine that the TAC will try to hold future public meetings here in Los Osos, which will enable interested folks a chance to sit in and listen and learn.
Plus, heard that the County's preliminary First Cut of Wastewater Systems Report is out; 2 copies at the CSD office, 2 at the library.
START YOUR ENGINES! The Shreiking will commence shortly.
The Tribune's March 26 "Bouquets and Brickbats" offered the gentlest lob to the Regional Quality Control Board's latest bungle, what the editorial calls their "needless threatening letter to the town's prohibition zone property owners."
Instead of that softy brickback, the Tribune should have used that electioneering letter as the basis of a serious 3-part, in-depth investigative report on the whole CDO process, the violations of property rights within the PZ for ALL homeowners, the very serious risk the RWQCB is running that the 218 vote may be scuttled by their bungled meddling, you know, do a lengthy story like the one they did on Meth.
But, no, can't be bothered, so, instead, we get this softy smack with Nurf mittens, thereby earning a few brickbats right back at them.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Note: Steve Paige has been busy looking at the assessment issues the county is now involved in for the Los Osos Wastewater Treatment Project. He's posted some of the related documents at http://www.esnips.com/web/shpaigesWebResearch on the Proposition 218 assessment vote -- his annotated"Prop 218 Hurdles and Challenges pdf" and the new "County Moritorium Agreement pdf." His comments posted with permission.
The newly formed TAC will be looking over "financial" issues as well as "engineering" issues. I'm sure Steve will supply them with his detailed critique of the assessment issues so there'll be another set of eyes on the page. HOW the 218 vote is structured will be important. Plus, if there were any problems with the old method of Assessment, or old data or old anything, I hope it'll be cleaned up before the new assessment process or else somebody'll call a lawyer. As for breach of fiduciary duty . . . that's a lovely exemption. And, for anyone subject to the new deed restriction agreement, that one's interesting as well. And so it goes . . . (Italicized portions of Steve's text originally highlighted in red.)
How to use your rose colored tax glasses.
By Steve Paige
Putting on your rose colored 218 tax vote glasses I invite you to follow the trail of the Counties manipulation of the 218 vote before the election so that you can be miffed a little bit like me. Originally I gave the County all the good will in the world over the sewer project but I have changed my mind as I look in the darkened legal corners of the County’s project management.
First darkened legal corner we look at with our special 218 tax glasses is the Wallace-County contract to come up with the tax report for the 218 vote. Looks like all the old Tri-W Swiss cheese 218 revenue report is coming baaaaak.
29. County-Provided Data and Services. The COUNTY shall furnish the
ENGINEER available studies, reports and other data pertinent to ENGINEER's services; obtain or authorize ENGINEER to obtain or provide additional reports and data as required; furnish to ENGINEER services of others required for the performance of ENGINEER's services hereunder, and ENGINEER shall be entitled to use and rely upon all such information and services provided by COUNTY or others in performing ENGINEER's services under this Agreement.
I bet the Wallace attorneys started sweating bullets over the documents so the County came up with clause 32 so at least they won’t get sued by the County if the report is pure tax guano. Gee I thought the County was supposed to protect us the taxpayers and prevent the abuses of the last engineers report and revenue stream dog and pony show.
“Not responsible for breach of fiduciary duty” means you can screw up the math in the report and we won’t hold you to it.
32. Standard of Care. The ENGINEER shall be responsible for professional
negligence which is the exercise of skill and ability as ordinarily required of engineers under the same or similar circumstances. The ENGINEER shall not be responsible for warranties, guarantees, fitness for a particular purpose or breach of fiduciary duty and shall only indemnify for failure to perform in accordance with the generally accepted engineering and consulting standards.
Here’s the newest 218 tax twist. Say you want to go to the County to build a deck like my clients have. A deck and front entry mind you. Before February all you had to sign about the Los Osos Building Moratorium was a one page document that acknowledged that you knew about it.
But now you have to cloud the title of your property by recording a deed restriction that binds you to the following restrictions. This deed restriction never went before LOCAC, never saw the light of day, but instead bubbled up out of the darkness of County Council’s witches brew of semantic legalese. For the last three weeks I have been sent on a Kafka like wild goose chase to pin down where it came from.
Reading the indemnity clause with my 218 glasses on my take is that it is a “Regulatory Taking” by the County that is protected by the U.S. Constitution. While at the same time being a direct manipulation of the State Constitution Article 13D on tax reform by preventing residence from coming after the County if they back out of the Blakeslee Bill.
Think about it. If the whole good cop bad cop PZ sewer bust that the County and the Waterboard are playing on us goes up in smoke, who are you going to come after for “passive’ or ‘proximate’ negligence.
Read just the ‘red [Italics]and you will realize that and home remodel in the PZ will not be able to join in a class action against the County for allowing all those extra houses to be built and never coming up with a septic maintenance plan when your property is worthless in 2011. They are responsible for some of that nitrogen no? It’s easy to prove if you are only going after them for ‘passive’ not gross negligence. But woops, it’s in the deed restriction that you can’t go after them for that…….
From the county: “COVENANT AND AGREEMENT RESTRICTING USE OF PROPERTY”
Owner and his successors in interest agree to defend, indemnify and save harmless the County of San Luis Obispo, its officers, agents and employees from any and all claims, demands, damages, costs, expenses, judgments, or liability occasioned by the performance or attempted performance of the provisions hereof, or in any way arising out of this agreement, including, but not limited to, those predicated upon theories of violation of statute, ordinance or regulation, violation of civil rights, inverse condemnation, equitable relief, or any wrongful act or any negligent act or omission to act on the part of the Owner, or of the Owner's agents, employees or independent contractors; provided further that the foregoing obligations to defend, indemnify and save harmless shall apply to any wrongful acts, or any passively negligent acts or omissions to act, committed jointly or concurrently by 'the Owner, the Owner's agents, employees or independent contractors and the County, its agents, employees or independent contractors. Nothing contained in the foregoing indemnity provisions shall be construed to require indemnification for claims, demands, damages, costs, expenses or judgments resulting solely from the negligence or willful misconduct of County or its officers, agents, employees or independent contractors. Invalidation of anyone of the restrictions contained herein by judgment or court order shall in no way affect any of the other provisions which shall remain in full force and effect.
It’s not the location silly, it’s the tax spin.
The following email was sent from a person who owns property in Los Osos, but lives out of the area. I guess the recent RWQCB "notification" letter sent to everyone in the PZ has left some unanswered questions. Here's a few good ones, ones I'm sure others in the community may be asking as well. When Mr. Thompson replies, if this person cc's me a copy, I'll post the answers. (Posted with permission. )
Dear Mr. Thompson:
Yesterday I received a letter from Mr. Harvey Packard, giving your name and contact information, if I had any questions. The letter is a bit confusing, so I do have questions.
1. The subject of the letter is in bold and caps "Notice of Violation of Septic System Discharge Prohibition at ......"
a. Can you tell me how many property owners were sent this particular letter?
b. If this is a notice of violation, what rights do I have as a property owner in response to the notice?
c. How many days do I have to respond to the Notice?
d. How much time can the RWQCB wait until implementing enforcement proceedings? Does this Notice mean that enforcement action could be taken within 24 hours, years from now, without further notification?
2. In paragraph 1, it states "Ongoing monitoring shows that water quality and public health continue to be threatened by septic system discharges."
a. Is this monitoring of my septic tank? From my block? Of Los Osos/Baywood Park?
b. Can you give me a reference to this monitoring project, and how often sampling is done, and for how long, any ongoing activity and by whom?
c. Can you tell me how my health and the health of my tenants is threatened?
3. In paragraph 2, it states "...we are now enforcing the prohibition against all individual property owners and occupants in the Los Osos/Baywood Park prohibition zone."
a. How is your agency enforcing the prohibition?
b. What does that specifically look like?
4. In paragraph 3, it states "...we conclude that your property has a septic system that discharges waste within the prohibition zone."
a. How can you conclude that I am discharging waste from the septic tank without testing my specific system?
b. Would you allow me to install a system in place of the existing one which would discharge drinkable or close to drinkable water?
5. In paragraph 3, "...you are subject to further enforcement." What specifically does this entail?
6. Just to confirm, this is not a cease and desist order?
7. Paragraph 5, "...standard maintenance..."
a. What do you consider standard maintenance?
b. How often would pumping and inspection be required?
8. Paragraph 6, "Several parties have agreed to a settlement instead of the cease and desist order..."
a. Who are these parties? They must not be the owners who were sent cease and desist orders, as they already have an order. Are you writing about owners who haven't received the order who have come in voluntarily to agree to a settlement?
b. What does the settlement entail?
c. Can you please provide me with copies of the settlement agreements?
9. Paragraph 6, "The settlement agreement requirements are almost the same as those in the cease and desist order, except that we have agreed to meet and negotiate with the parties before we issue any violations of the settlement agreement requirements."It sounds like your agency would like all property owners to sign a settlement agreement, is this the case?
10. Paragraph 7, "...process is too slow."What process?
11. Paragraph 8, "...avoid further enforcement."What enforcement has already taken place, as "further" implies additional?
I look forward to your responses.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
For those of you with pets who are concerned with the recent dog and cat food recall, rat poison is now being blamed for the pet deaths. Suspect is the rodenticide, aminopterin, but it's not known at this point how it got into the food. I'd advise continuing to check the website www.menufoods.com to see if they've updated their lists of contaminated foods, and keep a sharp eye on Bowser & Fluffy for any sign of kidney failure.
Press release from Los Osos Wastewater Project TAC Agenda for March 26.
The first meeting of the Los Osos Wastewater Project Technical Advisory Committee will be held on Monday, March 26, 2007 from 12:00 pm. - 2:30 pm in Room 161 of the County Government Center at 1055 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo. . . . This information can also be viewed on the Project website at www.slocounty.ca.gov/PW/LOWWP.htm
Since this will be the first meeting, maybe the first order of business should be: Shall we set up future meetings to be held in Los Osos during the evening so residents who work full time but are still interested in attending the TAC meetings can more easily attend? Or shall we set up meetings during the day to be held out on the Carizzo Plains so it would be unlikely that very many of those annoying folks from Los Osos will show up? Just a thought.
Meantime, good luck to all the members as this part of The Process gets underway.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Tribune March 22 headlines: REGULATORS TO GET TOUGH IN LOS OSOS SEWER SAGA. They say they will crack down on property owners because the town still hasn’t built a sewer.”
Puuuttt ouutttt the Caaatttt……
Uh, hate to tell the Tribune reporter, but the notices the RWQCB just mailed out to every Los Osos property owner are official notices that SHOULD HAVE BEEN MAILED OUT A YEAR AGO, instead of the year-long, bungled, relentless, damaging and harmful harassment and “prosecution” of The Los Osos 45.
Nothing “tough” about the letter. Matter of fact, I think a whole lot of folks will read it and say, “Ummn, uh, o.k., uh-huh, yeah, yeah, we know that, uh, ummm, o.k. know that too, uh, sure, sure, what’s you point?, ummm, mmm, o.k.” then throw it in the wastebasket. [Added Note: Legally, are these suppose to be "official notices" that are supposed to have been sent out registered mail, return receipt requested, etc? So the RWQCB knows people actually got them? Or were these letters just an informational update, with no legal status? Just asking.]
Except me, of course, who read it and said, “Umm, uh, o.k. uh-huh, yeah, yeah, OH NO! HARVEY, [Packard, Prosecution Team Lead, who signed the letter]YOU’RE WEASLING, NUN-HUH, THAT’S NOT TRUE, YOU’RE LEAVING OUT SOME REALLY, REALLY CRITICAL INFORMATION, OH NO, DON’T GO THERE, HARVEY HARVEY, WHAT AM I GONNA DO WITH YOU?” when I got to the paragraph that said, “Several parties have agreed to a settlement instead of the cease and desist order and its hearing process” without noting that several people who settled have since rescinded once they found out what was actually in the settlement agreement, while others settled under duress.
Or Harvey’s statement, “The settlement agreement requirements are almost the same as those in the cease and desist order . . . .” Oh, Harvey, Harvey! DON’T DO THAT. YOU’RE WEASLING AND IT’S GONNA BLOW BACK ON YOU. THE SETTMENT AGREEMENT REQUIREMENTS HAVE SOME SERIOUS “POISON PILLS” IN THEM THAT ARE NOT IN THE REGULAR CDO’S, POISON THAT MANY OF THE SINGNERS WERE NOT AWARE OF BUT SURE NEEDED TO BE, SO DON’T BE TELLING PEOPLE THEY’RE “ALMOST THE SAME.” NU-UNH. THAT’LL MAKE PEOPLE THINK YOU’RE NOT TELLING THE WHOLE TRUTH, WHICH WILL MAKE THEM THINK THEY CAN’T TRUST YOU ANY MORE!
Plus, this notice says nothing of the fact that the CDOs that have already been given are now on appeal to the SWB and may head to a “real” court where it may be found that they’re full of legal no-nos and may have to be tossed out in order to start over again. No mention of that, which is unfortunate because that turns this letter from a neutral informational letter into one of spin …. Puuuuttt ouuttt the Caaatttt.
Even weirder is the following paragraph that states, “Several parties have expressed concern that this process is too slow.” You mean the kangaroo court you’ve set up needs to violate everyone’s rights even quicker, so maybe instead of individual “trials,” we should have mass auto-de-fe burnings, with clumps of a hundred homeowners tied together at the neck and trotted out to listen while the Board plays a tape recording of the “charges” at a speeded up rate so they all sound like The Chipmunks, followed by a gavel fall and a thundering chorus of GUILTYGUILTYGUILTYGUILTYGUILTY, NEXT! MOVE DOWN, MOVE DOWN, MORE TEA, MORE TEA?
Saaay, I like it. Very theatrical. On the other hand, I think that might just guarantee a mass legal appeal which would land everyone in a “real” court where somebody may get a spanking.
No, I think Mr. Packard and his Board need to do some more homework. Like acknowledge Mr. Tim Cleath’s sworn testimony that pumping, inspecting, repairing will have no appreciable effect on the ground water, so stop pretending that this is being done to “protect the ground waters of the state of California.” It isn’t. So, make up some other reason, like, PIR (Pump, Inspect, Repair) is being instituted in order to get PZ-wide baseline data on all septic systems. Heck, that was something that should have been done years ago under Resolution 83-12.
Then, the water board staff needs to sit down with the county and write up procedures, verifiable numbers and terms and glossary, and such like, plus a reasonable time line that ensures the 5,000 septic systems that will be “inspected” will not be “inspected” by a septic tank version of the Irish/Gypsy Travellers who will be coming to town to fleece homeowners with unneeded and unnecessary “repairs” required under color of law by the CDOs or “Settlements.” (More on that later.)
While this is being done, the Grand Inquisitor, Reed Sato, needs to urge the SWB to expedite the appeal, maybe even recommend a mediation court after the appeal is heard, so as to determine quickly the validity of the CDO process. If certain problems are found, then maybe instead of repeating all the mistakes, Mr. Sato can sit down with the PZLDF’s attorney, Shauna Sullivan, and return to work to re-craft a settlement agreement that protects the citizens’ rights AND is one they can sign without duress AND one that doesn’t contain any Poison Pills of Unintended Consequences AND one that won’t trigger lawsuits claiming a tie to illegal electioneering AND makes the Board look like they’re busy “doing something” instead of wasting time and money.
Then maybe we can all re-focus this community in order to see to it we end up with a great wastewater project, so we can all go home and grow petunias and rutabagas.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
The following was posted in the comment section, where it may well be overlooked. I’m moving it to the main blog, in hopes that more folks will read it. As with all “comments” posted in the comment section, caveat emptor. But some of the issues have been constantly discussed in this blog and the county and new TAC will also be covering them as well. Personally, I sure would like to know why WMH didn’t certify the project, and why theTRW-W costs didn’t include the additional costs to meet new Recharge Requirements? And other curious omissions. Since so much of the Recall and Tri W issues came down to “costs,” when things go missing, it’s troubling that maybe people are playing with apples and oranges, which usually means the taxpayer is probably about to get bamboozled then fleeced. In any event, Happy reading:
Source of Rain said...
SharkInlet,I sought responses from Dana Ripley to your comments/questions regarding Tri-W costs vs. out of town, gravity costs v. STEP/STEG. Here in Part 1 are your comments/questions. You'll find Ripley's responses in Part 2 following this.First your comments:
1. [Anon] wrote (in part) about TriW that "it's not sustainable OR affordable and won't clean water for decades if ever."Presumably you've got a cheaper and better way of reducing the nitrate loadings on our aquifer.Maybe it is my fault for not reading here very often, but I don't know of any such methods. Certainly the Ripley team didn't come up with any that are guaranteed to work any better and certainly once inflation and changes in design requirements (for example, increasing the size of the plant to correspond with actual wastewater production) is factored in, the Ripley cost greatly exceeeds TriW.
2. Several people at that time were able to show that many aspects of the Ripley report were quite stacked. For example, if a Ripley plan would take some three years more than TriW before construction could start, the inflation on the construction costs essentially would drive up the cost by about 25%. More delay, more money.Additional issues would appear to be that the Ripley system won't meet the real needs of our town (if I remember, they allowed for 50 gallons per person per day, about 1/3 the current usage). Furthermore, even if the Ag-exchange (in-lieu recharge) idea were to work, it would be hard to get enough Ag use where the farmers were drawing from our aquifer. There's also the denitrification issue. If we can't get all our water used by farmers directly above our aquifer, we'll need to denitrify the remaining water and recharge the aquifer directly at a site like Broderson.Don't get me wrong ... I like the Ripley idea and think he's done a great job thinking outside the traditional sewer box. The problem is that many aspects of the solution he came up with just won't work so well for Los Osos with our unique requirements.If you want to believe that raising these issues is electioneering, fine. It would be great if you would be willing to address the issues so that I can re-think my position if you show me to be wrong.
3. You write (in part): "Again, however, you persist, as do others of your mindset, in believing, incorrectly, that Tri-W has any relevance to this conversation. Knowing Tri-W fails almost every other vital criteria, you have chosen to make your last stand on economics -- the 'Time and Money' argument."To argue that TriW is irrelevant before the County has made that determination is a bit hasty, don't you think?I would also say that I am not making my last stand on economics ... it was my first stand. There are many other aspects of my point of view which I haven't emphasized ... by-n-large I just don't care a ton about the other issues as much."The 'Town and Money' argument fizzles when compared to the huge life-cycle savings of Ripley/Orenco. The dollar difference is simply too profound to ignore, as are the social impacts on the community between a $200 million sewer (as published in the Trv) and just about anything else you can name."The lifecycle costing approach is a sound one to determine which is the best long run project. The financing costs swamp every other cost we're talking about save the cost of putting in the pipe. In particular, a change in the interest rate from 2.5% to 6.5% (if we can't get a SRF for example) will matter more than difference in O&M between the TriW plant and any other possible option.Last Summer (again, shortly after the Ripley plan came out) I did some quick calculations about the energy savings they claimed to achieve. These savings were not enough to justify spending more than about an additional $0-15M (before financing ... depending on the inflation in energy costs compared to the CPI and the interest rate we get). Don't trust these numbers, however, because they are based on my memory and I don't have a copy handy. The point, however, should be well taken.The key here is that the energy savings that are key to Ripley's plan aren't that big of a deal if it costs us much more up front to get those savings down the road. It would be sort of like borrowing money to put in a solar electricity system in Los Osos. For some the principal and interest associated with the borrowing would more than swamp any energy savings for the next 15-20 years.Following are Dana Ripley's responses...
4:32 PM, March 21, 2007
Source of Rain said...
SharkInlet,Here are Dana Ripley's responses to your comments/questions. Hopefully they will give you some new religion. I offer them in the spirit of cooperation and the free exchange of information.Dana Ripley:
1. Our analysis (see Report Update, Executive Summary on CSD website) indicates the reverse, that the Update Plan, both in capital costs and ongoing costs is cheaper. What is not revealed in the analysis, however, is the absence of reverse osmosis/advanced oxidation (RO/AO) in the Tri-W/Broderson design. I wrote in November 2003 that the Broderson dispersal plan was in fact recharge of the shallow aquifer which by all accounts is a municipal groundwater source and that the State groundwater recharge reuse regulations would apply. This point was confirmed by the NWRI report in December 2006. The prior design team, in my opinion, had every intention of including the RO/AO process at Tri-W as a subsequent project (as required by state recharge reuse guidelines), however it was never included in the project report as a necessary or contingent treatment step, and it was never included in any analysis of alternatives. This was an obvious and improper deferral of a required component of the system, that if was appropriately considered in the beginning – would have made the Broderson dispersal plan so prohibitively expensive (and energy intensive) that the effluent plan would have been forced east to the agricultural areas in 2000 or 2001. District Engineer Rob Miller indicated to the NWRI panel in November 2006 that a $3 million pipeline (from Tri-W to the east ag areas) was yet another contingent project that was not included in the project report and was not in the project budget. If the RO/AO plan and/or the $3 million pipeline are/is included now in a side-by-side comparison, the cost differences would be even (substantially) greater than what we presented in the Executive Summary. As a final note on this topic, it is my personal speculation that this deferral of necessary system components (that were not included in the March 7, 2001 final wastewater facilities report by MWH) was in fact the reason why MWH project engineer Steve Hyland, or any other MWH registered engineer, refused to certify the final report in March 2001 as required by state law (Business and Professions Code § 6735). FYI, attached [in email to Source of Rain] is a copy of the title page of the final facilities report that lacks an engineer’s certification stamp or seal.
2. We believe that if our team is authorized quickly, that the compliance deadlines can be met, and would in fact probably beat the completion date of the Tri-W/gravity collection restart project. We believe that the County’s consultant team now realizes (based on the NWRI finding) that the RO/AO treatment process cannot be deferred and is the reason why County staff is now stating that the project cost is “$200 million or more.” This figure is 2 ½ times the Update project cost – so any delay now to get this right is probably time well spent. The 50 gallons per capita per day (gpcd) compares to 70 gpcd used in the MWH report, and is the statewide goal by the Department of Water Resources for interior residential water demand (which is equivalent to wastewater generation). Regarding “if ag exchange idea were to work” take a look at attachments regarding the North Sonoma County Agricultural Water Reuse Project. This is much larger than the LO ag reuse project but demonstrates how other California communities are dealing with similar issues. We see denitrification as a non-issue, and the NWRI agreed with us. We advocate smart nutrient management as opposed to strict end-of-pipe effluent limits that are necessary for direct groundwater recharge. In fact, I would personally consider the 7 mg/l total nitrogen limit for Broderson dispersal to be too lenient, it should be less than 1 mg/l for direct recharge of a potable aquifer. And that low N effluent quality is achievable reliably only with the RO/AO process that should be included anyway. With respect to the “unique requirements of Los Osos” it is our belief that the Update plan is perfectly suited to the unique requirements of LO, and that the Tri-W/gravity collection plan is not well suited at all to these unique requirements. Our comments here are not electioneering, but simply facts based on our professional judgment.
3. Time and money issues are of paramount interest to our team. First, we believe that the AB 2701 process timeline is far too long, and the $2 million budget is about 4 times what it should be to accomplish the TAC evaluation of alternatives. Given the fixed CDO deadline of January 1, 2011 – time is precious and it appears that no real project advancement will happen in 2007, unfortunately. It is now near the end of March, and what has happened so far besides colorful mailers? With respect to loan costs, we need a side-by-side comparison of the SRF reauthorization and the private finance option. Even though the SRF interest rate is lower, the conditions and points (eg. $6 million prior disbursement), coupled with >$100 million savings in capital costs, may make the interest rate a minor factor in the overall cost to the ratepayer. We think the energy savings are a significant consideration also. We have met with PG&E on this, and there will be an incentive check from the utility for using the more efficient system. We will working with the PG&E-SLO office to quantify what the incentive amount will be – but rest assured that the utility is under significant pressure from both the public and the CPUC to get wastewater utilities to reduce power demands. The global climate change issues are real, and PG&E is getting very, very aggressive on energy efficiency in the water/wastewater treatment sector of the state economy. PG&E estimates that wastewater treatment alone consumes over 1% of the state’s power demand. Our Tech Memo #8 estimates that the Update plan will consume about one third the power of the Tri-W/gravity collection plan, and this relative amount will of course decrease with the addition of RO/AO after the MBR plant. The energy intensity of wastewater treatment at Tri-W could easily double with the addition of RO/AO.Thank you, SharkInlet, for asking good questions and allowing me to seek answers from the source. Never be afraid to ask unless you're afraid to know.Source of Rain
4:43 PM, March 21, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
No, it’s not another Los Osos Recall, but this time, it’s for Dog & Cat Food
The following press release came from Whole Dog Journal. If you own a dog or cat, please visit the website and check out the recalled food being listed. So far as I know, it applies only to wet, canned food and/or soft-food in pouches, the suspected poison coming from wheat gluten.
Dear ANN CALHOUN,
On Friday, March 16, Menu Foods, a contract manufacturer of wet pet foods, announced that it was recalling millions of containers (cans and foil pouches) of wet dog food and cat food. The company said the recalled products were made between December 3 and March 6 for dozens of different pet food companies and sold under more than 50 brand names. The recall was prompted by reports of the deaths of at least 10 dogs and cats, as well as reports of dozens more animals who suffered acute kidney failure after eating the implicated products. The foods were sold in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada and sold by major retailers including Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Safeway.
A complete list of the recalled products, along with product codes, descriptions, and production codes, is available from the Menu Foods website at www.menufoods.com/recall or by calling the company at (866) 895-2708. Check the list often; at the time of release of this message, Menu Foods had added more products to the recall list at least twice since its initial release.
Also, several foods that (as of the release of this message) are NOT on the recall list but were manufactured by Menu are being recalled by their companies. Most notable are five Science Diet wet cat foods.
Menu said in a statement that tests of its food had “failed to identify any issues with the products in question.” However, Sarah Tuite, a spokeswoman for Menu Foods, told the New York Times that Menu did associate the timing of the reported deaths with its use of a new supplier for wheat gluten (in our opinion, a low-quality source of protein). The company has since switched back to its former source for wheat gluten.
Most of the products on the recall list are inexpensive "store brands," made for grocery store retail outlets under a variety of names. The major exceptions to this are Iams and Eukanuba, products recognized by most pet owners due to their healthy market share, heavy marketing, and pervasive presence in almost every pet supply chain.
So far, only two foods that have made an appearance on a WDJ "top foods" list have also appeared on the recall list: Nutro's Ultra and Nutro Natural Choice. The Nutro product featured in the 2007 list of "top wet foods," "Nutro Natural Choice Chicken, Rice, and Oatmeal" variety, does not contain wheat gluten and is not on the recall list. However, the Nutro product highlighted on WDJ's 2006 list, Nutro's Ultra Holistic, does contain wheat gluten and is on the recall list.
Owners who fed any of the recalled products in the past three months should be alert for signs of kidney failure in their pets: extreme lethargy, a sudden change in the amount the animal drinks or urinates, jaundice (indicated by the yellowing of the animal's skin and/or whites of eyes), inappetence, and vomiting. As always, if your pet suddenly declines to eat a food he or she has previously enjoyed, cease feeding the product and call the manufacturer with the product date code for more information. Always contact your veterinarian promptly if your animal shows signs of illness.
Thank you,The Whole Dog Journal Team
Monday, March 19, 2007
Headline in Sunday’s Tribune: “Default may hurt chances for sewer loan; $6.5 million is still owed from scrapped project; county must arrange payback before getting more state money.”
First off, it’s not the county’s job to “arrange payback” of anything. They’re working on various possibilities for various sewer plans, some of which might require an SRF loan, some might not. (The problem with the SRF loan is that the Governor’s signing statement may be in legal conflict with the Blakeslee bill, something that should be resolved before we get any more headline stories like this one, doncha think?)
But second, I kept wondering, Why was this story on the front page? It’s not “news,” it’s not even “new.” But it does send that soft subliminal message that the only way Los Osos can get a sewer built is via the State Revolving Loan and that the County is responsible for paying back the defaulted loan. Neither of which is news or even true, so I had to wonder Why this story? Then I remembered, the Gary Larsen Far Side cartoon:
Guy’s asleep in bed with The Cat by his side. Peering through the bedroom window is The Dog, whispering his little subliminal message: “Put out the cat. Puuuutttt outtt the caaaattttt……”
Keep it up, Trib, and pretty soon all of Los Osos will KNOW that the sun sets in the east and that the ONLY sewer project they will be allowed to vote on will require a SRF loan. Putttt outttt the caaatttttt.
May I Pre-Chew Your Food For You?
On of the regular anonymous commentors on this blog site responded to my notice that there would be a March 18 benefit for The Los Osos 45’s legal appeal by Citizens for Clean Water (PZLDF, more donations of which can be made at Coast Bank, next to the Post Office), a barbeque with prizes, and live music from Garth Wilwand as well as Sweetrock, (a BBQ that was well attended, not a single bean left over, lot of fun had by all) by first noting that he/she wanted nothing to do with PZLDF, to which I suggested that at the very least she/he get a copy of the appeal brief filed with the State Water Board and read it to see what legal issues regarding the CDOs were being questioned. (This becomes particularly apt since the CSD, as a designated party, is also signed on with attorney Shauna Sullivan and is filing that brief as well, which means it involves everyone in the community, not just The Los Osos 45 friends and neighbors.) Herewith was part of his/her reply:
You’re the one asking me to change my opinion about the PZLDF. Let’s pretend for a moment that I am busy and you really want to convince me (and others) that PZLDF is actually worth supporting. Maybe it would be a good idea for you to make it easy for us to see Sullivan’s “brief.” You tell us that we should go and do the research. Honestly, because I don’t think it will change my mind, I’m not going to take the effort to hunt it
down, but if you make it easy to access, I’ll read it. But I’ll need convincing and if you don’t want to try, you can count on not getting my $10.
First off, for non-regular readers, this particular anonymous poster is known for the HOURS he/she has spent running up figures and numbers and posting them to “prove” whatever financial arguments she/he wished to make. (I likened it to medieval monks who spent years debating exactly how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.) And he/she is a regular poster, which also involves considerable time and effort responding to the original post as well as responding to other poster’s responses, so it cannot be said this person lacks diligence.) And she/he has always been critical of my and other’s opinions, to which I have constantly replied, Fine, Go look at the documents themselves, then make your own judgments.
Yet there it finally was, a perfect example of Reason # 3958234290423892 Why Los Osos Flew Off The Cliff – Can’t be bothered to get off my duff and do a little homework, do it for me, would you?
To which I can only reply: Waaaah-Waaaahhh, You want me to Pre-Chew your food for you, too? How’s about digesting it for you as well?
Yikes! Being a government of and by and for the people requires SOME effort BY the people. If not, you get a citizenry of babies who will get exactly what Big Uncle Daddy decides to give them and if they cry, Big Auntie Mommy will come spank.
Speaking of which, the Sewer TAC has now been picked. PAY ATTENTION LOS OSOS
The new 14-member citizens committee to “establish pros and cons for sewer alternatives” has been selected. Their meetings will be held under Brown Act rules, which means they’ll be open to the public (Let’s hope they’ll be held at a time when most people can attend, i.e. in the evening after work hours?) and there will be a properly agendized time for the public to comment and all documents will be open to scrutiny.
Unlike the Pablum-Seeking blog commentor above, I hope many Los Ososians will get off their duffs and attend those TAC meetings and get informed and stay informed. Otherwise, Big Uncle Daddy will dump a large glop of extremely expensive cold gruel on their plate, then hand them an astronomical bill.
More Chances to Speak Out.
Los Osos residents, Bill Moylan, Karen Venditti, Judy Vick and Keith Wimer, have started a new “Viewpoint” section in the Bay News, “Let’s Talk Los Osos,” wherein they encourage readers to send in questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. The various reader comments will be used in their column to raise issues or share information. Furthermore, the Bay news also encourages residents to send letters to their Editor at email@example.com. So, start your computers!
Sewage Spills, We Still Got Sewage Spills.
Tribune’s March 17 story: “An estimated 50,000 gallons of sewage spilled Wednesday and Thursday after a buildup of grease in a sewer line caused sewage to back up and flow out a manhole at 410 E. Branch St. in the Village. An unknown amount of sewage flowed into the nearby creek.
“The manhole was in a hard-to-see area, according to city officials, so the leak wasn’t detected for about 24 hours.”
Needless to say, this was a gravity system, which allows for these kinds of undetected spills. Mr. Bob Stark had this in the March 19th Tribune Letters on the spill:
More is enough.
More sewage spills, more beach closings, more creek foulings. Not in Los Osos, and there will never be as long as the septic tanks are used and only the effluent is treated [i.e. a pressurized STEP/STEG system].
Grease can only plug one tank and not the entire community. The dangers of gravity collection systems how up in the papers all the time for those that do not heed the warning signs.
No, Los Osos is not going down that path, thank you.
Well, as for going down that path, that remains to be seen. Certainly, STEP systems would have sounded a warning bell so the operator could have closed off any break quickly since there are no “hard-to-see” areas in such a system. And if Los Osos were gravity-pipe sewered and such a break occurred in a hard-to-see area near the Bay, well 50,000 gallons . . . .? I would hate to think of the RWQCB fine that would follow such a break.
But will the citizens of Los Osos connect the Gravity Pipe-Sewage Spill dots? They will if the Tribune starts running some Puuuuttt outttt the caaaatttt “news” stories on gravity vs. STEP systems. Until then, they’re on their own.
Connnneeccctttt the dotttttts …. Conneccttttt theeee dotttsssssss…..
Thursday, March 15, 2007
And Your Problem Is?
It’s no good running a pig farm badly for thirty years while saying, “Really I was meant to be a ballet dancer.” By that time, pigs will be your style.
Quentin Crisp .
I don’t get it. Why the hand-wringing now over the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed hospital? The conditions at Walter Reed are simply the logical result of the President and the Republican-held congress’s privatization ideology at work: “Government isn’t the solution; Government is the problem.” (Many management functions at Walter Reed were outsourced to a company called IAP Worldwide Services. IAP is now being managed by two former executives with Kellogg, Brown & Root, which is a subsidiary of Halliburton, a name that should ring a bell.) So Walter Reed was brought to you by some of the same people who brought you the outsourced Iraq war, the outsourced, crony contract governmental response to Katrina and soon, The President’s Great Surge In Iraq that will ensure even more good men and women will be arriving at Walter Reed in need of more outsourced, privatized care. So, why is anyone getting upset? Clearly, pigs are this administration’s style.
Sure, the polls show that Bush & Co are not held in very high esteem right now, but the very people answering the polls are the very same people who elected these guys . . . not once, but repeatedly. Even more telling, when the voters had an opportunity in this last election to completely change the balance of Congress, they voted to maintain the status quo: Congress just barely changed hands, which means it isn’t veto-proof, it isn’t filibuster-proof and there isn’t a sufficient majority to make major needed changes or look into any administrative High Crimes and Misdemeanors more serious than lying about semen on a blue dress. Instead, the voters returned to power senators and congressmen from both parties who failed in their oversight duties because they put political self interest and partisan power politics above the national interest. Once again, the voters chose a government run by people who have contempt for and so can’t be bothered to actually run a government competently. Pigs are their style, too.
Which means that we’ve got an electorate that was satisfied enough with the way the country is going so they made sure it would pretty much remain business as usual down on K Street. Which means more ginned-up intel, a continuing crony-outsourced bungled War On The Cheap, budget slashes to the VA program, privatized overburdened facilities unprepared for returning injured soldiers, a national debt that threatens the republic itself, corporate war profiteering, Guns and Butter tax cuts, ignored domestic problems like universal health insurance, no jobs, crumbling infrastructure, and the threats from global warming all going begging while congress focuses on a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, all of which is exactly what the American people voted for repeatedly. So, what’s the problem?
At a conservative gathering, best-selling author and self-described “satirist” Ann Coulter used the offensive “F- word” epithet to imply that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is gay. It was a two-fer-one jab; slam the Demos, slam the gays. In the room, some of the biggest movers and shakers within the conservative movement all roared with laughter. Later, when the comment became public, Republican presidential candidates fell all over themselves to put distance between themselves and Coulter. Why? Pigs have always been her style. She was and is the conservative’s darling Point Woman of Wedge Politics, a political tactic that American voters respond to like Pavlov’s dogs. So, why the for-public-consumption-only squeamishness now?
And so it goes. Chickens coming home to roost, skeletons falling out of closets (The Vice President’s chief of staff now a convicted felon; how long until a Presidential Pardon comes hustling down the Pike?), more lies, more hypocrisy, more incompetence, more treasury-looting by the crony kleptocracy, more ordinary lives damaged beyond measure while faux outrage chuffs across the media screens.
It’s all entertaining, but useless because the American people got exactly what they asked for, not once, but numerous times. Pigs are indeed now our style, so we’d better put on hip boots and grab a shovel. With the level of muck in our self-created, bankrupt barnyard, ballet slippers will be inappropriate footwear for a long, long time.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The Tribune's been carrying a series on meth addiction for the past few days. In the March 13 story, written by AnnMarie Cornejo, it notes "County short on space for treatment," noting that there simply is a shortage of in-house treatment centers available. (There used to be a full program at French Hospital years ago, a program covered by medical insurance & etc. but that's long gone. And, of course, County General's long gone too.)
Cornejo's story continues, "Now, there's another effort to bring a second residential facility to the county. San Luis Obispo based nonprofit Project Ament hopes to transition from a sober living house to [a]16-bed residential facility by the end of the year." . . . "Such centers are important because they go beyond standard outpatient treatment programs and sober living houses by offering a multifaceted approach to recovery that includes mental health couseling and extended treatment." . . . "Increasingly, this approiach is viewed as critical."
Furthermore, in New Times a few weeks ago, there was a blurb that noted: "Welcome donations and clients. Project Amend (782-9600) is seeking donations of funds, twin beds, and bedding and labor, including painting. New recovery clients are also welcome. The admittance fee is $425, with some free placements also available."
So, stop reading this blog. Reading this blog never made a difference to anything or anyone. Instead, close your computer, pick up the phone and give the good folks running Project Amend a call and see what they need. Gently used towels? Sheets? Some new pillows (check the bedding sales) What about gently used dishes and cups? Kids toys? Games? Books? Whatever. Here's a great chance to make a real difference in a life, or two or three.
Speaking of Wasting Time Reading Blogs
Heard that the County Engineering staff has made their picks for people they recommend will be serving on the TAC for the Hideous Los Osos Sewer. I tried accessing the web page but it's having indigestion problems and isn't working for some weird reason. Will try again later. (go wo www.slocounty.ca.gov/PW/LOWW.p.htm) to see who they've picked. The BOS will vote on accepting them at their March 20 meeting.
If you have any objections or suggestions on the staff picks, you can email the BOS and put in your two cents worth. But remember, the TAC is like all "advisory" boards: There for window dressing (See? We're "listening" to the community for its "valued input," now go away, thank you) and once in a while, if everyone gets lucky, Advisory Boards or Committees can actually come up with "advice" that's actually listened to and that can make a real difference. But, it's not something that anyone should bet on.
God Bless all who signed up to be considered. For those who actually get picked by the BOS to serve, please know it will be a miserable thankless job that may or may not be of use, but thank you for serving all the same.
To the public, so far as I know the TAC meetings will be open to the public (to observe, not participate) so I hope you'll all note the meeting dates and plan to be there. (Get off this blog, all you Sewer Jihadis, and go to the meetings with your ears open, please. No good screeching at me or each other about some Sewerish Something or Other if you won't get off your duffs and go speak with actual "advisors.")
And, Finally, Proof Positive Why America Is Doomed!
Went to see the movie "300" Sunday. Paper noted the interesting addition of: "I.D. Required," code for This Movie Is NOT For Kids. "300" certainly qualifies. A visually stunning recreation of an "illustrated novel" (i.e. "adult comic book), it's done in a style that's reminiscent of those bronzed/sepia-toned lowering-sky, high-end car commercials and/or XBox Play Station Kill Everything In Sight Games and since it's about the Spartans vs the Persians, it's all about stabbing and hacking and killing and decapitating and stomping and jabbing and poking and falling off cliffs and teeth-gnashing and raping and slaughtering by the thousands as the Spartan 300 (actually there were about 1,000 Thesbians there, too) held off the hoards of Xerxes' Persian Army at The Hot Gates, where the 300 died to a man.
In short, a typical PlayStation Game Movie. Which is why, apparently, the theatre had a bunch of families in there with their 8, 9, 12, 13 year-old kids and tubs of popcorn. When one such family trooped in, I asked the little kid plooped down next to me, "Uh, How old are you?" "I'm nine," he proudly declared. I leaned over and asked his Dad,"Uh, the newspaper said 'I.D. Required' for this movie. Were you 'carded' when you bought tickets?" "Nope," said he. "Oh," I replied, "Just wondering. They usually reserve 'I.D. required' for movies with extreme violence and/or adult sexual content." Daddy stared blankly at me.
Whilst all the hacking and blood spurting and beheading and slicing and raping was going on, I noticed not one family said, "Ooops, I think we didn't realize that this wasn't a Disney film and can see now that it's WILDLY inappropriate for our young kids to see," and so took their kids outta there.
Nope. Not a bit of it. It was popcorn munching all round as heads and blood spattered across the visual fields and minds of these young kids. While their parents sat there enjoying it all.
As I said, the kids probably just thought it was just another PlayStation Kill Game. I have no doubt their parents felt the same way.
The theatre manager shrugged it all off. Not her problem. So much for MPAA ratings.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
"County Supervisors Get Letters, Lots and lots of letters. . . letterrrrrs! (including one from me)"wherein Ron Crawford over at www.sewerwatch.blogspot.com writes a letter to his supervisor. Well, inquiriing minds want to know and Ron's still bird-dogging those Tri W Park amenities.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
L.A. Times March 10story, “House OKs clean-water projects bill: The vite sets up a fight with Bush, who has threatened a veto. The plan would authorize $14 billion in four years.”
“Setting up a confrontation with President Bush over spending [Ya gotta stop a take a gape-mouthed pause over that one.], the Democratic-controlled House on Friday approved a bill that would increase funding for clean-water projects, such as those aimed at preventing beach pollution. [Or mayhaps building wastewater treatment systems in small coastal communities?]
“The bill, which would authorize $14 billion over four years, was approved on a 303-108 vote, despite a White House veto threat. It now goes to the Senate.”
So far, 224 Demos backed the bill while 79 Republicans nixed it. Seems the bone of contention is the fact that the provision requires “workers on clean-water projects to be paid the local ‘prevailing wage,’ [which] drew objections from the White House, as did the bill’s price tag. “ (Objections to paying prevailing wages from a man who never saw a Halliburton no-bid contract he didn’t love? Ah, ya gotta stop and take a gape-mouthed pause over that one as well.)
“The bill reauthorizes the Clean Water Sate Revolving Fund program, which helps state and local agencies pay for projects such as upgrading ageing sewage-treatment plants and preventing runoff on pollution water.
“The White House objected to all three, calling each ‘unrealistic in the current fiscal environment.” (Fiscal environment? Oh, that’s right. After already busting the budget with Guns & Butter tax breaks, a gleeful crony kleptocracy of no-bid, non-negotiated big Corporate giveaways (i.e. the drug giveaway to Big Pharma for the Medicare Drug Bill, for example), Bush has no trouble spending more money getting more Surge troops killed in Iraq, but money for water? Nahhh)
Sunday March 18, Noon to 6 pm.
South Bay Community Center
2180 Palisades Dr. Los Osos
Benefit for the Los Osos 45 CDO appeal, PZLDF
Food: BBQ Chicken, trimming, drink & dessert. Eat in, take out.
Live Music from Steve Tracy, Garth Wilwand, & Sweetrock
Drawing prizes and other fun stuff.
Tickets are $10, on sale now or at the door. For info, call 528-8408
Come out to support your friends and neighbors and say high to some really nice people who have spent the year getting hammered and jerked around by the RWQCB. With any luck and your financial help, their case may result in getting this whole CDO disaster re-thunk into something far more “doable” and sane.
Which means, helping them is helping yourself.
Friday, March 09, 2007
If you’re a Los Osos resident and/or a Sewer Jihadi (either side) you’ve probably already seen Patrick Klemz’ very interesting March 8, 07 cover story in New Times, “Where is Roger Briggs? Los Osos residents facing water board hearings question the absence of its leader” (They sought him here, they sought him there, they sought him everywhere, that Demned elusive Scarlet Pimpernell!)
Patrick’s article does contain a couple of interesting items. One, of course, is this: “[Bud] Sanford said he sent a packet of allegations and evidence he’d collected to the California Bureau of State Audits in January of 2006. Donna Neville, legal advisor to the watchdog group, said in early March of 2007 that she wouldn’t confirm receipt of the papers and couldn’t disclose details of any ongoing investigations, in compliance with the Whistleblower Act. The water board’s Thomas [Matt? Michael? It's not clear, an unfortunate name confusion that continues to plague anyone involved with the whole Mad Hatter CDO “trial”] said the agency received the packet when PZLDF submitted it as evidence for its defense case prior to the hearings. . . . “ Then goes on to list a whole series of claims, most of which are followed by Klemz’ notation . ..” The water board declined to comment.” (Uh, I’ll say and understandable since a handful of The Los Osos 45 have filed an appeal of their CDOs to the State water board so the whole thing should be considered under litigation from this point forward, so “no comment” makes sense.)
But the questions Mr. Sandford has submitted to this Bureau do raise another interesting question. So long as the RWQCB stayed in the realm of “generalized, elective, municipal, collective, administrative, legislative, voter-approved actions” they didn’t need to stick with “facts” and “evidence” as it pertained to individual people, who, unlike vague general populations, still carry the protections of “rights” under law. Hence, the RWQCB could assert whatever they wanted to assert, base their claims on “common sense,” (Ignore that tainted well over there! Use the test numbers anyway!) or simply claim such and such that “everyone knows,” and so move forward with a collective governmental project to deal with collective wastewater/pollution problems.
Whatever assertions they made could be challenged at the proper time and “common sense” and “everyone knows” has, in the past, been good enough since most judges view the Board as the “experts,” and defer to them, as they defer to “county government” or elected “CSDs” as the duly authorized “authority” and so go along with whatever they’re advocating so long as it’s . . . good enough.
HOWEVER, when it comes to individual rights, property rights, legal issues, rules of evidence, the notion that a person is individually “innocent” until proven guilty of whatever they’re accused of, this whole notion of asserting something may not survive in a “real” court of law.
Which is what has made this whole Torquemada’s Mad Hatter Teaparty & Traveling Beheading CDO Show so misguided and problematic -- those damned laws that individuals can call upon to defend themselves. Like laws pertaining to “evidence.”
To take one example, the RWQCB staff was asked repeatedly, “Do you have any direct evidence that so and so is polluting the waters of the state of California.” Answer: “No.”
But they’re guilty anyway, issued a CDO and dismissed. Off with their heads!
Here’s Klemz again: “Even in Los Osos, many view the 30-year old nitrate debate as pedantic. Common sense indicates that a high-density cluster of septic systems would prove damaging to water quality, so why talk about nitrates? But the case of The Los Osos 45 isn’t another political battle. It’s a legal one, and one based on specifics. As community patience for the nitrate topic continued to erode, water board chairman Jeff Young struck many of these specific reports from the evidence binder of the recent administrative hearings, calling them 'irrelevant.'”
Hence, we have the Chairman hearing cases that could result in people losing their property dismissing “evidence” as “irrelevant.” Quel apt!
And you wonder why some of The Los Osos 45 have appealed their cases to the State Water Board and intend to go into a “real” court of law where “evidence” apparently still remains “relevant?” Where this isn’t an issue of “politics,” but is, as Klemz said, “ . . . a legal one, and one based on specifics.”
On a related issue, Chuck Cesena, Los Osos CSD President has a Viewpoint, “Past Time For A Truce in Los Osos,” The Bay News, March 8, 07 that states, in part, “Two opportunities existed to challenge this mistake [a challenge to the basin plan, i.e. a challenge to how the Prohibition Zone lines were drawn which never did make scientific sense and make even less scientific sense now]. The first was in 1983 when the basin plan was adopted by the regional board. That was not done. The second is within 30 days after the first ACL or CDO enforcement actions.”
Question: Exactly when did/does the ACL or CDO enforcement action clocks kick in? When the RWQCB votes to issue one? Or when the State Water Board gets an appeal and can legally sit on that appeal for about a year? Or after the CDO is appealed to a “real court of law?” WHEN?
The issue becomes relevant since amending the basin plan is really critical on so many levels. However, opening that plan up for a challenge is undoubtedly feared by the RWQCB and the county because it would allow too many people to ask too many questions about how the original lines were drawn and why. So, is the plan to hold the CDOs in limbo until the 218 vote (how do you spell E-L-E-C-T-I-O-N-E-E-R-I-N-G?) and the county moves ahead with a project based on the old PZ plan lines, thereby making a reexamination moot?
That is something everyone in this community needs to be thinking about. County, too. A bad, short-sighted basin plan doesn’t get better floating unexamined in limbo. It just gets worse. And worse will come back to bite everyone on the butt.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
A friend send along the following from Dick Cavett’s blog. I think he pretty much says it all.
Subject: Dick Cavett: What My Uncle Knew About War
Are you too getting just a little bit fed up with our leader's war?
Isn't everybody? Do you actually know anyone who thinks it's all going to turn
out fine? Except that chubby optimist Dick Cheney, of course, who thinks the
Titanic is still afloat.
And am I alone in finding our leader's behavior at press conferences irritating?
I mean that smirky, frat-boy joking manner he goes into while, far away, people
he dispatched to the desert are having their buttocks shot away. It's worst when
he does that thing of his that the French call making a "moue"; when he pooches
his lips out and thrusts his face forward in a way that seems to say, "Aren't I
right? And don't you adore me?"
As in his case, I was never a soldier, but God knows I wanted to be. Not in
later years when my draft number came up for real, but back in my Nebraska
grade-school days when Jimmy McConnell and Dickie Cavett watched John Wayne in
"Sands of Iwo Jima" at least five times, one of us sneaking the other in free
through the alley exit. Then we went home, got our weapons (high-caliber cap
pistols) and took turns being John Wayne. The alley was Iwo Jima.
Years later I met Big John. It couldn't have been better. He was in full cowboy
drag on an old Western (studio) street and mounted on his great horse Dollar. He
looked exactly as he did in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," and it took my breath
away. I didn't just like him, I loved him. I sorta wished I hadn't liked him
quite as much, so I could have asked him, "Duke, how come not you nor any of
your four strapping sons ever spent one day in the armed services?" ("I'm merely
asking," I might have added to lighten the tone. Or delay the concussion.)
I didn't dodge the draft, and unlike our V.P. I didn't have "a different
agenda." I didn't have to. I had mononucleosis (imagine how the "nuke-you-lur"
president would injure /that/ word in pronunciation) and, my draft board said,
they had way too many guys and nothing was happening, war-wise. Sound
preposterous? And yet there was such a time.
I have a statement: Anybody who /gives/ his life in war is an idiot.
I guess I left off the quotation marks to let the words have their full effect.
They aren't mine, but I'm related to them. They're my Uncle Bill's words, and
his credentials for uttering the remark are a shade better than mine.
He may well have been the sole Marine to have survived driving landing barges on
three bloody invasions in the South Pacific. I asked an old Marine vet once how
rare Bill's survival was. He was gifted of speech: "I'd say survivors of what
your uncle did could probably hold their reunion in a phone booth and still have
room for most of Kate Smith." (We'll pause while youngsters Google.) "My guess
is that your uncle is unique."
Bill said that aside from knowing that any minute was likely to be your last,
the worst part of the job was having to drop the landing barge's front door so
the guys could swarm out onto the beach. Despite the hail of bullets against
that door, he had to drop it, knowing that the front five or six guys would be
The phrase Bill hated most was "gave his life." That phrase is a favorite of our
windbag politicians; especially, it seems, the dimmer ones who say "Eye-rack."
"Your life isn't given," I remember him saying, "it's brutally ripped away from
you. You're no good to your buddies dead, and when the bullets start pouring in
you don't give a goddamn about God, country, Yale, your loved ones, the last
full measure of devotion or any other of that Legionnaire patriotic crapola. You
just want you and your buddies to see at least one more sunrise."
Bill also served on land and experienced something so god-awful that he thought
he would go mad: "Tom [his best friend] and I were trotting along, firing our
rifles, and I turned to say something to Tom and his head was gone." (Bill had
great difficulty telling this. I guess I felt honored that he had not been able
to speak of it for years.) He said the worst part was that while still holding
the rifle, the body, now a fountain, continued for four or five steps before
falling. He hated to close his eyes at night because that ghastly horror was his
dependable nightly visitor for years — like Macbeth, murdering sleep.
By sheer chance I was out on the sidewalk in front of Bill's house (we lived
next door) when he arrived home from the war. I wasn't even sure it was Bill at
first, he looked so much older.
I blurted, "Hey, Bill, welcome home." He was two feet from me but neither saw
nor heard me. I knew the phrase current then. Bill was "shellshocked." Not the
current "post-traumatic stress disorder" or whatever the P.C.-sounding phrase is
today. For the first six months he was home, he slept in the yard.
You will think less of me for this, but my friend Jim and I, noticing how poor
Bill jumped at sudden sounds, thought a firecracker might be in order. Bill's
training kicked in by reflex. He hit the ground so fast it looked like film with
frames removed. And, lacking the standard-issue shovel, he started digging with
his hands. He never knew who did it. As for Jim and me, I trust that this will
be deducted from our shares in paradise.
Isn't it the excellent combat chronicler Paul Fussell who gets credit for the
phrase "the thousand-mile stare"? It described the look of the haggard soldiers
coming back from their first battle as the eager, fresh-faced kids — which they
had been a few days earlier — filed past them on their way "in." By definition,
both groups were the same age, but there were no young faces in the returning
group. They looked more like fathers than sons.
It amazes me that this bungled war can still be considered controversial. Who
are the 28 percent anyway, who think that George W., the author of this mess,
has "done a heckuva job"?
The other word Bill hated was "sacrifice." Sacrifice is something you give up in
order to get something in return. What good are we getting from this monstrous
error? Cooked up as it was by that infamous group of neocons (accent on last
syllable) who, draft-averse themselves, were willing to inflict on the (largely
unprivileged) youth of this country their crack-brained scheme for causing
democracy to take root and spread like kudzu throughout that bizarre and
ill-understood part of the world, the Middle East.
What /service/ is this great country getting out of all this tragedy, other than
the certainty that historians will ask in disbelief, "Was there no one to stand
up to this overweening president?"
I cringe at the icky, sentimental way the president talks about what we owe to
the people of plucky little Iraq. You'd think we all grew up ending our "Now I
lay me down to sleep…" with "… and please, Lord, be good to Iraq." They detest
us now, along with just about everybody else. Personally, I don't give a damn
what happens to Iraq, and don't think it's worth a single American life. Or any
other kind. Haven't philosophers taught us the immorality of destroying
something of infinite value — like a human life — in order to achieve a
/possible/ good? I guess not.
For weeks the word "cause" has rolled around in my head, attached to an elusive
quote. I found it. It's from Shakespeare's "Henry V" (as distinct, I suppose,
from Paris Hilton's "Henry V") and it's the part where the king, in disguise and
unrecognized, sits at a fire listening to some of his men discuss the next day's
battle and what it means to be fighting in a good cause. One says, "But if the
cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when
all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join together
at the latter day and cry all, `We died at such a place,' … their wives left
poor behind … their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that
die in a battle. … Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter
for the king that led them to it."
Saturday, March 03, 2007
The following is a DRAFT from the planning commission for Los Osos. So, if you haven't already done so, do change out your toilets and showerheads to Lo-Flow, xerescape your yard, and . . . don't' drink the water.
1. Recommend to the Board of Supervisors that Level of Severity III be certified for water supply in the Los Osos groundwater basin
2. The County of San Luis Obispo become the lead agency to implement the following recommendations.
3. That water purveyors continue to immediately implement the measures recommended in the Sea Water Intrusion Assessment.
4. S&T Mutual Water Co. should install meters and adopt an ascending water rate structure as described above.
5. All water purveyors should immediately adopt an ascending water rate structure as described in the RCS.
6. All water purveyors should adopt mandatory retrofit measures that will reduce water demand by 15% 30% by the year 2010 compared to 2001 usage.
7. Best management practices for agricultural water use shall be encouraged.
8. Secure supplemental water supplies in sufficient quantity, when combined with conservation measures, to meet demand at projected buildout.
7. The County adopt an ordinance that prohibits new subdivisions that result in the net increase in water usage from the basin.
8. Adopt an ordinance to institute water conservation requirements for parcels outside of water purveyor service areas that mirror the efforts undertaken by purveyors within their service areas.
9. Adopt an ordinance requiring all water purveyors with 5 or more connections to meter individual connection water use.
10. Reduce the build out figure for Los Osos in the Estero Area plan from 28,000 to 19,713.
11. A temporary moratorium be instituted for all new development that results in a net increase in water use from the basin until overall basin water use is reduced by at least 600 AFY over 2001 data.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Last night, at the little white schoolhouse in the park in Los Osos, Maria Kelly and Lynette Tornatsky hosted county representatives to answer some questions concerning the proposition 218 vote for the wastewater project. About 25 people showed up, even though there had been a little notice in the County Roundup section of the Tribune.
When I had mentioned in a previous blog that Paavo Ogren would be the guest speaker at the PZLDF meeting and only a handful of people showed up (about 16? 17? 18?) one "anonymous" wag noted on the comment section of this blog that the low turn out was because EVERYONE hates PZLDF and so he/she would wait to see how huge the turn-out was for last night's meeting, which to him/her would "prove" that EVERYONE loves whatever "group" he/she thinks Maria and Lynette represent. The only thing I could think of on reading that comment was, "How high school. No, how JUNIOR high school."
Sixteen to twenty five out of 15,000. Last night a member of the audience strongly urged the CSD to invite Paavo to come give his powerfpoint presentation (first given at Bruce Gibson's regular Los Osos meetings) since the CSD meetings are televised and a great many people watch the TV, so the best way, besides the various county brochures which can't possibly go into too great a detail or else they'd end up the size of phone books, would be a more complete presentation on the telly.
Meanwhile, Paavo noted that the very large list of questions gathered by Maria and Lynette would be posted on the county's sewer web page along with the answers. Their blogsite is: www.slocounty.ca.gov/PW/LOWWP Paavo said the Q & A's would probably be finished and posted in a few weeks.
A lot of questions concerning the 218 vote are still up in the air, so if you have questions, post them at the website and hopefully you'll get answers as this process continues.
BBQ & Raffles, And More, Sunday March 18, noon - 6 pm. At the Community Center.
A reminder, there'll be a benfit for the Citizens For Clean Water- PZLDF -- i.e. The Los Osos 45 who have been given CDOs--to help raise money for their legal appeal to the State Water Board and a "real" court of law. You can support your friends and neighbors who have been targeted and pointlessly and repeatedly hammered for a full year by the RWQCB by buying a BBQ /raffle ticket. Cost: $10.00, kids menu and take-out available. For more info, call Laurie at 528-8408.
FLIM FLIM FLIM
This weekend kicks off the SLO Film Festival, from the 1 - 11th in various venues around town. Great event, great chance to see some wonderful films, there's various workshops you can attend and, of course, the big blowout at the end. For further info, go to www.slofilmfest.org And maybe think about volunteering next year. It's a great program.