Suicide Run? Or "Oh, Dang! Whatever Shall We Do About Los Osos? "
Well, I see in today's Tribune, that newly elected Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Patterson's heading for a likely bear mauling. He's proposing that the weekly three-hour Tuesday Fest, the "Oh, Dang, Let's Talk About Los Osos" jam session be moved to a monthly "Oh Dang Let's Talk About Los Osos" jam session. The reason given: The Hideous Sewer Project is now heading into the part where things can be studied and decided by various "experts" and the BOS doesn't really need weekly updates and/or public comments and oversight since that can be a real bother and anyway the TAC is back in business and concerned citizens can go speak at the TAC meetings and their concerns will be duly noted and possibly put somewhere in the ginormous report that will eventually be produced and/or they can always email their technical concerns to the various folks in charge of technical concerns and their comments will be duly noted and possibly put somewhere in the ginormous report that will eventually be produced, commented on then ignored in whole or part as the whole Hideous Project steams along under it's own tsunami power, going which ever way it was determined to go anyway -- towards a successful conclusion or over a cliff -- chugga-chugga-chugga.
Well, good luck to Mr. Patterson, I say. The problem with Public Comment has always been The Public. It's like herding crazed cats -- you don't have any control where they're gonna go or what they're gonna say. And Los Osos cats are even more wily than their feral counterparts up in the chapparral eating endangered wild birds. No matter what rules are in place, someone'll figure out a way to sneak a sewer comment in there. And if the rules say Public Comment is for items NOT on the agenda, if you have a one hour morning Public Comment period and a one hour afternoonn Public Comment, you will have at least half of the speakers lined up to talk about The Hideous Los Osos Sewer, no matter what.
And if you pass a new resolution that people can speak on any topic NOT on the Agenda and also NOT about the Hideous Sewer, you'll be threatened with Brown Act Violations and somebody will loudly announce that you're a fascist! And so forth.
Ironically, some of the problems with the "Oh, Dang! Let's Talk About Los Osos" portion of the public comment period come directly from the Blakeslee Compromise and the lack of any working agreement with the Los Osos CSD to "partner" on the Hideous Sewer during this critical input stage. Since the County is 100% in charge, the citizens of Los Osos have no other venue to vent their concerns about the Sewer Project BUT the County, and the only proper public forum are the BOS meetings and the BOS public comment period. Previously, all those run-amok cats would have shown up at the CSD meetings for Public Comment, thereby giving the LOCSD Board vast hedaches as to how to herd them. Now, ironically, the method to proceed forward with a wastewater system (taken over by the county) is the very thing that's channeling all those cats into the BOS chambers to give the Supervisors headaches.
So, how's this for a compromise: Finish that "Partnership" agreement with the CSD, then announce that all public comment on the Hideous Sewer needs to be directed first through the CSD, since that's at the grass roots level, and they in turn will share those concerns directly to the County Sewer Team during their weekly (?) meetings -- partner to partner.
Perhaps then, the new Chairman Patterson won't have to spend time thinking about different ways to divert this stream of Los Osos cats into some proceedure that won't waste so much of the BOS's time, yet will preserve the appearance of "Yes, We Actually Really Do Value Public Comment & Input, Believe It Or Not, Heh-Heh."
So, if Patterson and the Board can come up with some way to herd these cats back to Los Osos for input at a meaningful forum, (you know, one where if some citizen actually shows up with facts and figures showing some calculations are wrong, the information will actually be seriously considered instead of being buried in a pile of paper with the smiling comment, "thank you for sharing, now it's time to move on,") while at the same time getting MORE people from different parts of the County to show up to comment on OTHER County issues, then I say, best of luck to everyone.
Sauce for Goose and Gander?
Wickedly droll L.A. Times columnist, Steve Lopez, wrote a recent column outlining his efforts to call up the three Movers & Shakers behind the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. He quoted extensively from the recall petition -- you remember, all about how the Gov. had driven the state into a financial hole, was bankrupting the place, threatening services, mis-governing, etc. etc. etc. and demanding that when a Gov. does that, he should be recalled-- then asked these three whether they were going to head up another petition to recall The Governator.
Nope. They weren't.
So, a Democratic governor was to be held accountable and tossed out of office by three outraged Republicans, but a Republican governor gets a free pass by those same three guys for the same fiscal disasters.
Ah, just as I thought.