Another Viewpoint Viewpoint.
This response is to a Bay News editorial and ran in Feb 26th’s edition. Posted with permission. [Big Oops, dropped this in stet but inadvertently dropped out the author. The viewpoint was written by Julie Tacker, former CSD Board Member, and appeared in the Bay News, as noted above. Wet Noodle for me)
Neil Farrell’s February 12, 2009 editorial “Mr. Hensley, Tear Down That Fence, Listen Up”, gives the recalled Los Osos Community Services District (LOCSD) Director way too much credit. Mr. Hensley, while in power as a majority Board member in the summer of 2005, had the power and spent the money to have the fence installed around the Tri-W sewer site. The property was then considered an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA), he also had the power, and did, hire bulldozers to scrape every bit of it. The Board majority he was a party to hired biologists ($90 per hour) to go out ahead of the bulldozers, search each bush and “relocate” some 13 Morro shoulderband dune snails (MSS), a federally threatened species, to suitable habitat (which happened to be on private property adjacent to Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. Today, Mr. Hensley has no power to take down the fence.
Mr. Hensley’s historical account in response to Mr. Farrell’s editorial in the February 19, 2009 edition of the Bay News inaccurately states the Incidental Take Permit (ITP) acquired by the LOCSD from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was issued in 2004, in fact it was issued just days before the groundbreaking ceremony that Hensley was too cowardly to attend in the summer of 2005. The ITP (aka “Section 7 Permit”) was issued because of a federal funding nexus (State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan), that permit is now under scrutiny by the Federal U.S. Bankruptcy Court the premise of the legal question is that the SRF issued a $134 million unsecured loan to the LOCSD for the wastewater project. Hensley asserts that the LOCSD “lost” the loan when is suspended work on the Tri-W project which triggered the loss of the ITP. Today questions related to the permit and the loan remain tied up in the bankruptcy court, which all work is stayed until the County formally assumes the wastewater project (sometime later this year, or not).
While reading Hensley’s response to the Farrell piece, it is unclear which Hensley is writing. Is it the vindictive recalled LOCSD Director that spearheaded the formation of Taxpayers Watch and initiated lawsuit after lawsuit (including actions against individual Director’s) attempting to force the LOCSD to restart the Tri-W project and attempted to dissolve the district? Or is it the so called “environmentalist” that calls himself “Coast Keeper” and watches every move the LOCSD makes to alert outside agencies to the Districts activities -- triggering attorney’s to be hired to defend the actions of the District whether or not the District has violated any laws. To date the LOCSD has spent nearly $500,000 reacting to Hensley/Taxpayer Watch/Coast Keeper shenanigans.
The Coast Keeper may in fact do good work protecting the environment, but his approach is inequitable, he doesn’t call out Joe Citizen for putting up or taking down fences around Los Osos (apparently the only place in the world to support habitat for the MSS). Hensley’s obsession appears to lie with the LOCSD.
Hensley stands behind his organizations, claiming Taxpayers Watch has 3,400 members (once defined as all those who signed the dissolution petition) and Coast Keeper has some 800 members. Never once since his recall in September 2005, has Hensley come to the podium at an LOCSD meeting and made his case before the public and the Board, choosing instead to fire shots from across the bow of his imaginary ship.
Hensley’s response to Farrell correctly states that the LOCSD unanimously voted to remove the fence (the Board at that time included Joe Sparks), and did so as part of an erosion control plan with input from the Coastal Commission and expert guidance from the very biologist Hensley to look for snails when the fence was first erected.
The erosion that has taken place over the past few storms has jeopardized the safety of the property. Someone really could get hurt out there due to the unstable soil and the risk associated with it. The District is caught in a catch 22; can’t put the fence up due to presence of the MSS and they can’t take it down due to presence of MSS. The funds to pay for the fence are running thin; all that is left from the 2001 $24 million wastewater assessment vote Hensley and his Board majority ran through attempting to force-fit a sewer in the middle of town.
Hensley’s majority spent approximately $250,000 attempting to please USFWS with a community-wide Habitat Conservation Plan. They were unsuccessful and that plan was shelved, all are hoping that the County (a co-applicant of the plan and the land use authority) will pick that back up and implement something that allows individuals and agencies to take down fences, put up fences, build new water infrastructure, expand the library, trim ice-plant along sidewalks, pull weeds and put in paths at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, allow for new development, redevelopment and necessary and desired community improvements.
While the fence at Tri-W remains a monument to our community’s collective stupidity, it is also a symbol to a small slimy species holds our community hostage from change.
Uh, You Want To Try That Again?
Some weeks ago, Pastor Randy Nash wrote a response to my Bay News column on Prop 8, the proposition which sought to ban gay marriage and which the State Supreme Court is now considering. My question to Mr. Nash (and anybody else) was simple: Please give me some compelling reasons the STATE has to ban gay people from getting married. The Supreme Court had already ruled that they couldn’t find any and had allowed gay folks to get married. Which they did, until the marriages were blocked by Prop. 8.
Pastor Nash had a Viewpoint in the February 26 Bay News (http://www.tolosapress.com/) p. 6, called “State Should Uphold Will of Voters,” that declares, “The key question before the court is this: What compelling reasons does the State have in supporting heterosexual marriage at the expense of same sex marriage?” He then goes on to list all the reasons he feels heterosexual marriage is swell.
Well, O.K., that’s nice, but no cigar, since it’s completely off point. The Supreme Court isn’t thinking to ban straight marriage and so needs reasons to allow it to continue. And I also I don’t think the problem they’re considering is how swell straight marriage is, either. What the AG has asked them to do is figure out whether Prop 8 was a “revision” or merely a minor amendment and/or whether the Proposition violated the basic equal rights protections in the state Constitution. The matter is supposed to be heard in March, with a verdict a few months later.
Meanwhile, my question to Pastor Nash remains: What’s the STATE’S compelling interest in seeing to it gay people can’t get married?