The BOS held a re-hearing of the Los Osos Hideous Sewer Project to re-fiddle with the language in condition #97 to change the language a bit concerning water use, re-use, and return to basin issues that were raised by the Coastal Commission’s own appeal, said appeal being the only one being revisited. County Council McNulty didn’t think that this hearing would cause a problem with all the other appellants whose issues were not re-visited at this re-hearing – just the Coastal Commission’s concerns – and so he felt that the CC would, maybe, sorta wing it during their appeals hearings and try to accommodate all the other appeals. Or maybe the other appellants would have to re-submit their appeals or only submit another appeal based on the result of this one issue on top of their original appeal, or maybe . . . oh, who knows? Since this BOS hearing is outside the usual procedures, I guess everybody is winging it with the hope that nobody will take umbrage and call their attorney.
After public comment, staff told the BOS that the Coastal Commission staff was happy with the language proposed (the old CYA) and he felt that the Coastal Commission Board would be happy as well and might well withdraw their appeal. With no BOS Board member discussion, the revision passed 5 – 0.
In addition to public comment, John Diodoti noted that the County has secured a $16 million Federal grant and a $64 million 40-year loan, which will help with the cost a bit. Further, there’s a new blog on funding issues being set up at www.slocountypw.blogspot.com. (Let’s hope some of the nastier “anonymous” people who comment on this and other blogs, don’t show up on John’s blog. Eeeuuuuuu.)
Some public comment notes:
Alon Perlman suggested that it would be prudent for the county to stop pretending that the ISJ process is some kind of far-away vague proceeding that can be dealt with later, and start getting specific in identifying areas where the returning water will be going. That is, it’s better to get more specific now and plan for water return rather than leave it all vaguely up to a judge somewhere, sometime.
And both Linde Owen and Julie Tacker reminded the Board – again – of the time and money (taxpayer money) wasted by the whole focus on Tonini spray fields. That Supervisor Gibson’s previous comments on how closely the county has been working with the Coastal Commission was clearly at odds with reality since the CC fired off a letter of concern early-on about “spraying” water outside the basin. So, if the county had been in close contact with the CC, somebody somewhere would have said, “Psssst, don’t waste any time and money on spray fields; they’ll never fly.” Doncha think?
Ron Crawford of Sewerwatch Checks In
Did I say, somebody somewhere would have, could have, should have, actually did toss down warning flags before all that nice money was blown on Tonini? Well, Ron Crawford, of www.sewerwatch.blogspot.com certainly has something to say about that in a comment on my blog that’s simply too funny not to repeat here. On that particular thread, some folks were whining about what a pest former CSD Director, Julie Tacker is, to which Ron noted:
[quoting a previous poster] "Yes she's droned on before the BOS; I've seen them reach for their airsickness bags."
See? There's the problem.
Because she was 100-percent right on the groundwater/basin issue, instead of reaching for their airsickness bags, the Board should have just listened to her, and stopped wasting all of that money studying a DOA location -- the Tonini site.
My favorite part about this situation, is how Gibson limited her time to speak because he said the same people were saying the same thing over and over again.
Well, yeah, Bruce... Julie WAS saying the same thing over and over again. She was saying that the Tonini site wasn't going to work because it didn't return groundwater to the basin, then, after Bruce's Board threw a bunch of money at the Tonini site, it didn't work, just like Julie told them over and over and over again, while they were wasting time and money on the Tonini site.
When she had three minutes to speak, she said it like this, "The Tonini site is infeasible because it doesn't return groundwater to the basin."
Then, Bruce started whining, and cut her time down to two minutes, so she had to say it like this:"TheToninisiteisinfeasiblebecauseitdoesn'treturngroundwatertothebasin. Out!"
And they still didn't listen to her.
Last week, I e-mailed Paavo asking him for a "ballpark figure" on how much money his department wast... errrrrrrrr... spent on studying the Tonini site.
Of course, he never replied.
So, next week, I'll be doing a public records request for that information, and then (here's the cool part) in my public records request, I'm also going to ask for the cost of fulfilling my public records request, that I was forced to do just because Paavo won't answer my one, excellent question:
"How much money was spent (read: wasted) by the SLO County Public Works Department studying the Tonini site as the preferred location in 2008 - 09?"
9:45 AM, November 21, 2009
Pretty funny. Pretty expensive, but pretty funny. But there’s the key to why so much of this project kept and keeps turning into a train wreck: False branding and framing.
Once you frame or brand something, people stop seeing complex reality and instead, see the “brand.” More often than not, branding is an advertising technique used to create a false image that can then be used to manipulate people into buying something. In politics, “framing an issue” serves the same purpose – set up a false or cherry-picked “reality” in order to shape (frame) a complex issue in order to manipulate the voter.
That happened to Los Osos early on. It was very cleverly branded as a town with “raw sewage running down the streets,” a town of scofflaws who “don’t care about the environment,” a town filled with “Anti-Sewer Obstructionists” who needed to be “fined out of existence.” Anyone who objected in any way with any proposed project, even people who were trying hard to create a BETTER SEWER PROJECT, were immediately called Anti-Sewer Obstructionists and thus branded, they could be dismissed as . . . one of those. And, of course, if you’re “one of those,” you don’t need to be listened to. Even if you’re 100% right and are telling everyone as loudly as you can, Stop. Bridge Out. Cliff ahead.
Or as Ron would put it: Stopbridgeoutcliffahead!
That’s the problem with branding. Besides being dishonest, it blinds people to a complex reality on the ground and always, always wastes tons of money. Tons. And too often turns into a train wreck, as well.
Saint DeVaul Makes The L.A. Times
The Tribune’s front page picture by Joe Johnston of Dan DeVaul being cuffed (and headed for jail after refusing in court to comply with the probation requirements) and the story by Nick Wilson made the L.A. Times.
Noted the Tribune, “In explaining his reasons for sentencing De Vaul, [Judge] Trice said that De Vaul has ‘good intentions’ but that his argument was confusing the ‘social issues with legal issues.’”
“ ‘De Vaul has not been a good steward of the beautiful property he has,” Trice said, adding that DeVaul has consistently ignored county inspectors and ‘such conduct can only be viewed as irresponsible and arrogant.’”
And, in case you thought this case couldn’t get any weirder, an updated Tribune story informs us that one of the jurors in the case, Mary Partin, paid De Vaul’s $500 bail so he only got to spend one night in the pokey. Which is kind of nice: Martyrdom on the cheap. And of course, De Vaul’s attorney is appealing the case to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Ventura, so it remains to be seen what will transpire.
The Nov 24th Tribune story had a side bar listing “what’s next” including County inspectors allowing DeVaul to comply with the code once he’s out of jail and if he doesn’t, they’ll clean the place up and send him the bill. Then if he refuses to pay that bill, those charges will appear on his taxes.
Missing from that sidebar is this worst case scenario: De Vaul property goes into tax default, is sold at auction, bought by a big developer, the “homeless people” evicted, property is annexed to the city, high-end “ranchettes” and condos, maybe a lovely little high-end shopping center (nice sales taxes to the city) are built, with some open space mitigation to make it all look nice.
Hey, don’t wrinkle your brow. That’s how it’s done. It’s called Progress.
As for De Vaul, the County and this whole mess? My only response at this point is I want to spank everyone involved in this ridiculous fiasco. It is an instructive case, however, a perfect illustration of: Do you want to be right or do you want to get something useful done, like helping the people you claim you want to help?
Take your pick.