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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dumb Move, Part Duh

Ooooo, Noooo. Has this Jim Patterson/Sarah Christie dust-up gone off into the ditch? Or has the Tribune? Its headlines Dec 23: “Ex-Commissioner says she was betrayed.” Really? Betrayed? Then can someone tell me why the word “betrayed” in quotation marks of a proper direct quote by Christie is to be found nowhere in Bob Cuddy’s story? What Cuddy wrote is, “Former Planning Commissioner Sarah Christie says the man who appointed her, supervisor Jim Patterson, betrayed her in a ‘muscular act of political disloyalty’ and has created a rift in the North County environmental movement.” So, “muscular act of political disloyalty” appears inside quotation marks, but not the word “betrayed.”

So, did Christy use that word? Or did reporter Bob Cuddy?

I ask because the word “betrayed” is the language of lovers, the language of the deeply personal, a gender skewed, sexual harass-y word that carries with it the whiff of gender and power dimorphism. It’s the word used by the helpless weeping woman singing the blues: “I Gave Him The Best Years Of My Life And He Done Betrayed Me and Run Off With That Awful Woman From Trenton, New Jersey, Boo-Hoo, Twang-twang-twang.”

So, No, No, No, wrong word. In the game of muscular public power politics, a better choice would be, “He Done Double-Crossed Me, That Sneaky, Down Low No-Good Varmint!”

Over at the New Times, Colin Rigley interviewed Christy at her home and notes that “She has some collection of folksy music playing and occasionally jumps up to fiddle with the stereo or put in a new CD when the music stops. When she walks back, she sways her hips slightly in little dances and when she sits back down, she sometimes sings along for a word or two,” all apparently critical information the reader needs to know, especially the slightly dancing hips thing. Apparently that highly telling detail about swinging hips was included because it helps the reader to understand the larger philosophical ramifications of her work on the Planning Commission.

But while Rigley’s interview included swaying hips, the word “betrayal” didn’t appear once. Christie was quoted as saying, ‘As you know, I’m a former reporter, and in all the years I did that work, I developed the ability to remember words clearly because you don’t always have the ability to take notes. And I remember very clearly what he said to me, and what he said to me was this: ‘I am done with you, I am so done with you. I have been defending you since the day I appointed you, and I can’t defend you anymore because at this point I agree with the people who are criticizing you.’ And that is verbatim. And as I said last night, I don’t know what that means because I haven’t changed. I mean, I hope I have grown in the job, but in terms of my values and my priorities, I have been completely consistent, regardless of what side of the vote I was on . . . I have never ever voted against those values. I haven’t changed. Begs the question: Who’s changed? What’s changed?”

There were lots of words in that interview but not once did the word “betray” appear.

But “I am done with you,” returns us deliciously to the realm of the language of love, as in, “Ah Married Yew And Now Yew Ran Off With That Guy From Trenton, New Jersey, So Ah Am Done With Yew, Lady Mine, Twang-twang-twang.”

A few pages over on the Opinion page, Jack McCurdy, former reporter for the L.A. Times and the California correspondent for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and bete noir to Morro Bay’s power plant expansion plans is holding forth, noting, “The planning commissioners do not bask in the political limelight, as do elected officials: Relatively few county residents witnessed Christie in action in that setting and therefore can’t really comprehend the severity of losing her. Those of us who have worked alongside her, been taught the art of activism by her and have witnessed her amazing capability and resulting accomplishment for the environment and the public interest, do understand.”

He further notes, “ . . . I believe strength is her greatest quality: strength stemming from her intellect, skills, and long experience in public affairs and environmental protection. She is always respectful and considerate of others in a straightforward manner. Her detractors have disparaged her as being abrasive because she cannot be bridled and/or simply because she’s a strong woman. And she is no doubt annoying to those who want their economic power to prevail, the very ones who targeted her.” . . . “Those interests know full well the Board of Supervisors can and sometimes has countermanded Planning Commission recommendations and actions. But they also know that when the supervisors override commission findings, they frequently are held accountable by well-informed government watchers, including New Times alone among the community media.”

And so forth. Yet nowhere in McCurdy’s piece does the word “betray” or “betrayed”. So, who used that word: Christie or Cuddy?

Meantime, here’s a piece of Sage Advice For The Clueless from Mother Calhoun To Avoid Dumb Moves in the future:

If you are an elected official and you appoint someone to a Commission or Board and they turn into a political (to you) liability, under no circumstances do you do what Patterson did – dump ‘em in the middle of the road for no discernable reason.

This county is constantly engaged in a soap opera neck and neck race between venality and stupidity and dumping demonstrably competent, highly knowledgeable Commissioners is a two-for-one losing bet all ‘round.

Instead, if your term will be up soon (and you’ll be running for office again) both of you will appear at a press conference standing on the steps outside the County government center. You will play the loving couple. Both of you will be smiling with such gleaming white teeth that the reporters will have to put on their sunglasses if they wish to avoid being blinded from the dazzle. You will announce that your Commissioner’s previously agreed-upon 4-year term of service will expire with your term and your Commissioner is anxious to move onto to other projects. You will express feelings of profound loss at losing so wonderful a Commissioner, praise his/her service in glowing terms usually reserved for saints and crowned heads of Europe, thank him/her profusely for his/her service, announce your upcoming election and if you have a new replacement in mind, announce your choice then. Your former Commissioner will then tell the world what a wonderful guy you are, how honored he/she was to serve the greater public good, and declare that his/her replacement will serve the public splendidly.

Sure, both of you will be lying through your teeth, but dead bodies in the street or knives flashing in the hot sun in front of a gaggle of reporters should NOT be part of the Official Public Kabuki Theatre Performance Piece you are required (if you’re smart) to engage in. And sure, the Public --wink-nudge—will read between the political lines and know what’s really going on and vote accordingly. But a properly timed and performed announcement will provide a plausible cover story for everyone that will avoid public humiliation, serious questions about cronyism or political opportunism or political pressure or your lack of sense. You will both save face, and the word “betray” will not need to appear in the headlines.

Even if it is only a word made up by the reporter or headline writer.

19 comments:

Sewertoons said...

Perhaps we can add a tribute to Ms. Christie'w work.

The staff reports are posted on the CCC site. I will quote a phrase at the end,

"As such, and for the specific reasons detailed in the preceding findings of this report, the appeals of the County’s approval do not raise a substantial issue, and the Commission declines to assert jurisdiction over the CDP application for the LOWWP."

STEP is dead! The project is alive! Nice holiday present, don't you think?

Ron said...

So, let me see if I have this straight:

Sarah Christie is single, lives in Santa Margarita, is a former reporter, "brilliant" on all things government, a music lover, pulls her tea off of a wood-burning stove (just like I do), "sways her hips slightly in little dances" when she walks, and, judging from some of the photos in the paper, looks pretty darn cute.

Uh... Sarah? My name is SewerWatch. Let's do tea sometime.

Ann wrote:

"If you are an elected official and you appoint someone to a Commission or Board and they turn into a political (to you) liability, under no circumstances do you do what Patterson did – dump ‘em in the middle of the road for no discernable reason."

and;

"Instead, if your term will be up soon (and you’ll be running for office again) both of you will appear at a press conference standing on the steps outside the County government center. You will play the loving couple. Both of you will be smiling with such gleaming white teeth that the reporters will have to put on their sunglasses if they wish to avoid being blinded from the dazzle. You will announce that your Commissioner’s previously agreed-upon 4-year term of service will expire with your term and your Commissioner is anxious to move onto to other projects. You will express feelings of profound loss at losing so wonderful a Commissioner, praise his/her service in glowing terms usually reserved for saints and crowned heads of Europe, thank him/her profusely for his/her service, announce your upcoming election and if you have a new replacement in mind, announce your choice then. Your former Commissioner will then tell the world what a wonderful guy you are, how honored he/she was to serve the greater public good, and declare that his/her replacement will serve the public splendidly."

Uh... Supervisor Gibson? Wink, wink.

[Geez... What's wrong with this picture?:

Planning Commissioner, Sarah Christie -- Bounced (Or, as Bob Cuddy would call it: "Betrayed")
Parks Commissioner, Pandora Nash-Karner, Seated]

Aaron said...

Gail Wilcox said she was betrayed.
David Edge said he was betrayed.
Sarah Christie said she was betrayed.

A lot of betrayals. Sounds like we either need to investigate possible corruption of the County or we should make a pilot for a soap opera called "One Gibson To Live."

Sewertoons said...

What? No praise for the "FABULOUS" job Ms. Christie did getting the sewer project so conditioned that the CC has found "no substantial issue?"

ron imagines Ms. Christie reads this blog so asks her out on a date, as she uses a wood-burning stove and "looks pretty darn cute." "E-uuuuuuuuu" to paraphrase Ann.

Aaron wants to investigate possible corruption of the County (join the Grand Jury - if they'll have you) or the making of a TV pilot (and you want to write it, right?).

Are you ignoring the staff report of the CC because you so wrapped up in yourselves that you haven't noticed?????

Mike Green said...

From the CCC report:
"A November 1998 local ballot measure formed the Los Osos Community Services District (LOCSD). At
that time, the project favored by the elected district members was a ponding system at the downtown
Tri-W site (now referred to as the Mid-town site) located at Ravenna Avenue and Los Osos Valley
Road. The ponding system was later rejected."

Two words, Cuesta Study

Churadogs said...

Toonces sez:"Are you ignoring the staff report of the CC because you so wrapped up in yourselves that you haven't noticed?????"

My guess is that while you are crowing in triumph, ("STEP is dead! The project is alive!")many other readers, having been on this deja vuish roller coaster for over a quarter of a century know that staff reports are sometimes not worth the paper they're written on and that NOTHING is as it seems until the shovels start digging, and even then only a fool would crow in "triumph" about anything since there's been so many shoes dropped and dropped again and even now there's still a large suppy of appealing shoes sitting on the CC's table that it seems to me the smartest approach to all of this is to say, "Hmmmmm, interesting. Well, stay tuned."

Sewertoons said...

Right, Ann. But don't forget that the two commissioners who had issues wrote to the County and had those issues resolved by the County.

I also imagine that they might be familiar with some of the applicants and are aware of certain agendas of some, and the past history of some as well - you know - like stopping the last project that the CC had permitted, bankrupting the district, stuff like that.

They also might be aware of the importance of timing to hit the monies available while they are available to help the community with the large cost of the project. Hey, they approved the last project, what makes you think that with the enormous amount of time Ms. Christie and the Planning Commission spent nit-picking every detail there really are issues left to fine tune? Didn't the Planing Commission do a good enough job?

Oh, STEP! THAT'S the issue you hope that they are going to take up! The PC was not able to include STEP despite Ms. Christie's obvious preference for it. Well, please read the staff report. There is nothing about gravity that violates the LCP, in fact STEP came out sounding pretty bad. (And due to my neighbor's tank being pumped this week - 23 minutes of diesel fumes plus the attendant stench of septic tank contents - going STEP would also SMELL pretty bad. Never mind the noise.)

When you say, "NOTHING is as it seems until the shovels start digging" I'd have to add that even AFTER the shovels started digging (and a couple had been tossed) nothing is as it seems. When the CC passes on finding fault with this project and declines to get involved, THAT'S when I say, "Hmmmmm, interesting. Well, stay tuned."

Aaron said...

You're right, Ann.

When there's a staff report that's laid on the table, there are two possibilities. One is that they'll approve the staff report and its recommendations. The other possibility is when one commissioner says, "I have a concern about [blank]," and a slippery slope could emerge from that. It would be naive to think that the staff report would always foreshadow the board's decision. The SLO County BOS, however, has unanimously supported staff reports since AB2701 was chartered into law.

You have to be realistic, though, and realize that the CCC can't afford to do an about-face and go back with STEP/STEG. It doesn't matter how compelling the reasons are for reviewing STEP/STEG. It's not going to happen unless supporters unify behind a lawsuit and even then, the cause for the lawsuit has to be air-tight and objectively vetted. The community should not invest in knee-jerk lawsuits anymore. 2010 is coming around. We need to be smarter.

Alon Perlman said...

Oh, Blah Blah Blah.
Extra points for stating the obvious Aaron. Good thing we have your insider voice on what the CCC will do. We will try not to be so naive and be realistic, just like you, next time. What would Los Osos do without you. Good luck with your lawsuit. Now, run along.
Adults are talking.

M said...

Jeez Alon, you sound like Mike. Without the ... !!! ???
Sincerely, M

Sewertoons said...

Here's a breakthrough - I agree with Aaron.

What is the basis for the lawsuit since it seems very clear in reading the staff report that the LCP has not been violated in going gravity and (more importantly) who would pay for it? Sierra Club or Surfrider? I don't think so! We have maverick branches of those two entities in this county which don't follow the central message of the hubs or other chapters.

Alon Perlman said...

The Sierra Club national has reduced monies going out to its Chapters recently.
Surfrider funded Al's "Technology Symposium" and are still entranced.
Al retained a lawyer for the Sept 29 meeting. Look at the organizations. Look at who is presenting. Where is Gail's money going?
Word verification; sings
M- Do you enjoy it when a chiwah-wah dry humps your leg?

Sewertoons said...

Alon, does Gail have money anymore?

Alon Perlman said...

Enough to cause damage.

Sewertoons said...

Like a lawsuit amount of money?

Alon Perlman said...

Distractions.
Only if inadequate funds have been retained then the mission aborts and the monies revert to other actions. It only takes 650$ TO BUY AN ELECTION IN THIS TOWN.
oOps Stuck caps lock. Accidental shouting.

Word verification:feakings
yeh, that is a multi use W.V.
let's go easy for starters;

Oh, fea kings are we
we bear you our gifts
The rains from above,
the sands that you sift

the winds in your hair
the thoughts that arn't there
The love in your heart
that has torn you apart

Los Osos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Los Osos said...

Mike Green,

Would like to collect the maple bar you owe me after the first of jan 2010. Carlock's is ok!

Mike Green said...

Done if I can do it, I always pay my debts.
Shows what being an optimist will getcha.