Sunday, June 28, 2009

Your Sunday Poem

This is from BillyCollins’ new book of poems, Ballistics, which can be ordered from your local bookstore. Support a poet today; buy his book. And a dictionary to look up the title of this poem.


If I lived across the street from myself
and I was sitting in the dark
on the edge of the bed
at five o’clock in the morning,

I might be wondering what the light
was doing on in my study at this hour,
yet here I am at my desk
in the study wondering the very same thing.

I know I did not have to rise so early
to cut open with a penknife
the bundles of papers at a newsstand
as the man across the street might be thinking.

Clearly, I am not a farmer or milkman.
And I am not the man across the street
who sits in the dark because sleep
is his mother and he is one of her many orphans.

Maybe I am awake just to listen
to the faint, high-pitched ringing
of tungsten in the single lightbulb
which sounds like the rustling of trees.

Or is it my job simply to sit as still
as the glass of water on the night table
of the man across the street,
as still as a photograph of my wife in a frame?

But there’s the first bird to deliver his call,
and there’s the reason I am up –
to catch the three-note song of that bird
and now to wait with him for some reply.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for June 26, 09


Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s long time setup man as well as pitchman for a variety of products, including the American Family Publishers sweepstakes operation, is dead. I’m sorry to hear of his passing, but I still gotta ask: Ed, where’s my money?

For years, Ed would regularly send me these huge envelopes stuffed with all kinds of ads for geegaws and doodads and promises of millions – hundreds of millions! – more money than I could imagine if only I would paste in the little stamps so he could send me, at the bargain basement price of half-off, such magazines as “Knitting Today,” or the latest exercise video promising I’d lose my love handles and have six-pack abs in just 30 days for only $39.95. Or instead of buying magazines, all the money would be mine if I’d find and paste in all the little hidden certificates and return the whole packet in a big hurry. A real big hurry, which was always such a bother since I never would have any postage stamps in the house and would have to get out of my slippers and get dressed and walk all the way to the post office and then sometimes I’d miss the deadline anyway.

But it was wonderful, our relationship. Something special. And enduring. Very enduring. Year after year he promised, all that money, all those riches were just for me! Oh, sure, he’d sometimes address the envelope to Miss Al Calhoun, or sometimes, Mr. Ann Calhoun. But it didn’t matter. Everybody knew Ed couldn’t spell a lick anyway, bless his heart.

So there’s I’d wait, standing by the postbox on the corner in my ratty slippers, in the rain, sleet and snow, waiting for my millions. Or I’d spend days standing by the front window waiting for the Prize Patrol with their balloons to bounce up my rutted dirt road and pull into my driveway. But the only thing that would arrive from Ed would be more sweepstakes entries, even bulkier envelopes with even more stamps and more little coupons and even more promises. Pretty soon my tongue ran out of spit to lick the little stamps so I got the dogs to do it. But when I couldn’t afford new glasses, let me tell you, the dogs were no help finding all those little hidden special coupons. Dogs can’t read. Not the fine print, at least.

But I didn’t care. Ed was special. Ed was my friend. Ed promised me and me alone that he would personally deliver giant sacks of money right to my door and do it on September 6, 1988 or July 14, 2006, so I knew he wasn’t lying. He had the date right there!

So on we toiled. When they shut off the electricity for non-payment, the dogs and I sat by the light of a fire fueled by all of Ed’s left-over sweepstake entries. Piles and piles of them. Some I hadn’t had time to fill out yet, they came so often. It was hard to keep up. So many, in fact that I had to pile them up neatly in stacks and pretty soon it was often hard for me to get through the front door and the neighbors complained which caused the county nuisance abatement people to come out and try to give me a citation. But I fooled them. Wouldn’t let them in the door.

But it all worked out well when winter came because I could heat the whole house with those left-over envelopes. So you can see how good Ed was to me – supplying both heat and light. And he did that because he loved me and wanted me to be rich. Just me. Said so right there on that envelope.

And then the dream began to crumble. I found out he had been sending the same promises to other people besides me. Oh, Ed, Ed! How could you! After all those years telling me that you would make me rich beyond my wildest dreams of avarice. Rich enough, in fact to buy some of the crummy magazines you were selling. And there you were canoodling up to other people, promising the same thing. Feckless, Ed. You were feckless.

And now you’re dead. I’m sorry for that, though at 86 years, you had a wonderful run and gave a lot of people a lot of laughs, and I hope God blesses you forever, wherever you are.

But a promise is a promise, so I still gotta ask: Where’s my money?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dog Days At Waller Park in Santa Maria.

If you haven’t visited Santa Maria’s off-leash dog park, here’s great opportunity to do so. The park is wonderful, separate small and large dog areas, all in grass, plenty of room to run. They have an annual fund-raising event which is a lot of fun. Bring yourself and your dog for a day of fun, lots of information booths, demonstrations and a good time for all.

For Information Contact:
Rick Corbo (805) 878-4010
Carol Gross (805) 938-7865

Seventh Annual Celebration for WOOF! PAC PARK in Waller Park
Saturday, June 27, 2009 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

On June 27, 2009, (the last Saturday of June) from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Winners Of Off-Leash Freedom, Inc. (WOOF!) will hold WOOFSTOCK-AT-WALLER, A GROOVY DOG FESTIVAL FOR PEACE-LOVING HOUNDS AND THEIR HIPPIES. It is the Seventh Annual Celebration at WOOF! PAC PARK in Waller Park. The event will be held in the Don Potter Picnic Area of Waller Park adjacent to Woof Pac Park off-leash dog park. Friendly dogs and their people are invited to attend the event and must be on-leash in the event area.

This is a popular event and will be well attended by many friendly, photogenic dogs and their people. All proceeds from the celebration will benefit WOOF!, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. At the event, WOOF! will have doggie pools and booths will be decorated in a groovy theme.

“As this year’s event is themed WOOFSTOCK-AT-WALLER, we ask that dog owners come prepared to celebrate the freedom of our Off-leash dog park. If you have peace or hippie 60/70's-ish clothing or costumes or wigs and sunglasses, dust them off and get ready. This is sure to be a groovy event.”

“Last year, Dog Fancy magazine, the world’s most widely read dog magazine voted Woof Pac Park as one of our Nation’s best dog parks. There were ten parks in the whole country they selected and we were one,” said event chairman Rick Corbo.

“Each year we celebrate our off-leash freedom with a Dogs’ Day of Summer event and try to raise a little money for our group. There is no charge to go to the dog park and we use donations brought in through this event to make improvements at the park. There are a number of raffle items for the event including gift baskets, gift certificates, Frontline Plus, Advantage, t-shirts, Kong toys, treats, and many, many other things. Remember this is a fundraising event for the park, so bring some money and get some raffles tickets, food, doggie treats and other goodies from our vendors. Winners need not be present.

“We are also blessed to have so many groups, vendors and demonstrators coming together this year making a total of 30 booths, five more up from last year. The list is great.” They include Information & Registration, Contest and Raffle Tickets, Face Painting, Dogma the Magnificent Paw Reading, Sparks Photographic Arts- Dog Photos, Vaccinations & microchips-Dr. Ruth’s Vet2Pet Mobile Holistic Veterinary Services, Belly Up & Bark Bar, Acoustic Hounds, American Red Cross Pet First Aid, Care Bear’s All Pets Service, Debbie Philley- DJ, Doggie Salon & Spa, Doglicious Goodies, Doggie Do Good, Fetch! Pet Care, Fins and Critters, California Hot Dog Company, Lemos Feed & Pet Supply, Lost World Pets, Love Dogs Camp, Paw Stones, Planet Blue Dog, Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation, Adoptions, Santa Barbara County Animal Services, Adoptions and Licensing, Santa Barbara County K-9 Unit, Deputy McNeil and Betti, Sa nta Maria Valley Humane Society, Adoptions, The Chewin Dog, The Kennels of Springdale, and Woods Humane Society – Adoptions.

“For those who can extend a hand to dogs in need, there will be dog adoptions by many agencies and groups. WOOF! will also be doing vaccinations and microchips by Dr. Ruth Corbo, DVM, CVCP, CVA and licensing by Santa Barbara County Animal Services. There will be face painting for the kids, paw reading for the dogs, and if your dog would like to imbibe on some tasty H20, they can go to our Belly Up & Bark Bar. There will also be paw reading by Dogma the Magnificent.”

There will be at least three dog demonstrations including SB County Sheriff K-9 Unit with Deputy Mike McNeil and his dog Betti doing narcotic search demo, an American Red Cross dog first aid and CPR demo, and Doggie Do Good service dog and obedience demos.

There will be over 10 contests with prizes including the world famous "Mug vs. Mug" dog/human look-a-like, dog tricks, dog vocals, cutest dog, ugliest dog, biggest dog, smallest dog, dog kissing, child barking and adult barking and dog costume. Judging for the contests will be Katie Marzullo, from KCOY 12 and radio personality Ben Heighes from AM1440 KUHL radio.

Event opens at 10am and contests will begin at 12:30pm.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yes, Yes, Plluueeez Mull

The Tribune reported on the 23rd.(“Board mulls inquiry report), that The Board of Supervisors has received a draft report looking into the Edge/Wilcox Problem and they will make a decision on in a few weeks. Supervisor Gibson was reported as saying, “We have to be methodical. We’re taking care in how we do things.”

Oh, yes, please. And this time, BOS, no happy horse plucky about “philosophical differences” being the reason your CEO got fired. And while you’re “mulling” make sure that report includes a look at the system you’ve now got set up. Wilcox, in her lawsuit, alleges that the BOS knew about and turned a blind eye to her sexual harassment, that even the office of County Counsel knew, and that Human Resources was no help because THEY were serving at the pleasure of the CEO. Not a particularly good situation. So, it’s possible that the system needs some fine tuning.

So, mull the current report and if you’ve got a system problem that needs tweaking or the report indicates you need to do some more snooping, then snoop. Time to fix this mess now so we’ll have another 10 years without canoodling and black lingerie.

Hooray for Don Ernst!

Don Ernst, a SLOTown trial lawyer, wrote a Viewpoint in the June 23 Tribune, for which I’d like to say: THANK YOU. He tossed down a challenge to Assemblyman Sam Blakelesee: Help save California or Save Your Behind – take your pick.

If you recall, the Republicans, during the last budget wrangle, took a blood oath to Grover Norquist (I know, you thought they too their blood oaths to the constitution, but No, it’s Grover.). Grover’s the ideologue who’s started his “No Tax Pledge,” because he wants government weak and small enough to drown in the bathtub. Several Republicans refused to sign the pledge and voted to go along with the first compromise and they were punished by being sent to Coventry. Sam, on the other hand, smelled the wind and which way he wanted his career to go, and fell into lock-step with Grover. In short, Sam picked his career over the good of the state of California and was rewarded by moving on up the committee/chairmanship ladder.

Now, here we are again and Ernst is now calling on Sam to Do The Right Thing. Wrote Earnst, “Throughout history, responsible Republicans have raised taxes when required to do so: Gov. Ronald Reagan did it in 1969, Gov Peter Wilson did it in 1992. Any rational person can see we need a balanced approach to this budget crisis.

“When our schools are destroyed, our teachers unemployed, when state parts close and felons roam free, and when sick children, the elderly and the disabled are unable to receive minimal medical care, you will know who to call. Blakeslee will tell you that he signed a “No Tax Pledge” because politics and ideology are more important than schools, parks, roads, public safety, health care and the future of California.”

Well, we shall see. The irony here is that Sam has always portrayed himself as Mr. Pragmatic, Mr. Git ‘r Done, Mr. Sensible Compromise. Until now. Perhaps the lure of more power and powerful Chairmanships were simply too much. Or maybe it was Grover’s aftershave.


In the June 22 Tribune, was an AP story in the “Science” section. Since Global Warming is at the forefront of our international worries, one of the big contributions to the greenhouse gas build up is cow belches – actually lots of methane gas from both ends of the cow, and pigs and sheep, which add up to one-quarter of all the methane released in the U.S. Lotta methane. So, a group of Vermont dairy farms are discovering that changing the cow’s feed reduced the belching. Feed the cows flaxeed, alfalfa and grasses high in Omega 3 fatty acids instead of corn, and the methane amount drops. Change the natural bacteria in the cow’s rumen and the gas is reduced. In the case of the Coventry Valley farm, a reduction of 13 percent. At other farms, the gas has been reduced 18 percent.

What’s also interesting about this is that corn, which is subsidized by the government and fed to all critters to fatten them up in (totally unnatural, truly awful) feed yards, is for cows a totally unnatural “bad” food. The result, many feel, is sicker, weakened cows needing antibiotics which then get into the food chain and create problems all their own. Not to mention corn-fattened cows are, well, full of fat, which is exactly what this obese nation doesn’t need.

So, here’s a solution that kills two birds with one stone: change the cow’s diet up front, reduce greenhouse gasses and get a leaner, healthier dead cow for people who like to eat dead cows. Then, if people understood how bad too much meat in the diet is for their own health, perhaps they’d reduce their consumption (go for quality not quantity), which would further reduce the greenhouse gasses needed in the form of energy to raise all those cows in the first place. More win-win.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

O.K. What’s The Tribune Up To This Time?

Uh, so what’s up with the Monday, June 22nd Tribune headline, “Former official says Osos sewer project director has conflict of interest.” Complete with picture of LOWWP director Paavo Ogren and former CSD director, Lisa Schicker. And a general discussion about the official complaint plus documents Schicker sent in to the BOS concerning the creating of the engineering short list for the Los Osos sewer project, among other issues.

All old news. Already been in the headlines. County Counsel Warren Jensen’s already said he’s working on a report in response. Old news. So what’s it doing back on the front page? What’s the Tribune up to? Did they read though the pile of documents Schicker sent along with the complaint? Did it seem to support a level of concern versus a dismissive snort? Is this Tribune story now some kind of prod to County Counsel that somebody may be paying attention?

Well, it’s all very odd, if you ask me. All Caesar’s Wife, and possible illegalities that aren’t really illegal, maybe. (If you violate a law and it isn’t found out until the statute of limitations has passed, have you broken the law? It’s the old tree falling in the forest routine?) And if you did something that was, well, technically “illegal” and are now legally in the clear (statute of limitations) can you claim that you’ve done nothing improper? Or would it be fairer to say, “Well, yeah, we screwed up technically, but it was o.k. since nobody took any money and went to France. The violation was merely a technical time saver and did nothing to violate the spirit of what was supposed to happen anyway.”

Well, to add to the discussion, below is a copy of an email sent by Lisa Schicker to Warren Jensen and BOS for the record, concerning this upcoming report. Published with permission.

Meantime, here’s an idea: Why doesn’t the BOS hire a totally independent “auditor” and have them go over the contract procurement process and bidding selection process and issue a report on whether this was all done correctly and fairly. Wouldn’t that be a better way of restoring confidence that this whole design-build-bid-contract deal was done right?

Your report on the Public Works Contract procurement process and design build process for Los Osos
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 11:41:13 -0700
Good Morning Warren:

I am just checking in with you, I wanted to see how the report is coming along - there seems to be a lot of issues facing the county right now, and I think the conflict of interest/violation of design build/contract procurement process that many of us in Los Osos are concerned about - has far-reaching implications County-wide.

Before you complete your report, I want to make sure that these points of concern are addressed.

Our concerns relate to the promise that Los Osos taxpayers receive a fairly bid project, which includes an unbiased and legal contract procurement process. Evidence and activities thus far have occurred that suggest that there is trouble with these processes. My concerns are that the design build process as described by state law, the contract procurement process and a fair presentation of all options and costs has now been circumvented and tainted by the personal and business relationships of key people directing these efforts - there is history of this in Los Osos and at the County to support these concerns with Los Osos projects and other projects, too.

As part of your report and evaluation of the past facts about Paavo, MWH, Wallace and Lou Carella, I want to know if the current county project team (Paavo Ogren, Lou Carella, et al) have completed conflict of interest statements and if they have provided disclosure of all potential incompatible activities, including the disclosure of their prior business relationships in both public and private roles.

Have the previous business relationships been disclosed prior to putting former business partners (Carella/Carollo and Wallace) directly on a panel, tasked with interviewing, reference checking and short listing engineering teams for a very lucrative county contract - with their own former business associates (MWH?) - and including Paavo Ogren sitting on the appeal panel?

I believe the documentation submitted and your own County records demonstrate that the same people, working both for our county government and at the same engineering firms, have been "feeding" each other work, trading positions and hiring each other now for 10+ years, using the taxpayers' money to do so - in Los Osos (CSD and County), and on the Lopez Lake dam retrofit project, among others......

Of course it is legal to work on projects together with reputable firms, but if there is financial interest and former business relationships, they must be disclosed per the Sherman Act. Because many of these jobs have gone way over bid, increasing 100%, such as Lopez Lake, (when including contract amendments and construction change orders), citizens are rightfully concerned.

Since the County is responsible for using the peoples' money for these contracts that are being made among prior business partners, and there is plenty of evidence to show this, then at least some of the questions that your report needs to answer is,

Have all potential incompatible activities among the former business partners (Paavo Ogren, currently County Public Works Director (formerly of Canon and Wallace firms), Lou Carella, formerly of MWH, RMC and Carollo) and Wallace (previously employed by the County) been previously disclosed - before the contract procurement process was approved or before the design build process was allowed to accept costly change orders? Contract change orders are typically not allowed with design build contracts, that was the advantage of going that way, to guarantee that costs would be capped. These firms are known for amending their work numerous times, so contracts that cost very little up front, end up costing a bundle! (see my files submitted on MWH billing practices)

Is there a conflict of interest due to the relationships among the former business partners (Ogren, MWH, Carella and Wallace)? Have all firms completed conflict of interest and incompatible activities statements? Can the public review these statements?

In light of what we now know, is it legal to allow these former business partners to interview and sit on the appeal panel when interviewing their former business partners, who are competing with others for County Contracts?

How is fair competition assured in this type of environment - how are the taxpayers served best?

These are just some of the issues that concern me, I look forward to reading your report.

Despite what others may think or say about me, it has never been my intention to derail a project, but only to improve it -to deliver the most environmentally preferred, technically sound, affordable project for our town - I stand behind these words with dedicated effort, action and participation in the process for many years now. I hope you understand why these issues I bring before you are so important to reaching this goal.

Thanks very much from Lisa

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Your Sunday Poem

By Jack Gilbert from his book “Refusing Heaven.”


Watching the ant walk under water along
the bottom of my saucepan is painful.
Though he seems in no distress.
He walks at leisure, almost strolling.
Lifts his head twice in the solid outside
and goes on. Until he encounters a bit
of something and acts almost afraid
in struggling to get free. After, he continues,
again at ease. He looks up and pitches forward
into a tight ball. It is not clear whether
that’s the end. Perhaps he is doing what
the hedgehog does well. Waiting for someone
to go by whose ankle he can grab
and ask for help. Hoping for pity. But maybe
not. Maybe he lies there curled around a smile,
liberated at last. Dreaming of coming back
as Byron, or maybe the favorite dog.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oh, Dear Gawwwdd, Noooo! Noooo!

If it’s one thing Mother Calhoun’s doesn’t want to read about over her morning coffee, it’s the words “creepy” and [fired former County Administrator] “Dave Edge” and “nipples” and [Assistant County Administrator] “Gail Wilcox.” Mother Calhoun also doesn’t want to read about anyone getting “black stockings and lingerie,” and “how (Wilcox) may want to satisfy herself sexually,” or Edge "pouting." Pouting? Nuh-huh. No. Nope.

But, there we are with the morning Tribune and the Edge/Wilcox miasma dribbling out as such cases always do. Ms. Wilcox has filed a lawsuit (posted at the Tribune at ). It makes for, uh, interesting reading, as it is, in many ways, a playbook for how these things transpire. And there’s some interesting points that the county may need to take a closer look at if they want to avoid this mess again.

First of interest is that Wilcox lawsuit claims that “Between 1999 and May 2009, Edge engaged in ongoing harassing conduct toward Plaintiff and was intrusive and abused his power and control to create a hostile working environment for Plaintiff. Ten years? And nobody said anything until a few months ago? Or is it more likely that the reality was that what started out as a “close” friendship slid off into something “creepy” and went bad a few years later, with both parties now trapped in a mess of their own making, but unable to figure a way out, in a system set up to only make things worse?

Which brings us to the following excerpts: 1)” The previous Human Resources Director at one point attempted to intervene on Plaintiff’s behalf and Edge made it clear to her that she should not get involved” and 2) “The previous Human Resources Director served at will and could be terminated without cause.” You see the problem when HR is serving “at will” to anybody? HR is supposed to be the bulwark and protection for employees. If they can be fired by the one doing the harassing, bank on it, you will have a mess on your hands sooner or later.

Plus, “County Counsel acknowledged [in the meeting with HR Director] that Edge had made inappropriate comments to a female attorney in his office in the past [no date given, not known how far in the past], county counsel stated that a second female attorney in the office reported inappropriate behavior by Edge.” A second report of inappropriate behavior, in the office of county counsel, no less, and nothing was done? That’ll GUARANTEE a lawsuit against the county somewhere down the line.

And, “Edge had engaged in [inappropriate comments for years, comments made in front of other ranking managers, yet]” at no time was any investigative action undertaken with respect to that conduct.” Reason two why it’s guaranteed the county will get sued.

If you recall, the BOS held their little BS meeting and nattered on about the reason they were firing (at will) Edge was because of philosophical differences and other horse woggle. The above excerpts from Wilcox’s lawsuit give you a glimpse as to what was really going on. And here’s the capper as to why these things ALWAYS break bad when you try to cut corners, cover your ass, lie, try to bury the bodies and think it’ll all just go away. No. These cases always involve MAD (mutually assured destruction) on the part of all players, and the following illustrates perfectly what was in play:

“When [Wilcox] asked HR Director why “may” instead of “will,” (as in the county counsel “may” tell Edge to cease all contact with Wilcox] HR Director told Plaintiff that there was no basis for telling Edge this [absolutely, officially, cease all contact] because there was not going to be an investigation into sexual harassment allegations because Edge was leaving. County officials then contacted Plaintiff’s attorney and advised that upon learning of sexual harassment allegations against him, Edge told county officials about Plaintiff’s relationship with [another county] employee.”

Did you hear the boom from the shot across the bow? MAD at work. And the county then knew that all of this was gonna move to the killing ground. Which is where it is now, despite the best efforts of the county to bury this and try to make it all go away. It never does. It just gets worse, including news stories about nipples and sexual awakenings and black lingerie.

But until the County tackles what is clearly some administrative weaknesses in how they are running the office, so to speak, this mess will happen again. One of the ironies is that Edge was hired, after a spate of sexual follies by various administrators, (all of whom were protected under civil service, except for Paul Floyd, who was elected and so couldn’t be fired at will), and restructuring to put CEOs under the direct control of the BOS was likely seen as a better way to be more responsive. But without any proper checks and balances, who will watch the watchers? If the previous HR Director served “at will” there could be no protection offered there if the HR Director’s “boss” was the one doing the harassing. And if inappropriate comments are received by TWO attorneys in the county counsel’s office, fer Chrissakes, and nothing was done . . . .?

Lawsuit city. And the taxpayer’s gonna eat it all. And that really doesn’t go down well with Mother Calhoun’s morning coffee.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Here Kitty, Kitty

Los Osos POUNCE, a wonderful organization run by volunteers who rescued feral cats and kittens, spayed and neutered them then found them good homes has had to close up shop and/or find a new home. But there's still some wonderful cats looking for good homes. All the cats have been spayed, neutered, tested for leukemia and have their 1st shots. They're all flea-free (good old "Advantage" ) and are healthy and social and need some homes.

If you have room in your life for some wonderful cats, give Marje Legerton a call at (805) 528-2917.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Calhoun’s Can(n)on for June 17 2009

Twittering in Tehran

“Show me a day when world wasn’t new.”
Sister Barbara Hance.

The old mullahs, with their world view and brain patterns laid down years ago by rote memorization of a series 15th century scrolls, and all the old Supreme Leaders & Grand Councils of Persian Poobahs with their sclerotic edicts and baton-wielding police are all comically doomed by a Tweet.

Go ahead, old men, shut down the radios, TVs, try to block information transition via phone, fax, satellite dish. Your grandchildren, fiddling with those newfangled iPhones are out of your control. Have been for years. They’re not even living in the same century as you are. So, it’s time warp time here in the ancient kingdom of Persia. Tweet time. Facebook in Farsi. What R U doing? Having a revolution. What RU doing?

With news reporters tossed out of Iran and the old means of information transmission temporarily shut down, our 21st century kids in our Brave New World found a way to stay in touch. Even CNN was patching in their news by using information from Tweets and Facebook and blog entries, all while running disclaimers that the information wasn’t verified. Nope, not verified but unstoppable. The damned kids and their infernal machines long ago figured out a way around their elders, as kids in every generation always do. It was comic. And wonderful.

And another reminder that plan as we must, control what we can, there is no stopping certain things when their time has come. The irony in Tehran is that exactly one generation ago, the parents of these Tweeting kids staged a revolution of their own. This one was against the hated Shah and his dreaded SAVAK secret police. In their youth and revolutionary fervor, they didn’t understand that religious robes and piety are no guard against tyranny and soon found out that replacing one tyrant with a culture of religious tyrants turned out to be a poor bargain. It was a lesson their children clearly learned, so here we are again, spawn of the revolutionaries taking to the streets, cell phone and Blackberry in hand.

Here in the U.S. the cold warrior, sclerotic old guard are knee-jerking the old git-mah-gun rhetoric —their constant default position. Time for a little Shock and Awe? Get the CIA into a black-ops like we did in 1953 to overthrow the duly elected Iranian president and ensure our puppet, the Shah, gets on the throne, complete with billions in armaments – gotta keep our fingers on that oil, now don’t we? Thankfully, a new generation is running Washington. They are apparently better informed about history and mercifully more nuanced about an incredibly nuanced situation. With some luck and with some patience – and lots of nuanced calm – events could unfold safely. Not to mention that wiser heads in this country (and Iran) should know that even if the present Iranian election isn’t sorted out fairly this time, it doesn’t matter in the long run since the old regime is doomed. It’s simply a matter of demographics. The children of revolutionaries should know a thing or two about timing. And numbers.

Similar changes are taking place in this country as well, complete with Tweets. Gay marriage and gays in the military are done deals. Demographics dictate that reality. Just a matter of time. Dittto many other hot button social issues. The young live in a different reality. Always have. And while a certain number of values and traditions get transmitted and carried down like DNA fragments, other realities die off or get mutated into something new. Even technologies are mutating as our clever, clever children look at their cell phones and say, Hmmm, I wonder what ELSE this thing can do. Then go write an App for it.

In the meantime, maybe we should start looking at cells phones as neurons and Tweets as the electrical impulses firing between them. Now picture a neuron network stretching around the world among billions of people . . . in real time. What RU doing? Having a revolution. U? Me 2! Cool.

Ah, such possibilities.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Latest Sewer Cost Projections

My thanks to Ron Crawford of . He emailed me a note that the regular June 2nd Update Sewer Report before the BOS included the latest breakdown of possible prices going from worst case to best case scenarios, i.e. present realities to all potential financial aid sources all becoming available. (Some folks call that latter scenario, “dreaming,”but ya never know.) You can watch the presentation at

Briefly, all the monthly “fees” will remain the same. The only amount that will change will be the capital assessment amount plus the cost for hook up. The SWB has declared Los Osos a disadvantaged community so it can qualify for a 1% @ 30 year stimulus SRF money. The county is still looking into USDA grants for poor people for hook ups. The WRDA 35 million is still allocated, if the money can be found and plugged in. And they’re asking for $10 mil in state funds. Plus, interestingly, construction costs on average have dropped 30% due to the economic downturn. And, at this point, nobody knows what the base project cost actually will be until the project is picked and the actual bids come in.

So, the guestimates as to monthly costs run from $250 a month with zero assistance down to $98 a month if all the financial loans and grants come in, a figure which is in the ball park for the EPA “suggested” affordability amount.

The county is planning to ramp up affordability issues this fall to get information to the public, including the possibility of setting up a sort of “universal” application that people under a certain income could fill out and the county could then plug in the sections with the appropriate agencies, so as to streamline the process of getting help. There’ll be workshops and other public outreach programs as well.


My thanks to Keith Wimer for getting me a flyer during the Field Trip! Field Trip! to the Monterey wastewater facilities regarding WATERFEST ‘09

Saturday, June 20, 2009 10am – 2 pm. Free Admission . South side of Morro Rock in Morro Bay.

Held in conjuction with International Surfing Day.
Paddle out at 9:30 a.m.
Paddleboard Games throughout the day and much more!

There’ll be family fun, a bounce house, children’s state, educational fun, plus live music from noon to 5, all supported by a variety of sponsors and supporters and event organizers, including Cal Poly, Atascadero Mutual Water Company, Morro Bay national Estuaary Program, SLO County Partner for Water Quality, SLO Green Build, Surfrider Foundation & etc.

Should be a fun day. For further info,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

In Lieu Of Your Sunday Poem

The following “anonymous” internet piece was sent by a friend. It’s likely one of those internet “anonymous” pieces that circulate widely because they strike a chord. This one sure does. Wise advice. Enjoy.

A Dog's Purpose (from a 6-year old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolf hound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, 'I know why.' Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, 'People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?' The Six-year-old continued, 'Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.'

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher, you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy..
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Field Trip! Field Trip!

The Planning Commissioners arranged for a bus to take a field trip to the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency’s treatment plant and also to meet with a grower in Castroville who uses the agency’s Title 22 treated wastewater for his crops. Members of the public could also pack up their PB&J sandwiches and attend. Some notes:

The Monterey treatment facility, which is huge, treats about 20 -22 milllion gallons per day. Been treating wastewater for 20 years, tertiary treatment about 12 years. The plant is a regional plant that serves several communities. Its huge anaerobic digesters produce methane gas which powers the secondary treatment facilities. It is the largest provider of recycled water to food crops in the U.S. (perhaps an indication of the “newness” of the concept of recycled water is. I have no doubt other plants will be coming on line in future.)

The success of the ag reuse was based on the excellent staff and operation of the facility which earned the support and trust of the ag community. The main drive for the ag exchange was salt water intrusion caused by overpumping the aquifer. The choices for the area were desal or reuse. Because the land in the area is so expensive, farmers need to get 2 crops a year, which often means green houses to “start” the seedlings to get a jump start on the growing cycle.

Early on, the Environmental Health Dept of Monterey balked at the idea of recycling water for food crops, so the plant got grants and for 11 years studied the safety of the water. All of the stakeholders were involved early on, they helped shape not only the studies needed but the farmers’ input was critical in making sure the delivery system and plan would meet THEIR needs. Later when we met with a grower, he stressed the importance of farmers getting in on the ground floor of any proposed ag exchange/reuse program, again to ensure that their concerns are dealt with early-on so the program can be shaped to make sure they’re not only in the loop, but are a vital part of how the program is shaped and ultimately turns out.

The treatment plant supplies water to 220 parcels of land, some having one owner, others being conglomerates. They don’t “contract” for water. Instead, there was originally a county ordinance that the ag areas would be required to use recycled water. Two years after start up, they would demolish the (ag) wells on their property. Also, several wells were capped and “donated” to the plan when the recycled water came on line. The ordinance was never enforced after the two years. Instead, it’s totally voluntary and the water is billed like regular water, so much per acre feet, and during growing season, every drop of recycled water is used with the onsite wells sometimes being used to make up the difference in quantity.

There are plans to extend the service area to include golf course, parks, etc., and other outlying farmers are on a wait-list to get the recycled water as their wells are also going bad from salt water intrusion or are just over pumped. In a few months, a rubber “seasonal” dam will be installed on the Salinas River and during the summer months a lot of the water can be captured, treated and blended with the treated wastewater with the ultimate goal being ZERO ground-water use by the farmers.

Irony. When using river water to supplement the amount needed was first proposed, the farmers balked. The river water was “dirtier” than the treated wastewater and could be a danger to their crops. More irony: most people don’t hesitate to let their kids play in creeks and rivers but would have a cow if their kids were handling Title 22 recycled water.

Originally, the RWQCB created a discharge prohibition zone circling Monterey Bay, so communities were allowed no ocean outfalls. The treatment plant was planned to be near ag land to take advantage of the recycled water. During growing season, every bit of the Title 22 water goes to ag use. In winter or off growing season, the plant drops to secondary treatment and the water is still dumped into the sea at their old outfall. Storing or finding new reuse areas for the treated water during the winter is still the challenge if they want to eliminate the outfall altogether.

Recycled water initially cost more, but the grower’s wells were running dry or being ruined by salt water, so they knew where that scenario was headed. Now, however, what with high energy cost and higher costs to build and maintain wells, (not to mention the additional cost of deeper drilling as the aquifer drops) the cost is nearly comparable and the reliability during growing season is a given. Plus, more and more water from farm wells is simply bad water and getting worse as the aquifer is being overpumped and degraded. (Sound familiar, Los Osos?)

Also, the costs of building and maintaining the reuse infrastructure (purple delivery pipes and treatment plant) was shared by the cities and outlying areas via an assessment. Even though they are not directly getting reused water, they benefit since everyone in the basin is drawing from the same pool, so to speak, and the same pool is in growing danger. So any efforts to stop or slow the degradation will benefit even “townies” by protecting their water supply. Once again, this cooperation by all parties was key to making this project successful. (The cost of this particular project is/was also low because it was built at a time when federal grants and financial assistance were readily available, which is not the case now, unless the focus is on “green” technologies and “green” water reuse plans.)

Right now, about 97% of the farm parcels are connected and about 9% are using the water. Of those not using it, several are greenhouses who need water with a lower salt content for their seedling starts (after which the older plants do just fine on recycled water, with it slightly higher salt elevation) and the other parcel has an owner who’s “philosophically opposed to using recycled water,” but apparently his farm managers actually are hooked up and using it on the Q T because their own wells are degrading and the recycled water is actually better.

There has never been a documented case of illness from recycled water. The states set different acceptable contaminant levels. Monterey produce is shipped to every state and continent in the world. (This is important since there were concerns expressed that produce using recycled water wouldn’t be accepted by produce buyers. Sea Mist sells to Kroger, Safeway, Costco, & etc. with no problem. ) Certified Organic growers using recycled water are certified organic. (This is important since there were some concerns expressed that if you used recycled water you couldn’t get organic certified. Not so.) And concerns with “emerging contaminants and endocrine disruptors” are moot with ag use since plants don’t take up into their cells the chemicals of concern. Furthermore, heavy metals are not showing up in the recycled water since there is no industry in the area, i.e. the waste stream is “pristine.”

And, more irony: when the spinach scare hit, the farmers using recycled water were prepared for the press with facts and figures regarding the safety of their recycled water. The tainted spinach likely came from a non-recycled source, i.e. river, run-off from a cow operation or other such source.

If the word for the future in the movie, “The Graduate,” was “PLASTICS,” the word for all ag lands in production today is SALT. From time began, all irrigation farming must contend with SALT. Salt in well water can ruin a field as well as salt in recycled water. But there’s certainly a higher dose in recycled water due to the front end users – i.e. water softeners both home use and commercial. But SALT is simply a way of life and growers in the heavy clay soils of the area have tile drains on their land which aid in runoff and leaching. Further, they all carefully monitor the levels and with the new rubber dam and blended river water, that can also serve as a way to adjust the water content.

The goal of Monterey eventually is ZERO ocean outfall, or total use. Hmmmm, sort of like what the Ripley Plan originally proposed, you know, the plan and group that wasn’t allowed on the County’s short list for the proposed sewer project?

We Meet At Sea Mist Farms, Blackie Ranch #5
And meet Dale Huss, Vice President in Charge of Artichokes and General Manager of Sea Mist Ranch.

Vice President in Charge of Artichokes . . . . It was worth the trip to meet someone with a title like that. Well, don’t laugh. Mr. Huss couldn’t rough guestimate the annual value of the crops coming off his fields using recycled water, but one of the Commissioners guestimated the value at $500,000,000. 00 a year. So, you can see this whole ag exchange program isn’t about a couple of farmers and a small bucket. It’s HUGE business since Sea Mist is but one huge operation in the valley.

Sea Mist grows romaine, artichokes, spinach and organic and non-organic artichokes. They’ve had no issues on yield or problems using the recycled water. Before the program they didn’t have enough water. Now they have more than enough, though they often have to supplement with well water since even with the treatment plant running at full capacity, it’s often not enough at peak season.

Mr. Huss wanted to stress how important it was for the growers in the area to get involved early with both water issues and water policy and plans so they could ensure whatever plan evolved had their input early on so it can be shaped to take into account their needs. Mr. Hass also stressed the importance of getting all the agencies on board, the Environmental Health Dept, public health, all parties concerned with water safety, since if their concerns are met in shaping a project, then future questions can be allayed.

In addition to making sure of water quality, the price difference between well and recycled water must be pretty close and the water quality and reliability has to be worth the extra cost (not to mention future energy costs and the importance of stopping general degradation or overdrafting of the area’s water.)

More irony, unlike Los Osos, the Monterey project was considered as a large “basin” plan instead of some marks on a map to create a small PZ while ignoring the outlying areas and the larger overall issues – something I can only hope the Planning Commissioners might want to think about as they consider the Los Osos Wastewater proposal.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

BOS Complaint Docs Parked?

Former CSD Director, Lisa Schicker, sent an email to County Counsel Jensen noting that she had “parked” the various documents included with her formal complaint regarding MWH and the short-list issue. For any readers of this blog interested in looking at the original docs, this link should help.

“I have also uploaded all of the files already sent to the BOS, Planning Commission and to you, beginning with March 28, 2009. I have placed them in a "sky drive" - a "msn" utility that allows me to park all the files in one place - they are arranged chronologically, as I submitted and spoke on numerous occasions.Here is the link to those files:

Monday, June 08, 2009

Presto Change-O!

Uh, oh, over at, Ron Crawford is asking some intereting questions involving "Making the Governor's AB2701 'Signing Statement' Disappear." Ah, so many interesting questions, and here comes "bait & switchy" again, and what DID happen with Ron's filed "complaint?" Was that just stuck in a (round) file somewhere? Well, let's hope County Counsel has some answers.

As for me, I just end up with more questions, especially since Mr. Jensen's supposed to have a report on the MWH formal complaints made to the BOS concerning MWH being short-listed for the County project. Some of my questions concerning MWH aren't formal complaints, just curious. Like, Has the CSD's attorney undertaken any negotiations of any sort with the SRF people and/or MWH in any way shape or form? Do the members of the [bankruptcy] creditors committee overseeing the CSD bankruptcy proceedings have a fiduciary duty to the CSD and if so, do any of those committe members know of or have had any dealings with MWH in any way, shape or form? Is anyone on the CSD Board and/or the CSD's attorney trying to settle the MHW lawsuit now stalled in Bankruptcy Court? Is settlment in the best interest of the CSD or in the best interest of MHW? Or is some settlement"deal" being looked at involving the [illegal?] SRF loan, (see Ron's blog entry linked above), the MWH/CSD breach of contract suit and the county's short-list? And, while I'm at it, didn't one of the MWH sub-contractors donate pots of money to the anti-recall fund, if memory serves, so now I'm wondering if MWH or one of it's subsidiaries ever donated money to any of Sam Blakeslee's campaigns? Not that there would be anything illegal or improper about such a donation, I'm just curious.

And most curious of all is this Question: Just who IS looking out for the best interests of the citizens of the PZ, anyway? Well, who knows?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Get A Kitty Today

POUNCE, a wonderful Los Osos organization that rescues, rehabs and adopts out cats is having an open house Saturday (today) from noon to 4 pm. at POUNCE representative, Marge Legerton's house: 259 Los Padres, in Los Osos. They've got wonderful cats of every size and age that need wonderful homes. Do drop by and get yourself a cat .. . . or two.

Your Saturday Poem

From Billy Collins new collection of poem, "Ballistics."

Hippos On Holiday

is not really the title of a movie
but if it was I would be sure to see it.
I love their short legs and big heads,
the whole hippo look.
Hundreds of them would frolic
in the mud of a wide, slow-moving river,
and I would eat mypopcorn
in the dark of a neighborhood theatre.
When they opened their enormous mouths
lined with big stubby teeth
I would drink my enormous Coke.

I would be both in my seat
and in the water playing with the hippos,
which is the way it is
with a truly great movie.
Only a mean-spirited reviewer
would ask on holiday from what?

Friday, June 05, 2009

War of the Words

I was sent the following email, with permission to post, regarding comments made on the comment section of this blog by a not-so-anonymous poster. I’m leaving out the poster’s name (followers of this blog will know just who this email was sent to, plus the “Anonymous” poster herself asked the reader to go back to the May 29th “Field Trip” entry to read her June 2 entry, so she clearly wanted her comments to get a wider readership than just in that particular comment string) because this email points up important points that go beyond personalities and the usual ankle-chewing that goes on in the comment section of this blog.

I have said, repeatedly, that “anonymous” posters have NO credibility. So long as they don’t get too potty-mouthed, or stray too far into smack-out libel, I allow them to post until they have hanged themselves with their own rope. Their anonymous “voice” always comes through.

But, besides the ranters and blatherers, there’s another regular “voice” that appears here. I call them the Holy Supplicants. For these people, there’s a carefully crafted mantra of misinformation, wrong “facts,” misrepresented “facts,” and “facts that they just make up on the spot, then repeat over and over and over, like a true believer running their rosary beads. No amount of “setting the record straight” works. Other posters can chime in and state actual, true facts, but like swallows returning to Capistrano, the bead runners will return to the same false mantra. Talk about “staying on message.” Quite remarkable.

I have said before, to tell the real story of The Hideous Sewer Wars, you’d need a volume the size of an Encyclopedia, complete with a separate set of footnotes. For every “fact” you can have 38 sub-sets of “facts” ‘splaining even more “facts.” And that’s not counting alternative interpretations or nuancing of those “facts.”

Add onto that, all the basic tar-baby lies that have dogged this project from day one, the paranoia level engendered thereby, and the sheer complexity of the material, and it’s no wonder things get muddled. However, some of what transpires in the comment section of this blog, isn’t mere confusion or muddlement. For some regular posters, it’s clearly a case of deliberate misinformation. That becomes clear, as mentioned above, when a misstatement is corrected and a short time later, there it pops up again, by the same poster, the lie reappearing as if it had never been corrected.

In a way, it’s all very funny, this Orwellian writing and re-writing of history – Sewerville’s version of the parlor game, “Telephone,” with a hilariously muddled “story” coming out the other end. On the other hand, certain elements of this game aren’t funny at all since The Big Lie can result in real harm to a community – tell it long enough and skillfully enough and loud enough, and all manner of odd things can be pulled off and then buried out of sight, out of mind.

After all, Jake, it’s Chinatown. And The Hideous Sewer Wars have been big enough and lasted long enough to encompass several Chinatowns. Oh, and as for the “anonymous” poster’s final opinion concerning the SLO County Counsel’s report on the complaint about MWH's, uh, oddities, brought to the County by Lisa Schicker, I have said previously and will say again: The law may require officials look at or into something, but the law does NOT require that they see anything. “Seeing,” more often than not, is a matter of practical and/or political expediency. I'm just saying . . .

The email:

I was sent this blog comment that you wrote and posted on Ann's site. I don't read these regularly, and don't blog but I think most can see through your attempt to create a smoke-screen by attacking the messenger. I want you to know that the record exists on issues you continue to misrepresent and state as facts has been corrected publicly several times at this site. Further accusations have been addressed MANY times publicly in print and recorded on video.

Be aware that while free speech on blogs is somewhat protected, you do have some responsibility to avoid continued libelous harassment of me. You also have obligations to correct errors and omissions when you have made slanderous or libelous comments against a private citizen and they are found to be untrue, you must discontinue such comments.

In your posting you are either mistaken, based on your refusal to read and research, or simply a habitual liar.

If you wish information you might consider contacting me other others, read reports and research before you spout off. However, it appears your only goal is personal attacks, and embarrassing displays of your own ignorance of the subject matter in which you engage.


[“anonymous poster’s” comments in italics]

Another bizarro thing today at the Supes.
Gail McP - convicted of lying - who lost her job and license as a result - stands before the Board and tries to convince them that Paavo and MWH have done something illegal. Like they (or we) should give one moment of credibility to what she says? Did she think we'd forget? She says "laws need to be taken seriously!" Guess she forgot those words apply to herself as well.

I was never convicted of lying, charges against me were modified to NO MORAL TURPITUDE, and then completely dropped, and the DA statements and documentation exonerated me. I never lost my license. (in fact my grade 5 certification it is still active) I was not fired from my job. This is information readily available. I believe you are intentionally libeling/slandering me to assist in a cover up.

She is accusing them of civil and criminal violations that MUST be investigated thoroughly!
· I have a right to review documents supporting the complaint against Paavo, MWH and to provide my opinion in public. (have YOU read the reports and weighted the evidence?)

She - who still has not denied that she stole documents from the CSD office, she - who lied about candidates running for office,
· I have copies of public documents, as do may others including yourself. Every document was legally obtained and they were not stolen.

she - who conned the CSD into paying for her PZLDF suit –

The PZLDF is not my lawsuit. The parties are listed in the complaint. The LOCSD was a voluntary party and the RWQCB placed them as a party in 2006 because Mr Seitz defended the CSD in the ACL on the grounds Measure B shielded the CSD from TSO fines and the CDO was the only means of enforcement. Again, have you read anything at all?

she has the audacity to TELL the Supes what they MUST do.

· Elected representatives are exactly the one we are expected to tell what we-the people (yes, me too) think they must do. Did you go to school and sleep through basic civics classes?
If what she says is true - why didn't the Lisa Board file suit against MWH before they went into bankruptcy?
· Huh? I know you haven't bothered to listen or read a thing. @ resolution were passed by the board to send information on the crime to the DA and the AG in 2006 –before the bankruptcy. Blind fools-read the report and other documents filed in 2005 and 2006 following the recall. Lisa reported the crime to law enforcement in 2004-05 when she found the backdated contracts. She has a legal obligation to report.

Goodness knows - they had those two guys upstairs going over contracts with magnifying glasses.

Read the reports the consultants made that support the false claims lawsuit against MWH which the current board majority is frantically working to settle so MWH can actually qualify for the RFP. (The RFP is stalled until this can be ironed out!). That is actually a form of bid rigging itself!

They had box loads of documents in Gail's living room!

Again---- I have copies of public documents, as do many others including yourself. Every document was legally obtained and they were not stolen. Quit lying.

Wanna bet that BWS told them that they didn't have a case?

Again—to the contrary, the DA said the crime occurred. BWS knew they had strong case, BWS was forced out by TW lawsuits for a reason. AB 2701 meant to bury that past contract issue. It would have until MWH became the favorite.

That the contract executed back in 1999 was valid and that it committed the Board to go ahead with it from that time forward?

Can you read….? Are you an expert in contracts? The DA said the contract was illegal. The subsequent one was not executed by backdating and signed illegally by Bruce Buel and Karen Vega.

They have nothing left - so I guess it's time to trot out those flimsy allegations as BWS isn't watching (or billing) to try and make something stick. I'm sure we will all know more when Warren Jensen's report is put on the LOWWP site on Monday. And that Gail and Lisa, in this vendetta, are going to look pretty foolish. 9:32 PM, June 02, 2009

Why are you afraid of an independent third party oversight of the project procurement process? ---do you even know what that is?

Gail McPherson

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

The following email from SWAP (Small Wilderness Area Preservation.) If you know the moron or morons responsible for this, please make that call.

SMALL WILDERNESS AREA PRESERVATION (S.W.A.P.)Los Osos/Morro Bay Chapter * P.O. Box 6442, Los Osos, CA 93412Contact: 528-0392 for information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - DESTRUCTION IN ELFIN FOREST A vandal spent the afternoon on Memorial Day wreaking havoc in a portion of the El Moro Elfin Forest Natural Area. The Los Osos preserve sits on the southeastern shore of Morro Bay. The area that was vandalized is fenced off and not open to the public. The intruder cut through fencing and systematically used hands, feet and possibly a heavy tool tearing and breaking limbs off Morro Manzanitas. The Morro Manzanita is a federally listed threatened plant species under the Endangered Species Act. It exists only in the area of Los Osos and nowhere else on earth. A member of Small Wilderness Area Preservation, SWAP, the organization that saved the Elfin Forest from development scared the intruder away. The noise of breaking wood alerted the SWAP member to the intruder's actions. The area that suffered damage extends for over an acre and may have been vandalized on more than one day. The vandal also damaged or destroyed several projects in the area such as revegetation and installation of controls against soil erosion. The affected dune habitat is quite sensitive to human intrusion and contains numerous native plants and animals. The identity of the intruder remains unknown. Federal, State and San Luis County authorities have been notified of the incident. SWAP is offering a reward of $1,000 to anyone who has information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.
The SWAP phone number in Los Osos is 528-0392.

It’s The Rock!

“Ripley Refutes Leaky Logic of County’s STEP vs Gravity Comparison”, at

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for June 2, 09

Killing Dr. Tiller

Like a malignancy returning, it was just a matter of time before that ongoing intolerable affront to the fundamentalist patriarchal mind-set forced a man to pick up his gun. To the shooter and his supporters, killing Dr. Tiller, the Kansas abortion provider, wasn’t murder. It was merely a correction in the proper order of things. Because the shooter and all those who believe as he does are incapable of acknowledging that women have the same moral autonomy and authority as men do, Doctor Tiller had to die.

It’s an old, old story.

In the state where Dr. Tiller was murdered, the law is clear; late term abortions, like those provided by Dr. Tiller, are only allowed to preserve the health of the woman and a second doctor, legally and financially independent, must agree with the diagnosis. These are not the whimsical abortion stories dreamt up by certain right-wing demagogues, filled with Freudian fantasies of thousands of idle rich white women killing their babies because a pregnancy would prevent them from wearing their latest Prada, or coked-out black welfare queens aborting their babies so they can go to a Saturday night orgy. The Kansas abortions were dangerous medical procedures offered to women whose pregnancies have gone horribly awry. They are a graphic sad glimpse of the often brutal indifference of reproduction -- Mother Nature seeks only to ensure that a species will survive; an individual life is of no consequence in that grand scheme. It is a reality that our smiley-faced culture and modern medicine conspires to keep out of the public eye, but a check of early cemeteries will confirm it; graves filled with young women dead of childbirth, buried forever with their babies. That reality is still there and it is a reality all women know deep in their bones.

It is a fearsome knowledge -- that profound awareness that for a woman, sex and birth and death are forever linked – that adds a special dimension to a woman’s moral and ethical autonomy. It is a cell-deep knowledge that men will never know in the same way, and it carries with it a heavy burden of responsibility and danger. And to a fundamentalist, patriarchal mind-set, that knowledge is an intolerable threat to a system that sees women as morally inferior to men, beings lacking a head who must be guided by their husbands, silent in church, half-formed creatures who should be seated at the kids’ table with the other children. To grant such beings full moral and ethical autonomy over their own bodies and wombs, or to even acknowledge the power of such special knowledge, is simply not to be tolerated. And so, Dr. Tiller, and all other abortion doctors, has to die in order to restore male control over these headless, half-formed creatures. To grant women full moral autonomy over their lives and pregnancies would be to invite chaos and a fundamentalist world turned upside down.

So the killing spasms will continue, the rhetoric will ramp up, the culture wars reignite, all signs of dark, unresolved fevers still raging in the body politic. Meantime, anti-science reproductive ignorance, shame, and fear, a failed medical delivery system, a failing education system, a crumbling safety net and an economic crash, will continue to contribute to the hypocritical public debate about the “sanctity of life,” a piece of hokum that’s only useful to fuel various political bases and continue this religious-based, misogynistic culture war over women’s bodies.

Enough. We know how to do better. We know how to be better. We have so many choices, so many middle-paths, so much wisdom to draw from. But we cannot move anywhere until we see clearly – life is a beautiful, fragile, often ugly, deadly dangerous process that can break bad at any moment. And each of us, men and women alike, must be accorded the presumption of having full ethical and moral autonomy and authority to make choices for ourselves and then bear the burdens or blessings that come with those choices.

And those choices must be made by us, not by a strange man with a gun.