Sunday, May 30, 2010

Your Memorial Day Poem

From Ted Kooser's "Flying at Night; Poems 1965 - 1985"

Old Soldiers' Home

On bences in front of the Old Soldiers' Home,
the old soldiers unwrap the pale brown packages
of their hands, folding the fingers back
and looking inside, then closing them up again
and gazing off across the grounds,
safe with the secret.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Lady Emma

Calhoun's Can(n)ons for May 29, 2010

She left this world with the gentle dignity that one of her grand station requires. At least that’s the story she would prefer. Actually, things did get a bit messy in the last few hours, but by that time she was unconscious and anyway, Ladies don’t acknowledge such bodily failures. That’s what servants are for.

When I first saw her eleven years ago, she was being fostered by the then-Director of Animal Services. The story had it that she was a champion whippet out of San Francisco who had been dumped by her breeder and had run through a series of homes rather quickly due to her acute separation anxiety issues. I knew in my home she’d never be alone, though it initially took her a few shrieking, frantic moments when I went out the front door for her to to remember to look around to see all the other dogs staring at her and so calm down.

It was then, of course, her true predicament became clear. Jane Austin would have understood perfectly. Lady Emma was like an aristocrat fallen on hard times, down on her uppers and forced to take a position as governess in the shabby household of a greengrocer and his brood of thuggish Basenjis in a slovenly hovel where she would be forced to give lessons all day and sleep in the garret at night. It was simply too horrible to contemplate.

Once she settled in, it became clear she had been abused in her earlier life and was extremely reluctant to be handled or touched in anyway and viewed the other dogs with distain bordering on horror, (which is the only way to view Basenjis anyway), so she initially became a white ghost, swanning gracefully around the house on her own schedule and keeping to her own path. But she soon calmed down and became a rather retiring member of the pack, both hanging back and wanting to join in. Eventually, she slipped into her own quiet pattern, shyly coming for brief pats and head-rubs and as the years passed, she watched the arrival of new puppies and the passing of the old timers with her huge, soft brown eyes, her dignity and reserve folded around her like an ermine cloak.

And through the years she did not have a day sick that I can remember. Her only trip to the vet was caused early on when she objected vigorously with bared fangs to one of the Basenjis trying to steal her chewie and got a slash on her head for her troubles. She never made that mistake again. Neither did the Basenji. He found out that aristocrats may look like soft pushovers but when challenged over their rightful ownership of things, they hide a spine of steel behind that foppish exterior. Emma, with her soft sleek white and tan coat and huge liquid dark eyes may have looked like a Lady, but she had the steely determination of a Panzer commander. Tangle with her at your peril.

She must have been sixteen when she began her slow decline – fading away into thin old lady mode, eating regularly but just getting more and more frail. And a bit dotty about remembering where she was and where the back door was when it came time to pee, which occasioned keeping the mop handy since, like all old people, bladder insufficiency required many, many trips throughout the day and night, not all of them successfully negotiated. And she would regularly get herself stuck in corners or one time managed to thrash and jamb herself under the bookcase behind the dog beds. When I returned home to find her she was in a total state of the vapors and took to her bed for days. I figured then that her collapse would signal the end but after a few days rest, she rallied. Panzer commanders are not easily defeated by bookcases.

At seventeen, her guestimated age, she finally went down. Worn out, struck with a brief bout of diarrhea, her system shut down, she quickly slipped into unconsciousness and a day later, while I sat with her telling her what a good girl she had been, she died. No muss. No fuss. Exactly how an aristocrat would handle this whole messy business of dying.

And instead of wishing her soul into vast green fields under a blazing sky, for The Lady Emma, there can only be one heaven: a restoration to her rightful baronial estates with liveried footmen to wait upon her, manicured lawns to run across while reveling in her whippety speed, a jeweled collar for her neck and a warm fire and down-stuffed satin cushions to sleep upon, forever and ever.

And not a Basenji in sight.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Well, Ya Gotta Laugh

Yesterday’s L.A. Times story on Republican Senate candidate Tom Campbell said it all: “Three outside groups are stepping into the GOP race to try to drive home the message that the former congressman’s view on same-sex marriage and abortion rights – he favors both – and on gun rights, where he favors some restrictions, are at odds with the voters who will decide the party’s nominee June 8.

“Campbell’s argument has been that as a fiscal conservative and social moderate he is more in line with California voters than his two opponents, former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fioina and Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. His positions make him the stronger candidate against Sen. Barbara Boxer, he argues.

“Conservative groups disagree, saying that the strongest candidate for Republicans will be one who can mobilize the party’s rank and file.”

In other words, for Republicans extreme batshit crazy trumps views that are “more in line with California voters.” that is “mainstream, middle of road, majority.” Which, of course, explains a lot of what’s all going wrong with our system – batshit crazy extreme is taking the place of a more traditional middle way of pragmatism and compromise and actually fixing things.

And so we have a candidate like Rand Paul, named after his daddy’s God, Ayn Rand, who can be fairly called a Randian but in his case, he’s a Randian who obviously hasn’t read or understood Rand’s opus magnum, “Atlas Shrugged,” since it is singularly un-Galtian to stand for an office that is based on “service to others.” That’s so anti-Galtian that Ayn must be rolling over in her grave in a Russian fury! Anti-Galtian, anti-Randian and totally oxymoronic.

If you think this country’s going to hell in a hand basket (again, something it keeps doing every generation or so) then Rand Paul would be the poster child of political disconnect. Ditto Tom Campbell. An oxymoron running for elected office and a middle of the roader deemed to be unelectable. Nuts. We’ve all gone nuts.

Oh, Shut Up!

Today we may know whether the “top kill” on the gulf oil blow-out will work or not. In the meantime, will any and all Americans wringing their hands and pounding the table in outrage, please, please shut up. This blow-out is simply the natural, physical manifestation of The Reagan Revolution – government is the problem, we don’t need regulations, the market will take care of all things and tax breaks for the rich (corporate and private) will cause money and benefits to trickle down over us all.

And so, often in the dead of night, oil lobbyists and vast sums of money trickled – flooded – into Washington resulting in back-room-written laws and softened rules, lax oversight, and federal support and tax breaks and subsidies and exceptions from royalty payments, and waivers and more subsidies that encouraged deep-water drilling that otherwise would have been economically prohibitive. Translation: If the oil companies had to take on the deep-water risk all on their own, they wouldn’t have done it. But they were being supported by all those dead of night sweet deals made in Congress that was constantly prodded by an electorate that demanded cheap gas, no matter what the price to the environment.

And so, according to the L.A. Times story, “If it wasn’t profitable for them to do it, then that’s a good argument for leaving the oil in the ground,” said Robert Gramling, who studies the history of the oil industry at the University of Lousiana, Lafayette. The government-subsidized rush to deep-water exploration led to a situation where the industry was doing ‘things that were technically possible but were beyond our ability to undo them if we find out we have a problem.’”

And this, “At the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute, policy advisor Allison Nyhold disputes Gramling’s conclusions and points out that the incentives yielded an enormous jump in energy resources. In addition, she said, the expansion of drilling in the gulf created tens of thousands of jobs.”

The result is what we’re seeing now. Instead of waking up years ago, removing all the subsidies from oil, thereby keeping the price nearer to the “real” price for that form of energy, we allowed (demanded!) the back room deals, swallowed whole the free-market mantra (privatize profits, put the liabilities onto the public) and now we’re seeing the logical outcome and we’ll pay for it all.

But in the meantime, please hold all the whining. We can change all this, shift gears on our whole energy program, remove the price-distorting subsidies on “dirty” energy, make sure the price of our energy actually reflects its real cost, but we won’t do that. We like cheap, subsidized gas and we don’t want to know how much we’re actually paying for that gallon. Appearance trumps reality.

Plus, in order to shift energy gears, we’ll have to change our election laws so as to remove the money that’s absolutely turning Washington into a wholly owned corporate subsidiary. And we don’t want to do that, either. Too much work.

So we’ll continue to see oil spills, our energy policy will continue to be a pastiche of special interests that will make sure that any tweaks only be minor ones so that the quo will remain status. And we’ll continue to pay through the nose for a system that’s dooming us and the environment. But that’s the way we like it, so no whining.

But That’s O.K. Because The World May End In A Few Days

Which is when Congress is supposed to vote (or not) to change the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law which will go into effect after the military finishes their “study” on the matter sometime next year, maybe. If the vote passes, then gays, like their straight bretheren and sisteren, can legally serve and die for their country, which they have been doing (illegally) all along, but we don’t want to talk about that.

So, when that comes to pass, if it does – I’m not counting out the Party of NO blocking it so as to pander to their truly base base – that will mean the world will end.

So, we won’t have to worry about oil spills.

And Anyway, It’s Much Easier To Holler About Mexicans

Yes, it’s the American Way. Instead of rolling up our sleeves when times get tough and getting to work first taking a hard look up-line at the structures we’ve allowed to go into place, ask whether they’re still working or have been corrupted and are now corrupting us, then doing the heavy lifting of actually fixing our broken system, it’s much easier and much more fun to look down-line and just holler about Mexicans.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Your Sunday Poem

This one by Sandra M. Gilbert from her book, “Belongings.”


a bony finger just now just
outside the glass-paned door
from deck to kitchen?
As if it were a breezy
shake of the hand, a chill
hello from a not

unfriendly passer-
by in the night,
the skinny thing kock-

knocks, it wants to be
friends with the one
who huddles alone

in the house, the one
by the oven who
sees just now

that this sudden guest is just
a bamboo wind chime
from holiday

Hawaii telling its usual
tale of the long-ago
tangles of jungle, the vivid

daze of yearning upward, of
scorch and wet and the tickle
of leaves –

and the chopping down and
the change into a skinless
thing that clatters its polish

with every gust, wanting
to show how
bone can speak of

pleasure still, how a dangle
of bones can say,
In my death

I greet you on this wild
night, in my death I prove
dead stems can make

a music of their own.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bill's Dog Tale

In his Tribune column yesterday, Bill Morem told the tale of his two dogs, one of which, a lemon beagle named Buster, was attacked while they were romping down at the local “dog-friendly beach.” He didn’t specify just where, but I suspect he was on a beach-area off on Sunset Ave in Baywood that a lot of dog walkers head to. And there met a man, “Todd,” walking three large dogs “on individual leather leashes.” Also not clear was whether or not Bill had his two dogs on leash. From his column, it appears that the set up to what then happened was an all too typical one: friendly, happy bouncy dogs running loose in front of unfriendly, aggressive leashed large dogs held and owned by a clueless owner.

What happened next is also all too typical; one of the large dogs slipped his leash and attacked and the other two dogs dived in as well. The result was panic, yelling, and terrible injury to Bill’s little beagle. The twist in Bill’s tale was that the large dogs’ owner (“Todd”) tracked down Bill by calling various local vets and offered to help pay for part of the vet bill and even came over to visit Buster and apologize profusely. Which was nice, even though legally, “Todd” was totally liable for the entire vet bill, not just part of it, since owners are responsible for any and all damage their dogs do. And, after the melee, Bill should have made sure he got “Todd’s” phone number or, if necessary, his car license or some such, especially if there was the possibility that in the struggle Bill may have been bitten or tooth-nicked, since rabies is always a concern in such dust-ups with strange dogs.

And the happy ending of this sad tale is that Buster wasn’t killed, though he “may lose the use of his right hind leg due to nerve damage,” and “Todd” did track Bill down and try to make things right and told Bill he’d bought muzzles for his dogs and declared that he’d “learned numerous life lessons about myself, my pets, my own intuition and my part and responsibility.” Which is all too late for Buster, but may prevent any other attacks by these dogs.

So, happy ending, sort of. But sadly, this tale is all too common all over the place: clueless dog owners setting their dogs up for disaster. As in Bill’s case there are too many people with big dogs they don’t understand and/or simply can’t handle, or dog breeds that are particularly aggressive that have no business being taken anywhere around other dogs, or big dorky dogs that have no dog-manners all mixing it up with owners of little barky zoomy dogs, or little aggressive dogs that get into the faces of larger dogs, or little dogs that tend to shriek when frightened, the same sound injured prey gives out, a sound guaranteed to click on the mindless “kill” message center in many [formerly nice, sweet] dogs’ brains thereby helplessly turning those formerly nice, sweet dogs into stone killers.

And there they all meet at dog beach areas, or sometimes in a fenced dog park, or more often walking down the street or the all too common case of leashed dogs going down the street only to be met with some yard dog that’s not in his yard.

And the cluelessness is often amazing to behold: Owner of a small yappy dog running free towards a brace of leashed large dogs while the owner of the small yappy dog’s owner happily calls out, “Don’t worry, my dog’s friendly,” oblivious – absolutely oblivious – that the same may not be the case with the large leashed dogs now being charged by something in what looks like an attack or being charged by a form of prey skittering into range of their jaws. In short, dinner on the hoof.

For a nation that claims to love dogs, we are amazingly dim when it comes to understanding dogs and doing right by them. Forget our kill rate from overpopulation, we can’t even be bothered to educate ourselves as to our pet’s mental landscape and be aware of their deep-seated instincts so as to protect them in what is an unnatural world. Or understand that dogs simply don’t live in the same world we do – so different is their perception. Or even take time to understand the breed characteristics to match the dog’s temperaments with our own skill-set so as to create a win-win situation.

Instead, we seem to live in a totally phony DisneyLand – a place of make believe happy animals who dance and sing, every dog is a smiling Bambi, and nature, red in tooth and claw, simply doesn’t exist. Oh, look, it’s a wolf: Nice puppy, look, he loves me, la, la, la. So we have “unpredictable” aggressive dogs at a public beach used by kids and other dogs because, after all, these dogs are family pets and wouldn’t harm a fly.

All of which results in instances like the one Bill Morem described – unsuitable, “unpredictable” dogs in the hands of a clueless owner, a potentially dangerous situation that was, I’m betting, misread by all parties, a failure to understand a dog’s nature, a failure to understand pack behavior, the problem of leashed vs unleashed behavior acting as a trigger to aggression, failure to read body language (watch those tails and ears and stiff legs) and/or to size up a potentially tricky situation in the first place --uh-oh, pack of large dogs staring intently, straining at the leash, I’m outta here—then leashing and removing your dog quickly, and etc.

It’s a scenario that plays out too often, luckily not to the extent that Bill and Buster had to go through. And I truly hope that “Todd” actually did have an epiphany and will get educated about the type of dogs he owns and take care, for their sakes as well as his own. And I can only hope Buster gets the use of his leg back and has a long happy life, which is what a lemon beagle deserves! Good dog.

It’s All In The Definition

Yesterday’s L.A. Times brought an interesting story: Arizona voters, after closing highway rest stops since the state is broke so travelers have to pee in a can, finally decided enough is enough and voted to increase their sales tax from 5.6% to 6.6%.

Said the Times, “With the economy the way it was, they were laying off firefighters, police and teachers,” said Nick Troisi, 69, a retired businessman from the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley, who backed the measure. “To take a penny out of every dollar is not a big thing.”

“[Republican Governor] Brewer’s advocacy of the tax, Proposition 100, bitterly divided the Republican Party, with many legislators saying Arizona needed to cut deeper and switch to a four-day school week or take other drastic steps to live within its means.

“Those calls for cutbacks echoed anti-government rhetoric that is increasingly popular nationwide but when push has come to shove, some voters have balked, if the alternative meant losing key services. Arizona is the latest in a series of conservative states to grudgingly approve tax increases.”

What struck me most by this story was the phrase “to live within its means.” To the Kool-Aid-drinking Grover Norquistians, taxes are evil and if the poor and old and sick have to die before one penny of taxes are imposed to care for them, then so be it. Government needs to be reduced and drowned in a bathtub, after all. But here’s what Arizonians apparently discovered – late in the game – the means we want to live within are what We The People decide are the means. Arizonians apparently decided that there were certain “means” they wanted to retain and so also realized that to get and keep and stay within those means, they would have to pay for them.


That’s something that our own Republican, Norquistian, Kool-Aid-drinking governor and Republican legislature won’t do. Instead of a tax increase to pay for the means We the People want to say within, he’s willing to cut the poor, the old and the sick, the most vulnerable and helpless among us. The question is, what do We the People want?

Right now it’s impossible to determine since our legislators have become so partisan and extreme that they’re in total gridlock and unable to do much of anything. It’s hard to live within ones means if all options to define means consist of one choice only: No Taxes Period. That’s not governance. That’s Norquistian Kool-Aide.

The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

The Bay News reports that The St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble, featuring some of the great voices in the entire world, will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 26 at St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Los Osos. The show is on a donation basis as the four men from Russia . . . are willing to play for the generosity of their fans. . . . The Group’s repertoire varies from the hauntingly holy to bawdy drinking songs. St. Benedicts is located at the corner of Los Osos Valley Rd. and Clark Valley Rds. For more information call 528-0654.”

If you’ve ever attended some of the Red Barn series held at St. Benedicts, you know it’s a lovely venue for a concert.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Your Sunday Poem

This delightful poem is by one of my favorite poets, Ted Kooser, from his book “Flying at Night; Poems 1965, 1985” Support your favorite poet, order one of his or her books today and enjoy.

In an Old Apple Orchard

The wind’s an old man
to this orchard; these trees
have been feeling
the soft tug of his gloves
for a hundred years.
Now it’s April again,
and again that old fool
thinks he’s young.
He’s combed the dead leaves
out of his beard; he’s put on
perfume. He’s gone off
late in the day
toward the town, and come back
slow in the morning,
reeling with bees.
As late as noon, if you look
in the long grass,
you can see him
still rolling about in his sleep.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Nanny State -- Baby Nation

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for May 14th, 2010

Nanny state. I hear that term a lot lately. Pass a seat-belt law that saves thousands of lives each year; Nanny State. Require large restaurants to list calorie counts for their meals: Nanny State. Consider writing a law requiring that food manufacturers reduce salt in their products: Nanny State. Make it illegal to smoke in public buildings: Nanny State. Recently, some Congresspeople suggested passing a “sugar tax” to help curb a national epidemic of obesity. The sugar/corn lobby got busy and soon all we heard was: Nanny State.

Put into place tough environmental laws that hold oil companies to account for drilling disasters: Nanny State. Pass tough new banking regulations that may be able to curb the greedy Wall Street Babies and keep them from wrecking the economy: Nanny State. Suggest that our schools change the way we feed our children and remove sugary drinks from their hallowed halls because our grotesquely overweight kids are waddling straight into diabetes and heart trouble before they’re even in high school: Nanny State.

In a recent television “reality show,” British Chef Jamie Oliver arrived in Huntington, West Virginia, a town deemed the most overweight and unhealthiest in the nation, to start a “food revolution,” starting with the community’s schools. You’d think that such a “revolution” would be a no-brainer – feed school children tasty, healthful lunches. But it was as if he had breezed into town and suggested feeding the kids strychnine. Even though the schools could obtain fresh food, government subsidies, outdated “nutrition” rules and federal school lunch program subsidies made crappy, fat-and-sugar-laden processed foods much cheaper and easier to use, so the school officials were faced with a dilemma: raise school taxes to pay for decent food, or continue feeding kids government subsidized crap.

Well, taxpayers weren’t about to vote for slightly higher taxes to give children delicious healthy school breakfasts and lunches, so he had to get private funding (for a public school program) and it was no surprise that Jamie’s healthy food program soon slid back to the “normal” diet that had put the whole community on the CDC’s radar as “unhealthiest in the nation” in the first place. And when the private funding for this project runs out? Government subsidized highly processed fat-laden chicken “nuggets” will be back on the menu.

And so it goes. Conservatives can cry “Nanny State” and declare that it’s a parent’s responsibility to take care of these sorts of problems, but they don’t realize that we’re no longer a nation of Adult Parents. We’ve also become a Baby Parent Nation. Why else would somebody feel the need to write a law making it illegal to sell violent kill-rape-torture video games to minors? Because Baby Parents don’t know the word No, as in “No. You’re thirteen and you’re not buying that game.”

So here we are, a nation of infants begetting more infants and infants always beget Nannies.

If we were a nation of Adults, we’d have been able to figure out, for example, what agribusiness was up to – lobbying for and getting enough taxpayer financed farm subsidies to create Crap Food Nation, leading to Overweight Nation waddling into Medical Crisis Nation followed by Bankrupt Nation. Had we been an Adult Nation, that boondoggle would have been stopped instantly and reversed with tax subsidies for fresh, non-processed farm commodities and high taxes on sugar and fat, so subsidized fresh unprocessed fruits and vegetables would cost pennies while a can of soda or packaged processed foods would cost dollars.

If we were Adult Nation, we would have known that the Wall Street Babies cannot be trusted around money. Not their own, not ours, no money. That’s like leaving an infant in a room full of loaded guns. Adult Nation would have put into place and vigorously monitored all sorts of alarm bells to keep those Babies and ourselves safe.

But, we’re a nation of Babies, so we elect even bigger babies and put them in charge of our government. The result is Disaster Nation with sensible fixes being decried as a Nanny State by a Baby Nation that doesn’t want anything fixed because that might cut down on the candy allotment and lead to having spinach appear on our plates.

To Baby Nation, that would be a fate worse than death.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

At Last! An Affordable Los Osos Sewer Project

Goats! Goats! Goats!

 Saturday, I headed out to the Happy Acres Family Farm in Templeton.  (1955 Templeton Rd, (805) 434-7580, tasting room hours Sat - Sun 11 a.m. - 6 pm. Special tours available,

They got goats.  Lots of goats.  Goats with ears. Even goats with no ears.  Well, little nubby, cowrie shell shaped ears.  All with their evil , Diabolical vertical slit goat eyes.  But these are nice goats.  They like shelled peanuts (which are given to guests so you can feed the goats who like shelled peanuts.) And they take the shelled peanuts very delicately and expertly from your fingers with nary a nip.  And they have little goat kids hopping around like, well, litttle goat kids.  And chickens.   

They even have miniature ponies, and a miniature goat that came bleating out from the backside of the farm because it got lonely or confused and was looking for its friend, a nice young woman manning the tasting room. Thing was the size of a smalish dog and just as affectionate.  The brochure says they have several alpacas and a crazy miniature donkey, but we didn't see those. 

We did bring along flatbread and fresh fruit and bought some of their delicious goat cheese (the tomato/herb and the herb/spice) and had a picnic lunch, followed by some strawberry goat ice cream which, surprisingly, tastes like frozen yogurt rather than a fatty ice cream and is delicious.) 

And watched the goats.  Great way to spend an afternoon.  

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Letter To The Editor

The following commentary posted by permission. I think a public meeting to decide the fate of the Tri W property is in order as soon as plans for the sewer project finalize. The community needs to be thinking about and weigh in on what it wants – if anything – in the middle of the town. And what that will cost.

“Tri-W,” “Mid-Town,” “Sewer Park”, whatever you call it, it currently belongs to the wastewater Prohibition Zone of Los Osos, paid for by the 2001 $24 million sewer assessment. The $3,010,025 purchase by the 2003 Los Osos Community Services District Board (LOCSD) from Tri-W Enterprise, Inc., the three Williams brothers of local supermarket chain fame. The Williams Brother’s purchased the property from Morro Shores attempting to monopolize the grocery industry in Los Osos.

Centrally located downtown, the 11-acre former sewer site has become the most notorious property in the community. Complicated by 365 acres of watershed runoff that enters the site, percolates underground, and filtered through the soil before entering the bay through seeps, any development of the site will be challenged by the drainage patterns that crisscross the property.

Originally zoned for shops and offices, the site was proposed for a sewer plant disguised as a park received a zoning overlay of Public Facilities in 2002 to allow the LOCSD to build a sewer park in the center of the community. In the fall of 2005 the LOCSD fenced the property and proceeded with mass excavation of the site on September 15th in spite of the recall election that would unseat the majority board just days later on September 27th. Some would suggest the commencement of construction sealed the fate of that Board. One long time resident said, “If they had just waited for the election they might have kept their seats.”

Fast forward to today, with plenty of blame to go around, the site is unstable, the fence has fallen over, drainage fissures have eroded the sandy soils, invasive plants have taken root and Morro shoulderband snails have re-inhabited the site. Regulatory agencies, including the California Coastal Commission, are looking for a “global solution” and resolution to the mess left by the defunct sewer project.

County Park’s attempt at $5 million of Proposition 84 grant monies to purchase the site for desperately needed parkland was called off soon after the Coastal Commission found Substantial Issue with the wastewater project in January. County Public Works has offered in a recent proposal to the Coastal Commission to “stabilize” by re-grading the site into the series of retention basins approved in the defunct sewer project and “revegetate” the site with native plant material.

The 2007 special legislation (AB2701) handing over the wastewater project responsibility from the LOCSD to the County has provisions for all wastewater assets needed for the County’s project to be transferred to the County upon adopting a “Resolution of Determination Declaring the County’s Intent to Proceed with Construction and Operation of a Community Wastewater System” for Los Osos. If Tri-W is no longer needed for the wastewater project (two small pieces are going to be carved off for pump station purposes) it is understood that the property would be sold off as surplus and proceeds from a sale would be divided among the LOCSD’s creditors lined up in the LOCSD’s bankruptcy.

The under the radar efforts to acquire and/or repair the Tri-W site are admirable, but raise questions as to what really should happen with the property and how the public can participate. As the wastewater project nears its permit approval and the County positions itself to officially take the project, it would be prudent to have a community conversation about the property. Recognizing that the Public Facility zoning disappears when the property changes hands and the site no longer has the value it once had due to the decline in real estate values. Moreover, like all other vacant lots within the prohibition zone it is stripped of its ability to be developed in the near term due to the 20+ year sewer moratorium and defacto moratoriums on water and habitat issues.

It’s time to call for the question. It would be prudent to have the LOCSD and their attorney’s, Los Osos Community Advisory Council (LOCAC) County Public Works, County Parks, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Fish & Game and the California Coastal Commission at the table to discuss options and complexities of the property.

While the community may want a park in that location, where is the evidence to that effect? What kind of park? Passive, active or something in between? Are we ready to tax ourselves to purchase, permit, mitigate, build and maintain a park that has no water, sewer, or habitat mitigation (resulting in millions of dollars to an already economically challenged community)? What is the highest and best use for the property? What alternatives are available?

Ask your public officials to set a townhall meeting; invite the community to attend and hash out the details before the LOCSD bankruptcy makes the decision for us.

Julie Tacker
39 year resident of Los Osos

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Grab Yer Dog

For years, I read snippets about a proposed off-leash dog park in Cayucos, near the cemetery.  Then it was a plans for a skate park, then a dog park, then there were lots of objections and the whole thing would disappear off the radar.  Suddenly, a friend told me there was a fenced dog park on the site.  Poof! Like magic.  So I drove up there and sure enough.  Dog park popped up overnight like mushrooms after a rain. 

So, they'll be having a Saturday, MAY 8 grand opening, I believe around 11 a.m.ish, so grab your dog and head out over there for a look see.  Then stop by the Morro Bay dog park at Del Mar park for an additional romp.  They'll be having their grand opening in June.  I'll post that info later.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Art of The Steal

If you want to see a wonderful documentary, get down to the Palm Theatre ASAP to see "The Art of the Steal."  It's a fascinating film about so many things: art, money, ego, power, ego, lies, theft, more ego, magic (as in, isn't it amazing how things can happen in State legislatures involving hundreds of millions of tax dollars and NOBODY has any idea how it happened, just "magic"), legal theft, lazy judges, greedy mayors, corrupt and corrupting "charities," including some of the largest and most famous, more grudges among wealthy, evil people, and The Golden Rule: Them that has the gold, make the rules.  And finally, "C'mon, Jake, it's Chinatown." "Legal" theft, bit by bit. 

At its simplest level, it's the story about a Doctor Barnes (with an extraordinary aesthetic "eye") who made gazillions and spent gazillions buying some of the finest examples of post-impressionist art the world has ever seen, put it all together as both a collection and as a school to teach art and use the collection in situ as a didactic tool, who sets up a will spelling out exactly what the terms of his foundation can and can't do.

And what happens when the founder of such a collection/foundation dies, and over time his priceless (literally, priceless) collection is coveted by others for their own purposes.

It is both a quintessential "art" story, a tragic example of how a vision can be destroyed by people with other agendas, and a story of the powerful forces at work that shape our present day culture and its comodification of everything.  The art of the steal, indeed.  Aptly named.  Don't miss it.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Oh, Shut Up

Ah, Yes, How’s that Drill Baby, Drill thingee working out fer ya, wink-wink? Well, America, not so good, but stop whining. Thirty years ago, President Carter told you you’d have to grow up and get off the oil teat but you went with Party Time Reagan and went on a 20 years-long SUV-Hummer binge. Sure there was a tiny blip when gas prices shot up past $4 a gallon and you collectively started re-thinking your driving/car habits, but that didn’t last long. And powerful corporate interests own a sufficient number of politicians that they can ensure that nothing meaningful regarding gas taxes and alternative energy policies won’t go into effect until the last dollar can be rung out of the last gallon of burned oil or the last mountain is ripped down and its coal removed and burned and if that damages the world, well, the hell with the world.

And we Americans like it that way, so when you’re watching pictures of the Gulf oil spill and you feel tempted to feel sick to your stomach, suck it up. It’s exactly what you wanted, so shut up.

That includes you two, too.

Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman, shut up and go away. Watching your awful ads chewing on each others ankles is nothing but pots and kettles. You don’t have any new ideas and what warmed over gruel you’re tossing up won’t work anyway, not with the CA legislature that the good people of California have elected and keep electing. This state might have a shot if we can reorganize districts so we can avoid left and right wing zealots of all stripes and maybe get districts that will turn out sane legislators. But so long as Californians want nice pudding for themselves while refusing to tax themselves for that nice pudding, we’ll stay stuck in gridlock. And running ads with sheep crawling around with glowing red eyes isn’t going to do the trick. So shut up and go away.

You, too, Sam.

I know, I know, you’re running for State Senator under your usual banner of “Blakeslee—the Get ‘r Done, reach-across-the-aisle Guy.” You blew that cover during the hideous Budget Wars when, given a choice between voting for a budget that included some minor, targeted tax raises or letting the State (and your constituent, i.e. me) fall into the sea, you took a no-tax-ever blood oath to Grover Norquist and his band of Right Wing Republican Crazies. The good of the state or Norquist and your ambition to move up within the increasingly crazy Republican Party, and you chose Norquist.

O.K., fair enough. But now you’re back asking for my vote? You chose and it wasn’t for the good of the state. It was your career. So, Nuh-huh. Sorry buddy.

And damning with faint- to- no praise, ya gotta laugh

This from the Santa Lucian, the newsletter of the local Sierra Club, ( on their picks for various June 8 election races, comments regarding their endorsement of Bruce Gibson, County Supervisor, District 2 candidate: “And to our friends in Los Osos who have managed to read this far but are struggling with their blood pressure: In politics, as in life, making a decision with widespread, multiple ramifications on the basis of a single issue is never a good idea. As is well known, we have disagreed sharply with Gibson over the Los Osos wastewater project. But there are too many other pressing environmental issues in the country for anyone in Gibson’s district to cast their vote on that issue alone. . . . "

Then goes on to note, “And if District 2 voters need further incentive to resist single-issue impulse: from the available evidence, Gibson’s opponent, Marshall Ochylski, was recruited to run by COLAB, the local alliance of developer-funded “property rights” extremists that is suing to overturn the County’s smart growth principles.” . . . “As pro-sprawl and anti-environment as it gets, COLAB has one goal: tip the Board back to its previous majority and return to the pave-it-all days of Ryan, Ovitt, Lenthall and Achadjian. Mr. Ochylski is their man.”

Well, as regards the Hideous Los Osos Sewer is concerned, that’s pretty much in the hands of the Coastal Commission and will be until they vote, then the BOS has two choices: accept the project or not. As an incumbent, Gibson will win – incumbents do. (In 24 years, I can’t think of a single term Supervisor, can you?) So this race is either moot or one of those None of the Above, depending on your point of view.

On the other hand, the Santa Lucian endorses Pedro Nava for Attorney General (since AG Jerry Brown will be running for Gov.) Pedro Nava? Gee, if he gets elected, maybe HE will pay attention to the Los Osos 45 and do something about the AG-supported efforts to “prosecute” them. I know, wishful thinking. Even Nava couldn’t buck the powerful state agencies that want those 45 dead and buried so nobody will start asking too many questions.

Meanwhile, Nobody Learned Anything.

Again, in the Santa Lucian, a recap of the sadly obvious: Morro Bay/Cayucos had a chance to actually learn something from the Hideous Los Osos Sewer Wars and chose to learn nothing. In updating their wastewater treatment facilities, they will be moving to tertiary treatment but refused to take the only real, sensible next step: Recharging the aquifers with that expensively treated water and/or ag exchange of some sort. Instead, they’ll treat the water ($$$) THEN DUMP IT INTO THE SEA.

A hint to the good people of Morro Bay and Cayucos. Believe it or not, gobal warming is a reality and the first evidence of it will come in the form of changing rain/snow patterns which will most likely result in undependable availability of water for Morro Bay’s nice state water project pipe. They paid for all that nice imported water, and paid for the pipe, but they did so with no guarantee that there would be water to put into the pipe. Hence, it is beyond comprehension the City Council would vote to charge Morro Bay and Cayucos citizens big bucks to upgrade a wasteWATER project, then throw the WATER away. And why on earth would the Regional WATER Quality Control Board vote to give them a permit to do that?? Duh?

But on a happier (?) note

Sunday, May 23, from 10 a.m. – 1 pm at the Morro Rock parking lot, there’ll be a Save the Whales (Again) rally. The international Whaling Commission (IWC) created a draft package of proposals that will lift the moratorium on commercial whaling for 10 years, and has no provision for reducing or phasing out whale killing. In short the draft proposal is an awful step backward.

So, time for another rally. And if you want to volunteer to help out, contact Mandy Davis at

Or contact your local representative and tell them you want MORE drilling platforms which can blow out and maybe kill the whales with oil slicks. That’ll get the job done!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Cosmic Navel Lint: "Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black" - Tim Wise

This piece by Tim Wise is beyond brilliant.  If you haven't read it, please click on the link "Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black" - Tim Wise and scroll down a bit to the April 23 posting.  (It's also posted on Tim Wise's Facebook page.) I remember the '60's well and the images of the armed Black Panthers wearing black leather jackets, huge Afros and spouting anti-government rhetoric were NOT described in the media as being American patriots and as American as apple pie or people just wanting their country back. 

It's always other shoes, other feet and what something looks like depends on whose glasses you're peering through.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Your Sunday Poem

This from "Red Bird, Poems by Mary Oliver."  For other works by her, check the Amazon link to the right.  Support your favorite poet.  Buy one of their collections today.

Small Bodies

It is almost summer.  In the pond
the pickerel leap,
and the delicate teal have brought forth
their many charming young,
and the turtle is ravenous.
It is hard sometimes, oh Lord,
to be faithful.
I am more boldly made
than the little ducks, paddling and laughing.
But not so bold
as the turtle
with his greasy mouth.
I know you know everything --
I rely on this.
Still, there are so many small bodies in the world,
for which I am afraid.