Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Final Workshop

The déjà vu was eerie.  Winter.  Cold.  Night.  Los Osos Junior High School.  About a couple of hundred people out of a community of about 5,000 homes gathered to hear about a sewer project.  One event in 1984, this one in 2010. Same people, same issue.  Makes me tired even thinking about it.

Well, this workshop was the final piece in the Hideous Los Osos Sewer Project; the ordinance setting rates and charges.  If the “protest” vote is not successful (with 50% plus one required, damned near impossible to accomplish), developed property owners will be paying to cover the capital costs of their neighbor’s undeveloped property, plus an additional fee based on their own (indoor) water usage. If and when water issues are resolved, and undeveloped property owners are allowed to develop, they will then pay the entire original assessment and R&C fees, and the total R&C will drop slightly on developed property (at least the fixed capital cost portion will.)  If there is no water and undeveloped property can’t develop, the developed property owners will pay the full freight for the whole deal.

It was anticipated that a critical water report and other info coming in the spring may give a better picture as to water availability and if it looks like a sure thing, the County will hold an assessment vote for the undeveloped land-owners and if successful, the fixed portion of the R&C will drop accordingly.

The water portion of the R&C will be based on your Jan/Feb water bills.  The presumption will be that that’s “indoor” water use. It will be figured on your Jan/Feb numbers, annualized, times $7.54 per unit. Check your water bill last year to see how many units you used in Jan/Feb to get a guestimate on what your individual cost will be. (The formula from the CSD hand-out is “usage found on your water bill x 745 gallons divided by 60 will give you average daily use”) A unit is 748 gallons) In addition, the CSD office has all kinds of great water info available to help you figure this out and how to conserve water as well. And the county website will also have info needed to calculate estimates.

It’s important to do this early-on because right now people may have the county’s glossy brochure figure of $194 total for their sewer bill floating around in their head, which is misleading.  Onto that you’ll have to tack your own water usage from the R&Cs, which may come as a huge sticker shock to many people.  And, of course, you still have your regular water bill on top of all that. I suspect that a $300-a-month water/sewer bill will not be at all uncommon. Oh, I almost forgot, a $300-a-month plus costs for hook up, if you financed that. So, will a $350++ a month water/sewer/hook up bill become the new norm?     

It’s not known yet whether the R&C will come as a monthly bill or be added to the tax rolls. Landlords will be getting the bill so they’ll have to figure out a fair charge for their tenants.

The original $25,000 per home assessment will appear on the 2010/11 tax bills.  The R&C won’t appear until the 2014 hook-up.

On lot costs will involve decommissioned septic tanks, pipe run to lateral and is the sole responsibility of the homeowner.  Guestimated costs run between $2,000 to $5,000.  The county is looking for grants to help with low-income folks to help pay for hook-up costs and the county is also looking into the possibility of waiving or reducing the various permits needed to decommission tanks (inspection fees & etc.), and I presume the County will have a list of recommended companies certified to do that kind of work so people can avoid shoddy fly-by-nighters who could leave them with an expensive mess.

The county is also working on making information available for homeowners who want to use their abandoned septics as a rain-water cistern system or as a cachement system to keep rainwater on their property for percolation into the ground.  And for people who are using extensive greywater, they’ll have to consult with the county if they want to get a more accurate rate on their indoor water use, since that fee is based on the amount of used water that’s actually going down into the sewer pipes, which greywater isn’t.

And the county’s looking into financial help for poor folks who have no way of paying those high on-lot costs. It’s not known at this time if or how much help is or will be available, but some of the grants are only available to counties while others individual homeowners must apply for themselves. With the state broke, even more of this community fallen into PoorVille, this community needs to brace for more people losing their homes on account of this project.  And brace for a shrug of indifference from various government agencies.  Not their problem.

A few Questions from the audience:

Will cost overruns on the project be added to the R&C?  No, legally can’t be added to either the base assessment or the R&C.  The county’s not anticipating cost over runs, the bids that have been coming in on other projects are running 30% under the usual costs due to the lack of work and very hungry contractors and the cost guestimates were pegged in the mid-range so there’s some wiggle room before going over.  And if costs end up going under the guestimates, the amount collected will also go down. 

Supervisor Gibson said he intended to ask the RWQCB to remove the CDOs from The Los Osos 45.  Yeah, well, good luck with that one.

Several people asked about holding a special tax for residents in the Los Osos Basin, a tax that would ensure that people living outside the PZ would be taxed and said tax would broaden the tax base for the sewer and would go to help pay for the sewer since folks living outside the PZ are benefiting from the clean water created by the treatment plant, but aren’t paying to clean it.  That’s something Paavo Ogren said they were looking into and when the water reports are in, the county may take a look at doing that.  If a majority (50%) of homeowners inside the PZ voted for such a “use” tax on their neighbors outside the PZ, it would pass.

Another question involved using old census data to determine median household income, for example.  That data is certainly out of date and would have an impact on whether grants are available.  If the old data showed us to be a wealthy community and that’s no longer the case, then that data must be updated.  In addition, the grant monies and lower interest loans available via the SRF program depend on those numbers, as do Federal guidelines as to affordability.  And, clearly, if this project wasn’t “affordable” under 2000 census data, it sure isn’t “affordable” now. Sometime in the spring, that data may be available, as will information from the SRF funds.  So, that may result in better terms and hence lower costs. Or maybe not. One thing is sure, the really interesting numbers may start showing up with the new census data.  Way back in 2000, the original CSD members were using numbers that guestimated that 33% of the community would be forced out of town by the (then)  proposed sewer costs.  Is that percentage still right or will it be higher or lower? The 2010 numbers may tell a tale.  

The workshop was taped by AGP Video and so will be shown on local cable.

The Board of Supervisors meets Dec 14th to certify the “protest vote.”  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Apres Thanksgiving

          The universe if full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. 
                                                                                                              Phil Pots


Saturday, November 27, 2010

This Just In

If you're free today, November 27, from 10 - 5 pm. Surfrider Foundation will be presenting their 8th Annual Free Fall Art Benefit.  Cayucos Veterans Hall At The Pier.  Art Sale, Silent Auction, Live Music (10 great bands playing throughout the day), Wine, Beer, Food.  Free admission all day.  For more information to go .


This is just a test.  Had a wierd grey square start appearing under the headings on several posts.  After snooping around it appears it may have been a still-born video link that accidentally got started and like a bad guest, stuck around long, long after the party and then kept appearing on other later posts, totally unbidden.  Ghost in the machine. In trying to see what the heck had gone goofy, I inadvertently deleted the Nov 24th post while trying to delete the grey square.  Poof the whole blog posting disappeared.  Then I noticed that two later posts didn't have the annoying grey square on them, so now I'm wondering if the ghost-in-the-machine is now gone?  I'll try posting this and see if our grey square shows up.

Test, test.  This is just a test. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Poem

This by James Wright from his book:" James Wright: Collected Poems." Hope you are all having a lovely, chilly Thanksgiving day. 

A Poem By Garnie Braxton

"Garnie, I wish I was a seagull."

"Yeah, me too,
And when you want to get warm
All you got to do
Is put on your feathers
And fly away to the south.

I been there once."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Your Sunday Recipe

Is It Soup Yet?

Just in time for Thanksgiving, this soup recipe was in the little weekly magazine that comes with the Tribune’s Sunday Paper.  It’s from the 123 Eats column by Dorie Greenspan.  It’s really, really simple (especially of you get to Costco.  They were selling 2.5 lb containers of pre-peeled, cut up butternut squash which really, reeeeeely made the whole thing easy.) 

Simplest Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash (about 3+ lbs)
3 slender leeks, white parts only, split lengthwise, washed and cut into 1” pieces
3 cups whole milk
3 cups water
Peel squash, remove seeds, cut into 1-2-inch chunks.  Add leeks, milk, water, salt, bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 25-35 until squash is soft. 
Remove from heat and use an imersion blender (or blender blender) to puree.

Seasoning: (Can pretty much experiment here.)  Besides salt &  pepper, I added curry powder, garm masala, ginger (for kick) , nutmeg, poultry seasoning, seasoned salt, etc.)

For topping, can add a dollop of greek yogurt, dash of more nutmeg. 

Perfect start to a Thanksgiving Feast.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Love the Photo of the Bear

The County’s Sewer “Project Update” glossy flyer is in the mail.  It’s really pretty.  Lots of big photos taking up lots of space. Lovely huge big map in the middle showing the planned wastewater trement plan. And, of course, a reminder of the Town Hall Meeting on Monday, November 29, at the Los Osos Middle School, doors open at 6, meeting starts at 7.

And  the “vague” on the funding for the undeveloped properties is wonderful. We’re told that the Board is working to resolve water and habitat issues and that the undeveloped properties have not been assessed, but nowhere can I find a clear discussion of what may happen if undeveloped property can never be developed, or what benefit homeowners are getting by paying for undeveloped properties and so forth.  I’m betting that discussion would have taken up too much room.  Might even have had to bump a photo of a bear or something.

But, on the 3rd page, under the heading Water Conservation, we can get a head’s up.  Part of the rates and charges is based on water use.  If I understand correctly, the plan will average, say 3 winter month’s water use and that will be the basis of your flexible use charges (above the flat capital costs). (It’s presumed you’re not watering the lawn in winter so all water used in those three winter months is inside use which will need to pass through he sewer for processing, which will cost you)  What kind of further conservation plans will be in place remain to be developed.  But, starting now, I’d suggest all us Bearish folk start tracking our winter water bills for the next few years. Keep copies handy, since if you can show you’re consistently under the minimum being charged by the Rates & Charges ordinance, you may be able to get an adjustment.

And, according to the new Bay News, the CSD already has a WATER CZAR in place:  Justin Finch.  He’s our new Water Auditor and is now conducting water audits, starting with High End Users, i.e. folks who are running through water like it’s, well, water. He’s sent them letters offering an audit to see if he can offer ways they can cut down on their use (and thereby stop waste and save money).  Finch will be starting with the high-end users first, but if you think you could benefit from an audit, you can call the CSD at 528-9370.

But, first, I suggest a visit to the website at to read all the obvious tips posted therein.  And once you’ve done all of them and think you may need more advice, give Justin a call.  The $30,000 cost of this service has been/ is being paid for by you in your increased water rates, so you might as well get some of that money back by seeing what Justin can help you with, water-wise.     

We’re all Los Osos, Now

Meanwhile, over at Slo Coast Journal ( ) Jack McCurdy’s story notes that the Coastal Commission’s not-yet-released report on the DEIR of the proposed Morro Bay/ Cayucos sewer upgrade indicates the Commission’s sending it back for a re-do.  Apparently it doesn’t seriously consider alternative sites for the plant or consider water reuse.

That’s one of the odd, tragic things about this upgrade.  With water shortages predicted for all of California, why on earth would any town consider treating wastewater and then dumping it into the ocean?  Especially in a community that had to close wells due to groundwater contamination and that had to import state water?  Sure doing a complete toilet-to-tap remodel would cost gazillions and would likely displace 1/3 or more of Morro Bay residents due to cost, but, hey, We’re all Los Osos now.  I say turn the project over to MWH and stand back from the money train.

In an email that I received noting the Journal posting, the emailer commented on how all of the concerns the CC expressed in their report were the same concerns that citizens had consistently brought to the attention of the various City Councils over the years, only to be labeled as cranks and trouble makers and “ranters,” and etc.  Sound familiar?

Yep, we’re all Los Osos now.

Eeeeeuuuu, Ron, Eeeeeuuuu  

Talk about History of the World, Part I, there’s “Entirely Visible Floatables” over at Ron’s blog at  Read it with a clothespin on your nose.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Leash's End

Calhouns Can(n)ons for November 19,2010  

The mornings are chilly now.  After a summer with no summer and a sudden, fierce heat wave, we had our first unseasonable rain of winter.  And now chilly mornings, the sun low and pale.  The dogs love it.  Nippy.  Crisp. It energizes them and they hop around on the end of their leashes, ready to go.

Dog walks have now turned into rather lengthy affairs since I’ve had to maneuver around a phenomenon familiar to old-time teachers; One bad apple can infect a whole classroom.  And my bad apple is Archibald McDog, a greyhound/shepherd cross I adopted years ago.  He’s my resident butt-head dog with the worst traits of both breeds: the laser-focused, locked-in sight hound “gaze” that, once engaged, obliterates any input from the outside world, combined with the Nazi authoritarian bully-boy attitude of the German shepherd.  Add in a nervous system that ramps up into instant full alert for any reason -- FOOD! SQUIRREL! KITTY! DUST MOTE! NOTHING AT ALL! –and you can see the problem. 

All of which makes him a problem child when taking a walk.  Especially with the two other tall dogs since his hyper-reaction just infects them into mindless ramped-up over-reactions that turned our walks into ridiculous Chinese fire drills. So now Archie is demoted to the second shift with the lone Basenji, who pays no attention to his ADD behavior. But second-shifting did result in one added benefit.  The ones left behind start up the canine version of The Anvil Chorus, an entertaining trill of mournful wails and wooooos that I can hear half-way down the block. It’s Good Morning America, with music.

So, the first out the door are the sight hounds, The Mighty Finn McCool, the greyhound, and Qarima Zuri Sana McGurk, the Sloughi.  For dogs bred to react with their eyes – if it moves, they’re locked on it -- they are amazingly tied to their noses.  But each has a different style.  For Finn, it’s Ferdinand the Bull.  He’s a dawdler.  The long snooter goes into some pee-drenched weedy patch as if plunging into a huge bouquet of roses and he goes into a snuffling trance that can last for minutes.  I can only imagine the complexity of olfactory information that must be rolling up that long nose to be savored and decoded.

Zuri, on the other hand, has become quite the tracker.  Sloughi’s were bred as lethally fast hunters by the Berbers of North Africa, but it’s clear watching Zuri, that some of that hunting ability must have been tied to the nose.  While randomly sniffing and following Finn, she will suddenly pick up on a scent.  When that happens, down goes the nose and she’s off, straining against the leash, hot tracking some critter that had passed that way in the night like she’s a bloodhound looking for convicts in the swamps of Georgia.

But walking Zuri is not without . . . issues.  Sloughi’s tend to be highly suspicious dogs; if it’s new, it bears avoiding or requires careful watching from a distance.  And if it once involved small shrieking children, it will be avoided even when the children are no longer present.  Which is how a certain house on my street became haunted and now when we pass it, her tail fearfully tucks under, her head drops, and she leans into the harness, scuttling forward for all she’s worth, hastening past a place where once, long ago, she encountered a small hideous jinn tooling around on a Big Wheelie.

Down the street, a cohort of crows are hanging around on the phone lines, muttering at us as we pass.  This crowd is a different flock from the family of moochers that hangs out in my trees.  A neighbor tosses out food for her bunch in a manner that attracts the gulls, which is never good.  Gulls are the avian equivalent of bed bugs; once they show up, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of them. The gulls screech and wheel up from the ground as we pass, angrily protesting our rudeness at walking through the middle of their breakfast table.

The sun is higher now, its thin warmth welcome against my face. We turn for home, the dogs now falling into an easy gai, heads up, eyes focused ahead, their minds focused on breakfast and a nice nap in the sun that is now streaming through the windows and falling on the dog beds that are scattered around on the living room floor.

 The smell of brewing coffee soon fills the room.  Ah, home.  Heaven. And another lovely day begins.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Git the Teeth Guard

If you hot-foot it to the Palm theatre tonight you might be able to catch the documentary “Inside Job.”  Be warned, it’ll make you grind your teeth all night.  It’s a fascinating look at the Wall Street/Congressional thieves who engineered the take down of the world’s economy.  There’s also new book out, “All the Devils Are Here,” that also ‘splains how the Ponzi Scheme/Casino worked and is still working.

Yep, the lobbyists are busy at work meeting with “regulators” to get the recently passed, watered-down  “regulations” weakened even further or eliminated all together. The too-big-to-fail banks are now fewer and even bigger.  And the gamblers are back at work.  There’s a few gazillions of the public’s money left to loot and they’re busy doing that.

Meantime, the American voter’s response to this financial disaster was to put back into office the same people who helped cause the wreck and/or put into office corporate co-opted Tea Party naifs who will shortly be consumed by the old Pol sharks closing in on the poor fools as they flounder in the blood-soaked Washington waters.

And through all the wreckage documented in film and books is one overriding theme:  NO ACCOUNTABILITY.  There will be no perp walks, no jail time, no prosecutions, no Congressional hearings, nothing.  The crime of the century and it’s all Obi-Wan-Kenobi telling the weak-minded Star Troopers that they don’t need to see any papers, they just need to move along.

Meantime, 1% of the plutocrats now own 34% of America’s private net worth.  In short, the Era of the Robber Barons has returned.  We’re now officially a Banana Republic.  Wait.  We’re worse than most Banana Republics.

And here’s what the voters do:  Send Andy Harris to Congress on a platform of running against big government and running adamantly against government health care.  And what does Andy do during the orientation meeting for new Congressfolk?  He complains  about having to wait a month for his GOVERNMENT FUNDED CONGRESSIONAL HEALTH CARE to kick in.  He’s outraged that he has to wait a month for HIS policy.  Meantime, the folks who voted for him will have to wait, oh, like, forever, for their healthcare.

Ker-BLAM! goes the gun.  OWWW! My foot! cries America.  And I’m still stuck with the question:  Should all this be viewed as an American Tragedy?  Or as an American pratfall, Krazy-Kat, incredibly sick comedy?        

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Who Dunnit?

Sue McGinty, who wrote the mystery novel, "Murder in Los Lobos," involving dead people and sewers (heh-heh) has another novel out, "Murder at Cuyamaca Beach," with any resemblance between Cuyamaca and Cayucos being purely intentional. (Don't know if an expensive joint-cities sewer upgrade will be involved in the plot.)  She'll be having a book-signing party from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Nov 21 at Coalesce Bookstore in Morrow Bay, at 845 Main St.  You can check out her website

Who's Doinit Too 

Remember, Nov. 29, Monday, starting at 6 pm. there will be a Rates & Charges Workshop at the Los Osos Junior High auditorium.  From 6-7 staff members will be there to answer questions and from 7 pm. it's likely that we'll have a soothing PaavoTalk, probably followed by selected written questions.  You have until Dec 14 to file any protest votes.(Tuesday, Dec 14, 9 a.m. the BOS will officially have counted the ballots and will vote to accept the rates and charges.)

And How Could I Forget?

Sunday, Nov. 28, at the beautiful Congregation Beth David on Los Osos Valley Road (near Foothill Blvd.), the fabulous Cafe Musique! The performance starts at 3 pm.  Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door.  Call 544-0760 for ticket.  And visit their website at 

This is such a fabulous group. And the venue couldn't be more beautiful (the temple is a stunning "green building" that's just a joy to be in.)  The group has a new CD and will be performing some of their new numbers.  Perfect ending to the Turkey Day holiday.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Your Sunday Poem

This by Charles Wright, from the July 15, 2010 New York Review of Books.

Crystal Declension

Well, two things are certain –
                        the sun will rise and the sun will set.
Most everything else is up for grabs.
It’s back on its way down now
As a mother moose and her twin calves
Step lightly, lightly
                          across the creek through the understory
And half-lit grasses,
Then disappear in a clutch of willow bushes.
                                                          If one, anyone,
Could walk through his own life as delicately, as sure,
As she did, all wreckage, all deadfall,
Would stay sun-lit, and ring like crystal among the trees.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dots, Dots, Dots

Ron Crawford at is busy once again connecting dots.I suspect that boy grew up with Erector sets and pick-up sticks and Lincoln Logs as his only toys.  Oh, and Battleship. Hip bone connected to the . . .

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Please Go Away, Thank You

There can be no greater proof of former President George Bush's grotesque narcissism than this:  In his new book he claims that the most memorably hurtful thing that happened during his entire presidency is when Kayne West dissed him.

That's like the child who fire-bombs his house, killing everyone in it, and when he's found standing next to the burning rubble and dead bodies, whines about getting a small lock of his hair singed. 

Shut up, George.  And go away.  Forever.  

Oh, Now, THAT's Something I Can't Wait To See 

Earmarks, we got earmarks.  Tea Partiers arriving in the K-Street Swamp (aka Wholly Owned Corporate Congress) are revved up and already talking about getting rid of earmarks.  Eee-haw!  Dump them evil earmarks!  When, suddenly, eerrrrkkkkk, the old-time K-Street Swampers (Wholly Owned Old-Time Republican Congresspeople and Senators, with Wholly Owned Old Time Democratic Congressfolks waiting in the wings) are having an attack of the Vagues.  Well, er, we'll have to take a look at that, well certainly, it's something to consider, uh, we'll have to debate that. Translation: Oh, that'll never happen.

Poor Partiers.  Lambs to Slaughter, put there by Low Information voters who don't have a clue how their government works, let alone how Corporate Congress works. 

Get rid of earmarks.  Sure.  Right. 

This country's political system is built on lies: We the People lie to ourselves and then elect representatives who will tell us the lies we want to hear.  Then we send them to Washington to pretend to do the things we lied about wanting to get done, and (surprise?) when they don't get done, we get angry, put on Tri-corner hats, strap guns to our hips and start babbling about the Constitution and "Freedom."  

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sunday Photos

October’s bright blue weather came in November this year.  The Roger’s Red grape vines weren’t to be caught napping, however.  They had started turning color early, after the summer-with-no-summer, thinking fall had arrived.  This was a lucky break because when the sky suddenly turned cobalt and crystal blue, they were ready for their shot, Mr. DeMille.

I had hung a hummingbird feeder high on the fence in Kifane’s Corner.  There may be several breeding pairs now; one pair guarding the feeder in the front yard, and this pair working the feeders in the back.  Even the bees have found this source of rich sugars and aren’t put off by the bee guard at each opening.  I suspect they patiently slurp up whatever the hummer has dribbled from his long tongue.  The ants soon got the word and a long line of them trooped up the fence post until I redrew the insecticide chalk deadline, which stopped them dead.  Enough with the anty moochers.

And then, sitting in my preposterous yellow Adirondack chair, under a patio umbrella, I peruse the sad nonsense of the daily newspaper and wait for the thrum of wings and the insistent screech – astonishing for the ferocious loudness from such a small body.  The hummers have come for their sweet sustenance. 

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Letters, Ron Gets Letters . . .

Ah, yes, a blast from the past.  The infamous Letter from the RWQCB to the Karners, all about the Faster, Better, Cheaper Ponds of Avalon.  at   Do click on the link and read the actual letter.  Check the date of the letter.  Was this something the community knew BEFORE voting to form a CSD, perhaps?  Hmmmm?

Ah, yes, history as tragedy.  Or comedy.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Pulitzer Prize for the County

Didja get your four page Notice of Public Hearing on Ordinance to Impose Sewer Service Charges in the Service Area of the Los Osos Wastewater Project?

Have you ever read anything as deliberately opaque as that thing?  I doff my cap.  It takes real talent to write something that impenetrable.

Not that it matters much.  I mean, the property owners in the PZ don’t really need to be clearly informed about any of this since the whole idea is to make sure a successful “protest” vote, which is nearly impossible to pull off in the first place since those type of “votes” are set up to be a confusing “Vote Yes on No/ No on Yes” and requires a 50% plus 1 count, be made absolutely unbeatable.  And the best way to do that is to send out a four page piece of argle-bargle that’s opaque AND impenetrable.  And this one takes the cake.

 Did you think your 218 vote to assess yourself $25,000 for the sewer was it?  Did you know that that 218 vote did NOT include the additional capital/interest costs for undeveloped properties?  A short fall, so to speak?  You didn’t?  We that’s o.k., I’m betting most of the homeowners getting this thing are equally in the dark.  So, since this is supposed to be an information sheet, can you point out to me where that “short-fall” is clearly explained? 

And then can you find the section that explains, in clear English, exactly how this thing is going to go down.  For example, can you find a paragraph somewhere that states:

If the protest vote fails, (as intended) homeowners WILL be paying an additional fixed fee for the owners of undeveloped properties until such time as undeveloped lots are able to develop.  Given the water shortage, that may be never and/or a long, long time.

Or, “If the protest vote fails (as intended) homeowners WILL NOT be paying for undeveloped lots. Instead, vacant lot owners will be charged their fair-share portion of the “short-fall.” And when and if they develop, they will also be charged OMR fees when they hook up. 

And then our “informational” packet says that if the protest vote is successful, the sewer service charges cannot be imposed, but our “informational” packet fails to say what that would mean.  If the short-fall isn’t met,  . . . . . what then?

Wouldn’t you think that’s the kind of information a “voter” needs from an “informational” packet on an Ordinance asking for more assessments?

Ah, yes, but that’s only if the intention is to actually inform the public.  This Ordinance process is strictly pro-forma so it only has to meet the minimum legal effort to actually inform. Which is why it deserves a Pulitzer Prize for Opacity!  

Meantime, here’s my Prediction:  At least 1/3 of the homeowners will toss this thing in the recycle bin, unread.  They’ll say, “Uh, What the Hell is all this crap? Oh, something about the sewer.” And toss it.  And 1/3 will actually read it and say, “Uh. . . Huh. . .I don’t get it. What are these charges all about.  I already voted to assess myself for a sewer.  I don’t know what this is about.”  And toss it in the recycle bin.  And 1/3 will read it and say, “Oh, yeah, the additional amounts we’ll be paying for this.  Hmm, it’s not clear whether we’ll be paying for the undeveloped lots.  Think I’ll email Mr. Will Clemens at the Public Works Department and ask him.”  And days later, they’ll still be waiting for an answer.

Oh, and a couple of hundred (maybe) people will show up at the “Town Hall meeting” scheduled for the busy post Thanksgiving weekend, when a lot of people may still be out of town or busy with holiday visitors, where they’ll be allowed to fill out question cards that will be carefully sorted and edited, with selected ones answered after about an hour or more of soothing PaavoSpeak and general smiley-faced best case scenarios of non-existent grant-money and low interest loans falling down the crowd like soothing vaporized  Soma.

And so any protest vote will, of course, fail.  And when the bills start arriving, about 2/3rds of the community will start shrieking about how they wuz fooled by that original 218 vote since they thought that was it and why in hell are they paying extra  and etc. etc.  But it will be too late.

As intended.  

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Git Out The Bait, Fellas

Calhoun's Can(n)ons for November 3, 2010 

The country’s 24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictionator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder . . . If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.
                  Jon Stewart,”Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” 

            Well, Jon, you could have fooled me.  These past months have been a time of creeping horror.  Angry, oddly uninformed, frightened people put a tri-corner hat on their heads, a gun on their hips, scribbled a Hitler moustache on a photo of  President Obama and called it a national political movement, unaware it was really little more than a useful corporate, lobbyist-fueled, Astroturf political tactic. Until it became clear it might backfire against the Republicans who sought to use its ramped up fear and anger. At which time the likes of Karl Rove sniffed and sneered and started backing away. But it was too late.  Frankenstein’s monster was loosed in the land and was running amok, knocking out “sane” conservative candidates and substituting extremist wackos babbling about headless bodies in the desert and declaring they weren’t witches.
            Meanwhile, the airways filled with hideous images and scary voices promising Armageddon should one politician or another get elected. Poor mailmen fell to their knees under the weight of glossy campaign flyers. Insanity roared through the land, terrorized people hiding under their beds, fingers stuck firmly in their ears, eyes scrunched shut against the bray.
            Except for brave Oklahoma.  Those courageous Sooners took a stand against the growing tide of terror.  Their Republican state Representative Rex Duncan authored a constitutional amendment initiative to ban Sharia law from being implemented in Oklahoma.  Says Mr. Duncan, “Oklahoma does not have that problem yet, but why wait until it’s in the courts.” Indeed!  There’s nothing more uselessly soothing than pre-emptive strikes against non-existent threats.  What’s next, a law making it illegal for flying dragons to use Oklahoma airspace?
            Well, why not.  That kind of silliness is what we Americans do when we get scared.  Theatre for children.  But now the election’s over, it’s clear that the worst of the games are over and now the terribly serious business of actually governing has to begin. 
            In California, the voters elected a “public servant,” over a wealthy CEO.  Perhaps  they understood there’s a world of difference between the two.  Plus, this particular “servant,” is a Pol’s pol, and not only knows where the bodies are buried, he’s swum with the Sacramento sharks so it’s likely he will know how to get something done in a state that’s been self-derailed and gridlocked. Maybe.
            Nationally, Republicans regained control of the House and will soon understand the dictum, “Be careful what you wish for; you may get it.”  For two years, they’ve had the supreme luxury of sitting on the sidelines like sulking children, lower lips out, pouty-eyes glaring, threatening filibusters and saying, No-No-HELL NO!
            That won’t cut it any more.  They now have the fishing pole, they have the bait, and they now have two ways to go: Get serious and work with Democrats to actually make critical changes. Or, focus their time and energy in setting up impeachment proceedings against our Kenya-born, Muslim-terrorist, illegal-alien President.  Oh, and waste time on the non-starter of rescinding the heath care plan so that people can once again get thrown off their policies, be refused coverage for pre-existing conditions and remove the provisions that insurance companies must spend at least 80% of your insurance dollars on actual health care, versus spending it on CEO bonuses.
            And, of course, totally ignore any commitment towards a sustainable green energy policy, even though a lot of corporations and individuals tinkering in their garages are just waiting for the signal from Washington that will give them the go-ahead to do what America does best – innovative investments in a future. 
            But that kind of commitment requires a government and a people that actually believes it has a future and is willing to work together to make that future real.
            Which makes this truly a fish or cut bait moment. And begs a question:  Why did it take two comedian/satirists to clarify the choices we face: Restore Sanity or Keep Mindless Fear Alive?
            And to remind us, as Jon Stewart did, that “The image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false.  We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn my polarizing hate, and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done.  The truth is, we do.  We work together to get things done every damn day.  The only place we don’t is here [Washington] or on cable TV.”
            Amen. Now, it’s time for our Pols to get back to work. And this time, let’s see if both parties can focus on what’s best for the country as a whole, not just on payoffs for the fat cats what brung ‘em.