Sunday, December 29, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

This lovely poem is by Los Osos artist/poet, Sylvia Howell Kneller.  It's a perfect poem to start off the New Year.  It's also the perfect poem for every new day.

Open Hands 

Every day life offers
a gift of confetti.
As it gets released,
some of it
in the universe at large
to bless others,
while the rest
to shower us
with surprise.

But we must make the toss
to experience the magic.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Winter Blessings


Wishing you a peaceful Winter Solstice filled with joy and love.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Messenger

Calhoun's Cannons for Dec 22, 2013

The universe if full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
                                                                          Eden Phillpots

Thank God this embarrassing year is finally tumbling offstage, all ridiculous clown shoes flapping, and ooga-ooga horns blaring.  You just know the founding fathers are rolling their eyes while rolling in their graves.  Could Congress get more idiotic than it  already is?  Who elected these fools?  Wait.  Don't answer that.  Instead of shutting the government down and hurting real people and a real economy, what would have happened had all the sane Congresspersons simply turned the lights out and left the building?  Let those morons sit there in the dark?

I know.  They wouldn't have noticed.

Mercifully, time, tide, and rising suns will move this dumbshow off the stage, ready for some other piece of idiocy or sad pointless drama.  Change and flow, all change and flow that briefly illuminates the flickering, ephemeral reality of our lives.

In my house, more change.  The last of the Basenjis slipped into air to join all the other little canine spirits that haunt my garden.  After 30-something years, the absence of their fierce little energies is palpable.  But the tall dogs remain and move with languid grace among the garden-ghosts, lavenders and sage. Although their increasingly grey muzzles are a daily not-so gentle reminder of time's unstoppable flow.     

Out in the garden, The Great Grapevine has renewed itself.  Judicious but firm pruning forced its overgrown woody trunk to come back to life and sprout new vines.  By Thanksgiving, the Roger's Red grapevines were curtained with leaves that blazed with some of the purest reds I've ever seen in nature.  It's their last fiery gift to the coming winter.  As is the huge mound of massed yellow blooms of the Tagetes.  Warmed by the late afternoon sun, the tumbling cascade of flowers is alive with humming bees loading up last minute pollen for the cold, lean days ahead.  

More transformation in the garden.  I excavated the torso-sized root of a clump of Giant 4 O'Clocks, a 40-pound behemoth tuber that was finally defeated by strategy and a sharp shovel. I will miss the ghostly gleam of its array of pastel pink and white blooms that opened in the soft summer dusk, a floral offering for the night moths.  But in its place I'll plant an apple tree that's supposed to grow well in this area.  I don't know how long it will take to get apples, but with luck, I'll have soft blooms waiting for the hungry spring bees.

Throughout the land, Christmas will be a slimmer, darker affair. The Salvation Army's bell ringers have their work cut out for them.  Food banks and homeless shelters, too.  As a nation we have deliberately committed a bizarre form of suicide: Death by a thousand cuts, starting with the poor.  While a few Scrooges pile up all the gold in their storehouses, the city fills with more and more Bob Cratchits shivering with only a half-lump of coal in their grates.  No Christmas pudding for you!  We've turned ourselves into Scrooged Nation and left ourselves behind as self-mutilated road-kill, a  sprig of holly in our shabby lapels.  Where is Jacob Marley, come to clank his chains at us and open our furious, blind hearts?

Once again I climb the ladder to bring the guardian nutcrackers down from the garage rafters and blow the dust off their boxes.  Another year for them to watch over the small festivities. I place them around the house and drape a few strings of brilliantly hued LED Christmas lights and suddenly the ancient ritual of the Yule Log whispers into the room to keep the cold and darkness of winter's night at bay.

And across five million years, our own Christmas miracle arrived.  The comet Ison appeared briefly before us like a messenger across time itself.  And in a mystery, died in the blaze of our sun only to miraculously re-appear for an instant before finally disappearing into stardust.  Like us, it had also been on a long, fragile, mysterious journey.

Overhead, the winter stars gleam, transiting in their own immense time, untouched by the  minute scurryings on our own ill-used and dangerously fragile little speck of dust. I find their vast indifference a kind of cold comfort since hope for a decent future seems such a folly. Humans have no lock on survival and if we don't care enough to sustain a livable world, nature will pass her judgment on us soon enough. Either way, earth itself will abide and all will be well as Shiva dances in the spiraling, tumbling galaxies without end. 

Molly McGuire roos at me as I stand in the cold, staring at the night sky.  She wants her bedtime dog biscuit.  The Mighty Finn McCool leans his tall body against mine, ears up to catch the rustlings in the night, nose twitching. The solstice sun will be rising soon on a brand new day. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Parade Time

Los Osos held it’s 2013 Christmas parade, with an "Under Construction" theme. Herewith some of the parade participants and/or audience, though, with our parade, it’s often hard to tell one from the other, which is what makes our holiday festivities so special

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Gussied up for his first parade

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Morro Bay's finest
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Including a yellow cap

4-H "Under Construction" equestrian unit

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Complete with proper safety signage.

Mom and her horse clean-up crew

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Buffalo Pizza, anyone?
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Why walk when you can roll?

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This elf was a Christmas Parade of her own

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Morro Bay's own Captain Jack blows the Christmas Conch
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

And, finally, the fourth "voice" from the wonderful new book of poems by four local poets, "Where Our Palm Rest, Beverly Boyd, Carol Alma McPhee, Joann Rusch, Bonnie Young, " published by Coalesce Press and available at Coalesce Bookstore and other local bookstores.  Christmas is coming and this would make a fine gift to put under your tree to enjoy and to support our local poets and Coalesce's publishing venture.  This lovely sample is by Bonnie Young.

At Home

Dear God, meet me in the backyard.
Come quickly but do not disturb
the chickadee, so sure she sits on a branch

of my acacia tree.  Bless me, please,
with her peace and surety this day.
Perhaps if I chalk my hair yellow and black,

fluff my arms wide in adoration,
welcome jackrabbit and quail before
taking off, I'll fly home with you.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Oh, Go Stand In The Corner, Megyn. Here's your Dunce Cap.

Calhoun's Cannons for Dec 13, 2012

Does Fox Noise's Megyn Kelly ever feel even a twinge of shame or embarrassment working for Fox Noise? Like, does she ever look in the mirror and say, "I'm smart, I'm talented, I'm a serious reporter, for God's sake!  What the hell am I doing working for this cockamamie outfit?"

Same thing for Chris Wallace, scion of a famous newsman.  Does he look in the mirror and cringe?

Or does their salary soothe the "Eeeuuuu" factor of working for a silly network like Fox, a network that's become the butt of comics and an endless supply of humor for Jon Stewart? A station that needs air-quotes around it's name, Fox "News."

I mean, it's bad enough that every year the ridiculous Bill O'Reilly trots out his fake "War on Christmas" campaign, a tinsel-bedecked masturbatory fantasy he uses to excite his clueless fans with false boogeyman fears that hoards of secular atheists are heading for their living rooms to take away their Christmas trees. But now, the usually hard-news Megyn Kelly has joined in the fray with her little faux "discussion" about a Slate opinion piece by Aisha Harris. 

Poor Ms. Harris, an African American, wrote a piece for Slate magazine that dared discuss her confusion as a child seeing black Santa Claus  decorations in her house, while all her (white) friends' homes had white Santa ornaments and decor, and, of course, the larger world outside the home had white Santas all over the place.

Naturally, a small black child would ask: Which is the "real" Santa.  Ms. Harris' wise father bridged the gap by saying that Santa could appear differently to different children.  Being a smart little girl, Ms. Harris didn't quite buy that argument.  The popular culture she lived in was overwhelmingly "white," so it would be logical that a very smart little black girl might wonder where in this world did she fit in?

And so her semi-humorous piece suggesting that since our country's racial demographic is changing, perhaps it was time to change some of it's iconic images and switch a white male Santa to some kind of neutral animal, like a penguin complete with red cap and sack of presents.  After all, our "Santa" is a totally made up image so we're free to change it's image any way we want. (St. Nick, the original "Santa" was Greek and looked nothing like our "Santa, " which was the creation of the brilliant 19th century cartoonist, Thomas Nash morphed with the work of a 1940s illustrator hired by Coca Cola for it's luscious, glowing, pink-cheeked, Coke-slurping iteration.)

So, naturally, Megyn and a "panel of Faux Noisers had a "discussion" about this made-up "controversy"  that mostly consisted of Kelly trying to goose herself up to outrage level for a little Christmas masturbatory huffing that sneered at the very real issue of a minority child's sense of place in a majority society.

Oh, and Megyn also declared that Jesus was a white man which caused any number of Biblical scholars to blow eggnog through their noses. And moved this Faux Noisiness off into SurrealLand.

But all was not lost.  Sane people watching this latest piece of idiocy from a "news" station were again confirmed that their use of air-quotes when saying Fox "news" was certainly correct.  And comics were beside themselves with glee for being handed their leads for their nightly shows.  And straight, serious newscasters, you know, the real kind, who were secretly envious at Kelly's huge salary, got a hefty dose of  schadenfreude watching her struggle with what she had to know was pandering nonsense required to goose the ratings and raise her show's visibility which would allow her to parlay those ratings into a better contract come renewal time.

Still, the question remained:  Does Megyn Kelly cringe when looking in the mirror?  Or does she secretly hope that the CEOs at other news organizations will realize that she's stuck right now as Roger Ailes' blond-bimbo-news-reader du jour and will soon come to rescue her by offering a real job as a real journalist on a real news show?

Now, that would be a great Christmas story.     

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another Coffee Christmas

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Christmas at my house usually officially starts when the L.L. Bean Holiday centerpiece from family in Maine arrives.  Followed by the Vocal Arts Christmas concert at the SLO Mission.  Now, those two events have been joined by our own Los Osos gem of a business – SLO Roasted Coffee Company.

For the second year, they hosted another Holiday Open House , coffee tasting, coffee roasting demonstration last Saturday.  The crowd was even thicker this year than last and, as word gets out and people put the event on the radar, I’m sure it’ll continue to grow. Great chance to see friends and neighbors, taste a wide variety of their coffees and schmooze.  Plus, learn something about coffee.
SLO Roast Coffee open house Dec 2013 001

But this year they’ve added a new wrinkle.  A table displaying new products made with coffee.  Like a coffee scented candle.  Or, soap, shampoo and body scrub.  Or coffee cookies.  And what’s interesting about that is they’ve paired with two other local businesses to create these new products.

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In the case of the soaps, Babylonian Soap Company in Morro Bay and for the cookies, the Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos.  Very clever, one local business pairing with another local business to create more business
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They were also demonstrating some new products, including this portable coffee grinder.  Which is useful if you’re a foodie out hiking in the Himalayas looking for the Yeti and you just have to have a freshly ground cup of coffee. Or you’re just out camping and see no reason why you have to be suck with boiled coffee when you can have, instead, freshly ground beans made with one of of my new favorites – the  small, portable AeroPress, a kind of small, super-duper Espresso/French-ish one cup press that makes absolutely delicious coffee in the time it takes to boil water. The fast pressing removes all the bitterness and you’re just left with yummy. (The versitility of the AeroPress is handy.  Depending on the amount of coffee you use, you can end up with espresso, or cappuccino, or add water for an Americano, or add the full amount of water and make a regular cup of coffee.  All of them smooth as silk )

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And to display some of their new products, they’ve set up a great new mini-store inside the front door.  If you’ve got friends and family living outside the county, SLO Roasted is a great way to send them a taste of Los Osos. Toss in some Babylonian soap and some cookies from Brown Butter Cookies and you’ll have a Care package from the central coast.
SLO Roasted is at , the Babylonian Soap Co. is at and Brown Butter Cookie Company at

And to finish off starting the holiday season, coming up is our own Loving Hands At Home Los Osos Christmas Parade, Saturday, Dec 14 at 10 a.m. followed by the annual Needs & Wishes Fundraiser at the Community Center for the homeless shelter.  

Monday, December 09, 2013

Cambria Christmas Market Plus

If you’re heading up to Cambria for the wonderful lighted walk / Christmas Market at the Cambria Lodge, plan to make a stop at the Cambria Nursery (on Burton Dr.) (If you go early enough, you can park at the nursery and enter the lighted walk from across the street.)

But, do yourself a favor and take some time to check out the whole nursery.  They’ve also put on a light show and their gift stores are eye boggling.  In the realm of OMG!.  They’ve done a spectacular job creating whole rooms of Christmas decorations on steroids.  It’s quite a fairy land, and even includes a resident black cat.
Take a gander:

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Sunday, December 08, 2013

Your Sunday Book

Coalesce Book Store in Morro Bay has published a book, an amazing thing to do in this day and age, and it's a book of poetry at that.  Doubly amazing. "Where our palms rest . . ." with poems by local poets, Beverly Boyd, Carol Alma McPhee, Joann Rusch and Bonnie Young, (Coalesce Press)  is available at Coalesce or your nearest bookstore. Christmas is coming fast, and this lovely book would make a great gift for your poetry loving friends.  I've previously posted a poem from two of the poets so you can get a feel for their "voice."  Here's the third (of four), by Carol Alma McPhee and a perfect example of just why poetry matters. And a perfect reason to go buy their book.


Life becomes
a mutter of bones:

a whispering in the desert
after tendon
and muscle lose dominion:

a parable,
to recall the past,

sounding instead
the daily
benediction of the sun.

Monday, December 02, 2013

There Goes December

Instead of St. Nick, this December is beginning to feel like one big White Rabbit -- I'm late, I'm late . .
Too much to do, so little time to do it in. So, here's a small list of upcoming, current Swell Stuff.

The Cambria Christmas Market (see previous posting.)  That's not to be missed.  Also, best hustle to get tickets to the SLO Little Theatre ( for their wonderful production of, "Miracle on 34th St."  It's a great production, great cast, beautifully staged and directed, a great way to get in a holiday mood.

Ditto for the grand spectacle at the PCPA in Santa Maria for their production of "Mary Poppins."  (http://PCPA.ORG ) They've pulled out all the stops on this one.  Fabulous sets, costumes, dance numbers, and, being Mary Poppins, lots of flying overhead and acrobatic high-wire work. The high degree of professionalism at the PCPA never ceases to amaze and this production is no exception.

Both plays run until Dec. 22, so there's no time to lose.

And no time to lose since the Winter Concert by the Vocal Arts Ensemble choral group is coming up this Saturday, Dec. 7 in the SLO Mission ( ) Their Christmas Concert is always a high point of my holiday plans.

Also on Dec 7, from 12 - 4, SLO Roast Coffee is having another coffee-tasting  --sample different coffees paired with yummy, decadent desserts -- and watch a coffee roasting demonstration.  Plus a chance to buy some of their coffees which are a great addition to your Christmas list, especially for friends and family living out of state -- a little taste of our home town coffee roasters.

Also another local product to go on the list, the new "Banjo Babes 2014 Calendar and Compilation CD."  (, for all your friends who are banjo fans.  This wonderful item was cooked up by talented musician, Erin Inglish (her dad's part of Cafe Musique). (You can also contact her via FaceBook as well). And, as long as you're making out a Christmas List, add Coalesce Bookstore (Morro Bay) and their second publishing venture, a book of poetry by four local poets, "Where our palms rest . . . Beverly Boyd, Carol Alma McPhee, Joann Rusch, Bonnie Young."

And, Sunday Dec 8, from 11-4, the Central Coast Glass Cottage will be holding an open house "Art Glass 2013 Holiday Glass Showcase" at 1279 2nd St. There'll be demonstrations of glass work, and a chance to see the beautiful work being created in the lovely workspace/gallery right here in downtown Baywood.  Also, a portion of all sales will be donated to Woods Humane Society and Soles4souls ("Changing the world 1 pair of shoes at a time.") And if you get peckish, Noi's (another Baywood treasure) is right across the street.)

And finally, don't forget our own loving-hands-at-home Los Osos Christmas Parade here in Los Osos, Saturday, December 14, 10 a.m.  This is followed, at the Community Center, by the 8th Annual "Needs 'N Wishes" Holiday Fundraiser", sponsored by South Bay Seniors People Helping People -- a fundraiser for the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter (for the homeless), Transitional Food and Shelter (for homeless after leaving the hospital) and the SLO Noor Clinic (free health clinic for uninsured folk).

The Holiday Fundraiser at 2180 Palisades Ave, Los Osos, at the Community Center, runs from 10 a.m. to 7 pm. and features food, music, raffles, and most important of all, a chance to dump all your loose change (and more) into the big 5-gallon water jugs, all monies raised going to help people less fortunate.  Which is what a good deal of the Christmas Spirit is all about.

Too little December, too many wonderful things to do.  Yes, it's White Rabbit time . . . .


Sunday, December 01, 2013

Your Sunday Trip

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Cambria’s having its Christmas Market every Wed – Sunday, from now until Dec 22, from 5 - 9 pm.   It’s held on the grounds of the Cambria Lodge at 2905 Burton Drive. There’s a $4 entrance fee, but you’re given 4 tokens which gets you $1 off for every $10 you spend in the mini-town market center they’ve created, booths manned by various Cambria merchants, plus a few food booths (Most wonderful combination: a booth selling bread pudding, hot chocolate and tamales.) There’s even a St. Nick roaming around.

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The second part of this event are the lights.  The amazing lights, which must have taken weeks to rig up.  What’s created is a fairyland that starts you off through a tunnel of lights, then along a rambling path that snakes from the lodge at the top of the hill, down, down, down to another entrance across from the Cambria Nursery.

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They’ve used the intensely color-saturated LED lights and the whole effect can be utterly disorienting.  The shooting stars (below) for example, appear through the trees and look like the lights were simply stretched from the ground to a tree. But ramble down the path to get a closer look and you suddenly see, through the darkness, that isn’t ground.  You’re standing on the edge of a yawning canyon which the lights cross to get to the tall trees on the other side.

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All the usual suspects are there as well; a lighted creche, figures from the Nutcracker, Santa’s house, even the Grinch has his own little niche.  Along the way were braziers near benches so people could sit, sip their spiced cider and listen to live music (played very softly so as to not disturb the Lodge’s guests.)

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But it’s the fairyland in the trees that’s visually enchanting.  Trees wrapped in lights so as you stroll along you think you’ve fallen into the middle of the movie, “Avatar.”

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This event is now getting so popular that it’s having the usual growing-pains problems: traffic, parking, complaining neighbors.  The event coordinators are recommending people park at the public parking lot (behind  and down the alley next to Robin’s  restaurant) and walk up Burton Drive to The Brambles, or park in the lot at The Brambles. One of several shuttle busses will pick up and drop off at that site every 10-15 minutes or so as they're running the buses in continuous loops all evening. If you’re early enough, there’s limited parking at the Cambria Nursery and from there you can walk across the street to the bottom entrance gate and walk through the lighted display, ending up at the Marketplace. Other public parking areas are being considered, but they haven't officially been announced, so you can always park on the streets in and around the town center and walk up to the Brambles. (Many of the stores are open late, so it’s a good chance to also do some Christmas shopping as well.)

This is one event the whole family can enjoy.  And at $4, an incredible bargain and a great way to start the holiday season.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Harvest Blessings

Blessed of the lord be . . . for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills.                                                 Deuteronomy 33:13-15

Wishing you all a lovely Thanksgiving Day and a happy Hanukkah. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Frat Follies, Redux

Another major bit of stupidity from Cal Poly "Greeks."  Some goofus dreamed up a "Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos" party, which hit the papers and everyone properly rolled their eyes and said, "Oh, Jeeze, not again?" 

Yes, again.  Who could forget another party at Halloween that saw some twits decorating the party site with a Confederate flag, a noose and some racial references that nobody with half a brain could miss.  Wink-nudge, wink nudge, know what I mean?

And so Cal Poly has to rush around and help mitigate the kind of "message" that these idiotic pranks have on a diverse student body that does, indeed, get the message. And everyone is left wondering, are all Cal Poly students this stupid, or is that gene somehow self-selected in kids who join the whole "Greek" culture? Or maybe wonder if kids nowadays are just cruel as well as clueless?

All possibilities, of course, but I wonder if there's a third answer:  Kids nowadays may not know real history, especially when it comes to how minorities have fared both in this country or in the world.  Could anybody who has studied Jim Crow America ever claim that there's harmless humor in juxtaposing a Confederate flag and a noose? Or been very familiar with the real history of Native Americans (which means do more than just watch Disney's "Pocahontas.") and then think it'd be swell fun to have a Nava-Ho party? And after studying the Holocaust, would the idea of hosting a Bergen-Belsen Bash (Nazi uniforms and black and white prisoner garb required) ever occur to anybody sane?

Unlikely.  As it is, I don't think kids nowadays have a good grounding in history.  I know I sure didn't when I was in high school.  Back then, utter denial was the order of the day.  Yes, yes, we skimmed over Custer and the taming of the west, and slavery, but in the most superficial way.  And while I was living through a real-time Black History lesson (the civil rights struggle) it wasn't until I returned to  college much later, that the University required at least one class in Native American Studies or Black Studies.  (Now, I'm sure there's other disciplines in Women's studies, Chicano studies, etc. available).  Those classes and extensive reading on my own, gave me a far clearer picture of what being a minority in a majority culture is like.  How history can be used to distort and deny, how images and coded language can be used to send a message and so maintain control and how a smiley-faced fake history can maintain the status quo. 

And how, if all you know about "Indians" is dressing up as a turkey in your grade school Thanksgiving pageant, how easy it is to think Nava-Hos is funny.

Universities and Jr. Colleges find a real need to require students to take remedial math and English classes since many students just aren't prepared for college course work.  I would suggest maybe Cal Poly might want to offer a required workshop to all incoming freshman that would include Cultural Awareness, the dangers of alcohol abuse and a personal safety refresher lesson on rape/date rape.

The kids involved in this latest piece of nonsense are, I'm sure, good kids, who would not knowingly be cruel to anyone.  But because they really didn't know much of anything, it was easy to cross lines they were never taught were there.  When they know better, they'll do better.

Like all kids everywhere.    


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday's Muse

                                The world is charged with the grandeur of God. 
                                      It will flame out like shining from shook foil; . . . 
                                               Gerard Manley Hopkins  1844-1889

Friday, November 22, 2013

Where Were You?

Calhoun's Cannons

Fifty years ago today.  Seems odd to say that, but live long enough and there you are, saying "Fifty years ago . . ."

The media will spend the day filled with remembrance of JFK's assassination. It was a generational, historical and transformational watermark, an act that in many ways symbolized and created the new era to come. There was Before, then there was After.  And everything had  changed, changed utterly.

I was attending Art Center School, in L.A. and had taken off a semester to work in the shipping department of U.S. Electrical Motors. (They made all kinds of electrical motors, from tiny submersible pumps, small motors of all kinds, up to behemoths that needed cranes to lift.) On that November day I was in the shipping office, typing away at the Bill of Lading desk, when one of the linemen came into the office and announced that the President had been shot.

In the stunned  silence, one of my co-workers across the room, an older woman named Ruth, who was a self-declared political conservative and ill-disguised bigot, laughed out loud and clapped her hands and gleefully blurted out,  "Thank God somebody finally killed that son of a bitch!"

In the absolute, utter shocked silence that followed her remark, all heads turned to look at her.  She suddenly came to herself and realized what she had secretly felt was now out there in the room, in all its ugly, grotesque inappropriateness.  Embarrassed, she hastily started a muddled back-pedaling, but it was too late.  All of us in the room had heard what we had heard. 

Ruth's remarks truly shocked me at the time.  I didn't realize it then, but I had been given a glimpse into a strain of  reactionary darkness that ran then and still runs through American politics.  It's the bone deep racist, reactionary, paranoid, irrational hatred and malice, often hatred and malice for its own sake, that festers beyond reason, beyond  policy, beyond politics or practical reality. Ruth's remarks were not some isolated oddity either.  They would have been welcome in many areas of the country and certainly in enclaves of the unreconstructed South, a fact that had the Secret Service worried even as Kennedy's plane winged towards Dallas.  It was a face I would see again and again as the years went by and the country was roiled with rapid change and it's reactionary counterpoint.  It's a face I'm seeing now as our politics turns dangerously poisonous once again.

For the rest of it, as I had no TV, the ongoing, daily wall-to-wall visual coverage that many remember passed me by.  I kept up with the news via newspaper, radio and Life Magazine, media that had none of  the same visceral emotional impact that live TV must have had.  It wasn't until much later, in TV re-runs or documentaries that I saw the many famous moments, after the fact -- Walter Cronkite taking off his glasses,  Oswald being shot -- as "moving pictures."  And all of those famous scenes were experienced later, in the cool of time passed rather than real-time.  So my TV-less experience was very different, far less visceral from the way so many others experienced this event.  Just how different it was became clear to me much later when I witnessed the Challenger disaster and 9/11 on TV, in real time.

But one thing that did remain in my memory of that time was the feeling of  just how wrong this act was, how utterly wrong it all was.  I suspect the unease I felt was because I was beginning to understand just what the underlying message of that killing was.   This, Oswald's bullet seemed to say, This is how I negate all that this country stands for.  This is how easily I can change your rules, change your government, change your life, change your history.  This is the New Rule, Baby.  This is your future.

Fifty years ago today.  There was Before.  There was After.  It's a long time gone.  Yet not gone at all.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Call Somebody, Please?

Will somebody please permanently take George Zimmerman's guns away from him, at least?  That boy's out of control.  Got money problems, got anger management problems, wife-girlfriend-abuser problems, stalk-and-shoot problems.  Got driving-too-fast  problems. Do we need to start a George Zimmerman Betting Pool, gambling on the date when he'll kill again? In "self defense," of course.

Seems that boy can't stay out of the news.  Or out of trouble.  He's like a train just determined to have a wreck somewhere. And now everyone within a mile of him has to be on tenterhooks keeping out of his way.  "Look out!  Here comes George and his AK-47! Run Away!"  Need to have a judge somewhere declare he has to stay 100 yards away from everyone on the planet. That might help.  Until the NRA gifts him with a sniper rifle.

For sure, the NRA loves the guy, no doubt about it.  He's their poster child, the best example of the Second Amendment they've got going.  The founding fathers would be proud.  Stand-your-ground, no matter where it is!  That's the ticket.  Just move that ground line anywhere you want it to be.  Lock and load.  It was her fault.  She yelled at me and I was in fear for my life.  Ker-BLAM!  I stalked him until he turned around and came back to confront me and scared me so I shot him in self-defense.  Ker-BLAM! I don't know why everyone's so upset.  What's the problem?

Obviously, the girls love this bad boy.  True, his wife got scared after an alleged altercation involving guns and threats and she decamped.  But pretty quickly he got a new girlfriend, until he allegedly pointed a shotgun at her and she called 911.  Funny how silly these women are.  Little 'ol shotgun.  What's the fuss about?

This time, however, the cops hauled him away, he spent the night in the hoosegow accused of felony aggravated assault and two misdemeanors.  The judge took away his guns, slapped a satellite monitor on him and instructions to stay away from the girlfriend. Then his wife served divorce papers on him while he was in jail, his enabling family had to cough up the $9,000 bail since, as the Orlando Sentinel reports, he's already $2.5 million in debt (legal fees from the Trayvon Martin killing).  Then the judge kicked him loose and he's now back on the streets declaring it was all his girlfriend's fault. 

Which is why I say, can somebody get this boy some help here?  Guy's got problems and those problems are looking for trouble.  Real trouble.  And I'm afraid he's gonna keep looking until he finds it. And somebody else is gonna die. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Simon Legree Problem

The new movie, "12 Years a Slave," is one of those amazing films that you may not like but should see.  Chiwetel Ejiofor turns in a stunning performance as Solomon Northrup, a free black man living in New York, who was tricked, kidnapped and sold as a slave.  After 12 years, he manages to secure his freedom, returned to his family, wrote the book the film is based on and lectured on his experience, working with the abolitionists to end slavery. 

Ejiofor's powerful, moving performance is the heart and soul of the film and when the movie keeps it's focus on him, it manages to capture the horrors of what he endured better than any film about the antebellum south that I can think of.  And it is through his eyes we can experience some of the vast cruelty that this "peculiar institution" inflicted on millions of human beings. It is a stunning performance, supported by many others, with Lupitta Nyong'o bringing in a powerful performance as a young slave who became the obsession of the white planter, played by Michael Fassbender.

And there, in Fassbender's performance, is where I kept tripping over The Simon Legree Problem:  How do you portray, in film, the slave owners without sliding into a smiley-faced "Gone With The Wind" dishonesty or tipping over into the Grand Guignol of purest melodrama -- whisker-twirling, teeth-gnashing, drooling, eye-rolling, scenery-chewing, sexual sadists-with-a-whip buffoonery? 

Fassbender's made a career of playing kinky, edgy, conflicted characters, but in this role, the director kept him stuck in Johnny One Note mode -- a drunken, weak sexually frustrated sadist stuck in a bad marriage who spent far too much screen time thrashing around fuming and grinding his teeth. If that's your opening note, you don't have anyplace to go from there before you have only frothing at the mouth left.

And that's always been the problem with films trying to portray the experience of slavery.  It wasn't the Simon Legrees that made this "peculiar institution" so evil; it was the quiet absolute erasure of humaness for a whole group of people -- all justified by Scripture and self-interested economics and the human capacity to live with cognitive dissonance. White southerners didn't see themselves as monsters.  Indeed not.  They considered themselves good Christians maintaining a social/economic structure they viewed as just and right. (And not just "southerners." The power and riches of America, both north and south, were built on the backs of slaves.  And to keep their economic hegemony, the south would start a civil war. ) And, Yes, they would acknowledge, there were some "Legrees" among them, but they were no-accounts.  "Decent" slave holders were "good" to their slaves.  After all, one should care for one's property like one would care for a fine horse or a brace of oxen.

And that, for me, is where this film kept getting derailed.  In spending too much time on Fassbender's psycho-social problems, the director distracted the audience from so many far-more telling scenes that better illustrated the real horrors.  For example, Ejiofor is sold to a kindly slaveholder, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.  We watch as a female slave's two children are sold off in front of her.  Distressed, Cumberbatch also buys her. (She's wonderfully played by Adepero Oduyeone). She is still weeping when the two new purchases are brought to the plantation.  Cumberbatch's wife inquires why the new slave is weeping.  She is told that her children were sold away from her.  Cooly, and not unkindly, his wife says, Give her some food and she'll soon forget them.  The line is delivered with the kindly indifference one would use when speaking about a cow bawling for her newly removed calf.  Stop fussing. A little hay, and the creature will come right. 

You don't need to chew the furniture to portray the utter evil that underlay that calm scene. And so it went throughout the film.  As long as the camera stayed with Chiwetel's point of view, the audience could experience his horrifying journey in so many many little ways -- the betrayals, the loss of hope, the banality of indifferent brutality, the daily struggle to simply survive for another day, the utter denial of one's humanity.  All of which was, cumulatively, far more horrible than "Simon Legree's" scene-chewing brutalities.

Despite the Simon Legree Problem, the film is in so many ways, extraordinary, powerful, brave, deeply moving.  Come Academy Award time, Mr. Ejiofor will be at the top of the list..    

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

This by Joann Rusch from the new book of poetry published by our own Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay.  It's a second publishing venture by Coalesce Press and is a rare and wonderful thing -- a lovely book of poetry by four talented local poets.  "Where our palm rest . . ." poems by local Beverly Boyd, Carol Alma McPhee, Joann Rusch, Bonnie Young is available at Coalesce.

Signals in Space

Doors have closed, but windows,
cracked by the cold, have opened to sun
since the cold spring years ago
when you drifted to the sea.

I've tried vision quests, Monk's jazz
and Billie Holiday.  I've met new men
and old monastics and fallen in love
with grandchildren and with Charlie Rose
on late night TV in the bed that fit
better with you.

Now that you're on the other side, do you
still have a passion for questions
without answers?  I pray no repose
of the soul for you, captured in a plot
of earth.  Rather, I wish you startling
skies, planets aligning, and now and then
a paraboloid homing between us. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gotta Room?

My, but SLOTowners are a civilized bunch.  At least the 100 or so who showed up last night at the City Council chambers were; well-spoken, smart, witty and courteous, even on an issue as controversial as the recent "home stay" controversy.

SLOTown has an ordinance that forbids "vacation rentals," any home rented less than 30 consecutive days.  The ordinance is in place to keep homes from being bought up by speculators and turned into short-term Animal-Houses Isla Vista Summer Party Houses.  Forty percent of SLOTown's homes are long-term rentals -- in large measure Cal Poly students, but also many adult "workers" who also rent. The rental percent is a high enough number to keep neighborhoods in churn and homeowners unsettled and in fear that any change in the rules could send their neighborhoods into one long frat-house decline.

Which accounted for two groups to show up for a showdown.  The larger a group called itself SLO Host and were private homeowners who, for years, have been quietly renting out a room or two in their house for tourists.  (Or, in many cases, offering their extra bedrooms for visiting musicians coming to the community as part of the Festival Mosaic and other cultural events.)  This practice really took off with the internet and companies such as Airbnb.  Tourists could now easily book a room in somebody's home and likely save a bit over a higher end hotel, but also have the experience of staying with a host family.  Since this was all under the radar, unlike hotels/motels, the Home Stayers paid no Transient Occupancy Taxes.

 And, as the economy tanked, many more people found themselves needing the extra cash that came with "home stays." This was also all  part of what's being considered  "the new economy," the "sharing generation," the younger, internet-connected generation realizing that you don't necessarily need to "own" stuff; you can share/loan/rent and often end up with a far more interesting experience (and dollars in your pocket.)  All part of what's being called a Peer to Peer business model.

So lots of people throughout the town quietly welcomed travelers in violation of the vacation rental ordinances but with no discernable problems being reported until somebody complained. Nine someones, to be exact. Well, more like 4 non-specific complaints about the whole "home stay" idea in general, and 5 actual complaints with a specific address listed.  Among the complaints listed were the usual ones about parking, noise and this deliciously odd complaint  -- the apparently unsettling " problem" to one complainer of "strangers wandering the neighborhood."  This brought a few snickers since anyone using the public sidewalks, taking a stroll, walking the dog, visiting a friend, has the potential to be a "stranger wandering the neighborhood."  

On the "complainers" side of the issue, was a group of homeowners who are the "Residents for Quality Neighborhoods (RQN), a watchdog group mainly concerned with keeping neighborhoods for homeowners as part of an effort to keep those neighborhoods safe and stable, thereby protecting their homes and their property values. The RQNs  listed a series of sliding slope concerns, from "strangers wandering," to Frat Boy Animal House Isla Vista Summer Party Blowout disintegration of neighborhoods, drunken, loud foreigners wandering around at all hours, making noise, scaring the dogs, and other ills that can slowly grow from ordinance changes that aren't regulated carefully and can creep up on a neighborhood while nobody's looking.

In short, the room was filled with good arguments on all sides and filled to the brim with context, subtext and nuance and often unconscious reactions to our disturbed and disturbing zeitgeist:  There's ongoing  Town and Gown issues, a long simmering battle in SLOTown with a growing Cal Poly enrollment turning into the real elephant in the room.  And class divisions, "Haves" having the luxury of large homes that can be quietly rented out, while regular working people can't afford to even get into SLOTown's housing market. (Or, conversely the irony of former "Haves" financially needing to become inn keepers and housemaids in their own homes, servants waiting on paying customers from . . . eeeuuuu, France!)  Fear of  a permanently altered economy that's changing all the rules, turning "The Happiest Place on Earth" into a tourist playground for the rich, all others need not apply.  All forming around a changing demographic and generational mind-set that's new and unsettling and can't help to ramp up unspoken and often unrealistic anxieties.

Despite that potentially explosive stew, all the SLOTowners kept their admirable cool and the City Council moved quickly.  The general consensus was a kind of  "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It" combined with, "Let's refine this ordinance carefully to allow this new business, watch it carefully (get some nice tax money), use our traditional nuisance ordinances if there's any problems, but keep the door firmly shut on a far bigger elephant -- 'vacation rentals.' Then see how it goes." 

So, if you're a SLOTowner with rooms to rent to travelers, you're good to go.  The fine print will be crafted and clarified.  If you live elsewhere and want to do the same, you'll have to check our local ordinances and go visit your city councils or the BOS.  Who knows, if this type of business works out well for everyone, it might go countywide.

It's a brave new world, a connected world, and The Happiest Place On Earth, whose economy is heavily dependent on the tourist dollar, needs to get with it.  So, stock the guest soaps and towels and little chocolates for the pillow and we'll soon become The Happy Inkeeper to the World.  

Bring 'em on!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

This by Mary Oliver from her lovely, lovely 2012 collection, "A Thousand Mornings," (Penguin, 2012) available in paperback, so get down to your local bookstore.  Christmas is coming and your friends deserve a nice book of poems for the new year and this one's a gem.

Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don't say
it's easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?
So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Movie Time

Robert Redford's new one-man movie, "All is Lost," is an  extraordinary tour de force.  There's a few words spoken by Redford reading from a letter at the beginning of the film and a one-word cri de coeur near the end.  The rest of the film is the sound of the sea, of water, of sounds made by a man on a deadly race against time and tide to survive against increasingly impossible odds.

Redford gives a powerful performance, the portrait of a self-sufficient, immensely competent man who methodically faces down each obstacle that arrives, stubbornly refusing to give in to despair or failure or panic,  bulldogging to the end with the quiet problem-solving determination of a test pilot in a broken jet hurtling to earth -- no panic, total focus, try this, try that, -- until, in the words of Tom Wolfe, the plane "augers in."  

The cinematography is spectacular, especially its use of scale (the small boat, the immensity of the sea) to illustrate the fragility of life and the utter indifference of nature. Or the use of scale as subtext.  In one scene, Redford's in the lifeboat and desperately trying to head into the shipping lanes in hopes of attracting attention from any passing ships.  Eventually, a cargo container ship comes his way but it is so immense, so towering, so closed off from it's surroundings so as to be a self contained universe all its own -- a behemoth too gigantic to notice a tiny life raft and a small desperate human.

That scene also recalls to mind that it was a floating container filled with tennis shoes, likely fallen off a similar cargo ship, a huge hunk of indifferent flotsam that put our sailor in peril in the first place by bumping into his boat and puncturing the hull: An indifferent, random, pointless, encounter in the middle of nowhere.

"All is Lost," is a riveting film; tense, exciting, scary, unsettling, beautiful, awesome, despairing, heartbreaking, exhausting, and triumphant.  Unforgettable. Don't miss it.     

Monday, November 04, 2013

Letters, We Get and Send . . . Letters . . .

Uh, oh.  Ron Crawford's up to more mischief. Keeps asking Zen koan-ish annoying questions that are unaswerable:

"Los Osos Makes Property Tax History: "More than 4,000" LO Property Owners Set to be Fleeced (Again), Starting Today, Nov 1, 20013"

Well, I can report that his posted story has a small update.   Seems Los Osos residents (and CDO recipients) Beverly and Bill Moylan received a copy of  Ron's 9/10/13 email to Supervisor Gibson, asking his persistent and (I'm sure) annoying questions, and wrote a little note of their own to Gibson in response.  I did too. Thought it would be interesting to see if anybody knew just how much of the original assessment dollars went to pay for the fake Ponds of Avalon and how much was left that could be transferred to pay for a real sewer.   (emails stacked in order, below)   Supervisor Gibson was kind enough to write back.  His answer was simple: The LOCSD did it.  

Since I doubt anybody really knows or, cares, except as a matter of mere historical curiosity, (or amusement), or is willing to find out, here's what I believe to be the most truthful thing anybody can say about this particular issue: Los Osos homeowners voted to assess themselves to pay X$$ for something that they believed was "sewerish."  Then they voted to assess themselves to pay more $$$ for a real sewer, the one that is being built now.   

Case closed.

 Unless Ron starts sending emails of inquiry to the LOCSD as part of a document research project . . . .  Letters . . . we get letters . . . .     

Ron's 9/10/13 Letter to Supervisor Gibson
Hello Supervisor Gibson,

Sorry to bother you again, but I never received a reply to my email below (sent on 5/13/13), and now it's getting down to crunch time, because, starting on Nov. 1, when the next round of property taxes becomes due, "more than 4,000" Los Osos property owners are about to be fleeced AGAIN, when they are forced to pay the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment fraud... again.

Apparently, Los Osos has made tax assessment history. I have now spoken with three county officials, and searched the heck out of Google, and no one seems to have ever heard of this happening before: Where property owners pass an assessment for a public works project, however, years later, it turns out that the so-called "project" was based on nothing but fraud, and, therefore, it was never built (because it was based on nothing but fraud), yet, the property owners are still paying for it... for another 20 years.

And because of that unprecedented-ness, no one seems to know what to do in this situation.

Today, I spoke with Jim Hamilton at the County Auditor's office, and he told me that now it is too late to remove the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" line from the "more than 4,000" Los Osos PZ property tax bills that are set to be mailed out next month.

So, here's what I recommend:

The County needs to conduct some sort of audit (or whatever) that shows exactly which parts of the LOCSD's $25 million worth of their sewer "project" design that the County was able to salvage for its project -- collection system plans, environmental documents, etc. -- and what the County didn't use, like the LOCSD's "infeasible" mid-town sewer plant/"picnic area" -- a VERY expensive-to-design (and begin construction on) treatment facility, that turned out to be based on nothing but fraud (as my reporting has repeatedly shown over the past decade), and, therefore, will never exist.

In other words, how much of the $25 million that the 2000 - 2005 LOCSD spent (read: wasted) on the Tri-W "sewer-park" fraud was the county able to salvage for its project?

$1 million? $10 million? Zero?

Once that audit is complete, it will show how much of the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment money actually went to a real sewer project, and how much went to the LOCSD's fraud.

Only then will we know if the PZ property owners, that have been paying that fraud-based assessment since 2003/04, are TODAY actually funding real sewer project related stuff, or they are now only funding the fraud, and will continue to fund that fraud until the year 2034.

This is also very important: If that audit is not complete by November 1, and considering that it is now too late to remove the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" line from the next property tax bill, I also recommend that the Board of Supervisors direct the tax collector's office to go ahead and collect the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment (starting on Nov. 1), however, instead of using that money to pay off the bond holders (whose names are heretofore unknown, despite my numerous attempts to acquire that information), the County establish some sort of special account, where the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" funds are held until the audit determines whether or not more than 4,000 Los Osos property owners are actually paying for REAL sewer project related design information with the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment, or whether they are now simply being fleeced twice a year, by funding the fraud, and, if it's the latter, then that entire assessment now needs to disappear completely, ASAP, and the funds held in that special account returned to the property owners.
So, again, is that something you can help with?

The clock is ticking: Only 51 days until November 1, when "more than 4,000" Los Osos property owners are set to be fleeced... again.

Thank you for your time,

Moylan's  Letter To Supervisor Gibson

Dear Supervisor Gibson,

We are in receipt of Mr. Ron Crawford's insightful message to you of 9/10/2013 regarding the annual LOCSD WASTE TREATMT assessment of approximately $225 that has appeared on the tax bills of Los Osos Prohibition Zone households since the 2003/2004 tax year and will continue to appear on our tax bills until the 2033/2034 tax year. We have copied his message below for your reference, especially since he has indicated having received no response from you on this disturbing matter after more than a month.

Mr. Crawford has demonstrated on his blog, and in previous correspondence with you, Mr. Gibson, how the original Tri-W ponding project, the prime reason for the formation of the LOCSD, had already failed before the election that formed the LOCSD. According to Mr. Crawford, this outcome means that the original vote to form the LOCSD occurred for no reason, since the point of the LOCSD was to bring that specific Tri-W ponding plan to fruition on that specific site. 

We supported the formation of the LOCSD to carry out the Tri W ponding project, because all the meetings that we attended and all the promotional literature we read at that time showed the ponding system of wastewater treatment to be clearly superior to the County's conventional WWP in Los Osos. What we did not know at the time, and what Mr. Crawford's blog has pointed out, was that the CCRWQCB had already rejected the ponding project at the Tri W site before the election to form the CSD, rendering our vote pointless and the election itself essentially a "fraud."  Following the election the project quickly morphed, was no longer the project we had voted for and expected, and became a completely different project. We were promised a "drop-dead gorgeous" ponding park - and we got a conventional sewer plant - in the center of town.

It is my understanding that the annual LOCSD WASTE TREATMT assessment pays for that failed Tri-W project, which the County itself rejected as "infeasible." It seems shocking now to discover how the agencies involved in overseeing the LOWWP failed to find the revised project to be "infeasible" years before its being turned over to the County for completion, especially given Mr. Crawford's documented evidence that agencies essentially trusted the LOCSD, but did not verify. That agency failure before the fact burdens us and our neighbors with the annual LOCSD WASTE TREATMT assessment of approximately $225 per Prohibition Zone household for which we receive in return absolutely nothing.

For seemingly complicated but actually quite simple reasons the people of Los Osos are paying for a WWP that was never going to work, and that a powerful state agency told the project's developers was never going to be approved because it was not going to work, before it left the drawing board. Duped into voting for a CSD and an already-failed WWP by misleading statements by community leaders, as Mr. Crawford's blog reports with nothing but primary sources, Los Osos appears to be caught in a scam that has defrauded our community out of millions of dollars to date and will continue to defraud us for the next 20 years. 

Given that Prohibition Zone residents have apparently enjoyed little or no benefit from this assessment, and given that the County is the agency of record in collecting this assessment, we echo Mr. Crawford's request that the County order an audit of the annual LOCSD WASTE TREATMT  assessment as it appears on our annual tax bills. Mr. Crawford's final request below is ours, too.

"This is also very important: If that audit is not complete by November 1, and considering that it is now too late to remove the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" line from the next property tax bill, I also recommend that the Board of Supervisors direct the tax collector's office to go ahead and collect the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment (starting on Nov. 1), however, instead of using that money to pay off the bond holders (whose names are heretofore unknown, despite my numerous attempts to acquire that information), the County establish some sort of special account, where the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" funds are held until the audit determines whether or not more than 4,000 Los Osos property owners are actually paying for REAL sewer project related design information with the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment, or whether they are now simply being fleeced twice a year, by funding the fraud, and, if it's the latter, then that entire assessment now needs to disappear completely, ASAP, and the funds held in that special account returned to the property owners."

It is our hope hope that other Prohibition Zone property owners will come forward, as well, to support you in requesting this audit.

Thank you for your time,

Beverley De Witt-Moylan
William Moylan

My Missive
Well, since this was such fun, I had to drop Supervisor Gibson a note as well:

Dear Board of Supervisors,

Like Ms. Moylan (below) I too would like to know exactly how much assessment money is still being collected on what was essentially a fraudulent election and fraudulent assessment. An audit should be able to show what portion of that assessment money was actually utilized (by the present County's project) and what was wasted by the deceptively linked CSD/ Ponding project.

It's clear to me that elected officials, regulatory oversight and/or law enforcement agencies don't care about the "fraud" that happened here.  But $225 per year per household is a very tidy sum and at the very least, the citizens of Los Osos deserve to know how much of the  assessment for that particular, original "fraud" is costing them, (and will continue to cost them for the next 20 years while delivering no benefits. ) and  how much of that amount actually is a received benefit.


Ann Calhoun 

And herewith:
Gibson's Reply.

In response to your emails regarding the assessment levied by the LOCSD for
their wastewater project, let me review again the situation;

1.  That assessment was proposed solely by the LOCSD and voted on (per Prop
218 ) by residents within the PZ.  The county has and had no authority over
the expenditure of those funds.

2.  Whether or not anyone believes there was "fraud" involved, the county
has no mechanism or authority to do anything more than an examination of
the books and records of the LOCSD.  This type of audit would not provide
anything more than information that is already publically available.
Concerns regarding the expenditure of the earlier bond proceeds should be
raised with the current LOCSD Board.

3.  We do know that at least some funds from that assessment were used to
purchase the Mid Town and Broderson sites.  Through the provisions of AB
2701, those sites were transferred to the County and are now part of the

If you have any further questions please feel free to call my office