That's what Tribune columnist Bob Cuddy called the Board of Supervisor meetings -- Trollosphere, "that shadowy online world where sad, twisted losers project the frustrations of their failed lives onto normal people by insulting them viciously in comment sections on the Internet."
Bob forgot to note that in real Troll-World, the sad, twisted losers are almost always "anonymous," whereas the people who earned Bob's ire were standing at the BOS podium during Public Comment and had identified themselves. And while their Trollish comments aren't being broadcast via radio, their faces are on camera for online streaming of the meetings. So, hardly "anonymous."
But, yes, according to Bob's March 24th column,"Supervisors beset with a toxic air"
( http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/02/23/2404474/toxic-mix-at-the-board-of-supervisors.html ) the Board is now further mired into a deeper mud puddle, so it's become the gift that keeps on giving; to board watchers and columnists, at least.
Underlying the grumbling ill-will is, of course, the remnants of the Hideous Sewer Wars. Over that we added the often ridiculous spectacle of Adam Hill and his intemperate temper issues, followed by Bruce Gibson's, uh, lady-friend debacle, followed by the election of Debbie Arnold who waltzed in to immediately challenge the Old Gentleman's Club of too cozy logrolling committeeship/chair appointments. Which got the old boys huffing like Senator Cleghorn Foghorn --"Now, now, li'l Lady, I suggest ya'all are new here so ah think y'all need to take a seat ovah there an' keep quiet 'till y'all can learn how we'all do thangs in this heah chamber."
Which surely didn't endeared the Board to Ms. Arnold or Ms. Arnold to the Board. Cuddy thinks that there's "a lot of blame to go around. Gibson's behavior and Adam Hill's sharp tongue are factors. But a significant cause of the venom is clearly the behavior of Arnold and the enraged people who back her." Cuddy also adds, "The Arnold crowd has significant policy difference with Gibson, Hill and more regulation-oriented board members and staff."
Which raises an immediate question: What evidence does Cuddy offer that Arnold's backers (who have significant policy differences) are "enraged?" I couldn't find any in his column; perhaps that will be forthcoming.
Meanwhile, what seemed to get Cuddy's goat about last Tuesday's meeting was two-fold: Tom Salmon, who has demonstrated intemperate temperament issues of his own, got up during public comment and referred to Gibson's girlfriend/aide as a "whore" and a "prostitute," and Chairman Teixeira tried to shush Salmon (good luck with that) which prompted several Los Ososian Sewerites into hollering about free speech during Public Comment. Sigh.
After which, Cuddy reports, Debbie Arnold thanked Salmon for his comments, "assuring him that each of the five supervisory offices is autonomous and that the inhabitants therein conduct themselves differently," thereby attempting to pull her skirt hems away from the Gibson mud pile. While everyone else sat on their hands wishing Gibson into the corn field and, I'm guessing, rolling their eyes like trapped feral cats.
Well, what else can anyone expect? Those three minutes of public comment have always been often dangerous [but powerfully protected] I.E.Ds. in the hands of the crazy, the disgruntled, the bone-pickers, the furious, the righteous and the concerned. And the power of that I.E.D. is fueled by divisive issues and/or disgraceful behavior by those in power. In this case, the burr under the public's saddle is Supervisor Gibson' bad behavior which was followed by his successfully gaming the system to suit his needs -- the public (and his fellow Supervisors) be damned. There's nothing like it for fueling fury and for creating chronically hostile Board meetings, since the burr remains firmly under the saddle and fellow Supervisors are stuck with keeping silent, (and incurring public criticism for that silence) or speaking out (and having Bob Cuddy accuse them of "poking a finger in [a fellow board members's] eye).
Truly a disagreeable set of Hobson's Choices, all of which turns the BOS into TrollVille. And The Gibson Problem will remain in place until he and/or his girlfriend/aide resign, which will happen when pigs fly. One thing for sure is this: Both Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson have publicly demonstrated they are not in control of themselves, are blind to the iron Rule of Caesar's Wife that comes with public office, and, as a result, have showed extremely poor judgement. If past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior, I think the public has a perfect right to consider, question, reference past behavior whenever a supervisor is considering and/or voting on some complex, contentious issue that requires good judgement, since that vote (and that judgement) will affect the public.
Meantime, our BOS is in for some lively times. Especially with the new so-called "enraged" Arnold crowd . . . whoever those people might be . . . joining the usual suspects. . Keep your seat belts fastened.