Sunday, March 30, 2014

Holy Mud Puddle

Thank God Darren Aronofsky got Russell Crowe to star in his wet hot mess of a movie, “Noah.”  Crowe’s massive presence and incredible skill at playing men much put upon and beset by trials and tribulations keeps the film from sinking into total silliness.  Like Kevin Costner, -–remember “The Postman? -- Crow has a rare gift for making the viewer think that, no matter what it is, Crowe actually believes it in that moment.  And since film is made up of moments, many moments, it’s enough to convince me and keep me seated. 

And “Noah” needed everything Crowe could bring to this fascinating, awful, ridiculous, moving, powerful, silly movie. 

We’re all pretty familiar with the story – God, man’s wickedness, the animals, rain, a dove – but the story in the Bible is only two pretty straightforward chapters.  That’s it. And no explanations.  A few minutes reading and you’re done.  But a movie has got to last two hours and has to ‘splain things, and so Aronofsky had to cook stuff up.  Like The Watchers, fallen angels who were punished by God for the sin of helping mankind, and were turned into waddling Transformers made of chunks of stone, one of which was voiced by a rumbling, growly Nick Nolte, if you can picture that.

So now we’ve got God, man’s wickedness, the animals, rain, a dove and . . . . Transformers!  You see something like that and you gotta  say to yourself, “Maudie, I think we’re in for some kind of wild ride here.”

Well, really, what can you do with this story that a few sci-fi bits wouldn’t help?  And special effects, and fabulous CGI work (all the animals were computer pixels, speaking of which, spoiler alert: The Noahs, Fred and Wilma, cooked up some herbal concoction and smudged the whole ark, putting all the animals into a deep sleep, which neatly solved the problem of poop, massive piles of poop  being popped out for 150 days And dog and cat fights and seasick elephants trumpeting in fear and lurching from one side of the ship to the other like shifting ballast in high seas.)

And, this being a spectacle, there were way cool explosions, creepy symbolic visions, requisite battle scenes out of Game of Thrones With Rain and a preposterously wonderful ark, the building of which caused it’s own back story.

Seems the movie was filmed in Iceland (Better visuals to indicate the crappy state of the earth and how beset and put upon Noah and his family were.  Also no explanations of where their rather large yurt came from since they were only carrying small backpacks ), which means we had a terrible, bare hardscrabble landscape with no trees.  So early on I was on alert wondering how they were gonna write their way out of that problem; Ark, wood . . .  no trees.

Well, silly me.  That’s where the screenwriters and the CGI boys come in: Methuselah (Noah’s grandfather (Anthony Hopkins), who had been living in a cave.  Don’t ask.) has a magic seed that when planted suddenly causes a whole forest to spring up, so, ka-boom, trees!
See how it goes? 

Unfortunately, the problem of patching plot holes wasn’t as easy to accomplish when it came to the “issues” going on with Noah’s family.  For some odd reason, the screenwriters conflated the story of Noah with the story of Abraham and Issac.

In the Bible, Noah and his wife and their sons Shem, Ham, Japeth and their three wives entered the ark.   They and their wives and all the animals were saved so they could repopulate the world.   In the film, Noah decided that God only wanted to save the animals .  And in this version, the sons had no wives, only a rescued young lady whose reproductive organs were damaged, which meant that there was only one fertile female (Mom) so the race of man would just die out.  So now we had a “family situation” going on: One son gets child-free nooky, the other son doesn’t.   Enter Methuselah (again!) and he magically fixes the young girl and she gets pregnant.

And suddenly we’re bang in the middle of Abraham’s narrative:  Noah declares that God chose him to make sure that mankind dies off (providing nobody looked at Mom and figured out she was capable of begetting.)  So if the baby was a son, it would live, if a girl, Noah would kill it and so carry out God’s commandment.
Oh, the drama! And with much wailing and hollering, twin girls are born and what’s a crazed Grandpaw to do? 

Well, this is Hollywood in the 21st century, not BCE, when the God of the Old Testament was as changeable and terrifying as a Bridezilla on PMS.  So, unlike Abraham, whose murderous hand was stayed by God only because Abraham was actually willing to kill his son, in this muddled script, Noah fails God’s instructions (kill all mankind) and finds his hand stayed by “Love,” a New Testament concept seriously out of time and place to the original story.

What am I saying?  We have Noah and Transformers, so, sure, “Love.”  O.K. Fine. Fine.
And that’s where Russell Crow always earns his fabulous salary.  A man seriously beset who somehow endures and prevails and triumphs.


Oh, and the angelic Transformers?  Before dying in battle, Nick Nolte begs God’s forgiveness  and ZAP! all the fallen angels are returned to their fiery glory and zipped up to heaven like reverse comets.

Which made me wonder, “Why didn’t they ask sooner?  Would have saved a good deal of time painfully shuffling around encrusted with mud and rocks.”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

2 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Two Funerals, One Kleenex

Opening the paper yesterday brought a real shock:  Bill Yates, former Morro Bay Mayor, had died after a long battle with lung cancer.  He was only 66 and I feel so sad for what his family must be going through now. It's an awful loss.

It seems only a brief while ago that Bill and Bill (Morem) and I were fellow scrivners at the now defunct Sun Bulletin, Morem the assistant editor and Yates and I scribbling away on our columns. And I remember well when he and his wife opened their beautiful jewelery store, Zephyrine, in the new Marina Square complex.  The store gleamed with diamonds, gold, silver. I always thought it odd that Morro Bay could support such a high-end store, but obviously enough tourists and locals headed in their door so it thrived.

When Bill got into politics, I'd see him often around town.  He was unmistakable, a large, smiling man, eyes twinkiling with amusement, as if everything he saw going on was great fun.  And he could be spotted a mile away.  Who else in town wore those signature colorful Hawaiian shirts?  The term "booming" comes to my mind when I think of Bill, though he was actually quite soft-spoken.

His four terms as Mayor covered a lot of Morro Bay's recent history -- remember the massively frustrating, delayed, wrangled-over, finally finished "Twin Bridges?"  It must have taken a LOT of humor to have gotten through that tangled mess.  Or to get through Morro Bay Politics in general. And anybody familiar with Morro Bay Politics knows what I'm talking about.  And I'm sure his humor must have failed at times when Morro Bay's own "Sewer Wars" erupted and the community headed for a Coastal Commission Train Wreck.  I would sidle up to him at those meetings and say, "Bill, I have two words for you:  "Los . . .  Osos."  And he'd laugh.

In the middle of all this politicking and mayoring, Bill went on hiatus; He got on his boat and sailed off to sea in his sloop, "Obsession," to try to sail solo across the Pacific.  And that's the way I will now hold him in my memory -- his earthly suffering over, his boat is running clear and free, the zephyrs are cool, the sea gleaming, and there's nothing ahead but crystalline weather and beauty all around him. And he's smiling.  And, yes, wearing one of the loudest, most colorful Hawaiian shirts in the universe. 

And Then There's Fred Phelps 

On the same day that Bill's death was in the paper, so was the announcement of the death of the appalling "preacher," Rev. Fred Phelps, head of his own ugly cult, The Westboro Baptist Church.  Phelps, you will remember, used to show up with his small gaggle of followers to picket funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq or Afghanistan.  They'd carry signs declaring that God hated the soldier who was being buried that day, or signs saying "God Loves IED's" or "God Hates Fags", and so forth.  From military funerals, the cult followers (i.e. his children) moved on to staging ugly, hate-filled protests everywhere for any reason whatsoever, carrying signs that God hated whatever and whoever.  Phelps was particularly loathsome when it came to gay people and finally ended up declaring that God hated America because America actually allowed gay citizens to live here. 

The first response I had to reading of Phelps' death was to gleefully wonder if thousands of people would show up at his funeral carrying signs saying, "Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish," but that would have been hateful and would have just perpetuated the Ugly Cycle of call and response, Tit for Tat.   

But Rachel Maddow, on her show last night, had a far more wonderful (and accurate) take on what Phelps' sick hatred actually accomplished.  Instead of hating Phelps back, people started mocking, then laughing.  Rachel showed photo after photo of very clever people who started showing up at Phelps' numerous picket lines with signs of their own, signs that said "God Hates Figs," with the Biblical reference given (Yes, apparently God does hate figs.  I have no idea why, but it's in the Bible, so you have been warned.)  Or they'd show up with a huge sign saying "God Hates Signs."  One after another, people started to top one other with witty riffs on the "God Hates" meme.  It soon became one big hilarious Photo Op. 

And instead of giving Phelps' ugly hatred some kind of hateful opposition, thereby casting him in the role of martyr, their clever mockery made Phelps a fool, a risible fool. And made his premise, "God Hates . . . . (fill in the blanks)" the one big absurd joke it actually was.  And while Phelps marched in one direction, the country was marching in the opposite direction.

As for Phelps himself, God will deal with him, I'm sure.  And when He does, I hope He'll pay particular attention to Phelps' most profound sin:  He poisoned his own children's minds with his own sick hatred. That's unforgivable.

There's an old  Native American saying, "When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.  Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice."

In this case, there will be two funerals, but we'll only need one Kleenex. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dear Mr. Packard

Below is a letter by CDO Recipient R3-200601041, Bev Moylan, to Harvey Packard and the Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Harvey, one of the staff architects who helped create the cruel and ridiculous disaster that was the RWQCB's  "Mad Hattter Tea Party and Torquemada's CDO Auto de Fe Show Trial" that prosecuted The Los Osos 45. There are new members on the Board now, including a new Chairman, and I can only hope that some of  the more absurd aspects of this appalling regulatory abuse and comic-opera farce so clearly outlined here will prove to be a revelation to them.  A revelation and a unique opportunity to finally do the right thing here and, by removing these CDO's, help in some small measure to repair the damage done by the Board to itself, to this community and to these 45. 

There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.  And now is that time.
Dear Mr. Packard,

     Attached is my response to the invitation you extended seeking contributions from the community for your consideration in making your May Water Board presentation concerning the status of the Los Osos CDO’s.
     Please note that I have Cc:'d members of the Water Board in my correspondence and must rely on the good graces of Mr. Michael Thomas to forward it to them, as email contact information for the Water Board is unavailable. I have copied this email to the SLO County Board of Supervisors and the LOCSD, who may have an interest in the discussion. The CDO recipients, interested party, and community members listed at the end of my letter to you have been Bcc:’d in the email in the event that some of them may not appreciate having their personal contact information displayed in the public record.
     Thank you for this opportunity to contribute to the discussion of how to approach the "Los Osos 45” CDO’s, given the events of the past eight years.
     I urge you to reach out to the community as soon as possible, considering your March 31 deadline, using the considerable means at the water Board’s disposal to encourage participation from a broad spectrum of respondents. To rely on our contacts is to have extremely limited community outreach as you will see from the Cc: list at the end of my attachment.
     For your convenience a hard copy will follow this email.

Beverley De Witt-Moylan,  CDO#R3-2006-1041

Bev's Letter to Harvey:

CDO #R3-2006-1041
1516 17th Street
Los Osos, CA 93402
March 13, 2014
Mr. Harvey Packard, Enforcement Coordinator
Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101
San Luis Obispo, CA. 93401-7906

Dear Mr. Packard,   
     Recently you wrote my husband, William Moylan, about your plan to approach the CCRWQCB at their May 2014 meeting to make a recommendation on the 2006/2007 “Los Osos 45” CDO’s. Your message invited participation from him and from the community. (“If you or anyone else interested in the situation would like to provide input toward my recommendation, please provide that information to me by March 31.”) My husband told you in a recent email that our contacts in the community are limited, making it impossible for him to communicate your intentions community-wide or even CDO-wide. Given your deadline, I hope that you will contact the community without further delay, especially CDO recipients, to solicit their ideas.
      As a CDO recipient I appreciate this opportunity to contribute my thoughts to your Board presentation. I heartily support a proposal that the Water Board consider removing the punitive and costly “Los Osos 45” CDO’s. Thank you in advance for acknowledging receipt of this message and for your prompt response to my comments.
     Below are points for the Board’s consideration to support removal of the 2006/2007 Los Osos Cease and Desist Orders. 

 1) Limiting Los Osos CDO prosecutions to 45 out of approximately 4500 Prohibition Zone families:

     As you are aware, Mr. Packard, Water Board records demonstrate that my husband and I have consistently complied with the terms of our CDO. Since 2006 we have paid for three pumping cycles. Before the Los Osos sewer is scheduled to go on line, another cycle will be due. Newer Water Board members should understand that the thousands of dollars spent to comply with CDO requirements since 2006 represent an expense exclusive to the 45 targeted CDO families.
     Newer Water Board members may have the same difficulty we did comprehending the clean-water rationale behind choosing just 45 families out of approximately 4500 to clean the waters of Los Osos. Newer Board members may be aware that the Water Board began those 45 CDO prosecutions in January 2006 and imposed no further CDO’s in Los Osos after the successful sewer assessment vote in 2007. They may appreciate why some believe that the aim of the CDO prosecutions in Los Osos was, in fact, a YES vote on that 218 sewer assessment. Whatever the original intent, the small number of CDO enforcement orders has been as effective as no enforcement orders at all in cleaning the groundwater basin in Los Osos.

2) Random enforcement:

     Newer Board members need to know that the term, “random enforcement” was only loosely applied to the 2006/2007 Los Osos CDO prosecution. Some commercial properties use significantly more water than any single family home and are more likely to degrade groundwater quality. Yet no commercial property in Los Osos became a target for a proposed CDO in that enforcement action. At the same time, home businesses were not exempted.
     The proposed CDO required all defendants to disclose to the Water Board in early 2006 the names of all residents on their property or face heavy daily fines. Because of that requirement, the Prosecution Team and the Board knew that some households, like ours, were comprised of just one or two people, many of us not at home during the day. While some small households were being prosecuted at random for polluting the groundwater, other homes housing large groups and families escaped enforcement. One neighbor on our block operated a daycare. A house across the street from us had four adults in residence, two of them stay-at-home, along with four young children. A college rental on our block housed up to ten people per night. At their frequent parties many more used that septic system. Another neighboring home was the off-and-on residence of up to six adults. Except for a now long-vacant house across the street from ours, no other property on our block but our two-person household has a CDO with its frequent pumping requirement.
    Newer Water Board members surely understand that distance to groundwater can play a role in water quality. In the random CDO prosecutions, however, distance to groundwater was not considered, because site-specific evidence was irrelevant in choosing CDO targets. Homes sited much too far above groundwater for seepage to occur received the same CDO enforcement with the same pumping schedule as those much closer to groundwater.
     The unscientific selection of random targets for individual CDO enforcement provides only accidental opportunities for water quality improvement. Random CDO prosecution to address basin-wide water quality makes no environmental sense.

3) The conduct of the prosecution:

     Instead of utilizing a more moderate community-wide mechanism to achieve a potentially reasonable clean-water outcome, the Prosecution Team went directly for extremely limited random application of the high-impact Cease and Desist Order with its inherent threats of up to $5000/day fines and the possibility of referral to the California Attorney General for criminal prosecution should the sewer project stall. This tactic was the clean water solution the 2006/2007 Water Board visited on 45 law-abiding, taxpaying families to address water quality in Los Osos in 2006/2007. Those orders and those conditions persist to this day. As newer Water Board members may imagine, daily exposure to this toxic influence for more than eight years has resulted in personal consequences to health, relationships, family life, work, and school. Any hint of a potential sewer project delay affects us, but our CDO has no measurable effect on water quality in Los Osos.
     The Prosecution Team’s approach to evidence was to introduce no site-specific data beyond a Prohibition Zone address. The 2006/2007 Water Board did not require nor consider site-specific evidence in rendering its CDO judgments. Whether a household was two feet or a hundred feet above groundwater, whether a single person working outside the home or a large group used a septic system, whether a septic system was malfunctioning and seeping into groundwater or was functioning perfectly, all were irrelevant to the 2006/2007 charges of groundwater pollution.
     To make an informed decision in response to your proposal, Mr. Packard, newer Water Board members need to grasp that the 2006/2007 Water Board and staff made no attempt to find pollution and fix it. Imposition of CDO’s was the sole goal, and the record demonstrates that a Prohibition Zone address was the sole requirement for successful prosecution of the proposed CDO’s. In considering the CDO’s today, newer Water Board members will note that without site-specific pollution evidence and site-specific remediation plans the Los Osos CDO’s do not serve the purpose for which CDO’s were intended.
     Newer Board members are likely unaware that after issuing proposed CDO’s in January 2006 the Water Board encouraged defendants to work together to prepare their defenses from stacks of disorganized documents located in a back room on site and sometimes on the CCRWQCB web site. You no doubt remember, Mr. Packard, and can apprise the newer Board members of how, with the careful appearance of proper procedure, the 2006/2007 Water Board led defendants to believe that they had a fair chance to avoid a CDO judgment with a well-researched defense.
     As Mr. Jeffries, Mr. Young, and you are well aware, Mr. Packard, but newer Board members may not be, defendants discovered that whether they appeared at their hearings with a solid defense supported by expert testimony, whether they failed to appear and took a judgment by default, or whether they simply did not respond in any way to the proposed CDO notice, all defendants received the same judgment. It became clear when the individual hearings began, and the Water Board issued blanket CDO’s, that no defense could trump a Prohibition Zone address. With no evidence beyond a map of defendants’ homes the prosecution team prevailed with 100% success. To meet a Water Board enforcement objective in Los Osos, 45 families were found guilty of living in the Prohibition Zone.

4) Frequent pumping requirement of the “Los Osos 45” CDO’s despite expert testimony to the contrary:

     Frequent septic tank pumping has not only an ongoing financial impact, but also a negative effect on proper functioning of the septic system. Newer Board members may not know that in 2006 septic experts testified at the CDO hearings that frequent pumping impairs proper operation of septic systems. Newer Board members should be advised that at the time the CDO’s were imposed, Water Board staff member, Matt Thompson, testified that no Water Board member, nor Water Board staff, had any formal training in the structure and function of septic systems. Faced with expert testimony, credentials, references, and recommendations from septic systems experts on the hazards of frequent septic tank pumping, staff nonetheless recommended and the Water Board imposed CDO’s with an every-three-year pumping requirement.
     Each time we have had our tank pumped as required, Al from Al’s Septic has told us that our tank did not need pumping, adding that some tanks work well for 30 years without pumping. Nonetheless, we have to follow the CDO requirement to show evidence of compliance by having our tank pumped and submitting receipts every three years.
     Dr. Daniel Wickham, who gave expert testimony at the CDO hearings said that it can take up to two years for a tank to recover its bacteria levels and begin to work efficiently again after being pumped. An every-three-year pumping schedule seems to be the wrong way to approach septic tank efficiency. Removing the CDO with its frequent pumping requirement would return our septic system to a healthy balance and more efficient functioning until we hook up to the sewer when the project is complete.

5) No apparent compliance oversight:

     In considering removal of the “Los Osos 45” CDO’s the current Water Board should also note that CDO compliance has been inconsistent, with effectively no oversight to address non-compliance with the required pumping schedule. Indeed, I have no knowledge of any penalties incurred by, or any Water Board interest expressed in, CDO recipients who have allowed their pumping requirement to lapse.
     Given the apparent lack of attention to CDO oversight, my husband and I became curious about non-compliance as a way to avoid an unnecessary financial drain with the added benefit to our septic tank of not pumping. We wrote the Water Board to find out its position on non-compliance with the CDO pumping requirement. Instead of simply answering our question, however, Water Board attorney, Ms. Helen Arens, construed our letter as an attempt to negotiate our CDO. She failed to address the Water Board’s policy or position on Los Osos CDO compliance oversight. In the absence of information on the oversight policy for the “Los Osos 45” CDO’s we came to believe that none exists.  With no apparent mechanism being utilized to oversee compliance it might be difficult for newer Water Board members to appreciate the relevance of our individual CDO’s to the quality of groundwater in Los Osos today. Having cost California taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute, the 2006/2007 CDO’s now appear to be all but obsolete.

6) The process currently in place for CDO removal in Los Osos:

     Newer Board members may find it intriguing that the Water Board already has a procedure in place for removing the CDO’s in Los Osos. They might be surprised to learn that upon sale of a targeted property the new homeowner starts fresh with nothing more than the pro forma NOV sent to all other non-CDO properties in town. In addition, the former homeowner walks away from the property completely free of any enforcement encumbrance. In short, when CDO-targeted property sells, the CDO vanishes.
     When targeted families sell their homes, buyers move in CDO-free. This system demonstrates clearly how little the Water Board values our CDO’s as effective mechanisms for establishing and maintaining clean groundwater in Los Osos. You and I, Mr. Packard, both know of targeted families, some of them quite elderly in their late 80’s and early 90’s, who felt forced to sell their Los Osos homes to escape the stress of living with a CDO. Newer Board members may be motivated to consider ways to remove our CDO’s that do not force families out of their homes.

7) Present impact of CDO’s in Los Osos:

     Los Osos residents I have talked to in recent years are shocked to discover that the CDO’s remain in place and that we are still paying regularly to pump our tanks. Most believed that the CDO’s were removed long ago following the 2007 passage of the 218 sewer assessment. They had their suspicions about the reason for the CDO’s in 2006 and thought their YES vote gave the Water Board what it wanted (see comments by Mr. Young as Board Chair in 2005 and 2006 regarding voting in Los Osos and the enforcement actions there). In addition, many of those not targeted for CDO’s have been completely unaware of them with no idea what a CDO is. Many who moved here in subsequent years have had no exposure to that tragic chapter in Los Osos history, especially since the popular press has not covered the “Los Osos 45” in recent memory. The only impact of CDO’s in Los Osos today is the longterm financial burden on and the implicit threats to the targeted families. The Los Osos CDO’s long ago outlived their true purpose by many years and many thousands of dollars.
     Mr. Young, Mr. Jeffries, and you, Mr. Packard, were parties to, and can likely find justification in your own minds for all the aforementioned. My hope, however, is that based on the fresh perspective you intend to provide, the 2014 Water Board will agree that it is time to remove the 2006/2007 Los Osos CDO’s.

     In addition to asking the Water Board to remove the Los Osos CDO’s, I request that you make two more proposals on behalf of the Los Osos 45.

1) Apology:

     Many in the community believe that the Water Board owes the “Los Osos 45” an apology. Newer Water Board members may be able to appreciate the pointless harm caused to 45 Los Osos families through the random CDO prosecutions of 2006/2007, and more than eight years of enforcement. Video and written records serve as stark reminders of what ordinary Los Osos families faced for months as CDO defendants, and for years thereafter, in a prosecution that ultimately produced no discernible benefit to the waters of the state of California.
      Uncomfortable as it may be for some to hear, the CDO prosecutions in 2006/2007 and their aftermath have caused irretrievable losses of life, health, peace of mind, family bonds, homes, income, and time. A written apology is the least the Water Board can offer each family targeted for a year of prosecution and for over seven years of enforcement with persistent threats of daily fines, referral to the California Attorney General for criminal prosecution, and loss of property should the sewer project encounter any unexpected delay.

2) Reparations:

     My second request is that those of us who have submitted receipts in compliance with the terms of our CDO’s shall receive compensation for all money spent on what amounts to unjust fines for the pumping requirement that none but the “Los Osos 45” have had to fulfill. Newer members of the Board will no doubt comprehend the unfairness of this onerous, unscientifically applied obligation placed on randomly selected families, a number known to be much too small to be of any statistical significance in addressing the condition of the groundwater in Los Osos. Yet, as a member of the Prosecution Team at the time, Mr. Packard, you are aware that addressing impaired groundwater quality was the pretext for the CDO prosecutions, which stopped after successful passage in 2007 of the 218 sewer assessment in Los Osos. No matter what newer Board members may believe to have been the true purpose of our CDO’s, they cannot fail to see the obvious. Imposing CDO’s on a random selection of 45 families in Los Osos, and enforcing those 45 orders for over eight years could never accomplish a basin-wide clean water objective.
      It is my hope that your presentation, Mr. Packard, will allow newer Board members to see the logic of removing the CDO’s and the appropriateness of redress. Reparations are a way to address in Los Osos what is ultimately irreparable. By offering an apology and compensation, the Board has an opportunity to reverse a questionable strategy used eight years ago with consequences that reverberate to this day. The actions of the 2006/2007 Water Board forever changed the lives of 45 Los Osos families. The 2014 Water Board has an opportunity finally to compensate them by removing their CDO’s, along with refunding their pumping costs, and extending an apology, allowing a long-overdue healing process to begin at last.
     For further background on the prosecution of the “Los Osos 45”newer Water Board members could search the archives and links at and

     Thank you, Mr. Packard, for this opportunity to contribute to your May 2014 Water Board presentation. For your convenience I will send you a hard copy of this message with copies to members of the Water Board, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, the Los Osos CSD, and other community members with an interest in this process and for whom I have contact information. I hope you will use the abundant resources at the CCRWQCB to advise the Los Osos community of your intentions so that “anyone else interested in the situation” might have an opportunity to contribute their thoughts.

Beverley De Witt-Moylan,

Dr. Jean-Pierre Wolff, Chair CCRWQCB; Dr. Monica Hunter, Vice Chair; Bruce Delgado, Board Member; Russell Jeffries, Board Member; Michael Johnston, Board Member
Michael Jordan, Board Member; Jeffrey Young, Board Member; Michael Thomas, Assistant Executive Officer; Bruce Gibson, Chair, SLOBOS; Debbie Arnold, Board Member; Adam Hill, Board Member; Frank Mecham, Board Member; Caren Ray, Board Member; Los Osos CSD

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Free The Los Osos 45

I received the following email & thread between The Moylans (One of The Los Osos 45) and RWQCB's Harvey Packard.  The email is self-explanatory.  Though it may seem like ancient history, there are 45 of your fellow Los Ososians who are still under the gun from Roger Briggs' "Mad Pumping Scheme" and the appalling and pointless "Mad Hatter Tea Party and Torquemada's Auto de Fe" show "Trial" that followed. The world moved on but these 45 got stuck with Mr. Briggs', Mr. Packard's and Mr. Young's massive Folly.

Is it possible that Mr. Packard is finally having second thoughts about his role in this excruciating, hideously embarrassing fiasco? Especially since Mr. Young is no longer Chairman and, mirable dictu, there's some new, competent, better-informed, knowledgeable,Board members who, hopefully, will bring to this Board a desperately needed new perspective. And this Board can finally make this right? Let's hope so.  Mr. Moylan has listed Mr. Packard's email if you wish to give him input on this matter. I have lots of input I could give Mr. Packard, but for now, I'll allow Ms. Moylan's cogent comments (to be posted shortly) speak to the point. But, for now, there's the question:  Should The Los Osos 45 finally be set free?    

Dear Friends,

Below is an email string between Bill Moylan and Harvey Packard of the Water Board Enforcement Division that you may find worth reading (up from the bottom). You will see that Mr. Packard mentions asking members of the community to comment on the CDO’s currently being enforced on 45 families in Los Osos. He is considering asking to have them removed. He expected Bill to get the word out. Bill told him that we don’t know enough people, and that he needs to communicate with the community, himself, using the Water Board’s considerable resources. But he has not done that yet, and so we are forwarding the message string below to help at least a few community members to communicate thoughts on retaining or removing the “Los Osos 45” CDO’s. 

Mr. Packard is looking for community input on a topic that means a lot to those of us with CDO’s in our lives for the past eight years.

Bill and I hope you’ll take some time to send Harvey Packard a message to say what you think the CDO’s are accomplishing, and whether or not they should remain in force or be removed from the 45 properties and all the people they have affected since 2006. His email address is Your neighbors with CDO’s appreciate your taking the time to speak up briefly to express your opinion on whether the “Los Osos 45” CDO's should be removed.

Please feel free to pass this message along. Anyone who needs to be reminded of the CDO prosecutions can go to and search los osos CDO’s, los osos enforcement actions 2006, or other colorful and imaginative possibilities. There you will find transcripts of the April 28, 2006/December 15, 2006/January 22, 2007 enforcement hearings, among other intriguing documents.

Thank you for taking a look below and for taking the time to communicate with Mr. Packard, if you are so inclined.


From: Subject: Re: Los Osos CDO's

Date: February 24, 2014 7:38:37 PM PST

To: "Packard, Harvey@Waterboards" <>

Dear Mr. Packard,
Thank you for your prompt reply to my message and for your invitation to provide input for your May proposal to the Water Board.
To let interested parties know about your proposal, however, requires information I do not have. But your agency does have it.. 
As the compliance officer for the CCRWQCB, you are the appropriate party to encourage input for your May 2014 CDO proposal by contacting all individual enforcement recipients and by making a timely public announcement.
  William Moylan
On Feb 24, 2014, at 9:26 AM, Packard, Harvey@Waterboards wrote:

Mr. Moylan,

I agree that it is my job to make a recommendation to the Water Board about the CDOs, and I plan on doing so in a written report to the board for the May 2014 meeting.  The board will not take any action at the meeting, but could provide direction to staff.

If you or anyone else interested in the situation would like to provide input toward my recommendation, please provide that information to me by March 31.


Harvey C. Packard, PE
Section Manager and Enforcement Coordinator
Central Coast Water Board
895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101
San Luis Obispo, CA  93401
(805) 542-4639
(805) 543-0397 fax

From: william]
Sent: Saturday, February 22, 2014 11:08 PM
To: Packard, Harvey@Waterboards
Subject: Fwd: Los Osos CDO's

 Dear Mr. Packard,

I sent you an e-mail on February 10, 2014 (12 days ago) saying that my wife and I believed that it was your responsibility to submit a proposal to the Water Board to remove the Cease and Desist Orders that were issued to 45 households in Los Osos in 2006 and early 2007.  I still have not received a response from you. I believe that you have had ample time to respond to my e-mail.  I request that you send me a response regarding my first e-mail within the next five days. Below is a copy of that first e-mail.


William Moylan

Begin forwarded message:

From: william < Subject: Los Osos CDO's
Date: February 10, 2014 8:42:54 PM PST

Dear Mr. Packard,
 Recently you spoke to me at the CCRWQCB office suggesting that my wife and I join forces with other CDO families to ask the Water Board “to remove” the Cease and Desist Orders they imposed on us in 2006 and 2007.
 It is my understanding that the original individual enforcement proposal came from CCRWQCB staff. You were on staff at the time of those hearings that resulted in a 100% successful prosecution rate.
 After carefully considering your suggestion, I concluded that the party who proposed individual enforcement is the appropriate party to request its removal.  As CCRWQCB Enforcement Coordinator and Advisor to the Board you are in the proper position to ask the Board to remove the individual Cease and Desist Orders that resulted from the prosecution of the “Los Osos 45.”
 I request that you submit that proposal as soon as possible.

 William Moylan

Monday, March 17, 2014

French Fries at Forty Paces

Oh, goody, looks like Los Osos will have another Battle Royale coming up, again.  Yes, it's the French Fries War Redux, the battle over whether a McDonalds will be allowed to open in the old drive-thru bank building in the Vons/Ace shopping center.

And there's the rub -- the drive thru.  For some reason, that's become the sticking point.  Anti-McErs object on account of air pollution from all the idling cars, and a jammed up parking lot as hundreds of cars waiting for the drive-thru back up in the lot, creating a humongous mess.  And they are also concerned about all those burger-stuffed cars making a traffic mess as they attempt to get out of the Von's lot and onto Los Osos Valley Road or double back through the lot to 10th St.

The whole traffic jam notion is odd to me because I've driven by both McDonalds and Burger King in Morro Bay at various "busy" times and have seen, at most, 5-6 cars lined up, a line that didn't even get backed up into the stores' own parking areas. But I gather from comments I've read that folks presume that half the town will arrive every day at 5:30 to get burgers, which would indeed cause a mess. On the other hand, I've been out and about town at various "food-busy" times and have yet to see any eatery -- fast or not -- jammed up.  Indeed, it seems that lack of customers for cooked food -- fast or sit-down slow -- seems to be the problem here, as restaurants come and go with sad regularity.  

Now, if an In-and-Out Burger were being proposed . . . . well, that would be another story.)

One interesting take on the drive-thru came from BOS candidate, Muril Clift, who did observe that he could see one benefit to a drive through and that would be for parents with young kids; it's a hassle to unbuckle all the kids out of their safety seats just so they could dash into the place just to get a Coke, so a drive-thru would make that process easier.  Of course, my take on that is this: "Hey Mom, keep the kids buckled up.  You shouldn't be feeding your children that crap in the first place. Drive on. "   

In addition to the pollution of thousands of idling cars and a traffic jam up, another objection seems to be that the joint wants to stay open 24/7, in case any hard-working, pot-smoking Los Ososian gets a case of the fierce munchies at 3 a.m.  I'm not sure why this earns such ire.  Are folks afraid that all the drunken/stoned saloon denizens will drunk-drive over to McDonalds after the bars close, thereby creating a threat to all the empty streets? Or maybe it's the light pollution, if the proposed design features a gigantic pair of gaudy yellow arches blasting out light all night and blinding the owls?

On the other hand, there have been several letters to the editor urging that the place be allowed because it could create "approximately 30 new entry level jobs .  . for college students and retired folks on fixed incomes," wrote Los Ososian Mike Morgan, in a recent letter to the editor.  Which caused me to think, "Ah, yes, The Great American Dream has come to this:  Our highest aspirations for a new business now is that it offers minimum wage part-time jobs for college kids and a few oldsters supplementing their retirement income."     

Well, no matter. Right now, things are at an impasse.  The County Planning Commission said Ixnay on the deal, ruling against a drive through and McDonalds said, No Drive Through, No Deal.  So now it goes back before the BOS on April 8th for an appeal.  Unfortunately, I have to work that day and will miss all the food-fight fun. Not that I have much to say about it all since I figure, traffic issues aside, this is just another Subway or Starbucks.  The Corporate take-over/transformation of SLOVille began quite some time ago (as you can see from any visit to downtown SLO) and Los Osos is not exempt from this process. After all, "The People" have already decided, with their pocketbooks, what kind of food they want to eat and what kind of businesses they want to patronize, and with those dollars they're creating  the kind of community they want to live in.  And near as I can see, CorporateVille is their choice, and since the customer is always right, CorporateVille it shall be.

On the other hand, if the drive-thru is the deal-breaker and the BOS holds the line on this, McDonalds will go bye-bye . . . for a while . . . and thereby the community's health might improve an uptick and everyone can rest up and fuel up for the next battle over something-or other-by driving to Morro Bay for their Big Macs.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Crow In, Crows Out

                            To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
                                                                           Emily Dickinson

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sunday's Blessings on Saturday

Rain or shine (in this case, rain), the CCC's are on the job.  These fabulous guys and gals, in keeping with the California Conservation Corps' mission of service to the community, showed up on their day off to help at El Chorro Dog Park.  Rain couldn't stop them and several hours later they had re-graded a large flood-prone area and restored the wood chips, thereby improving an already fabulous Dog Park.

These young men and woman are amazing.  All over the state, they're out there working to make our public lands -- parks, wilderness areas, forest, watershed resources -- safer, better and more beautiful, all for all of us!  So when you see these hardy crews at work, give them a shout-out of thanks!

They are a blessing.  Thanks CCC!  You're the best.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Darrell Behaving Badly

Time for Darrel ("I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille") Issa to step down.  This mini-Joe McCarthy, a guy who never met a camera he didn't love, this blatantly self-serving scoundrel who's been using his position on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee as a personal showcase for his overweening,  self-assessed wonderfulness and as a handmaiden for Fox New and the GOP has finally gone and done it. 

Nobody who's followed this guy over the years is the least surprised.  They know him by his true colors --a bully-boy whose job isn't "oversight" or "reform," but is, instead, an opportunity to use the Committee he heads to manipulate facts in order to mislead the public and thereby further his personal and political career.  It's ultimately all about Darrell, 24/7. 

Like Joe McCarthy before him ("I have here in my hand a list of names . . . ."),  Issa is a demagogue willing to wave about carefully edited "facts," misleading "findings," out-of-context details, all carefully crafted into fake, misleading sound bites and all carefully fed into the 24/7 news cycle to be amplified by the Republican/Faux News sound machine. 

Meanwhile, the actual facts that the Committee uncovers (almost all of which runs totally contra to what Issa is claiming) sinks into the media Dead Pool.  Which is what Issa is counting on.  I mean, when you're conning the Rubes, you don't want them to catch on.

But, eventually, every demagogue goes too far.  In this case, closing down the hearing without allowing ranking Oversight Committee member,  Congressman Elijah Cumming, his (proper procedural) opportunity to speak.  Instead he cut off his mic, told the sound-men to "shut it down."  Which is the wrong thing to say to Mr. Cummings. Who had plenty to say and didn't need a microphone to say it.

This astonishing breach of Congressional protocol resulted in a call for Issa's censure and/or removal from the Committee.  Fat chance. But the uproar did force Issa to "apologize" to Cummings by claiming that he "should have been much more sensitive to the mood of what was going on . . . "

Like all things Issa, that statement has only a glancing acquaintance with the Whole Truth.

Ultimately, the great misfortune here is that, unlike the McCarthy Era, we don't have an Edward R. Murrow.  Or a Joseph Welch to take the microphone and say to Issa, "Finally, Sir, have you NO shame???"

Shame? Not in this Congress. 

And, finally, the greatest misfortune here is that Americans apparently are fine with a partisan "oversight" committee chaired by a guy who repeatedly cries wolf to advance his career.

And when an actual wolf, a real wolf, shows up during a committee's investigation?

What then?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

And the Envelope, Please

Now that was a very satisfying Academy Awards Ceremony.  And the folks and films I wanted to win, won.  (Especially glad that "20 Feet From Stardom" got the gold.  That was a remarkable documentary that I hope Jim Dee brings back to the Palm, in case you missed it the first time around.)

And I'm especially glad that "Twelve Years a Slave" took best picture.  "Gravity" was a game-changer, technologically, but "Slave" was in many ways, a kind of cultural place-marker, a book-end, as it were, to the original "happy darkies" narrative of "Gone With The Wind."  Seventy-five years later, we finally get a far more honest picture of our dark history.

And in keeping with the seriousness of "Slave," I can't recall a better performed, more touching and dignified performance from a winner than the beautiful acceptance speech given by Lupita Nyong'o, who won for best supporting actress. The spirits of the long-dead were indeed watching.  I hope that talented lady has a long, challenging, successful career.

With pizza for the starve-to-get-into-the-couture stars, a record-breaking group-selfie Twittering around the globe, hostess Ellen DeGeneres set the perfect laid-back vibe that reminded everyone that, Hey, this is an awards ceremony/party, not curing cancer, so lighten up.  Toss in Mathew McConaughey conjuring up a picture of his late father proudly celebrating his son's win by doing a happy-feet dance in his underwear, lite-beer in hand, gumbo-pot nearby, and the image was "all right, all right, all right." Which about summed up the whole evening.

Including the one delicious jaw-dropping turn at the podium by Mrs. Baz Luhrman (Catherine Martin) who won the gold as best Costume Design for "The Great Gatsby." At the podium, she reached into the top of her gown and rummaged around her breasts until she finally located and pulled out a crumpled, damp-looking sheet of paper, upon which was her list of "thank-yous," and proceeded to read them off.  Substitute a crumpled pack of Camels instead of the paper, add in a kitchen match for a light-up, and the move would have been pure Trailer-park Queen!

Give that woman a Fosters!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Your Saturday and Sunday Miracles

                                                           Saturday's Miracle

                                                            Sunday's Miracle

                                                            Even after all this time

                                                     the sun never says to the earth,
                                                           "You owe me."

                                                      Look  what happens
                                                      with a love like that --

                                                          it lights the whole

From "Love Poems from God," Daniel Landinsky, Penguin Press. Available at your local bookstore.