Gibson’s Gag Order Is Not on the Agenda

For the transcript of the exchange between Bruce Gibson and Martha Goldin, click here to view The ROCK article.

When Los Osos retired judge Martha Goldin protested abuse of due process (and breach of the County’s process) during her three-minute public comment at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Gibson pulled the plug on her. On the Board’s agenda for Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, it reads, “All persons desiring to speak on agenda items, during Public Comment or prior to Closed Session, are asked to fill out a ‘Board Appearance Request Form’ to submit to the Clerk of the Board prior to the start of the Board item. Each individual speaker is limited to a presentation total of a MAXIMUM of three (3) minutes per item during the Consent Agenda, Public Comment period, Public Hearings, Board Business and prior to Closed Session.”

There is no addendum to the agenda that adequately or clearly notice the 15 minute block or the 10-minute “Los Osos rule.”

Additionally, County counsel never gave a full explanation as far as why Board action was reasonable. Counsel did not cite any Brown Act sections or board bylaws which permit modification of public testimony time on a particular agenda item.

Is Supervisor Gibson’s interpretation of the Brown Act legal and fair and ethical? Is it right for Gibson and the County to bail out on promises to include alternative technologies through the design/build process, then suppress public comment on it? Is this an act of deception or incompetence?

Los Osos Animosity

I haven’t been a resident of Los Osos for 30 years. I haven’t been here since the controversy surrounding the wastewater project began, but after taking a big step back to look at the history and how we ended up in this situation today, I find that the abundance of hostility of residents has turned a crisis into a catastrophe.

Los Osos has never been short of self-proclaimed experts, martyrs and blowhards during sewer craze, but in this town of 15,000 people, we can only guess the names of people who have made the most vicious, anonymous comments. They could be people we know.

Daniel Blackburn of CalCoastNews.com posted an article, “Los Osos sewer project tainted by ’expired’ crime,” which alleges “documented crime” committed by Paavo Ogren (former district interim manager of the LOCSD) in ’99, who authorized the backdating of a contact — which retained the services of Montgomery Watson-Harza for wastewater project management — according to Bruce Buell, but it wasn’t the article that got my attention.

A member by the name of Booty_Juice, writes in the comments section, “Same old horsepucky that’s been going on for, what, 30 years? Completely incapable of managing their own affairs, so outside adult supervision is imposed on them and rightfully so. They are little more than a collection of grimy, drooling, drug damaged, moonbats, nut jobs, intellectual pigmys, stroppy old lesbians, smelly hippies, harmonic convergence wackos, aroma therapy mommas, nuclear free zone whiners, snake oil salesmen, odd-lotters, and America haters.”

Over at Calhoun’s Cannon, the insults are thrown back and forth regularly.

Over at The Tribune, there are comments ranging from calling former CSD directors Lisa Schicker and Julie Tacker “butt queens” to telling people to “move out” if they can’t move on. These comments pale in comparison to comments made on the SanLuisObispo.com discussion boards from 2006 to 2008 where members such as Wonky1, MoveBy2010 and ReApprazor called for “beating obstructionists with baseball bats and clubs” along with constantly uttering misogynist, bigoted remarks hurled at certain individuals.

Nobody has ever said, “Hey, wait a minute! This doesn’t solve any problems.” I have not seen any members of Taxpayers Watch step forward in an attempt to curb the vitriolic comments made by supporters. I have not seen any community leaders condeming the innuendo that has divided the community for so many years. I’ve only seen legislative bodies knowingly and unknowingly evoke hostility through limiting public dissent in a public forum.

Enough is enough. People have put so much bad karma out there. When it comes back around and things don’t go your way, what then? Who are you going to blame? Look in the mirror.

Bullying and Responsibility

CNN.com has an article called, “My bullied son’s last day on Earth:”

Jaheem was hanging by his belt in the closet.

“I always used to see these things on TV, dead people on the news,” says Bermudez. “I saw somebody die and to see this dead person is your son, hanging there, a young boy. … To hang yourself like that, you’ve got to really be tired of something.”

Bermudez says bullies at school pushed Jaheem over the edge. He complained about being called gay, ugly and “the virgin” because he was from the Virgin Islands, she said.

“He used to say Mom they keep telling me this … this gay word, this gay, gay, gay. I’m tired of hearing it, they’re telling me the same thing over and over,” she told CNN, as she wiped away tears from her face.

But while she says her son complained about the bullying, she had no idea how bad it had gotten.

“He told me, but he just got to the point where he didn’t want me to get involved anymore because nothing was done,” she said.

Bermudez said she complained to the school about bullying seven or eight times, but it wasn’t enough to save him.

This hits close to home for me. I was bullied throughout most of my days in school. Even then, school administrators did nothing about it.

If your children fights back against the bullying, he or she gets detention or suspension, no questions asked. If they don’t, they’re focused to endure a hardship that no child should ever have to endure when they are trying to get an education and set the foundation for their future.

People say it’s also the responsibility of the parents of those doing the bullying to curb it, but the responsibility is immediately placed on the school to enforce stricter policies. If the bullying is happening on school campus, it’s the school’s prerogative to prevent cases like Jaheem’s from happening to anyone else.

March 23, 2009 Planning Commission Meeting

Yesterday’s SLO Planning Commission meeting was excruciatingly long and tedious. Many people spoke about the proposed plan for the Los Osos wastewater project (with permit approval) including representatives from state agencies that are involved in the process and concerned citizens. Ultimately, many of the comments made by the public were repetitive, mediocre and uninspiring. No new, persuasive arguments were brought to the podium.

People, make the best of your time and be more concise.

Huffington Post: The Gospel According to Fox News

After reading all the articles included in Chopra’s “gospel” according to FOX NEWS, I can safely say that FOX NEWS isn’t really news. After watching their excessive coverage of the “tea party” protests, it becomes more and more apparent to me that puts their ideological, holier-than-thou agenda up and over the truth for what it is — and when I say truth, I’m talking about truth that has no conservative or liberal bias.

About Bill O’Reilly
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

The Wrath of Conservatism

Since Barack Obama became President of the United States on January 20th 2009, conservatives have shifted to full throttle on criticism over his policies and conduct. Not even 100 days into his presidency, right-wing fanatics started kicking and screaming over his economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Criticism over the bill would evolve into the misguided “tea party” protests that ignited deep-seeded racism, bigotry, ignorance, marshal law, talks of secession from the country and overthrowing the federal government.

When Obama meets with foreign leaders, especially those who have had anti-American sentiment over the years, conservatives like Newt Gingrich claim Obama is bolstering the “enemies of America,” by showing weakness. Regarding Obama’s attempt to rebrand America’s image around the world after eight tumultous years of George W. Bush, the conservative rhetoric and the propaganda surrounding Obama is just as inflammatory as Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s inflammtory rhetoric toward the United States.

The debate over speaking to the country’s harshest critics, Obama said at a press conference today, “We had this debate throughout the campaign, and the whole notion was, is that somehow if we showed courtesy or opened up dialogue with governments that had previously been hostile to us, that that somehow would be a sign of weakness – the American people didn’t buy it. And there’s a good reason the American people didn’t buy it — because it doesn’t make sense.”

It doesn’t make any sense. The uproar over Obama’s presidency — prior to any noticeable results appearing as a part of his policies — doesn’t make sense. Sure, we’re all frustrated over what’s been happening in our country and overseas, but let Obama work. Let us see what kind of trees grow from the seeds he’s planted. Then our time for judgment will come.

THE ROCK is out … and there’s not a darn thing you can do about it!

It’s all online now at: http://www.rockofthecoast.com.

So, to those driveway creepers who picked The Rock out of driveways to keep free speech from being free, getting up early or staying up late to chase our home deliveries will no longer do you any good.

Unless you pull their cable, your neighbors will now find out the facts about your favorite global builder, Montgomery Watson Harza, just by clicking on the link and reading, if their already broken hearts can take it, “MWH IN LOS OSOS — UNANSWERED QUESTIONS” and “MWH BUSINESS PRACTICES HAUNT FLORIDA PROJECT”

Or, if killing STEP and any alternative to affordability is your cup of tea, and you get a secret thrill out of waterboarding, you’ll just love the day-long trial and verdict of the BOS kangaroo court in “LOS OSOS GOES GRAVITY AS COUNTY RENEGES ON PROMISES TO LET CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES COMPETE IN SEWER SWEEPSTAKES”

Gibson says the debate is over, but you will want to keep those warm and fuzzy moments of STEP’s fall forever alive in your memory by also reliving other key April 7th meeting highlights in The Rock online: “Community Survey Concerns Raise Questions of Fairness,” “The Vote to End Affordability and Transparency:The Gibson/Mecham Exchange,” and “Ripley Steps Up to the Mic for STEP.”

And, as a bonus for those who think 10 minutes every Tuesday at BOS public comment is too much time to talk about Los Osos, then you will get a charge out of my hilarious standup routine last Tuesday in “Rock Publisher to BOS: ‘You gave us the most expensive sewer in the country'”

For those who miss stealing The Rock and reading it when no one’s around, I understand your pain, and suggest writing and sending your complaints to “Letters to the Editor” of the Sun-Bulletin. Even though they have stopped printing, think of how much better you will feel afterwards!

Ed

Board of Supervisors Invoke Speaking Limits for Los Osos

Today, The Tribune has an article by Bob Cuddy about the Board of Supervisors limiting public comment time regarding Los Osos during regular meetings without the Los Osos wastewater project update on the agenda.

Technically, the board reserves the right to reduce the amount of time of public comment under the powers granted in the California Brown Act § 54954.3 (b), which states, “The legislative body of a local agency may adopt reasonable regulations to ensure that the intent of subdivision (a) is carried out, including, but not limited to, regulations limiting the total amount of time allocated for public testimony on particular issues and for each individual speaker.”

The Brown Act does not define what is or isn’t reasonable as it fully relies on the board’s discretion. Given the contentiousness of the Los Osos wastewater project, the criteria of reasonable time should be lax. Second, the subdivision mentions “particular issues” without saying if the issues are particular to the agenda or not. The language is ambiguous. Third, this subdivision carries equal importance as California Brown Act § 54954.2, which discusses laws and regulations regarding the posting of the agenda. The agenda for April 14th states, “Each individual speaker is limited to a presentation total of a MAXIMUM of three (3) minutes per item during the Consent Agenda, Public Comment period, Public Hearings, Board Business and prior to Closed Session.”

The agenda does not specify that the board reserves the right to modify the limits of public comment for items not in the agenda nor did the agenda for the April 14th meeting provide any sort of notice for consideration regarding the reduction of time for public testimony regarding the Los Osos wastewater project.

In order to modify the agenda or take action of items not appearing on the posted agenda, the actions must be approved by a majority vote of the legislative body (citing that an emergency situation exists as defined in Section 54956.5), which did not happen. Where’s the emergency? Chairman Gibson announced the limitations of public comment but he did not motion to have a vote taken. There was no two-thirds vote, no unanimous vote on a need to take immediate action. There was no reason to take immediate action except for giving more time to public comments to the rest of the county.

So when it’s all boiled down, the issue is the legality of the agenda versus the issue of what is and isn’t reasonable when it comes to limiting public testimony.

I understand the exasperation of having the Los Osos crowd speak week after week at great length without having the opportunity to accomodate the constituency outside of Los Osos. It’s a very delicate balancing act. However, you, members of the board, accepted the responsibility to take on a project that not only is extremely controversial, but it also poses a socioeconomic threat to thousands of homeowners: a threat that has not been thoroughly addressed notwithstanding the “We are listening to you!” lip service.

By accepting that responsibility, you, members of the board, have also accepted community input that was once assumed would be unrestricted with reasonable accommodations.

Once again, the promise of transparency and fairness is proven to only be a figment of our imagination.

Would you vote for this guy? Part III

Ed added his two comments. I’ll wrap up the discussion with mine.

I will not vote for Bruce Gibson.

A few people have said, “He’s done a remarkable job of moving the project forward.” Anybody can move the project forward. It’s about how you move it forward. When the County assumed responsibility for the Los Osos wastewater project pursuant to AB2701, even though there’s been a lot of Los Osos “crazies” speaking ad nauseum emotionally about issues, it’s his job to listen and to respond especially to dissent, not close the door and say, “The debate is over,” and yes, he was elected to represent that dissenting opinion as well. It’s his fudiciary duty.

Beside Los Osos, Bruce Gibson has consistently ignored the ongoing wastewater discharging in Morro Bay and Cayucos, thereby causing a tremendous health hazard on the local beaches so he would rather focus on an issue based on suspected groundwater pollution instead of proven, active sewerage discharge into the bay.

In short, Bruce doesn’t have the courtesy, the ethics and the morals to establish priorities and ensure fairness.

Would you vote for this guy? Part II

In yet one more body slam against Los Osos speakers at SLO County Board of Supervisors’ Tuesday meetings, Chairman Gibson has reduced Los Osos comments to a total of 10 minutes. Gibson claimed numbers of Los Osos speakers clog County business and dwell on matters that have been resolved by board vote. That means that speakers will compete with each other for those 10 minutes. If 10 speakers show up and want to speak, they will split the time and get 1 minute a piece, and so on. Or speakers have to draw straws. The restriction does not (yet) apply to the Los Osos Monthly Update on the first Tuesday of every month, when three minutes remains on the clock for each Los Osos public speaker. Gibson’s reasons for basically eliminating Los Osos pubic comment on non-Update Tuesdays are as weak, contrived and poisonous as his reasons for breaking his promise to Los Osos for a head-to-head cost competition between the County’s outrageously expensive gravity system and the acknowledged cheaper STEP alternative. Gibson is playing with fire if he thinks canceling democracy and suffocating free speech is going to keep Los Osos from speaking out. Quite the opposite. No one is above the law. His three-year-long reign of terror against Los Osos homeowners in the PZ (who are paying for the sewer) and his ruthless campaign to suppress the truth will only turn up the volume…higher and higher. After all, it is Gibson’s anti-Los Osos actions that have caused the spike in public comment in the first place. –Ed