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The recent hullabaloo around “Celebrate Los Osos,” the newly reinvented Bear Committee/Los Osos Community Organization and its search for “positive,” “visible projects” has many of us scratching our heads. Celebrating Los Osos occurs on a regular basis. It doesn’t take a marketing campaign or slick tricks to ask for and receive a helpful hand. Volunteer jobs are being done all around this great community with no fanfare, kudos, banners, websites, press releases, photo ops or slick material promoting the good works of many citizens who pitch in however and wherever they can. Whether its muscle or money, Los Ososan’s historically come to the aid of others to fundraise, lift their hammers, shovels or paint brushes to spruce up, repair or build whatever, whenever. The best example is the Annual Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter Fundraiser (held each December at the South Bay Community Center), organized by Jerri Walsh and Richard Margetson year after year with no self promoting brouhaha.
A year or more ago, the Celebrate Los Osos team of unsuspecting volunteers – spearheaded by public relations firm owner, former LOCSD Director, District 2 Parks Commissioner, Pandora Nash-Karner – built a new fence (materials paid for by the County), amended the soil and planted new oak trees (soil and trees donated by local businesses) at the community park. Nash-Karner knew these improvements should have been done by the County as part of the skateboard park project’s Conditions of Approval. Nash-Karner also knew the new fence would have to come down as part of the Palisades traffic signal and drainage improvement project. In true Nash-Karner form, she pressed on due to its highly visible “sign worthy” nature. The County Public Works Department staff (paid by taxpayers) took the new fence down, but will not put it back up. Nash-Karner will have to use her “magical coercion” to re-enlist volunteers to double-do what should have been done by the County in the first place. The fate of the new plantings is unknown, certainly trampled, and likely killed. The Palisades signal has been complete for months now, the fence is still down, and the landscape is barren.
Admittedly, Los Osos is a divided community. The endless sewer saga has fractured this great community. Nash-Karner was quoted in a recent newspaper article promoting Celebrate Los Osos, saying “Good friends were not talking,” and “We’re better than that” juxtaposed to her own late night email to the Regional Water Quality Control Board asking that the community be “fined out of existence.”
The most recent efforts of Celebrate Los Osos to refurbish the Ralphs median – soliciting donations and unsuspecting volunteers – stinks to high heaven. No one ever asked citizen volunteer, Jeff Edwards, if he needed any help with the median over the 15 years he quietly cared for it out of his own pocket. It wasn’t until the County informed Edwards that they would replace the irrigation system. This prompted Edwards to suspend his maintenance efforts. Golden State Water Company was prompted to turn off the water. People only took interest when the plants began to die.
Celebrate Los Osos had a booth at the Oktoberfest and at local grocery stores soliciting donations and volunteers. Their goal was to reach $4,000 to pay for new plants along the Los Osos Valley Road thoroughfare. Who is paying for Nash-Karner’s marketing efforts? How much do the “in your face” banners and pamphlets cost and who is paying for them? It is in the public record that Ms. Nash-Karner paid herself handsomely from citizen donations to manage the failed Save the Dream campaign in 2005.
Nash-Karner isn’t really interested in Celebrating Los Osos. She’s interested in lining her pocket. Los Osos, don’t be duped again. Volunteer where you are appreciated for your sincere effort. A smile and a handshake is all the recognition you’ll get and it will feel like a million bucks just knowing you did something good for someone else.
Julie Tacker is a former Los Osos Community Services District director and 39-year resident of Los Osos.