On one side, people have expressed frustration over the County’s refusal to thoroughly answer the vital questions that they were asked but don’t or won’t answer. On another, some found the posting of the public officials’ home addresses and phone numbers “dangerous and irresponsible,” asserting that the nature of my article would induce an unstable person — as there are a few folks of that nature in Los Osos — to create threats of harassment and even bodily harm.
Yesterday morning, County Counsel sent The Razor a written demand to have the public information of Paavo Ogren, John Diodati and Bruce Gibson removed from the site — and I happily complied.
By the County acknowledging the content of this article, they are fully aware of their conduct and possibly their misconduct. This is good. The posting of this information was a test of responsiveness, not vindictiveness. The intent to write the article was to make them aware of such elements. I carefully made the decision to do something that widely read journalists and bloggers don’t normally do in order to emphasize the clear urgency of the matter.
The County of San Luis Obispo is aware that the undertaking of one of the most expensive wastewater projects in the history of California bears an overwhelming responsibility to accommodate the public with information and unprecedented transparency that clearly requires the government to oblige even their fiercest adversaries to put aside political differences and provide the facts without petty resistance.
Let me be perfectly clear on this: When I call for action, I call for non-violent action, such as discourse. In the previous article, I talked about having a conversation with our elected and appointed officials, which is what it is and nothing more. No matter what political or social views you have, you should never resort to threats of intimidation, harassment or violence to justify your stance. There is no excuse, period. To state that I intend to embolden people to commit violence is to be purely and irreconcilably wrong.
Speaking of wrong, I discovered an article written anonymously on CalCoastNews, which mentioned County Counsel issuing a written demand to remove the personal information of three certain public officials that was posted two days ago. But there were a few problems with the article — just a few. For one, the article was posted at 1:39 AM under the guise that the written demand was dispatched to my e-mail around that time. I received the e-mail at 8:14 AM, which is roughly seven hours after it was allegedly “sent.” The article, which supplied no byline, implied that not only did I receive the demand, I kept the personal information online in spite of it. There was not even a discussion in the article about the violation of the County Counsel’s confidentiality clause. I wonder if there are any laws broken there.
Since October 15, 2010 at 1:39 AM, CalCoastNews has not printed a retraction. There was an update, but no retraction.
Clearly, CalCoastNews has distanced themselves from their previous incarnation, Undercover SLO, which once investigated questionable practices by their local government. In a simple twist of fate, they are now working for “the man.”
The County of San Luis Obispo has chided Razor Online for posting the contact information of their public officials, which comes across as ironic given the following context. County Board of Supervisors, especially Bruce Gibson, have exploited the privilege of the pulpit to blame the project’s appellants for delaying the project. Clearly, assigning blame is not and should not be within their purview of planning, designing and operation of the wastewater project.
Delays of LOWWP progress is a sore subject in the community of Los Osos, and even the word “delay” has angered some residents to the point of delirium. Several residents have, indeed, threatened, harassed and even caused bodily injury to appellants. This has caused significant apprehension to not only the appellants, but to those who have something to say, but can’t in fear of retaliation.
Sadly, one doesn’t have to look far to find that the appellants’ personal contact information is readily available on the County’s LOWWP web site without redaction. Meanwhile, Gibson has complained about the fabric of discourse being “torn” in Los Osos when he, in fact, is the proximate cause for the tearing (as evidenced in fully substantiated, numerous articles posted by The ROCK and Razor Online). It is the volitional act of vilifying the appellants and having their information publicly available that has caused the injury.
Through hours of public testimony, the County of San Luis Obispo is fully aware of the pain and suffering of many homeowners who have tried to cope with the impending wastewater project. Cease & Desist Order recipients have been publicly ridiculed and legally lynched for being polluters without evidence. Some of these individuals have gone through several years of anguish because of their status. Others have been too paralyzed with stress to continue fighting. Some have even died as a result of the stress induced by the persecution of Prohibition Zone residents. Even though the County is aware of these aspects, they have not taken the proper steps to ensure any consideration of privacy for the individuals that I alluded to, given the some residents’ apparent propensity to do harm to them.
Is what I’m describing “inflammatory and unsubstantiated,” Counsel?
Not once has County supporters like KVEC Radio’s Dave Congalton decried the County for “crossing the line” when making the appellant’s contact information public. Not once on his show has Congalton chided County Counsel for being “dangerous and irresponsible” when they inadvertently leaked the names of the new owners of Annie the Dog. In that incident, Congalton acted as a mediator that negotiated the transfer of Annie from the new owner to the original owner. Does Congalton’s inaction show his belief that the people — who are not elected or appointed officials — are second-class citizens that are not worthy of privacy protection? I await your reply, Mr. Congalton.
Congalton is most likely the author of the now-infamous CCN article.
As costs for the wastewater project increase, there is an increased probability that residents will be displaced. The United States of America is facing grave, economic hardship and things will get worse before they get better. Many of us are required to tighten our belts and conserve our expenses and yet, in Los Osos, there will be an expense that is far greater than anything residents have ever seen — and there is plenty of blame to go around for that. Is there frustration from struggling property owners who are trying to stay afloat? There is, and the County of San Luis Obispo knows this, but the degree of their acknowledgment is merely debatable at best — negligent at its worst.
Taking a reasonable stand against the County is fully encouraged. Do it. It is at the very core of their duty as property owners to make sure that the government’s patina of irresponsibility and lack of responsiveness will not result in their displacement.
– Aaron Ochs