Opinion » Shredder

A little clarity


To understand how our government sees Dan De Vaul, you only have to know one thing: They think the harm he’s doing is more harm than the harm he’s preventing. Granted, it’s potential harm he’s causing, which is another way of saying no one’s been harmed. An even better interpretation is this curmudgeonly rancher with dust on his boots and foul language on his tongue is doing what no one else around these parts can.

If you collected dozens of suits in a conference room, pumped them full of coffee and pastry, and asked them to address homelessness, you’d probably be left with a report. Or plans for a new shelter. Maybe a pontificating consultant with a lengthy title and fat paycheck. Actually, that’s exactly what’s happening. You’ll see a lot of smiles on the faces of the people who perpetuate this nonsensical legislative tripe aimed at ending homelessness, which most don’t think will work. They’re very pleased and very self-congratulatory and very ineffective. At the end of the day, the closest they might come to being human is swapping a suit and tie for a pair of tight jeans and metro-toned pink shirt.

On the other hand, Dan’s a prick through and through. But he still manages to spank the county when it comes to real, actual results.

Most recently, De Vaul lost an appeal on his criminal case, which is a fancy way of saying that some local judges agreed with the decisions of other local judges. Hot damn. STOP THE PRESSES!

Really though, I could give a crap about the ongoing wang-measuring contest among De Vaul, the county, and the courts. What matters is that people in Sunny Acres are getting along just fine, despite what our representatives keep saying. They’re better than fine. They’re damn happy. What has an ugly habit of screwing things up, however, is when a bunch of politicians and judges decide that because people aren’t supposed to live in shacks according to a code, the guy letting them live there must be punished. Make a show of him. Get the tar! Where are the feathers? Let’s all go lick his silverware and not tell him until he’s eating dinner!

What none of the people who sit behind benches and make these decisions seem to understand is when they go after De Vaul, they’re really going after the people who live on his ranch. Don’t misunderstand me: De Vaul is breaking county codes—yesirree. But what’s the alternative?

We know what it is. You live in the creek. Or in a tent that will soon be bulldozed by despotic city employees with chainsaws in hand and bugs up their asses. Common sense has long since checked out.

If you’re homeless, the message is clear: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here … and really, you can’t stay anywhere else.

I know they haven’t explicitly requested my opinion on the matter, I just wanted to help out. You’re welcome. That’ll be $300,000 for my consultant fee.

Sometimes, though, people say exactly what they mean. A new court complaint filed against John Wallace, The Wallace Group, and Jeff Appleton (the South County Sanitation District plant superintendent recommended for demotion by the state water board) says quite bluntly that Wallace’s company gets paid too much and he’ll can anyone who gets between his company and a paycheck.

But I’m not saying this. Just read the filing:

“Defendants [that means Wallace and Co.] … knowingly engaged in a pattern of unethical behavior in the operation of SSLOCSD [that means the district] plant facility and solicited plaintiff [that’s ex-lab tech Devina Douglas] to engage in the same conduct. Plaintiff refused. Defendant, JOHN WALLACE, having become aware of this refusal and the threat it presented to his business’ lucrative contact with the SSLOCSD, improperly used his influence as District Administrator to eliminate plaintiff’s employment position.”

Allegation translation: The South County cronies had a snotty little lab tech who wasn’t willing to fudge water samples that violated state regulations. She got mouthy and put in jeopardy the Wallace Group’s roughly $80,000-a-month payout from the district (aka all you rate payers down there). Lucky for Wallace, being that he’s also the district administrator, he recommended to eliminate her position, and the three stooges otherwise known as the board of directors happily obliged. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.

And for an even more indirect message in another part of the coast: County Supervisor Adam Hill has asked the Sheriff’s Department to provide a deputy during the public comment period at county board meetings. The poor dope has to stand there, twiddling his thumbs and waiting for a bunch of retirees to go ballistic, which might take the form of complaining that their grandkids don’t call anymore or maybe cracking wise on the supervisors’ mommas.

Johnny Law overseeing public meetings kind of sends a bad message. Don’t you think? Either the supes are afraid of the public—most of whom would snap like a twig in a light breeze—or they think sticking a cop in the back of the room is the best way to encourage civil discourse. Don’t get them wrong, though, you can absolutely say whatever you want, as long as it’s condoned by the board or you like tazers in the tuchus.

And don’t even get me started on binding arbitration in SLO because I don’t want to talk about it. And in a day or two you’ll all be sick of hearing about it. The only kind of binding I want to talk about falls under the “S&M” headline in my phonebook, and my editors took away my Yellow Pages privileges some time ago.

Tune in to Little Orphan Annie with your decoder rings at the ready to learn the Shredder’s secret message. Or just ask at [email protected].

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