Opinion » Street Talk

Don’t mess with us, Texas


Those damn Texans. Always trying to outdo us Californians. If we say we're a big state, they say they're a bigger state. If we pollute the atmosphere, they pollute theirs even more. If we send a mentally unstable former governor to the White House ... well, you see where I'm going with this. Get a life, Texas - and this time, make sure it's not ours.

Me, I've never liked anything to do with Texas. I cheer for whichever team is playing against the Houston Astros. I uproot any yellow roses I find in my garden. I never clap when everyone else does in the middle of that one Texas song.

But what I hate most is Texans pretending to be Californians, so I certainly don't like Scott Dabny. Scott's a Dallas-type big shot with a mile-long list of development projects, one of which somehow meandered out of the Lone Star State and into your backyard, if your backyard happens to be the San Luis Obispo Marketplace project.

Scott, who has a Texas zip code and everything, owns a financial group that says 600,000 square feet of retail space is coming soon to the Target-starved citizens of San Luis Obispo.

He also shares his Texas address with a group that has a very non-Texas-sounding name; namely, SLO Associates. Back in November, before the local elections, SLO Associates gave money to someone who gave money to someone to politically beat up on Christine Mulholland.

Christine, you may not know, is about as Californian as you can get, considering that her great-grandfather William Mulholland, though originally from Ireland, basically brought L.A. to life through his work on the California Aqueduct. They have a street named after him and everything.

Christine is also not the biggest fan of the Marketplace idea. She's not the biggest fan of development in general. I'll bet she's not even that big of a fan of Texas.

But Scott, I'm sure, with his big Texas heart, can handle someone who doesn't care for Texas. I'm also sure that his big Texas heart has less room for someone who can politically oppose making room for Macy's and Circuit City.

I never clap when everyone else does in the middle of that one Texas song.

So while she was running for office, Christine took a hit from SLO Associates and another hit from SLO Marketplace Associates, which sounds like the same group, but isn't. And if the similar names aren't enough to confuse you, wrap your head around this: SLO Marketplace Associates is also run by a Texan, though this one's name is Bill Bird.

At around the same time Scott was pulling strings from Dallas, Texas Bill was teaming up with Ernie Dalidio to give money to somebody who'd give money to somebody to politically beat up on Christine, while supporting her opposing City Council candidates Paul Brown and Andrew Carter.

Through SLO Marketplace Associates, Bill and Ernie also threw a hefty back-channel bone to Mayor Dave Romero while brandishing a hefty back-channel stick at Dave Booker, his closest candidate.

History shows us that Dave took the mayor seat and Paul made it onto the council, and they're both pros at being pro-Marketplace. They're practically making a living off of it, after all.

So now we know that while they lobby for the Marketplace, Mayor Dave and Councilman Paul are representing constituents, thought it's not entirely clear whose. Maybe we'll find out after the next election.

Meanwhile, a group called Save San Luis Obispo organized a donation campaign in opposition to the Marketplace project, funded by donors who mainly hail from the 93401 zip code. (That's in San Luis Obispo, for all you Texas readers who may not know that.) Admittedly, a few of the contributors live out of the area, but in my map book, Morro Bay and Cambria are a lot closer to home than Dallas.

As the name implies, Save San Luis Obispo believes that San Luis Obispo needs saving. They're worried that, among other things, the Marketplace will threaten Downtown.

Not to beat up on the group that it sounded like I was just defending, but everybody said the same thing about the Madonna shopping center, predicting fire and earthquakes and riots as shoppers dropped Downtown like a hot, moldy potato and flocked to the chain stores.

I just checked, and Downtown's still around. Sure, there are some empty windows, but it's nothing compared to the Town Center mall in Santa Maria. Talk about a ghost town. You could live for a month in one of their vacant stores and never see a soul.

San Luis Obispo doesn't need saving, at least not from the Marketplace. The only thing that could kill this city is a collapse in either the real estate market or in containment at Diablo.

At this point, you're probably trying to figure out whether I'm for the Marketplace or not, considering that I've attacked both sides. I usually try to keep my opinions to myself, but I'll make an exception in this case, as long as you can keep a secret: I was born and raised in California.


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