You know what they say. When the pro-Air Pollution Control District Rule 1001 cats are away, Debbie Peterson and her Grover United minion mice will play. Or attempt rather ineffectively to play. And by play I mean take over the monthly Air Pollution Control District meeting on July 24 to agendize the repeal of the November 2011 rule that gave the air district the power to potentially fine state parks for exceeding state and federal air pollution standards.
There were a number of important things that were supposed to happen at that meeting, which kinda tends to happen when you only meet once a month. The board was slated to discuss a letter from the EPA regarding the Nipomo Mesa’s violation of federal particulate matter standards, a proposal to take a tour of the Dunes, a controversial schedule for fees related to State Parks’ permit with the district, as well as the adoption of the District’s 2013-2014 budget.
Apparently, SLO Mayor Jan Marx, Morro Bay Councilman Noah Smukler, and Arroyo Grande Councilman Joe Costello all scheduled a nice midsummer vacation and were unable to attend the meeting. Smells like an opportunity for a good ol’ fashioned coup d'état by a grumbling board minority still falsely spreading the propaganda that the APCD was fining State Parks left, right, and center. (In actuality, of course, the APCD has declined to fine State Parks, but, hey, what’s a little hyperbole among friends, right?)
You see, Peterson seems to believe that the best agency to regulate fugitive dust kicked up by ATVs is—you guessed it—State Parks! Which group happens to run the space being used by ATVs. Because everything operates more smoothly when we all just regulate ourselves, audit our own taxes, monitor our own cars and murderous impulses to make sure we don’t exceed the speed limit or kill anybody. Of course, Peterson is really just pandering to local businesses that believe ATVs are the backbone of the local economy. Which would kinda make sense if anyone was talking about shutting down recreation areas for ATVs. Which no one is, but Peterson seems to recognize that her cause gets a lot more attention when she implies that’s a possibility.
So Debbie was looking for a majority vote at the July 24 APCD meeting to formally discuss her petition to repeal the dust rule at the August meeting. With three pro-rule board members out on vacation, Peterson—along with fellow science deniers like Pismo Beach Councilman Ed Waage—decided to play a little game I like to call politics.
Problem is, it’s a game that two—or in this case, many, I don’t have the exact figures on who was plotting what just yet—can play. Recognizing that the not-so-silent, and slightly-scientifically-challenged minority would temporarily become the majority, Supervisors Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill (both of whom are pro dust rule) informed executive officer Larry Allen that they weren’t going to be able to attend the meeting. I’m not entirely certain how that conversation went down, but I’m fairly confident that Allen didn’t ask to see a doctor’s note. After all, Allen doesn’t want to see a discussion of Rule 1001 repeal on the August agenda, nor any other agenda, for that matter. Nor does he want the pro-State Park lobbyists—I mean, sitting APCD board members—to be the majority the day the board takes up a schedule of possible fines to State Parks.
With just six board members left to attend—and seven required to establish a quorum—Peterson’s dreams of dust flying freely across the Nipomo mesa with no repercussions were foiled. Well played, Hillson (that’s the celebrity mashup nickname I’ve created for the dust-fighting supervisorial couple). But getting caught—and photographed—by Gossip Girl (and political watchdog/gadfly) Kevin Rice as you patronized coffee shops and Economic Vitality Corporation wonks when you’re supposed to be cough, cough, unable to attend the APCD meeting? Not so clever. (Mostly because we now have to listen to anti-science conspiracy nuts propose a conspiracy in which you made up an excuse not to attend a meeting as a political maneuver, which totally happened. Kevin Rice was right about something. Of course, if you’d just copped to your blatantly transparent political shenanigans, Rice would have been forced to find someone else to follow around with a camera that day. Are you happy now, Hillson?)
The sad part is that now the district is without a budget, and the district is already behind schedule on some very important issues. Sure, they could call a special meeting, but who wants to bet they don’t? And these meetings cost the taxpayers money. Plus, let’s not forget the members of the public who took time off from work to attend the meeting and voice their opinions, only to learn at the last minute that the meeting had been cancelled. Way to serve the public.
You certainly can’t blame Paul Teixeira for his absence, but what about the rest of the board members who took their cue from Ferris Bueller and decided to play hookie rather than attend a meeting for a board on which they sought a seat? How hard is it to plan a vacation around a meeting that only happens once a month?
Well, it appears we're back to the status quo. Dust Rule stays intact, for now, and nothing is moving. Yep, sounds like the APCD to me. And the funny part is, Peterson may not even be there when they meet again come August. Her colleagues on the City Council have suggested she's somehow not representing Grover Beach’s best interests. Huh. What could have given them that impression?
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