Hey everybody, let's have fun with math! SLO County has 181,894 registered voters. On Tuesday, June 7, only 39,777 votes were cast, which means 78 percent of you didn't bother to vote, and when I say "you," I clearly don't mean "you" who's reading this column because I'm betting you did vote. I'm talking about the 142,117 of your fellow citizens too apathetic to participate in democracy—the self-disenfranchisers, the ones who look at the state of the their city, county, country, and world and say, "Meh, good enough."
But for you wondrous, patriotic, determined 22-percenters, all eyes on the boy wonder! Despite the blow the new Republican-approved Patten Map did to Jimmy Paulding's base when it gerrymandered Oceano out of the 4th District, it looks like Paulding will unseat Lynn Compton anyway, which means the unswingable SLO County Board of Supervisors is about to get swung, baby!
That's good news for liberals if the 2nd District's Bruce Gibson (currently ahead with almost 53 percent) and the 3rd District's Dawn Ortiz-Legg (currently claiming nearly 65 percent) retain their seats to become the new liberal majority with Paulding. The question is: Will they be willing to use their power in the same cutthroat, united way the conservatives have done lo these many years? Seems Ortiz-Legg is the wild card.
The board recently voted to repeal the inclusionary housing ordinance that helps create low-income housing in the county, and guess who abstained? Yeah, Ortiz-Legg, who'd better grow a backbone if she plans to lead and solve our problems. She didn't like the fee and didn't like that there was nothing to replace it, so ... punt? She said she wanted to "slide under the dais"—spine implant, stat!—rather than take a stand on the issue. Come on, Dawn! Vote your values; don't fish for construction industry support! Represent District 3, which has 14,955 registered Democrats to 6,366 Republicans.
Oh, and before the conservatives start with their, "See! The Patten Map didn't gerrymander and Paulding's win proves it," they should check themselves before they wreck themselves because the Patton Map absolutely disadvantaged Paulding. Of the 40,057 4th District voters, only 13,776 are Democrats compared to 15,689 Republicans, and add in the 1,594 registered extra-right-wing American Independents and 547 registered Libertarians, and the 4th should be reliably conservative, which means conservatives didn't get the vote out or people are really over Lynn Compton.
I was also buoyed to see Elaina Cano retained her seat as County Clerk-Recorder. She crushed her conspiracy-minded "the last election was rigged" dullard challengers. I guess there aren't as many SLO County residents suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome as feared.
The results aren't yet official, so things can change. Also, conspiracy theorists can challenge: "Of course Cano won with 67 percent of the vote—she counted them!"
All I know is whatever the outcome, 78 percent of you can shut your pie-holes when it comes time to complain because your chance to register your opinion has passed.
Speaking of opinions, there's no shortage of them concerning the city of SLO's proposal to double its parking fees to pay for a new parking structure. You heard that right! Double! The city is proposing $4 an hour in the downtown core and $3 an hour for the outer downtown area. Parking structures would double to $3 hour and a $12 daily max.
"Are you kidding me??" double-asked Randi Barros in a letter to the SLO City Council. "Do you see all the closed businesses downtown?"
"Increasing parking rates in SLO by 100 percent is an outrageous and shockingly huge increase," Robert Botta wrote. "I, for one, will not be shopping or dining in downtown SLO anymore."
"I do believe you think we are all multi-millionaires," Adele Coyle wrote the council. "Wake up and realize you will be missing all those taxes that our purchases provide for your budget."
"This is going to KILL the downtown businesses!" Laurie Crooks letter-screamed. "To add another increasing expense at this time in our economy is lunacy!"
"Please do not inflict this harm on our citizens," implored Deborah Ross.
Aye-yai-yai! This one's a hot tamale! A real undies-buncher! Before you get too apoplectic, however, there might be "politics" involved in the proposal.
According to SLO City Councilperson Andy Pease, nothing will really change for the next 12 months as they look for other options. The potential fee increase is a "placeholder" to show lenders the city has a plan to pay for the new structure as they seek to finance it. Ain't politics gross? Freak out the populace to secure a loan! That's not to say the fee increase won't happen anyway. Municipalities love their filthy lucre.
Take Arroyo Grande, for instance. It's proposing a 1 percent sales tax increase to repair its crappy roads. Between the pandemic, gas prices, and inflation, the public's tolerance for increased taxes (or parking fees, for that matter) is lower than an unrepaired pothole.
The city's Pavement Condition Index dropped to 56 (from 69 in 2016). The "good" range is 71 to 90. Clearly, AG has work to do. City Manager Whitney McDonald estimated it would take $6.3 million annually just to keep their score at a pathetic 56! The 1 percent increase would bring in only $5.6 million annually. Math for the win? Δ
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