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Conservative capers

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Emotions are apparently a big no-no in Paso Robles.

At least at the school district level, where Paso Robles Joint Union School District board trustee/President Chris "Stone Cold" Arend has made it very clear that being emotional is passé.

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Decisions on the school board have to be "ice cold and without emotion," Arend said in late 2021 about a potential school board candidate, who he believed was "kind of flowery, a bit emotional, in her answering the questions" put to her by the board.

Stone Cold Arend was at it again on Feb. 22 before a cattle herd-sized crowd of people waiting to speak on the most controversial topic of the day: masking!

"We have a couple of topics this evening that might get a little bit emotional," Arend said at the start of the meeting. "Try and keep the feelings a little bit under control."

As public comment started, it became immediately apparent that no one was going to be controlling anything. I'm assuming the first speaker didn't understand the point of a microphone, because she was screaming her thoughts to the school board. Some school board members might be hard of hearing, you know? She just wanted to make sure they HEARD her.

"Free Kids Faces," one sign read. Parents booed. Parents cheered. Parents yelled. Parents got emotional. The microphone accumulated unmasked saliva.

It was an event! Like many of this past year's Paso school board meetings.

School district staff recommended that the school board stay in line with California's masking rules—that students continue to wear masks—because it's the responsible thing to do. But also because it's the insurable thing to do. As in, if the district declines to follow California Department of Public Health guidelines, the company that insures the district can pull its coverage over COVID-19-related issues.

"For the protection of the district, its fiscal responsibility, and the safety of our students and staff," Deputy Superintendent Jen Gaviola said.

Insurance, schminsurance! The risk is tiny, Arend said, without a trace of emotion.

"How is somebody going to prove that little Johny got COVID from school and not from going with his mother to the supermarket or going anywhere else? This virus and omicron is all around us," Arend said.

It's called contact tracing. Have you heard of it?

Maybe that's too flowery of a process for Arend to lend credence to, though. Science is so emotional, amirite?

Pleas from district staff and the warning from the insurance provider meant nothing to the icy decision-making abilities of board members, who voted to give students their freedom!

Board member Dorian Baker was elated in her effusive praise of America hard at work, freeing children from abuse (no, not actual abuse, just masking)!

She apparently spoke with mask-agitator Allan "Bitcoin Expert, Health Freedom Advocate, and More" Stevo, telling him how what happened on Feb. 22 was an example of what needs to "continue happening in America," according to his press release.

"We need to elect good people, and then stay involved and help our representatives win the the battles," the release said.

Stevo has been emailing his "releases" to New Times for a couple of weeks now, pointing out that Paso teachers are grading students on whether they mask or not. Gasp! Umm, sounds like a participation grade to me. Students are supposed to follow the rules, right? Or is that only the case for dress code regulations about spaghetti straps, skirt lengths, and gang colors?

He also pointed out that there was some drama at a February board meeting over mask rules. Gasp! That's never happened before. Where have you been? Isn't there a school district in New York City you can protest? After stirring the pot in the Lucia Mar Unified School District in 2021, why have you now chosen Paso? And did you bring Lucia Mar school board member Colleen Martin with you?

She loves emailing me stuff about that "Allan Stevo idiot," as she calls him.

She also believes that the Paso school board "deserves to have a class action lawsuit brought against them for not protecting their students rights to a free and equal education," according to an email she sent after the Feb. 22 vote.

That may be true, but apparently the recall drama that parents caused over masks and COVID-19 mandates at Lucia Mar has subsided to enough of a dull roar that Martin and Stevo feel the need to get involved in Paso—which clearly doesn't need anymore agitators than it already has. I've written about Paso, and Arend in particular, so much over the last year that I'm thinking about publishing Paso gossip column: "Conservative capers."

Speaking of conservative capers, the SLO County Board of Supervisors sure worked hard to dislodge itself from the county's Integrated Waste Management Authority on behalf of 6 percent of county residents. Yes, 6 percent of the agency's customers were represented by five board members on the 13-member board, which just simply didn't give the board enough of a say, according to 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton. Really?

And now the county is spending $2 million to create a whole new government agency to manage the trash needs of 6 percent of county residents—that's roughly 16,000 residents. And that doesn't include the day-to-day running of the department. Δ

The Shredder wants $2 million to start a new gossip column. Send contributions to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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