Democracy is great, as long as you're on the winning side, but when you're not, that whole "majority rules" thing is a real bitch. Just ask Oceano Community Service District (OSCD) member Cynthia Replogle, the perpetual odd woman out on many of the OCSD votes. She dissented so often and so vigorously that the board majority—President Linda Austin, Vice President Karen White, and member Shirley Gibson—simply voted for Replogle to shut her pie hole and keep it shut.
On Dec. 11, in a 3-2 vote, the OCSD barred Replogle from serving on any voting or non-voting committees and from participating in any community liaison assignments. Essentially, she was directed to sit like a lifeless meat puppet and swallow her objections to board decisions she disagreed with.
"Shush it, Cindy! Shush!"
At the time of the vote, White argued that Replogle's "continued protests and opposition to the actions that have already been taken by the majority of this board" undermined the governing body and interfered with execution of its goals. White added that Replogle's dissent was "bad for the community" and made it "impossible for this board to function."
Hmm. I'm not sure if I'd define how the OSCD operates as "functioning." Maybe "dysfunctioning" is more accurate. Ladies! Can't you all get along? Anyway, Replogle was not pleased, and a couple of weeks ago she wrote her opinion in New Times ("Punished for speaking," Jan. 16).
She noted White's statements and added, "Shirley Gibson went further [than White], stating that after the board's vote on any item, 'if you disagree with it, you can be mute,'" Replogle wrote.
What about free speech, eh? Well, let's talk about that for a quick sec. The board majority wasn't silencing Replogle from discussions on items up for vote. She could dissent away, but after the vote, instead of continuing to argue that the majority was wrong and undermine its decision, she needed to acquiesce to the decision. Hey, it's annoying, but that's how democracy works. She's a member of the board, the board voted fairly, she lost, and now it's time to exhibit some losing grace and hope you do better in the next battle—you don't keep fighting after the battle's lost.
On the other hand, barring Replogle from committee assignments is despotic and anti-democratic because you're trying to squelch opposition before it's even aired its ideas, and for that, Austin, White, and Gibson should be deeply ashamed. Were you three school bullies or something?
Replogle also said in her opinion piece that the board majority, as they divvied up the plumb paid committee assignments amongst themselves, left the board's sole Latinx member, Allene Villa, "with only non-voting, unpaid assignments."
Are you freaking kidding me? You bar Replogle from any committees and stick her only ally on the board with shit assignments? Excuse me for a minute while I simmer with disgust toward you three petty, malicious cowards.
Thankfully, it appears that the OCSD majority members may have recognized their own transgression. During its Jan. 22 meeting, after some vigorous public back-and-forth during a meeting that could be described as hijacked by constituents, the board agreed to reconsider committee assignments at its upcoming Feb. 26 meeting.
Wearing a shirt that read, "Free speech is for everyone, even people you don't agree with," Replogle said during the meeting, "The board has agreed to revisit the committee assignments, so that's the desired outcome, and I'm glad we were able to agree on that."
The board is also planning on revising its bylaws to say that all members should commit to supporting majority decisions and should not obstruct said decisions' implementation.
Hey look! A compromise! Probably one that makes all parties slightly unhappy! Now that's democracy in action! Way to function, the board formerly know as the Dysfunctional OCSD!
And speaking of dysfunction, how about those restraining orders, eh? They sure didn't have much effect on Josiah Johnstone, the subject of our cover article "Their stories" (Oct. 24, 2019), who stalked and harassed a number of local women before finally being convicted of felony stalking and criminal threats. He was recently sentenced to prison.
A restraining order also didn't have much effect on alleged Paso Robles wackadoodle Gabriel Canaday, who since April 2019 had been arrested 18 times, mostly on warrants for violating restraining orders and failing to appear in court. He's accused of harassing his ex-wife, threatening to kill a local man, and being a really shitty neighbor to Tobin James Cellars, who he lives across the street from on Union Road.
Let's cut to the chase! Winery owner Tobin James Shumrick shot the tires off Canaday's golf cart with a shotgun when Canaday was trespassing on winery property on Oct. 2. Shumrick is also facing criminal charges for vandalizing Canaday's truck. All told, Shumrick's charged with felony shooting at an occupied vehicle, misdemeanor vandalism, and misdemeanor hit-and-run.
The thing is, Shumrick felt like he had no choice because he felt Canaday was dangerous. Over the past two years, the SLO County Sheriff had been called to the winery 43 times because of Canaday's trespassing and harassment. Shumrick even took out a retraining order. Currently, Canaday is serving five months in jail for resisting arrest and evading an officer. Restraining orders seem pretty toothless, eh? But shooting an occupied golf cart? Sigh. Δ
The Shredder restrains itself. Send ideas and comments to email@example.com.