Opinion » Shredder

Elusive integrity

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Oh my God! Did you hear? Politicians don’t always tell the truth. Shocking but for realsies! 

Oh, you knew that already? I guess I’m a little cranky and sick of hearing half-truths vomited out of pols’ mouths. I’m sick of hearing things that sound like they are toeing a little too close to the legal line for my comfort. I mean, if you get that close to it, you’re probably jumping over it from time to time, amirite?

I could be talking about the shit show that is the presidential election, but I’m not! Thank God, right? I’m so done with that dumpster fire. If I want to watch two grown-ass people call each other names on national television, I’ll stick to Maury Povich or Jerry Springer. I really don’t need to see America’s presidential candidates yell “Liar!” at one another for 90 minutes.

Cable news channels, hold on to your ratings! The world will be tuning in to laugh at the U.S. at least one more time before Nov. 8. There’s one more cringe-worthy debate coming up! And, for those of you who’d like to watch an orange-faced howler monkey scream nonsense at an extremely well-prepped wrinkly old bat on the big screen, it will be live-streamed at the Fremont Theater on Oct. 19.

Oh wait, I said this column wouldn’t be about that miserable race: Let’s move on to the good stuff that gossip sells on a local level. 

At the end of September, elected officials in South County tried to yell at each other officially through censure attempts at a South SLO County Sanitation District board meeting. Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill and Oceano Community Services District board member Mary Lucey hurled plenty of accusations at each other during the sanitation district’s Sept. 21 meeting about things that were said via online platforms. They’re, like, totally Facebook frenemies!

Lucey accused Hill of creating chaos at the sewer plant in a post on Richard Waller’s—he’s challenging Hill for mayor this year—Facebook page. False! Hill said at the meeting. She’s a liar! 

Meanwhile, Hill wrote an opinion piece for … you guessed it … CalCoastNews (which is incidentally still embroiled in a libel lawsuit and trying to depose all of its enemies—for instance, 3rd District County Supervisor Adam Hill and staunch anti-CalCoast guy Aaron Ochs—who seemingly have nothing to do with the case at hand, so I can’t wait for that November trial to commence) criticizing Oceano CSD General Manager Paavo Ogren for the “unjustifiable” billing of customers. False! Lucey said at the meeting. He’s a liar! 

Hmmm. Where have I heard that before? 

So, although both threw outrageously unjustifiable temper tantrums during the sanitation district’s board meeting, neither got what they wanted.

Thank goodness there’s one sane person on the three-member board, Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals. Poor guy’s caught in the middle of a sibling rivalry. Hill, meanwhile, told New Times that he’s proud of his “reputation of civility and respect.” I’m not sure what rumors he’s been hearing, but they’re definitely not the same ones I’ve been hearing. 

Maybe, he’s been listening to that CalCoast vacuum hum his praises for a little too long. 

Up in Atascadero, the mayor’s race is melting above the hot coals of accusations against incumbent Mayor Tom O’Malley. While everyone from The Tribune to SLO County 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold are singing his endorsement praises, oddly enough, six former Atascadero mayors endorsed his opponent, Nic Mattson

Well, that’s odd. Maybe they’re just jealous about his contact with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). They’re, like, totally pen pals! He’s asked them many different legal questions over the years he’s served as mayor. I bet the FPPC just loves him! For instance, one time the FPPC advised him that if he put his downtown property into his son’s name, he could legally vote on a particular item that affected the property. 

It was to settle a 2-2 tie on the City Council over a land dispute in 2004. His ex-property, which now nestles right up to the stunningly refurbished City Hall and gorgeously lush Sunken Gardens, has stayed in his son’s name ever since.

Like the FPPC said, there’s not a conflict of interest, so who cares if he votes on things that bring his son’s property value up? Outgoing Atascadero City Councilmember Bob Kelley definitely cares. He naïvely believes politicians should be both legal and ethical.

It seems like Atascadero Planning Commissioner Dennis Schmidt also feels a little smarmy about how the city benefits its mayor. O’Malley owns the Portola Inn in a residential area. Even though city code caps events on residential properties at 12 per year, it didn’t place that same cap on his bed and breakfast when it was permitted in 2010. 

My, my. Isn’t that peculiar? 

At the meeting where O’Malley’s permit was approved, Schmidt voiced his concern about what it would look like for “such a high-profile member of the community” to be treated differently than everyone else. 

O’Malley’s not worried about the criticisms though. People have been lobbing them at him for years. He made everything totally legal, so even if he’s threaded loopholes like a certain Cheetos-colored tax dodger, at least he’s not a liar. 

The Shredder thinks everyone’s a liar. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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