Opinion » Shredder

Fraud and resignation

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How about a little existential angst to go with your post-election hangover?

When do facts become opinions and opinions become facts?

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Wait a second, let me retract those questions. I forgot for a second that I'm supposed to be a toxic cynic, according to Rhetoric and Reason columnist Andrew Christie, not well-reasoned, funny, and devastatingly good-looking—which is how I view myself. But even Shredders have to break character sometimes.

Locally, we're locked in the same intense battle that the nation is. Only it's hard to call an election fraudulent when one Republican wins and another loses. But people do.

Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) won, while Congressional candidate Andy Caldwell lost. Mostly because Caldwell wasn't afraid to express his particular brand of conservative crazy, which was apparently palatable to only 30 percent of the 24th District, and Cunningham is pretty quiet about any issue that carries the slightest hint of controversy.

And local Republicans are champing at the bit one-term President Donald Trump drags them around with to cry foul in the presidential election! Why not? He told us that the election is fraudulent with nary a shred of actual evidence! But we're not the sheeple, Democrats are!

Never mind the fact that Republicans in Pennsylvania were elected to maintain absolute control over the state Legislature, that a Republican beat out a Democrat to become the state's next auditor-controller, or that Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick hung onto his Bucks County seat despite being a Democratic target in 2020! Only the presidential race was rigged, even though it's on the same ballot as all of those other offices.

The Republican Party of SLO County (RPSLO) wants you to help pay for the "Official Election Defense Fund." Don't worry, though, your contribution will get "1,000 percent match"! Find out how to waste your money today by visiting their website.

David Duringer of Grover Beach, who could very well be the town's next City Council member, is convinced that his side—the party of Trumpis the majority and his side won in a landslide, according to his Facebook posts! Duringer, who owns the Guntrust Institute, is ramping up airsoft training sessions to everyone in nearby communities now that the election is over. Book yours today! If Duringer loses the extremely tight City Council race, will he cry voter fraud? And if he wins, maybe his opponents could. I think that's how it works these days.

And the liberals, progressives, Democrats, whatever you want to call them? Well, it sure seems like some of them would just really appreciate it if all of you elected officials with opinions they don't like would just shut up or resign.

Because that's what's happening on local school boards.

Some local residents are calling for Cuesta College board trustee Pete Sysak to resign for posts on his personal Facebook page. He's apparently anti-gay and anti-Islam, as well as in the business of peddling false information. Cuesta English instructor Steve Leone was upset about Sysak's communication to the public (or lack thereof) about the issue and said Sysak doesn't represent the college's views of being open and welcoming to people of all stripes and colors.

Sysak's views are reprehensible, so I get being upset. But Leone went so far to say that Sysak doesn't have a right to express views like that. And dammit, guys, I hate it when you do this, but I'm going to have to agree with another dunce: Paso Robles Joint Unified School District board clerk Chris Arend.

The guy doesn't believe that racism is systemic—which is obviously total BS—and isn't afraid to express it very publicly. Area residents also called for him to resign over his extremely long opinion piece in CalCoastNews, which was borderline conspiracy theory masquerading as an academic think piece, which said exactly that. In response to the outcry, he said the idea that elected public officials like himself aren't allowed to speak publicly or on their own behalf is "absolute garbage."

And, he's right.

Why do I feel the need to remind people that school board members are elected to their positions? They aren't appointed, like ex-SLO County Planning Commissioner Jim Harrison, who resigned earlier this year over a similar situation. Like Sysak, he compares Democrats to Nazis without a trace of irony. Board members in local school districts run for office just like all of the other people we love to hate.

They're on the same ballot as the race to become POTUS. And, hey, this year, a QAnon conspiracy theorist—among other things—might have even been elected to serve on the San Luis Coastal Unified School District board. Come on, everyone! We can't figure out how to field a decent candidate to beat out someone with those opinions? Maybe it's time to take a long, hard look at how we're fighting these election battles.

I know this sounds crazy, but—if you don't like what an elected official is putting out there, you can campaign against them in the next election. You can start a recall petition, like California's crazy conservative wing is attempting to do against Gov. Gavin Newsom. You could even run for office yourself! I know, right? Bonkers. Δ

The Shredder thinks we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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