Woe be to any politician who tries to tell Los Osans there’s a limit to how much they can talk about their would-be sewer.
So Supervisor Bruce Gibson, the newish board chairman, learned after he decided to limit public comment on the Los Osos sewer project. (To a total 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon, except when the item is on the agenda.) At the supervisors’ April 28 meeting the public backlash over his new policy got as heated as it’s ever been; one woman was nearly ejected from the room.
During the afternoon public comment session, Martha Goldin laid into Gibson over what she called a broken public process. She said Gibson’s public-comment rule was not on the agenda and therefore violated the Brown Act. As soon as she mentioned the Los Osos sewer project—Gibson had already closed discussion on the issue—Gibson interrupted her, saying that the item was closed. Goldin ignored him and went on.
“Mr. Gibson,” she said, “due process is due process and we don’t seem to have it.”
The two argued back and forth as Goldin criticized the lack of “due process” and Gibson tried to stop her from speaking about the sewer project. Eventually Gibson asked County Counsel Warren Jensen to back up the new public-comment policy. Jensen said there was no breech of the Brown Act, which dictates public comment rules. He added there was always the option to remove a speaker, but Gibson said he wouldn’t do that. The room echoed with snickers and exasperated sighs from the public.
The issue didn’t stop there. Gwen Taylor, a regular speaker from Los Osos, continued to go after Gibson’s new policy.
“I have never had a chair as dictatorial as this chair and I’ve seen a lot,” she said.