James Bond had it all: He was suave, he drank on the job, he made it with lots of ladies with dirty names, he got to drive a
cool car, and he could shoot people without having to go to jail for it. Itâ€™s how Iâ€™ve always wanted to live my life, and now Los Osos might be able to help me achieve my dream. Los Osos Community Services District General Manager Bruce Buel said heâ€™s looking for a covert agent to keep tabs on troublemakers and potential troublemakers at public meetings. He advertised the position at $20 an hour, which when you factor in taxes and cost-of-living increases and such, is about a million times more than I make doing what I do here. With that kind of money, I could afford ordering martinis both shaken and stirred.
It seems that at recent meetings, some of the more vocal attendees have become some of the more violent attendees, battering their fellow men with words and, sometimes, if you believe everything you hear, open palms.
Iâ€™ve kept tabs on troublemakers in Los Osos for years before anyone advocating actually paying someone to do it. In fact, Iâ€™m thinking of demanding back pay for all the work Iâ€™ve done with no compensation. My calculatorâ€™s broken, so Iâ€™ll have to do it by hand. Letâ€™s see â€¦ $20 an hour, times about a dozen mentions a year, for the last â€¦ um â€¦ Forget it. Bruce, just buy me a car with hyperdrive and rockets mounted in the trunk and weâ€™ll call it even.
There is a downside to being a spy for the CSD: I checked the Los Osos phone book. There arenâ€™t any Pussy Galores.
Another downside is the application due date: Jan. 26. Looks like Iâ€™m too late. Well, now that I know that no money is on the line for me, I can say what I really think: Whatâ€™s the attending county deputy doing at the meetings if heâ€™d have to have someone report trouble at the meetings to him? Itâ€™s not that hard to miss someone slapping someone else, unless youâ€™re off in the closet with Holly Goodhead.
Apparently, since some meetings last until well into the next day, when most peopleâ€™s coffee pots would just be clicking on to start bubbling and wake them with the sweet, sweet smell of freshly brewed Folgers, the county deputies often go home and go to bed.
Bruce, if you promise to get me the spy car I asked for â€” and one of those watches that shoots a laser beam that can cut through steel â€” Iâ€™ll give you a tip: Save yourself the money and only tell people that youâ€™ve hired a plainclothes snitch. Youâ€™ll get the same effect.
Besides, nobody wants to hear me introduce myself as â€œShredder. Shredder. Shredder.â€?
This column ended last week before I could get everything off my chest about the anti-visitor ad thatâ€™s been cropping up all around San Luis Obispo â€” including in the New Times. And here I wasted more precious space grousing about Los Osos again, and itâ€™s too late to go back and erase it and start over.
Just pretend that everything you read about the Los Osos situation was about Mardi Gras in SLO, and then pick up again here:
First, there were print ads that told people to stay away and not gather in large crowds on Mardi Gras weekend or theyâ€™d be in big trouble, courtesy of the community of San Luis Obispo. Really, the messages are courtesy of the police of San Luis Obispo, and paid for by the city of San Luis Obispo to the tune of $20,000. Police spokesman Rob Bryn said that being nice hasnâ€™t worked in the past, so we can expect more of the same next year and the year after that and the year after that until people donâ€™t want to come to SLO anymore because Mardi Gras here will be so boring itâ€™ll make the annual quilting competition at the California State Fair look like Woodstock.
To add insult to insult, these messages have made it to airwaves as well. I saw a commercial the other night that featured prominent-ish members of the community telling viewers to lay low or someone could get hurt. Kaylene Wagner represented Cal Poly as a member of the track team, Ryan Ward spoke for Cuesta as student body president, and Paul Brown did double duty as a city councilman and owner of Motherâ€™s Tavern, so he also spoke as a downtown businessman and a responsible purveyor of alcohol. The other obvious talking head to round out this quartet wouldâ€™ve been a SLO police officer, maybe pointing a gun at the camera and wagging a finger side-to-side as if to say, â€œIf I see you outside on Mardi Gras weekend, I will shoot you.â€?
Instead, KSBY anchor Adrienne Moore completed the set, telling everyone to â€œStay at home. Take the weekend off â€¦ Together, we can make a difference.â€?
As a member of the media who regularly takes sides, I can say that itâ€™s not okay for members of the media to take sides. The Mardi Gras fiasco is a real issue that doesnâ€™t just boil down to riots or no riots. A lot of business owners and community members look forward to the celebration for many reasons, and theyâ€™ve got arguments to which Iâ€™d hate to think fellow reporters were turning a blind ear. Or eye. Or any other body part.
If journalists start taking sides, where will people on the other side turn when they want to make their voices heard? Soon, the only option they could feel they have left to them is walking outside and shouting â€” as long as itâ€™s not during Mardi Gras.