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If at first you don't succeed ...

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When democracy doesn’t give you the results you want, try more democracy, right? That seems to be SLO City Vice Mayor and District 3 County Board of Supervisors candidate Dan Carpenter’s approach.

He wants to put SLO’s Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance up to a vote by the people even though the ordinance was already passed by the City Council. You see, citizens vote for council members—their representatives—who vote on ordinances so that citizens don’t have to micromanage every little thing necessary to run a city.

Apparently Carpenter isn’t satisfied with the democratic process, of which he is a part. He voted no on the ordinance.* The majority of the council voted yes. Clearly, his fellow council members voted wrong, right? Now, Carpenter wants a do-over. 

He and local attorneys Stew Jenkins and Dan Knight filed a repeal initiative measure, calling the ordinance un-Constitutional. What? Really?

Yeah, according to Carpenter, the current ordinance is discriminatory because it only applies to rental housing and not owner-occupied housing. Um, that’s because it’s a “Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance” and not a “Housing Inspection Ordinance.” The whole point is to protect renters from shady landlords and ensure that rental housing meets basic safety standards. Do the smoke alarms work? Is there any obviously faulty wiring or leaking roofs or broken windows or blocked doors? If an owner of a house wants to live in squalor, go for it, but if you’re renting out your property, it ought to be livable. 

According to Danny-boy, only targeting rentals is the same as “discriminating against people based on their gender and the color of their skin.”

Oh sheesh! I think your logic is doing yoga, Dan. Protecting renters from unsafe conditions is hardly discriminating against them. I think what’s really going on is Dan is making a pathetic grab for attention in the run-up to November’s election when he hopes to unseat incumbent 3rd District Supervisor Adam “Donate or Die” Hill. Dan’s just courting landowners’ votes. “Vote for me and I’ll make sure you can continue to rent out your rundown student housing with the illegally converted garage and broken toilet for ridiculous prices!”

What Carpenter should be doing is helping renters understand their rights and learn how to hold their landlords accountable instead of circumventing the very City Council he was democratically elected to be a part of while self-aggrandizing like an attention-seeking child.

SLO City Councilmember Dan Rivoire also voted against the current ordinance but said it was decided via the democratic process and that he’d stand by the council’s decision, because that’s how grownups do it, Carpenter.

Now Carpenter and his slumlord-protecting cronies will need to gather signatures from 15 percent of the city’s registered voters if they hope to move their initiative forward. It’s already too late to make the November ballot, meaning the council could simply adopt the repeal or set a special election, which will obviously cost money, but Carpenter doesn’t care as long as it signals to rich landowners that they should support him rather than Adam “A $99 Check’s Not Going to Cut It” Hill.

This is politics at its most wasteful.

If all of that political stupidity makes you want to chug a few drinks, I don’t blame you. And if you are one of the jackasses who enjoys a nice relaxing drive after six or seven cold ones, maybe you ought to wet your whistle at the Cliffs. The resort’s valets were apparently totally cool with handing the keys to a completely shitfaced Nipomo man back in 2014, according to a recent lawsuit.

Despite the fact that this fine gentleman was visibly drunk, swearing, flipping people off, and grabbing his crotch, the lawsuit states that the hotel’s valet gave this upstanding party animal the keys to his car anyway. I mean, hey, it was a great opportunity for Bozo the Boozehound to smash into seven parked cars and hit a pedestrian in the parking lot. Who knows why this guy decided to get smashed and drive? Maybe he was just trying to do his best Billy Joel impression? 

But, um, hello? Drunk dude. Car keys. Not really a great combo. It’s not like the valet was trying to take his or her friend’s keys away at the end of a night on the town. The valet already had them! 

Sheesh, people. Don’t be stupid.

And speaking of stupid, after last week’s column on police shootings of people of color, R.L. Lee wrote to ask me why “blacks commit 52 percent of murders when they comprise less than 13 percent of the population.”

I guess Lee’s point is that black folks are just more murdery than white folks. There’s just something about dark skin that makes a person more violent, right Lee? I mean, it can’t be America’s systematic racism. It’s definitely not the grinding poverty in many black communities. And there’s no way a lack of education and opportunity leads to crime and violence. It’s gotta be the dark skin! And it’s the Democrats’ fault! Thanks, Obama!

Sorry, Lee, but liberals are the only ones trying to help people of color via public assistance, increased education funding, and community development—all programs that many conservatives consider a waste of money and a handout. 

Impoverished urban areas are often Democrat-governed because citizens of those areas know that Democrats believe “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps” is not an effective policy for change. If people of color thought Republicans would do a better job of representing them, they’d vote for them. That’s democracy. 

The Shredder votes its self-interest. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

* Correction: The originally published version of this sentence, "He voted no on the ordinance (a flip-flop from when he was originally for it)." has been edited for accuracy. Carpenter has voted against the Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance every time it's come up. Sept. 7. 2016.

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