Opinion » Shredder

Little orphan Annie


So I’m in a foul mood—again. Well, not really that foul, but everyone keeps telling me I’m in a bad mood so I’m playing along.


It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what precipitated this particular pouting session. My best guess so far is it’s all about Annie the dog.

I think Annie the dog should go back to her original owner! Unless there’s more to the story, in which case Annie the dog should stay with her new owners! Then again, her old owner really loves his dog. Annie the dog should go back to her original owner!

As you can see, it’s easy to pontificate about things one knows little-to-nothing about, and to do so in a way that wastes a lot of time. Everyone has his or her own opinion about the Annie-the-dog situation. But I won’t mock everyone besides me for being wrong—as usual. Instead, I’ve decided to throw you all a bone. Ba-zing. Shredder scores with a K-9 pun right out of the gate. How you like them apples, Trib reporter Bob Cuddy?

In all of this hullabaloo over Annie, the border collie caught in doggie limbo between two owners because of a shelter snafu, no one has proposed the obvious fix-it: Get the new owners in a room with original owner Chuck Hoage, and let the dog decide. Problem solved. You’re welcome, SLO County.

This situation has dragged in ostensibly every news media, blogger, and online commenter, and now the high-paid county lawyers are pissing away precious time and dollars to solve a personal dispute between dog owners. There’s a Facebook page devoted to bringing Annie back, and a blog designed to help “Send Annie Home!” Radio host Dave Congalton has made this a personal mission to reunite original owner and dog. Online commenters have even resorted to threats against the owners who refuse to give back their newly adopted dog. With everyone standing ready with a batch of tar and feathers, it’s mind-blowing that they still wonder why the new owners are hiding from the public. I would. But I’m not holding Annie’s leash, seriously. I’m allergic to leashes.

Personally, I was more enthralled with the Elian Gonzalez fiasco, but that’s not saying much.

Actually, how is Elian doing these days? Someone should give us an update—anything that will knock Annie out of the public debate and into a loving, stable home.

Buyer’s remorse

The disgusting salaries recently unearthed in Bell City are both a blessing and a curse for anyone else who works in public service. On the curse side, it’s a big black eye when some public officials pull in salaries that would make a banker blush. At the same time, when other city officials are making about $800,000 a year, it gives our local officials the opportunity to appear humble, perhaps even frugal.

Coincidentally, SLO County and Atascadero have been fully disclosing the salaries to the press. It comes across as a big “look at how we don’t make as much money as Bell City” campaign.

Now, seeing as I get paid mostly in cheese and pretzels, even the meager salaries of our local bureaucrats got me thinking: What crazy stuff could I buy with, for the sake of argument, the monthly pay of Atascadero City Manager Wade McKinney, who doubles his time as the president of the California City Management Foundation? So I hopped onto the place where I buy most of my goods: craigslist.org.

At the top pay scale, which is what McKinney gets to blow on a monthly basis, the Atascadero city manager makes more than $13,000 a month. Here’s what that kind of cash can afford:

• 1,300 pairs of little girls’ soccer cleats.

• About three years of rent for my apartment.

• More than 70 BMW rims.

• 47 chipper/shredders from Arroyo Grande.

• One 2005 convertible VW Beetle.

At the top salary range, the county administrative officer (who has the top salary in the county) makes more than $18,000 per month. That’s enough to buy 28,800 golf balls. Someone showy enough could convert it to 1.8 million pennies and fill up a swimming pool, Scrooge McDuck style.

I rest my case. Let the record show that they all make too much money.

And lastly—because I need to squeeze out a few more words—Sam Blakeslee seems to have officially kept his Sacramento address by winning his second special election in a row. I’ve really lost all faith in this process, not just because of the blatant political manipulation that got the special elections on the ballot in the first place, but because only 38 percent of voters in this county turned out to make their voices heard. That’s particularly lazy, because about 45 percent of local voters hit the polls back in June.

So first, John Garamendi hightails it for Congress. Next, Arnold Schwarzenegger yanks Abel Maldonado out of his Senate seat to take over as lieutenant governor. Now Blakeslee is bailing from the Assembly to take over the Senate. Wonder what will happen with that empty Assembly seat? It’s like a big, political game of musical chairs. Eventually, somebody’s going to be left standing, and I hope it’s not the taxpaying voters—though I suspect we might have already lost this round, because I don’t hear any music playing.

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