Opinion » Shredder

Look at what's developed

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Listen closely enough and you may just hear the painful yelps of Supervisor Jim Patterson getting turned into a human fist puppet. Yup, it finally happened. Patterson caved to detractors harder than Barack Obama on health care and put the drop on his planning commissioner, Sarah Christie, at least behind the scenes. This is full-on spelunking into a gelatinous puddle of special interests and splashing around in corporate rubber floaties, in my opinion.

Really, how are we supposed to ignore the festering cronyism of a company like SunPower scooping up Chris Crotty, the former chum of three county supervisors? The company colossally weaseled its way behind those same scenes I mentioned earlier with Crotty and mountains of slick PR. It’s our small-town version of a Karl Rove while the public process gets raped by private industry and backroom negotiating. Before you get all huffy, hear me: This isn’t an argument against solar. Just think, what would we be saying if this were an oil company? Now you can resume agreeing with me.

Love her or hate her—or maybe don’t know who she is—Christie is refreshingly transparent. It’s a quality rare in politics, especially local politics where your constituency has the opportunity to watch your backstabs firsthand. Christie wears her biases on her sleeve in a world where most small-time elects hide them under well-pressed suits and synthetic smiles.

Her staunch opinions are divisive, to say the least. Isn’t that the point, though? Don’t we want to know what our representative is thinking? Christie was appointed, sure, but we typically elect people because their skew jives with our own.

Her downfall was a long time coming, really. Christie has always been an obnoxious thorn in the pimpled ass of developers (when you wipe with money, it tends to chafe). I often hear that our illustrious assemblyman even tried to entice Patterson to dump Christie with promises that he would have an unchallenged supervisorial election in 2008. Back then, the story goes, Patterson rightly stood his ground behind his appointee.

Perhaps Patterson thinks folding the Christie hand will get his opponents to set down their pocket aces. (He forgot their decks are all aces.) Or maybe he thinks this is a fair compromise. Think: “You scratch my back; I’ll pave the way for your crappy projects and dump a smart policy maker.”

And while the Christie haters will cite her left-wing leany-ness as evidence of corruption, I personally relish in it like a kid splashing in a wading pool with generic-brand floaties. A lot of folks behind that big government desk are perfectly comfortable politely and gently blowing smoke up our butts. Christie, on the other hand, is a much-needed gigantic salty enema. Sorry for all the rear references.

At least now the message is clear: If you don’t like the way the system runs, then hassle the right people enough and they’ll concede. Don’t worry, Jim, I’m sure this will be the last sacrifice you have to make in order to keep that pleasant, neutral reputation. Wink, wink; nudge, nudge.

 Which reminds me of government stupidity.

 If you’re a family like the Copelands, you only have to pay a fraction of the cost to replace a parking space you disappear—about 40 percent depending on who you ask and when. Other cities make developers pay— brace yourself—100 percent. Thanks for crunching the numbers, New Times staffer Robert A. McDonald. He found that the city’s shelling out $45,000 per space on average. Local leaders give developers a break on parking because of the tax dollars said developers bring in. Why, then, do I not get a break on my property taxes for buying things?

If I could stop my foam-spitting, curse-laden, mental convulsions, I might be able to focus on the ridiculous notion that it costs $45,000 for a parking space. That’s the equivalent of a really nice car, or a few fairly nice cars, or a crap load of average cars. Aside from everything else that’s wrong with this price tag, it makes me feel unworthy to roll my beat-up POS onto the city’s affluent concrete pads. Do these spaces also come with a massage mode we’re not aware of?

Then there’s the fact that you can chew up existing parking spaces, give the city a few back, but dedicate the rest only to paying customers—again, if your last name starts with “C” and ends with “opeland.” And you pay different fees, for no other reason than what the city’s able to milk out of you, which all depends on who you are? I’m frothing again.

 Save me

Now that the end of the year is creeping in and the news is drying out, I’m realizing it might be time to start compiling some of my favorite bits from the close of the decade. More importantly, I think there’s a way out of actually doing that—at least for me.

So I turn to you, all three of you regular readers and contributors. Please give me a much-needed bailout and send along your top five shreddable moments from this column in 2009. Hell, since it’s the end of the first decade of the millennium, feel free to reach back into all the double-aughts. On second thought, feel free to include missed opportunities. In other words, do my homework for me and let’s tear the last 10 years a new one.

What made you laugh? Cry? Laugh and cry? Forced you to boycott the paper or dump entire news racks in the trash? But dear God, be brief. I’m looking at you, Michael Chambers. (Though thanks for the apologetic booze money.) I’ve got maybe 1,000 words to produce, and divided by five that’s … probably less than 1,000 words.

Send them in before Dec. 30 and try to be funnier than Ol’ Shred for a shot at New Times fame, which is more of a minute and a half than the usual 15.

Do my work for me. Send your top five to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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