Opinion » Shredder

Masters of the obvious


So where was I? Oh, yeah: the Nacimiento Pipeline. Last week, I pointed out the near-boilerplate worker-death press release Teichert Construction issued after the latest fatal accident at the project. This week, I’m turning my gaze to our illustrious SLO County Sheriff’s Department, which is doing a wonderful job of keeping the public in the loop.


About a week after a dump truck backed over 29-year-old Tim Nelson, the department determined the cause of death to be ... the fact that he was run over by a dump truck. Yeah. Technically, the department’s official statement was that he died of blunt force trauma, but the blunt force was the dump truck, which everybody already knows.


Here are my questions—and probably yours: Why didn’t he get out of the way? Did he not hear or see the truck coming, even though its back-up alarm was apparently working properly? Was the vehicle out of control? Either no one knows, or no one is saying.


At least give us some credit, though. How do you even pen that headline? “Man killed by dump truck determined to be killed by dump truck.” It’s hardly worth a whole write-up, although the Tribune ran the story anyway. Not to slight them, it’s slim pickings these days in between Gail Wilcox’s exploits. Such are the dog days of summer.


The previous two construction deaths were drownings, and—not to sound callous—everyone knew they were drownings. It was obvious. The importance of the investigation into their deaths was to determine how and why they drowned. Cal/OSHA levied big fines against Teichert in what was determined to have been a preventable drowning accident, though the company appealed. Investigations are ongoing, but that’s the point. All of us—and especially the victims’ families—deserve to know more than the basic mechanics of their deaths.


So what’s behind the dump truck accident?


At Hoover Dam, there’s a memorial marker dedicated to the workers who perished while working on the water project. It reads: “They died to make the desert bloom.” Considering that this is the third—and hopefully the last—death on the Nacimiento Pipeline project, we should consider installing something similar.


Town hells


Health care. Am I right?


I didn’t even have to say more than those two words to get a big reaction out of you, did I? Doesn’t matter where you stand on the issue—you stand somewhere. And I’ll bet you’re standing there firmly, resolutely.




Congressional wannabe Matt Kokkonen held a town hall meeting about health care the other day so locals could boo and hiss and speak their minds about stuff like buying health insurance across state lines and health-care rationing and socialism and other big words I don’t understand. I was going to go, but I don’t have any health care of my own, and the slightest annoyance may finally burst that blood bubble in my right hemisphere. I can feel it pulsing right now.


Actual Congresspeople Kevin McCarthy and Lois Capps scheduled back-to-back town-hall meetings, but I wasn’t planning on going to those, either. Their meetings, however, may have been moderately helpful before our representatives began their milquetoast attempts to reform health care. After all-but-killing the single-payer option—which, by the way, would have been an actual reform—I don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish anymore. The process turned into such a quagmire, I can’t tell these days whose finger I’d rather have up my butt: Uncle Sam’s or my insurance company’s.

   Ouch. I think I’m about one or two heartbeats away from a cranial infarction. Or some other big word I don’t understand. On to something else.

Very appealing

There’ve been more than a dozen appeals filed in the latest incarnation of the Los Osos sewer situation. Yes, I’m talking about it, but I’m not happy that I am.


Will this project never end? I try to get out, but they pull me back in. Every time I think there’s been progress, the whole mess takes a few steps back—or slides back, if you’re on the gravity side of things. That’s pretty much the debate: gravity vs. STEP technology. One method pushes sewage around with pressure, and one lets gravity do all the pushing for it. It’s the same debate I always have with myself when I’m sitting down on the john—push or let it fall on its own?—so I guess it’s to be expected that a whole town would quibble about the method for moving around the contents of a whole town’s colons.


Anyhoo, the county’s planning commission spent something like a solid week crossing t’s and dotting i’s, tweaking the location of the sewer site, adding in fancy water conservation features, and handling other last-minute details to make the project perfect, but the deadline for filing appeals to the project brought with it a passel of, well, appeals.


It’s Los Osos, so I’m not really surprised.


Actually, let me amend. The people involved are all humans in the United States, so I’m not really surprised. We all need something to take a stand on, whether it’s how our crap will ultimately end up wherever it ends up or which way we’ll get screwed when we step on a nail and need quality care we can afford or whether this red stuff trickling out of my ear is really blood.


The Shredder went into a coma after finishing this column, but will continue to meet deadlines. Send flowers or donations to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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