Opinion » Shredder

No regrets!

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Don't you hate it when one word gets you into trouble? You start talking and it just tumbles out of your mouth before you have the chance to put it back in. And then you immediately regret it.

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Well, for me, it's like that sometimes—except I regret nothing!

Karen White, vice president of the Oceano Community Services District (OCSD) and ex-journalist, emailed me this week, calling me out for some transgressions in last week's column. The big one was calling White and her OCSD compatriot Shirley Gibson conservatives (It was one word in parentheses! I hate it when that happens!).

White informed me that they are lifelong Democrats—which I assume means they're liberals. Although, it probably depends on how far left you travel. Oops. My bad.

She's also very mad at me for confusing the OCSD and the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District—which is also in Oceano, but serves the Five Cities—when it comes to John Wallace and The Wallace Group. Wallace was the sanitation district's general manager and not the OCSD's as I misstated—and, of course, I did know that because New Times salivated over and covered that whole mess as much as every other outlet in the county because it was juicy. But his firm was the OCSD's district engineer until 2012, when it resigned amid allegations of conflict of interest and negligent behavior associated with a raw sewage spill at the Oceano treatment plant in 2010.

Plus, an OCSD representative serves on the sanitation district's board. So the Wallace drama didn't leave the OCSD out of its wake. Not for one second. #Noregrets.

Speaking of regrets. It almost feels like nobody wants to claim this "successful" trash cleanup program for homeless camps that SLO County piloted. What's up with that? Using blue bags (it's called the Blue Bag pilot program, get it?), residents camped on a piece of property near the Octagon Barn and San Luis Creek cleaned up about 6.8 tons of trash and 1,600 syringes this fall! That's more than 13,000 pounds of waste!

Holy crap! That's incredible: A) that humans can create that much trash, and B) that humans could collect that much trash in four weeks. And it only took place in one encampment! There are 257 other encampments in the county! TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SEVEN!

And it's a super program, according to everybody who New Times heard from.

SLO County supervisors called it "wonderful" and "terrific."

OK! But what now?

"We definitely saw a lot of people who are interested in helping," SLO County stormwater coordinator Anne Gillespie said. "We found less people who wanted to lead this effort."

Nobody wants to be left holding the blue bag if anything goes wrong or if some jerk accuses the county, city, or a nonprofit of enabling people to be homeless by allowing them a place to legally dump their houseless trash. I'm talking to you Christopher Maccarone from Grover Beach.

We'd much rather arrest them for disposing of trash illegally, then we can finally put them in jail and punish them for being homeless! We can't even arrest them for sleeping on the streets anymore, thanks to the stupid Supreme Court of the United States, which allowed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' Boise decision to stand. If we don't have enough shelter beds for homeless people to sleep in, then we can't make it illegal to sleep on sidewalks, in parks, along creek beds, etc.

But apparently, it's still legal to kick someone out of a shelter for yelling.

Can you imagine yelling at your mom because she turned the water off without telling you, and then she kicked you out of the house for three nights?

Well, that's pretty much what happened at CAPSLO's 40 Prado Homeless Services Center, where if you don't abide by the rules, best of luck to you. I bet Brenda, a homeless woman who spoke to New Times and asked to go by her first name only, immediately wished she could suck her angry words right back into her mouth. But it was too late.

"For minor stuff, you will find yourself in a creek bed," she said.

Hopefully, it's a recently cleaned-up creek bed, too.

The staffer who Brenda yelled at wrote her up for creating a "negative environment" and not filling out a conflict resolution form. Yep, you need to file paperwork to complain at 40 Prado.

Next thing Brenda knew, she was no longer a shelter resident. She was suspended.

CAPSLO Deputy Director Grace McIntosh said that 40 Prado does a very delicate dance. She couldn't comment on Brenda's particular incident, but she said that residents sign on to a set of rules when they stay at the shelter.

Hopefully those rules are easier to abide by than the pie-in-the-sky climate goals that the city of SLO set for itself. The city will only be able to get about 70 percent of the way to its carbon neutrality goals by 2035. And that's only if everyone in the community's bought in.

SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon's got no regrets, though. People will do big things to reach big goals, she said. But what about unattainable ones?

You know what they say: Set goals you can't reach and you don't have to reach for them! Δ

The Shredder regrets nothing. Send conflict resolution forms to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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