Opinion » Shredder

Petty-note junction


Taking dune buggies off of sweet jumps and breaking your neck is a thing, and it’s not just a thing for visiting Valley rednecks. Locals like to head to the Oceano Dunes for debilitating spine and neck injuries, too. But all those awesome ATVs, sand rails, and other motorized deathtraps kick up a lot of pollution, which is why there’s a perennial battle between mulleted off-road enthusiasts and their ponytailed environmental counterparts. That’s also why the Air Pollution Control District Board (APCD) spends a lot of time figuring out how to satisfy these two disparate groups.


The APCD Board is comprised of all five county supervisors and reps from the county’s cities, and if people were really paying attention to these petty meetings … well, I’m not saying the APCD would have an approval rating as low as the U.S. Congress, but they’d give ’em a run for their money!

Most recently, at the Sept. 23 APCD meeting, 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold played the petty, petty princess when she demanded the minutes from the June 17 meeting be amended to reflect that 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill is a boorish bully and big bad meany-pants. 

Well, not quite, but she demanded the minutes be amended to reflect that Hill had interrupted California State Geological Survey employee Will Harris during the public comment period.

For years, the State Geological Survey has tried to suggest how to mitigate pollution generated by ATVs, and since 2008, this dude Harris has been part of that team offering guidance to the APCD … until he overstepped his bounds at the June 17 APCD meeting, eliciting a sharp inquiry from Hill and 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson. Harris soon found his boss writing an apology letter to the board while he got taken off the dunes project and shuffled into another position … because he was in the wrong!

Why? Because Harris said he was there to speak for himself, but he admitted he was on the state’s dime yet not speaking for the state, and essentially he was accusing APCD members of being divisive and playing politics while he was being divisive and playing politics instead of offering his professional opinion and being professional and … sigh. Sometimes I hate local politics.

You know what Plato said: “One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Well, because I literally didn’t have anything better to do, I watched the Harris/Hill/Gibson segment of the June 17 meeting over and over again, and to accuse Hill of interrupting Harris is a stretch. Harris is finishing his rebuke of the board’s inability to play nice, and about 10 seconds beyond his allotted three minutes Hill begins to interject and then stops until Harris finishes, and then Hill asks, “Mr. Harris, can I ask upon whose behalf you are speaking?” while simultaneously Harris can be heard saying in closing, “Thank you.”

Fast forward to the Sept. 23 APCD meeting where Arnold is trying to put Hill in his place: “Mr. Harris comes to the public comment period, and was giving us some information on some studies he’s done, but the minutes do not reflect that Mr. Harris was unable to finish his comments.”

“That’s not actually accurate,” Hill responds correctly.

“I would like to make a motion to clarify that Mr. Harris was actually interrupted,” Arnold states, seconded by her BFF and 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton.

Then SLO Mayor Jan Marx comes back with a sensible idea: “I would like to make a suggestion that instead of doing creative writing right now, we direct the clerk to review the video and come back with a more detailed account of what actually happened.”

Hey, if I did it, I’m sure the clerk could too, but Arnold wasn’t having it, so Hill suggested that if she’s was going to make up one thing, why not another?

“We can say anything if that was case. We can say a dolphin walked down the aisle,” Hill said.

I watched the tape, and for the record, a dolphin did not walk down the aisle. Also, Harris finished his comments, and Hill’s inquiry did not prematurely terminate Harris’s statement.

Then Gibson chimes in: “It’s a sad day in local governance that the ideology of this has caused this board to now take however long it has to discuss the minutes. It almost doesn’t matter. These minutes will go off into their dusty hole. I’m halfway tempted to just approve this motion with the stipulation that Ms. Arnold’s amendment is absolutely contrary to reality, simply to spare this board the pain of having to listen to this nonsense. This is embarrassing, people.” 

He’s right, yet this discussion over the last meeting’s minutes goes on for more than 17 actual minutes. Your tax dollars at work!

“We are swimming in a swamp of embarrassment as we talk about this for this amount of time,” Gibson reiterates.

Come on in, folks! The water’s fine!

The Shredder feels like it’s backstroking through a sewer. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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