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Pick your poison

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What’s worse: A SLO County Board of Supervisors candidate taking money from a billionaire with properties on the Central Coast or one taking money from people or businesses outside the state?

I know. It’s a tough one! 

OK. Here’s another one. What’s worse: A thinly veiled threat against developers who haven’t donated to your campaign or circulating a petition to destroy an ordinance that the SLO City Council you sit on voted to pass? 

Ooh, ooh, wait! I’ve got one more. What’s worse: Telling a constituent during a Board of Supervisors meeting that you know you’re not getting their vote and so are relieved it won’t affect the way you’re going to decide on the item before the board or forcing the City Council to take another vote on an issue that’s already been decided because you decided to change your mind and your vote? 

Do you know the two people I’m talking about yet? You guessed it: 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill and SLO City Councilmember Dan Carpenter, who are both running for Hill’s seat in November. 

It’s our own version of the presidential race, ya’ll. Only fewer accusations and more policy discussions. Ha ha! Just kidding. 

As far as I know Carpenter’s accused Hill of being a big fat meany head, and Hill’s accused Carpenter of not playing fair. A playground comes to mind. Sheesh, elections turn everybody into angry versions of their 5-year-old selves. So keep that boring policy mumbo jumbo to yourselves. We don’t need to know how you’re going to vote as an elected official. 

On the one hand you’ve got a guy who has served on the Board of Supervisors for years, is definitely on the liberal side of the political spectrum, and throws temper tantrums via angry emails sent late at night. 

He’s been accused of being in the pockets of developers because they donate to his campaign—which, honestly, developers donate to all kinds of campaigns, including those of his opponent. 

He’s also been locked in a battle with the website CalCoastNews, which isn’t afraid to throw any claim painting Hill in a bad light—substantiated, true, or not—up on the blog as quickly as fingers can fly across the keyboard. 

The longer you’re in politics or the public eye, the more the things you say can and will be used against you—just not in a court of law. So you’ve got to behave, ya see? 

On the other hand, you’ve got a guy who’s served on the SLO City Council for years, is arguably on the conservative side of the political spectrum (although, he’s adamantly said he’s independently minded), and isn’t afraid to do some political maneuvering if he doesn’t get his way. 

He claims to be grass roots, but recently took a $20,000 donation from billionaire B. Wayne Hughes Jr., who owns properties in Shell Beach, San Miguel, and Malibu, that we know of. Hughes has donated to conservative candidates in other SLO County elections, too. And Carpenter’s been endorsed by conservative-leaning politicians. From where I stand, you sure look like a Republican. Or, maybe you’re Libertarian-leaning, but independent? Doesn’t smell like it. 

Generally speaking, Carpenter doesn’t send nasty emails or text messages to people, but he doesn’t seem 100 percent honest, either. Politicians! Amirite? And CalCoastNews is on the Carpenter train. Whoo! Whoo! So, nothing he says can or will be used against him in the court of opinion that serves as the anti-Hill bullhorn. There aren’t any tittering, self-styled pundits stalking his every move for their next awkwardly worded social media post.

What am I going to write about when the election’s over? I’ve had fodder for, like, 18 months now. 

Oh, I know—Phillips 66! I forgot all about that rail spur mess in the Tasmanian devil dust trailing behind Election 2016. The company lawyered up and took SLO County to court for the county Planning Commission’s decision to deny the company’s proposal to build a rail spur on its Santa Maria Refinery property in Nipomo. That decision was appealed to the Board of Supervisors, which hasn’t scheduled a hearing yet, but P66 had a legal itch it just couldn’t wait to scratch.

The oil company is three years and $3 million into this project proposal mess and it’s not afraid to continue reaching into those slick, petroleum-laden pockets over unmapped ESHA. Don’t know what that is? Duh! It’s an environmentally sensitive habitat area, silly. P66 doesn’t like that last-minute hippy dippy add-on to its application at all! And it’s all that environmentalist-lobbying-liberal California Coastal Commission’s fault! 

In the court petition, P66 accuses the Coastal Commission of pressuring the Planning Department to designate an ESHA on the Nipomo property and wants the court to order the county to set aside the ESHA determination. It sounds like the oil company is sick of the horse and ready to put the cart out front. There’s a distinct possibility that this case will end up back in the court system after the supervisors make a decision—and potentially, the project could be appealed to the Coastal Commission as well.

Whew. Government’s many bureaucratic layers are stifling and consumed by public process and input! Geez, America. I guess Phillips 66 was sick of the court of public opinion. 

The Shredder holds the court of public opinion once a week. Send your opinion to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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