Opinion » Shredder

Politics as unusual

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When you don’t like the answer to your question, how much does it cost to get an answer you do like? If you’re SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow, it costs $2,874.63.

That’s how much Dow’s office was charged by Fullerton-based Jones & Mayer, a law firm that specializes in representing law enforcement agencies, which Dow hired to offer a legal opinion on a 30-year-long practice to compensate deputy DAs for on-call duty. Deputy DAs did two weeks of after-hours on-call duty a year in exchange for an extra nine days of paid vacation. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, even though it appears to violate state law and amounts to $176,721.00 in paid leave costs paid by—you guessed it—John and Jane Taxpayer.

After a whistleblower brought the practice to light, one might assume the usual right-wing attack dogs—COLAB, 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold (and usually 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton), and the Central Coast Taxpayers Association—would be barking up a storm at this egregious abuse of taxpayer funds, but apparently someone laced their kibble with sleeping pills because the only people who actually seem to care are four-fifths of the County Board of Supervisors, who actually seem more upset with Dow’s unsanctioned hiring of a “yes man” law firm after being told to cease the practice, than the practice itself.

The whole mess came to public light on Jan. 5 during a supervisors’ meeting when county Auditor Jim Erb asked the board for permission to pay the legal bill. That’s when 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson not only began to grill Dow about it, but also took the unprecedented step to make a motion to waive confidentiality of an April 7 closed-door session when the practice was first brought to the board’s attention. Way back then, the supes and the Office of County Counsel told Dow to stop the on-call-duty-for-paid-leave practice immediately, which Dow apparently did, but then he tried to circumvent the board by hiring Jones & Mayer, who for a mere $2,874.63 told Dow he was right and his bosses were wrong. Money well spent, right?

Interestingly, the board voted 4-1, with Arnold dissenting, to waive confidentiality of the April 7 meeting, and also 4-1, again with Arnold dissenting, to not pay Dow’s legal bill. Did I mention that Dow endorsed Debbie Arnold a few weeks ago? No? My bad. Did I also mention that Dow endorsed Jordan Cunningham, president of the Central Coast Taxpayers Association, who’s running for Katcho Achadjian’s state Assembly seat? No? My bad. Did I mention Jordan is son of Assistant DA Lee Cunningham? No? Is there a pattern here? Are all these little right-wing soldiers forming their thin red line to protect their boy Dow? And more importantly, is this not the ugliest kind of hypocritical double standard? Here are all these self-proclaimed protectors of the taxpayer, except not when it comes to the shenanigans of a fellow conservative.

And in an extra ripe stink-bloom on this hypocrisy bush, in this week’s COLAB newsletter, instead of pointing out this wasteful use of taxpayer funds, I get a shout out: “On Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, the New Times weekly newspaper Shredder column focused an attack on Supervisors Arnold and Compton. The Shredder complained about the circumstances [that] led to Arnold being elected chair for 2015. Often such attacks in the leftist press presage action in the public arena. We might, therefore, expect some sort of attempt to skip Supervisor Compton [as new chair].”

You know, just like the right-wing contingent of Compton and Arnold skipped next-in-line Supervisor Frank Mecham last year when they installed Arnold as chair and Compton as vice chair? Should Arnold really have been chair? At the Jan. 5 meeting, she made a motion to pay Dow’s bill before the discussion even started. How’s that for a little rug sweeper underer? Does such blatant partisanship really warrant the position? Most puzzling in all this is where’s Arnold’s connected-at-the-hip partner in slime Compton, who’s usually locked in goosestep with the right wing? Has she lain off the Kool-Aid? Oh wait. She’s not up for re-election.

And for a little icing on the cake, New Times got a call last week from North County conservative talk radio station KPRL (What’s that stand for? Krappy Political Right Lackeys?), who actually asked us if Supervisor Adam Hill wrote last week’s Shredder.

Um, does your mom know you’re making prank calls? How about playing some records? I think your five aged listeners would rather listen to some Tom Lehrer musical satire. At least that won’t make them dumber.

Look, we’ve got a county with plenty of problems to solve, but the right-wing cabal seems more interested in protecting its power base than doing what’s right for the citizens it represents. Instead of shielding a DA who refuses to take “no” for an answer, how about holding him accountable for misuse of taxpayer funds? It’s not too late for you to start doing what you were elected to do, Ms. Arnold, which is represent your district, not your right-wing overlords.

The Shredder’s overlord is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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