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Red-legged frog to the rescue!

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If Morro Bay could build its new wastewater treatment facility out of the angry emails I got after last discussing attempts by grassroots organizations Citizens for Affordable Living (CAL) and Home Front Environmental Justice (HFEJ) to block the project, it could already be built ("Water wars!" Oct. 24).

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These grassrooters sure are persnickety! They really don't like the selected location off South Bay Boulevard, the $126 million cost, or my argument that their attempts to thwart the project are only going to make it cost more. Now their hopes and dreams—if their hopes and dreams were to make the project cost more—have come true! The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife is conducting another review of the future facility site and its potential impacts on the California red-legged frog.

Before we get too deep in the weeds, has anyone investigated whether members of CAL and HFEJ might have ordered a few red-legged frogs on the black market and serendipitously dropped them onto the new sewer plant site? Were the blackmarketeers out of western snowy plovers, California tiger salamanders, and Morro Bay kangaroo rats? Maybe they're on back order. Keep your eyes peeled, Fish and Wildlife!

Despite CAL and HFEJ's desire to squash Morro Bay's plans, it appears these rare wee red-pantalooned kermits will only be delaying the already expensive project for a few weeks or months before it goes ahead as planned.

"It will mean delaying the project start for several weeks, up to several months, depending on how long the review takes," Morro Bay City Manager Scott Collins told New Times.

Interestingly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that the project "may affect, but not likely ... adversely impact" the froggies, and the city claimed there hasn't been a documented red-legged frog occurrence within a square mile of the South Bay Boulevard site since 1996. Hey look! Is that an unarmored threespine stickleback, also known by its scientific name Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni? No? OK, never mind. Carry on.

Speaking of Juvenalia politica embarrasius, aka the SLO County Board of Supervisors, they're still fighting over the California State Board of Food and Agriculture letter chiding the county for excluding local ag interests like the Estrella-El Pomar-Creston (EPC) Water District from a seat at the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) table. So. Many. Acronyms!

At their Nov. 5 meeting—which was attended by teenage students from the Coastal Valley Academy program who were sitting in the front row waiting for an award (for sitting through this embarrassing meeting?)—the Board of Supes acted like a bunch of toddlers as they fought over whether to authorize County Administrative Officer Wade Horton to send a response letter saying the state's letter was no fair, wah-wah!

Um, hey adults! There are kids here watching you! You're supposed to be our government representatives but you sound like a gaggle of partisan hacks squabbling over politics, not policy.

Let's break it down: conservative 1st District Supe John Peschong and 5th District Supe Debbie Arnold are defending their work on SGMA, saying their outreach to local ag was beyond sufficient so the county should write a letter telling the state it's mean and wrong. Predictably, liberal 2nd District Supe Bruce Gibson and 3rd District Supe Adam Hill argued that the response letter was unwarranted.

"I'm not in support. This letter is not necessary. [The Board of Food and Agriculture] did not ask for a response," Gibson said, going on to praise county staff and take an ugly shot at Peschong and Arnold, blaming them for a "frankly weak" groundwater sustainability plan. "Any weakness in that plan is not the fault of our staff; that fault lies directly with the elected officials installed as decision makers in that process."

Take that, John and Debbie! Ka-pow!

Naturally, Hill piled on: "[The SGMA process] has been shrouded in conspiricism and favoritism, and throughout this process from the very beginning we've seen ... attempts to not just continue to exclude [ag interests], but undermine the backstop to ensure state compliance. ... This is done all to essentially aid and abet conspiricism."

Dear Coastal Valley Academy students, sorry you had to see the ugly machinations of petty local government squabbling so close up! I hope you all covered your ears when conservative 4th District Supe Lynn Compton chimed in with her two-cents.

"What this is all about is an election going on and you have two supervisors [Gibson and Hill, in case you're confused!] that are aiding and abetting to try to dislodge one supervisor [Arnold, in case you're still confused!] and that's all that this is about," Compton said.

Yes, this is local government at work. This is the new, kinder and gentler Board of Supervisors, and this is who's in charge of managing the county's affairs.

"We listened to those people [local ag interests]," Compton screeched. "It's beyond ridiculous!"

"I don't cut people off at these meetings," Peschong howled.

"We've done a great job," Arnold seethed.

"That was a fun filibuster," Hill dripped sarcastically.

"Supervisor Compton's reading [of the state's letter] proved my point precisely," Gibson spat.

Yay local government! Δ

The Shredder would roll its eyes if it had any. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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