Opinion » Shredder

Temper tantrum city

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There are so many big babies that threw fits into the little pot of haughty naughty tantrums this year. It makes me unbelievably lucky. All those stupid things people do and say: I get to make fun of them! 

It’s a tough life out here on the fringes of society, looking in, people watching, laughing to myself. I know I sound like I’m crazy, but the good news is I’m not the only one! 

The Poor Temperament medal of 2015 has got to go Debbie Arnold, esteemed 5th District Supervisor. She threw a weeks-long fit starting in January about 1st District Supervisor Frank Mecham assuming the position of Board of Supervisors chair and 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill assuming the position of Board of Supervisors vice chair. 

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“That’s not fair!” she shouted through her microphone in a high-pitched sing-songy voice reminiscent of a 2-year-old who someone just told “No!” I mean, that’s not really what she said, but the sentiment is pretty damn close to what actually happened. For weeks she ranted, raved, built up support, and then steam-rolled right over the normal operating procedures of a Board of Supervisors. Then, because Supervisor Mecham just couldn’t take it any more, he caved. 

“I think it’s the most manly thing that I have seen you do,” Julie Tacker—a common voice of criticism—said at the Feb. 3 meeting where the fight was supposed to climax. Harsh! He gave in because the fight was taking away from all the other things the board should be discussing. It was pretty manly, but not in the way that Tacker insinuated. 

You see, there’s a traditional rotation to the changing of the guard. It was Mecham/Hill’s turn. It’s a pretty typical way of doing things. Happens quite often, on all supervisory-type boards. Even in Santa Barbara County, where the North/South political chasm is practically burned into the ground, it’s a benign, quiet affair. But then again, SLO County always has to be difficult.

Arnold successfully mounted her coup with the newly elected 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton staunchly advocating for the same in that real side-kicky cartoonish manner. Essentially, proponents for something different resorted to name calling, which, as you know, is a super adult thing to do. Coup supporters called the males on the board the “good ol’ boys” and accused them of being sexist. And all of that fuss was for what? A power play to run the boredom that is public meetings. Basically, chairs facilitate discussion, give people turns to speak their four cents. Actually, the leading ladies attempted to put a little more power into the chair’s hands: to give that title holder more discretion over what’s actually on the agenda for meetings. But that particular request didn’t go over well with the “good ol’ boys.” 

It sure sounds like the “good ol’ girls” to me. Not the other way around. 

Like a spoiled little toddler, Arnold got exactly what she wanted: The power that comes with wielding a wooden gavel. And Compton took the vice chair seat away from Hill, so she is “next” in line to be chair in 2016. Now, if that isn’t the way our elected officials should behave, I don’t know what is. 

And their little stomping fits didn’t end there! They were just getting warmed up. The female cohorts linked arms and started running through the county building in lockstep. 

What’s that, Santa Margarita residents? You don’t want a rock quarry near town that will bring big diesel-spewing, loud-geared trucks through town on the regular? Screw you! And you, “good ol’ boys”: Who do you think you are? Siding with the voice of the people and the facts. As if! 

The “good ol’ girls” tried to take over the extremely long-winded, although often passionately worded discussion about why the Las Pilitas rock quarry shouldn’t be. At that 12-hour-long May meeting where 120 people spoke during public comment and county staff recommended the Board of Supervisors deny the project based on several unmitigable impacts, Compton took over the mic for more than an hour! 

Her rap session included interrogation-like questions directed at the planning staff, county attorney, and consultants. Then, without allowing any comments from her fellow board members, other than her BFF Arnold (of course!), Compton tried to make a motion to approve the project. Oh my! Children: Do behave!

The petty behavior continued at a September Air Pollution Control District (APCD) Board meeting, which again devolved into whatever Baroness Arnold wanted it to become: calling Supervisor Hill a bully. So the queen bees banded together in a fit of passion to bully the APCD board into voting for the record that Hill was a big-ass bully at a June meeting—when, according to the BFFs, he interrupted California State Geological Survey employee Will Harris during the public comment period. 

It seems like Hill was well within his rights to question the speaker after Harris’ allotted speaking time was up, and it happens all the time! Except, it’s usually the chair interrupting to say, “Your three minutes are up.” Basically, the whole issue is a nonissue. I think 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson summed it up best. 

“We are swimming in a swamp of embarrassment as we talk about this for this amount of time,” he said at that October meeting. 

Boy, I hope that swamp continues to get deeper.

The Shredder has a feeling he won’t be disappointed. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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