Opinion » Street Talk

This county stinks


Like the return of the full moon, which often brings out the lunatics in society, a monthly drama unfolds in the seaside village of Los Osos. And like the full moon that turns the benign into hairy creatures, so too do the citizens of Los Osos lose their civility, and reveal the foul, rude, abrasive druids they really are.

Welcome to a typical Los Osos Community Service District board meeting, an event where battle lines are drawn and rifts run deep and personal. The leaders of most communities are busy dealing with a litany of important subjects such as traffic, parks, community parades, schools, growth, housing. But not Los Osos. The visionaries over there spend all of their stinking time and stinking energy over a stinking sewer.

Any given Thursday one can witness hostile behavior, exasperated huffs, rude comments, and black stares. And all this just in the parking lot.

Three pro-stinkers control the board, two anti-stinkers wish they could, and since they don't, want residents to elect three non-stinkers.

All the anti-stinkers on this night gather in what might as well be called a "war room," just in back and off to the side of the meeting hall, where they watch endless proceedings on TV. Here, among the snacks and sewer documents, snide comments and ruthless remarks rain down and reign high. One anti-stinker board member enters during a break and, like a boxer who just took a punishing round, has her neck rubbed while the corner men cajole and encourage her to keep fighting.

"Go, girl, go!"

The night is young and the meetings more often than not run into the wee hours.

At the staff table in the main room is the chief stinker himself, an unflappable Bruce Buel. He weathers, or rather buries, pointed remarks and comments better than most in his position could. His skill at ignoring people, even his own board members, is formidable. Cardboard reacts more. One reporter called on him three times with no answer.

Also a part of this circus is a staff attorney. He is a little bit rock and roll to Buel's country with his stylish suits and confident way of responding to questions with answers like, "I think we have liability insurance."

Two other staff members include an engineer whose skill at projecting costs is inconsistent at best and a secretary who has a middle digit problem (witnesses swear it). Oops. Almost forgot one other paid staffer always in the back of the room - the not-so-undercover manners police. He gets paid to sit, observe, and inform on the dissidents.

There was a bit of good news, though, this particular night. Much to the joy of some Los Osos citizens, Al "you've got to be kidding" Barrow announced he was running for a seat on the board. Barrow is sure to bring a balanced, patient, and harmonious perspective as well as doughnuts and group hugs. Finally the sewer issue will soon be solved and not one dime will be wasted!

Perhaps what is needed is for all involved to quit. Here's an idea: Bring in outside mediators, experts, negotiators who can solve this issue without a 10,000-pound ax to grind.


No axes here

If there should ever come a time when you feel the need to be needed, write something nasty about someone. You'll get more attention than you bargained for. Like Joe Erikat and Steve Kobara, the two clowns that felt a particular urge to unleash upon the world their ill feelings about the man who founded this company circular (Letters, May 12-19). To Erikat, Steve Moss was a nobody. To Kobara, Moss was a good riddance. Boy, would Steve appreciate that. Steve's still alive. It's you two guys who are dead.



Sen. Abel Maldonado needs to lay off the sauce, at least when he's issuing statements. Come to think of it, he's probably too busy planning his next step on the road to the White House to be writing his own material, so I'll put the blame on Tom Kise, Abel's faithful spokesman and aide. Come to think of it, Tom probably foists petty-statement duty onto further underlings, but since he's listed as the contact guy on dispatches from the senator's office, he'll bear the brunt for this one.

After the U.S. Supreme Court opened doors in New York and Michigan for direct shipment of wine to individuals - "of age individuals," mind you - Abel, or Tom, or whoever it was in "California's wine rich 15th Senate district" fired off a statement about the "full-bodied Supreme Court decision."

I try not to think of the Supreme Court as "full bodied." I actually try not to think of judicial branch members' bodies in general, because the last thing I want is a mental picture of Ruth Bader Ginsberg in a two-piece. Well, now it's too late. Thanks a lot, Tom.

The statement went on to state, almost poetically, that the decision "is like a good Pinot Noir - embodying complexity and delicacy yet, outpouring with elaborate flavors representing all of California's wines."

The press release stopped short of grabbing the nearest reader around the shoulders and slurring, "This guy, man, he's the best. I love this guy."

Abel, Tom, and crew, you're not writing a sequel to "Sideways." Why don't you put some of that creative energy into figuring out a way to stop vandals molesting the trout downtown? Or, better yet, figure out why San Luis Obispo picked trout in the first place. I know they spawn or migrate in the creek or something, but so do numerous aquatic bugs. Still, I guess a giant fiberglass fecal coliform bacteria microbe wouldn't be as conducive to tourism. ³

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