If you're city dwellers like the fancy big city folks of SLO Town, prepare yourselves for another trash rate increase. This one isn't another example of lobbying to raise rates to cover inflation, no. This one's courtesy of the SLO County Board of Supervisors, who, after splitting with the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) last year, applied for waivers from SB 1383 compliance for areas of the county with populations of less than 75 people per square mile.
What that means is while city folk must comply with the rules of SB 1383 in regard to organic waste disposal, country folk don't have to for another five years ... and essentially pass on the cost of compliance to SLO County's seven cities that stuck with the IWMA. And the icing on the cake? City dwellers will see rate increases tied to the cost of the county leaving the IWMA as well. The Board of Supes allocated $1 million in general fund money to a) develop plans to come up with their own response to SB 1383 outside the aegis of the IWMA, and b) to make sure they wouldn't have to raise rates on unincorporated areas. Essentially, they're using taxpayer money to transition out of the IWMA, give rural customers a pass on covering costs, and stick cities with coming rate increases.
What's most entertaining is that while the county is figuring out how to address rural trash pickup and comply with SB 1383, they're still contracting with the IWMA.
"It's like we got divorced, but we're living in the same house," IWMA President and Atascadero City Councilmember Charles Bourbeau told New Times. "The neighbors are going, 'Weren't you guys going to get divorced?' But we're living in the same house; we're driving the same cars."
I guess the real question is why are cities paying for their unincorporated counterparts' divorce? I guess because fairness isn't on the Board of Supes' agenda. Perhaps by now you heard they're being sued over the so-called Patten redistricting map that redraws SLO County's five districts in a way that will favor a conservative majority on the board for another 10 years.
"The suit argues that the 3-2 majority of the Board of Supervisors wrongly applied and flagrantly ignored the redistricting requirements set forth under California's Fair Maps Act," SLO County Citizens for Good Government (CFGG) explained in their press release about the lawsuit.
"The Republican majority of the supervisors adopted a map that employed sophisticated cracking and packing techniques to gain political advantage, which Elections Code section 21500 (d) expressly forbids," CFGG Board Member Linda Seifert claims.
Her organization believes no redistricting was required because the former districts fairly distributed county voters and met state requirements. The Patton changes were blatant gerrymandering meant to shift power and keep it.
CFGG also claims the Patten map "dilutes the voice of Latino voters and deprives thousands of citizens of their expected right to vote next June." That's because the new districts shift some voters into accelerated voting and others into delayed voting.
Wanna guess who got the advantage? If you picked that new districts allow more registered Republicans to vote sooner than Democrats, then winner-winner chicken dinner! Meanwhile, according to the CFGG, "tens of thousands of voters will be 'orphaned' by being reassigned to districts where they will not have direct representation by a county supervisor for more than two years."
Disenfranchise much, Republicans? If you can't win fairly, cheat, right? Now the question is whether concerned citizens care enough to do something about it. CFGG is inundating email inboxes with desperate pleas for money.
In an email titled, "Why I'm doubling down for democracy," lawsuit petitioner and 28-year SLO County resident Don Maruska explained why he's "engaging in such a contentious—and expensive—process against the egregious gerrymandering."
Emphasis on "expensive." CFGG figures it needs about $400K, "maybe more to cover a growing range of expenses." So far, they've collected $260K from 1,500 donors, and they're begging for more.
"It's simple," Maruska wrote. "The Patten map undermines our democracy in the most fundamental way by rigging the system to automatically favor a small segment of voters at the expense of the majority for the next 10 years. Actions like that are illegal under California law. The board majority knew that but apparently hopes the citizens will let its actions slide. Regardless of our politics, we all need to push back against any efforts to make our beloved county an ugly partisan battlefield for those who want to preserve their power at democracy's expense."
In an ironic twist, there is a bright light for Democrats regarding new state Assembly Districts. The 35th Assembly District represented by Templeton resident and conservative Jordan Cunningham has been redrawn into two new districts—30 and 37. The new 30th District includes SLO County up to Santa Cruz County—along the Big Sur coast to just south of Santa Cruz—and it's a lot more liberal than Cunningham's current district, which is probably why he announced he wouldn't be running for reelection.
"After talking it over with my wife and kids, I have decided not to seek a fourth term in the state Assembly," Cunningham Tweeted because it sounded better than "I don't want to lose." But, the decision, he insists, is not political. Δ
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