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Well, that’s it then. Summer’s essentially over. I don’t know where it went. One minute I was tossing back Easter egg Jell-O shots and the next it was practically Labor Day and I’m burning all my white clothes to avoid committing a fashion faux pas. I figure we could all use some mental stimulation after three balmy months of drinking gin lemonade on other people’s porches. So, this week, I’ll be testing your mental prowess with a pop quiz.

Question one: What’s less charming than a rattlesnake, has a hard time with basic math, and just got very publicly spanked by the Huasna Valley Association?

Give up? Of course you do.

The answer is Carol Florence, an Excelaron planner who, during an Aug. 21 Board of Supervisors meeting seemed to forget at times that the number one rule of asking a favor of someone is that you don’t talk down to them. And I’d say invading someone’s backyard and plundering it for oil constitutes a rather large favor. During the meeting, Florence touted the project as a “rare opportunity to examine antiquated attitudes toward oil exploration.” The suggestion that people are somehow primitive, behind the times, or intellectually deficient because they don’t want Excelaron grubbing for oil in their flower garden is an obvious case of sour grapes because her project got soundly defeated by the cowpokes with the “antiquated attitudes.” And if they (the Huasna Valley Association) were, in fact, just plain stupid—as Florence’s dig implied—what does that say about her as an Excelaron advocate that they shut her down more effectively than Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh against, well, everybody else?

Florence: If you’ve got an issue with Big Oil’s reputation, then change it. Don’t spark wildfires and dump thousands of gallons of oil into environmentally sensitive areas, and then whine when people don’t trust you to do anything more than make promises and pocket fat wads of cash. You obviously didn’t go into the oil industry to make friends; you went into it to make money. So don’t complain when people don’t trust you for it.  

The Excelaron planner then compounded her sin (talking down to people is a sin, right? Or does it just make you an asshole?) by lying. Or forgetting that one request for a continuance, plus another request for a continuance actually makes two. Either way, she said, that Excelaron was making its first request for a continuance when it was, in fact, their second. Which doesn’t really matter, given that the Board of Supervisors voted the project down with a whopping 5-0 vote anyway, but it certainly doesn’t say much about Excelaron’s credibility.

To explain the fact that Excelaron didn’t have any supporters in the audience, Florence said, “We don’t have any of our supporters here because what we’re asking for, in our opinion, is just a simple continuance.” Shoulda’ brought your legions of supporters. I’m sure they exist. I don’t think you’re making them up at all.

And then, as things clearly weren’t going her way, Florence argued, “Frankly, I have a hard time explaining to my clients what the justification would be for denying a continuance.”

Frankly, it’s not the Supervisors’ problem if you have a hard time doing your job. You made your bed—comfy, I assume, cushioned nicely with oil money—and now you have to lie in it. Just like I have to lie in the cardboard hovel that was my choice when I opted to become a journalist. Don’t expect elected officials to flip the bird to their constituents, who were against the project, simply to make your job easier.

Question #2: What makes bone-headed statements and then punishes the newspaper for printing them by withholding public information?

What’s that you say? Morro Bay City Attorney Rob Schultz? Ding ding ding! Back in July, Schultz infamously compared Dynegy’s power plant in Morro Bay to an ugly girl, saying, “None of them want to take this plant. This is the one where they say ‘You take a couple of good looking girls, but you have to take this ugly one.’ It doesn’t have the appeal the other plants do.” 

So, who’s to blame? New Times for accurately printing something a city attorney said during an interview, or the guy who compared a power plant to an ugly woman? Obviously, New Times. At least, that’s what Rob Schultz seemed to be doing when a staff writer filed a public records request and, at the end of the 10 days, was told there was no such information available. After a little chat with good ol’ Rob it turned out the information did, in fact, exist and Rob knew it existed, but he chose to make the writer jump through hoops by re-requesting the information, adding a couple and/ors to his request.

Which raises the question: if you know what information someone is requesting and it’s legally available, why wait 10 days to tell them you don’t like the wording of their request? Isn’t publicly available information about transparency rather than some petty game of one-upmanship because you said something stupid and were quoted on it several months ago? And do you really think it’s a good idea to try and play hardball when you don’t even have the sense not to refer to a power plant as an ugly girl in front of a news reporter during an interview?

Game on, Schultz, if that’s the way you like it. I tend to prefer opponents who require my assistance to make them look like fools, but if you really want to punish our reporters for your verbal diarrhea, I’m more than happy to point out the next time you say something profoundly stupid. It might limit my ability to address my many other profoundly stupid constituents, but I’m willing to pay special attention to an attorney who categorizes women according to whether or not he’d put a bag over their head. 

Shredder’s not clever, but Shredder’s a Shredder. Send letters to shredder at shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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