It seems that every year, right around the holidays, United Blood Services, Central Coast, puts out a call for donors. Whether blood donations drop or rampant bleeding goes through the roof, the need for the sticky red stuff is always there.
I've never given blood--I'm afraid of needles, blood itself, and the little juice boxes they give you afterward--but I do keep an eye on donation levels, just in case I ever need to get some myself. Whenever donation levels are low, I'm extra careful. I plan on not having any accidents, especially ones that involve my car, sharp knives, or some combination of the two.
Over the years, I've seen the blood bank use many slogans to encourage locals to open their veins to any takers. My favorite was: "You can't get blood from a turnip."
Which brings me to Tom Murphy. Remember him? He's the guy who blew into Los Osos like a Western hero in a white hat, telling people to piss into this machine of his and make all their sewer woes go away--and get usable water to boot. Or water their lawns with. Whatever.
Well, one big election later, and Los Osos is fairly flying toward a sewer solution. Granted, it won't make everyone happy, but nothing short of splitting the town into several parallel universes, each one with its own customized wastewater treatment system, would.
Along the way to the successful vote, Tom threw his white hat into the fray--and promptly got trampled. Critics booed him. Bolder critics called him shyster-like names. His pleas to Los Ososites that they flip the bird to The Man and keep their sewage for themselves to do with as they pleased fell on deaf ears.
Battered but unbroken, he vowed to see his device--The Reclamator, which is getting my vote to be our next governor--gain a solid foothold in the slushy sewage debacle.
And then he sued. Sort of. He actually only filed a complaint, but it comes with an $80-million price tag.
Tom first aimed his litigiousness at the state's Regional Water Quality Control Board, claiming that they unfairly made him look bad, despite his white hat. Next, I hear, he's thinking of complaining about the Los Osos Community Services District--and hitting them up for something like $100 million in the process.
Some of his promised actions are contingent on whether or not his Reclamator will actually ultimately find itself positioned under the bowels and urethra of the community's fine citizens. Obviously a lot can happen between now and whenever he might decide to make good on his warnings, but even the threats of threats of action bring me back to the blood bank's slogan. In this case, blood equals money, and the turnip is the CSD.
See, a while back, the CSD went through a big bankruptcy proceeding, and groups that do that tend to not have too much pocket change lying around. They tend not to have much of anything lying around.
I could be wrong. Since then, the CSD could've received some serious grants. And had some distant uncle die after willing them a bunch of cash. And stumbled upon a magical unicorn that craps gold nuggets. I'm pretty sure I would've heard about something like that, though. But given that the townies basically voted to pay for the sewer out of their own pockets, I'm guessing that Tom's suit--if there is one--is mostly symbolic.
Actually, I'm sure it is. He's picking a fight, and, to be totally honest, I don't think it's one he's going to come out on top of. Call me a cynic, but I don't think that several decades of sewer wrangling would stop cold because of one piece of technology that only a few people have heard of.
Of course, technological leaps do happen, and they often happen just like this. We could be on the verge of a revolution, a paradigm shift, and if that's the case, I have just one question for Tom: What does that Reclamator of yours do with the pieces of corn?
I had just settled comfortably into saying the politically correct "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," and now I hear that even the more generic greeting isn't generic enough. Not everybody celebrates holidays, see, so in an effort to offend absolutely no one, the proper sentiment is "Season's Greetings."
In that case, I'd like to send some winter cheer--that's vague enough, right?--to Eric Anderson, the county's director of Animal Services. I've never personally seen how he handles his volunteers, but enough of them showed up to complain about him at the Dec. 28 Board of Supervisors meeting, I thought that he'd like an extra boost.
Folks at New Times have heard complaints about him all year long, and it's apparently got to the point that even Sheriff Pat Hedges doesn't want the cats and dogs and rabbits and whatever other vermin scuttle around there to be scuttling under the scope of the Sheriff's Department. He's dropping them like a steaming box turtle fresh from the microwave--or at least he wants to--and I don't blame him. He's got enough people criticizing his handling of his department without having to hear about what volunteers call a basically absentee director who oversees mishandled animals and loosely supervised inmates. I seem to recall hearing about someone spraying disinfectant on a cat earlier this year. Allegedly.
County Supe Jim Patterson said that his impromptu visit to the operation revealed a "pristine" facility, so the whole situation becomes a sort of he-said, they-said debate. Who to believe? An elected official? Or a group of people who work with mangy mutts for free? Or is there some sort of medium? A mix of good days and bad days? Of happy volunteers and disgruntled ones? And how many more rhetorical questions can I ask?
The best solution would be to create a device that translates barks and meows into English. Then we could let the animals speak for themselves. I'll bet Tom Murphy can come up with one--but it may cost us plenty in the end.