Bouquets and Brickbats: Board made right call in nixing Huasna oil proposal

newsroom@thetribunenews.comAugust 24, 2012 

Despite their political differences, all five members of the county Board of Supervisors were united in their opposition to Excelaron’s ill-conceived plan to drill for oil in the Huasna Valley.

It was good to see all five members on the same page, especially on an issue of such importance. We toss each one a freshly picked bouquet of Huasna Valley wildflowers.

Let’s hope the unanimous vote sends a strong message that oil drilling is not a good fit for this area, and promises of jobs, tax revenue and donations for schools are not going change that.

Our lawmakers don’t need gifts

We’ll say this for state Sen. Sam Blakeslee — he’s nothing if not tenacious. Blakeslee has been trying for years to persuade his colleagues in the state Legislature to impose strict limits on the freebies they could accept. That would mean no more complimentary tickets to expensive concerts and sporting events, passes to amusement parks, free rounds of golf, ski trips, etc.

Blakeslee’s fellow lawmakers have been less than enthusiastic; they’ve quashed every one of his efforts. This year, though, it looked like it might be different; Blakeslee’s latest bill passed the Senate on a near unanimous vote, only to die in committee last week in the state Assembly.

But, hey, who can blame those poor Assembly members? It can’t be easy to afford tickets to Disneyland or a Lakers game on their measly base salary of $95,291 per year.

Here’s our take: Swag for celebrities is one thing, but our state lawmakers should avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest by saying no to gifts and favors.

The Legislature blew an opportunity to take the high road. Lawmakers who blocked this overdue reform can expect another gift on their doorsteps: a lavish basket of brickbats.

Seismic test compromise imperfect

In granting PG&E’s application to conduct an offshore seismic survey, the State Lands Commission crafted a compromise that included a little something for everyone — except, of course, for those absolutely opposed to the project.

To reduce potential harm to marine life, the commission shortened the length of time that PG&E can conduct the survey, which means the data collection will likely have to be spread out over two years. The commission also agreed to SLO County’s request to hire a consultant to conduct an independent review of the survey.

But here’s the rub: Because there won’t be time to review the work plan in advance, the consultant will examine the data after the first round, and if necessary, suggest modifications for the second phase.

That’s better than nothing, we suppose, but we’d have more confidence if the consultant were brought on board at this stage, rather than after the fact.

For the time being, we offer the Lands Commission a brickquet — half brickbat, half bouquet — until we see how this plays out.

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