Bouquets and Brickbats

Ashbaugh's actions aren’t the end of the world

October 26, 2012 

SLO City Councilman John Ashbaugh, by his own admission, “screwed up” by committing a series of minor campaign violations. For that, he earns a slap-on-the-wrist brickbat.

Specifically, Ashbaugh sent 14 emails related to his re-election campaign from his city-issued email address, rather than his personal email; filed a campaign disclosure statement three days late; and accepted a $200 campaign donation and a $30 bottle of wine from county Supervisor Adam Hill, which exceeded a $200 cap on donations.

The peccadilloes were uncovered by City Council candidate Kevin P. Rice, who had been provided a copy of one of Ashbaugh’s suspect emails. Rice then filed a public information request for campaign-related emails sent from city addresses. When that failed to turn up anything incriminating, Rice asked city staff to dig deeper, which led to a search of more than 5,000 emails … what a great use of public resources!

Again, Ashbaugh “screwed up.” But Rice — who rarely misses an opportunity to hound public officials — doesn’t get a free pass. Frankly, we’re sick and tired of this self-righteous brand of “gotcha” campaigning that blows the slightest misstep or misstatement out of proportion.

We should be focusing on the issues — not on whether someone was three days late filing paperwork or answered a message using the wrong telephone or email address — so can we call a truce, please, for the remainder of the campaign?

Good Samaritans abound in Paso

We toss lifesaving bouquets to Mika Choate and other rescuers who had a hand in pulling a woman from a burning building in Paso Robles on Monday.

Choate ran into the Spring Street building — a former car dealership — to warn those inside. That’s when he heard a woman screaming for help.

The woman, a homeless person who had apparently been staying inside the vacant building, was trapped in a breezeway that connected the dealership to an adjacent location. Choate peeled back some siding to help her escape, but when that didn’t work, he ran for tools to enlarge the opening. In the meantime, other men who were on the scene helped pull the woman to safety.

We don’t know the name of all these good Samaritans, but we commend each and every one of them for their quick thinking and heroic actions.

County makes smart investment

San Luis Obispo County deserves a better-late-than-never bouquet for updating the county parks reservation system for campgrounds and other park facilities.

Under the existing system, users are generally stuck making reservations over the phone. When it’s up and running, the new system will allow park users to go online, check out amenities at the individual campsites, and then make reservations.

The Board of Supervisors was smart to invest $160,000 on the upgrade. San Luis Obispo County has some beautiful parks that have the potential to attract visitors from throughout California and beyond, but tourists may give up in frustration if they’re stuck with relying on an antiquated reservation system.

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