Bouquets and Brickbats

Hoping for a brief closure of Fremont

letters@thetribunenews.comFebruary 8, 2013 

The Fremont theater is one of SLO’s most iconic and beautiful buildings, and it’s a shame to see it shuttered. For now, all we ask is that the owners and operators come to terms on a one-year agreement.

That still leaves the theater’s long-term fate in question, but we’ll take a cue from Scarlett O’Hara and worry about that tomorrow.

In lieu of a bouquet, we’ll supply a carpet of red roses for the grand reopening — just give us the date.

Cal Fire’s secret money disturbing

We toss a charred brickbat at Cal Fire headquarters, for keeping $3.6 million in revenue from legal settlements in an off-the-books account used for equipment and training.

That was in violation of Cal Fire’s own regulations, which require that the money go to the state’s general fund. Instead, the agency deposited settlements with the nonprofit California District Attorney’s Association, which, by the way, charged Cal Fire a fee for handling the funds.

That’s not the only thing hinky about this case.

It’s also disturbing that an extensive audit by the state Department of Finance — undertaken in the wake of the scandal over $54 million in hidden State Parks funds — failed to turn up the secret Cal Fire account. Nor did Gov. Brown help matters when he called the Cal Fire fiasco a “boring story.”

We aren’t going to add fuel to the fire by claiming that the $3.6 million was squandered. A spreadsheet shows that funds were spent on equipment, including GPS units and metal detectors, and training.

Yes, $33,000 did go to a four-day training session at The Cliffs in Pismo Beach, but when you consider that Pismo is a central location for personnel coming from all parts of the state, and that the resort offered a government rate, that doesn’t sound unreasonable. It’s Cal Fire’s lack of transparency that’s troubling — not it’s decision to choose Pismo Beach over, say, Barstow or Bakersfield.

Mesa couple should back down

How’s this for a stretch?

Nipomo Mesa residents Larry and Arlene Versaw believe that the city of Grover Beach and State Parks may be “business partners,” and for that reason, they question whether Grover Mayor Debbie Peterson should be voting on issues concerning the state’s Oceano Dunes off-road park. (Peterson sits on the county Air Pollution Control District Board, which regulates dust emissions from the dunes.)

Grover Beach and State Parks are partnering on a hotel/convention center planned for the end of Grand Avenue, but Peterson won’t personally benefit from that business venture.

And while her city might derive some future revenue, that shouldn’t disqualify her from voting. If it did, then any public agency that benefits from state funding in any way — through grants or loans, for example — should not be allowed to vote on matters that could potentially be costly for the state.

No brickbats, but we’ll toss the Versaws a bouquet of dune grass if they lighten up.

Farewell to an icon

Finally, we toss a token bouquet of farewell to the Monopoly iron, which got the boot after losing an online popularity contest. We can’t say we’re sorry to see the iron — that symbol of drudgery — go. Just don’t touch the top hat, OK?

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