Bouquets and Brickbats

Future looks bright for Dalidio site

letters@thetribunenews.comAugust 18, 2013 

In a view from the hill adjacent to Laguna Lake Park, Ernie Dalidio’s property reaches from the edge of the SLO Promenade to Highway 101. The fields are being used for agriculture.

TRIBUNE PHOTO BY LAURA DICKINSON

Don’t flash that Macy’s card yet — unless you’re planning a trip to Santa Maria — but it appears that a new department store just might, and we emphasize might, materialize here after all.

As reported in Wednesday’s Tribune, developer Clint Pearce has pulled out of the Dalidio Ranch project, leaving Gary Grossman as sole purchaser of the property. That means Grossman will be free to negotiate with Macy’s and/or Nordstrom Rack, along with high-end specialty stores like Williams-Sonoma, J. Crew and Anthropologie.

Pearce had publicly disagreed with that approach, saying he preferred to stick to more affordable stores, to the disappointment of many county residents tired of traveling to Monterey or Santa Barbara to shop.

Grossman is almost certain to face opposition from downtown merchants who don’t want the competition, but he should have plenty of supporters who recognize that more shopping choices will benefit the entire community — including the downtown.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

For now, we toss designer bouquets all around: to Grossman, for having the vision to recognize what the city needs; to Pearce, for graciously bowing out sooner, rather than later; and to downtown merchants, in the hope they’ll get over their feud with Ernie Dalidio and give this new and improved project a chance.

Bad idea to test STAR exam officials

With all the weird pix floating around on the Internet — cats with bread on their heads, pancakes shaped like sea urchins and jellyfish, crazy mustaches that would have made Salvador Dali wince — you might think posting a picture of a funny graphic from California’s STAR exam would be no big deal.

You’d be wrong.

When an A.G. High School student clandestinely took a picture of the graphic and posted it on Instagram, well, let’s just say Big Brother was watching. A.G. High landed on a short list of 16 campuses in the state where “legible test items” were posted on social media.

Two other SLO County schools — Atascadero High and Templeton Independent High — were on a longer list of 226 schools where students posted more innocuous images, such as pictures of the covers of test booklets.

These may seem like innocent pranks. They are not. As we now know, security breaches of this type are taken seriously by STAR. Names are taken, and investigations are launched. If the STAR people conclude cheating did indeed occur, that could affect a school’s Academic Performance Index score. That, in turn, could jeopardize state funding and eligibility for awards.

For the record, we seriously doubt that the unidentified A.G. High guy was participating in some nefarious cheating ring, but on general principle — and to set an example for future generations of STAR takers — we’re slapping him on the wrist with a bread-headed brickbat. And for homework, he should read “1984.”

Well done! Chef makes humble move

In a plot worthy of Hollywood, Dave Schmit went from a high-stress job cooking for some of Southern California’s biggest stars to working as a shelter cook for CAPSLO.

As reported by Tribune columnist Gayle Cuddy, Schmit formerly worked at Southern California venues like Hotel Bel-Air and the Brentwood County Club. When he moved to SLO in 2012 — his wife, Dana, took a job here — Schmit went to work preparing meals for clients of the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter, using Food Bank staples and donations from local farms and groceries.

“A real chef needs to integrate into the community. I’d much rather be on the side of humbleness,” he told Cuddy.

We donate a hearty bouquet of edible greens to the chef’s store of ingredients.

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