Letter to the Editor

Not quite a ‘yes’

San Luis ObispoAugust 30, 2013 

Your report of the county supervisors’ vote on the emergency ordinance for the Paso Robles groundwater basin printed four “yes” votes over the pictures of the four supervisors.

Not quite. Supervisor Debbie Arnold’s actual response to the roll call vote, following a seven-second pause after her name was called, was just a muttered, “I’ll go with it.”

You wrote, “The other three supervisors were steadfast in passing it.” Supervisor Frank Mecham became “steadfast” after he got “Big Grape” what it wanted — ensuring that the vineyards can keep creating big agricultural ponds while residential wells go dry, and gutting the ordinance of the only provision that could actually have helped the situation: A proposed 2-to-1 offset of new water use that he insisted on beating down to 1-to-1, which will lock in the basin’s current rate of overdraft and decline.

After that, and hours of obstruction and pointless exercises in rewriting, Ms. Arnold was still concerned that the ordinance didn’t give enough away to the wine industry and might be too protective of the basin. By the time she may or may not have said “yes” to the final vote, the audience was laughing too hard to hear her.

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