Bouquets and Brickbats

Dead sheep deserved better than this

letters@thetribunenews.comMarch 7, 2014 

Adam Weissmuller, a resident of Heritage Ranch, stands next to a dead sheep on March 3.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Nothing says spring on the Central Coast like a herd of cute woolly sheep placidly munching greens on a hillside. But, hey, these critters aren’t just there for looks. Sheep have important business to do, keeping all that vegetation in check, especially in creek beds and other sensitive habitats where mechanized equipment isn’t allowed.

The least we can do is treat them well, which is why it was a shock to see the gruesome photos and video of several dead sheep that a Heritage Ranch couple spotted while they were out hiking near Nacimiento Lake last weekend.

We aren’t experts in animal husbandry, so we won’t opine on whether criminal charges should be brought against the owner of these pathetic-looking animals. That’ll be up to authorities — the Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office.

But it doesn’t take an animal science to degree to question the wisdom of shearing sheep just before a heavy rainstorm, especially since forecasters gave us all ample warning of what was coming. It’s also disturbing that so many sheep — 25 of 700 — died over roughly the same time period, leading to speculation that the animals succumbed to hypothermia.

Whatever the criminal investigation concludes, it’s obvious that these animals suffered, and for that, those responsible for their welfare get pelted with a flock of sheepskin-covered brickbats for shirking their duty.

Two decades of the SLOIFF

Roll out the red carpet and pass the popcorn! It’s the 20th anniversary of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, and we applaud founder Mary Harris, along with festival staff, volunteers, board of directors, local theaters and other businesses that have made this such a marquee event not just for downtown SLO, but also for the entire county. We offer you standing ovations and take-a-bow bouquets for the fine work you’ve done over the past two decades.

This year’s lineup is especially impressive, and there’s still plenty on tap for this weekend, including surf movies at the Fremont; a showing of “Spartacus” at Hearst Castle Theater; a sneak preview of a documentary about Anita Hill; a showcase for Central Coast filmmakers; and, well, take a look at the schedule then do yourself a big favor and take in a movie or two.

Will of the voters thwarted

As reported in today’s Tribune, the city of SLO has been ordered to restore binding arbitration for its public safety officers. Given that binding arbitration was overwhelmingly defeated in a 2011 election — 7,723 voters supported its repeal, compared to 2,905 who voted to keep it — it’s extremely disappointing to see the will of the voters thwarted.

It would have earned the police union a lot of goodwill had it not challenged the election and allowed the results to stand. But we’re going to wait until the dust settles before we start flinging brickbats. The City Council is due to take up the issue in closed session Monday, so stay tuned.

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