Bouquets and Brickbats

Nancy Johnson concedes, but not graciously

letters@thetribunenews.comJune 20, 2014 

Nancy Johnson

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

For not fighting until the bitter end, we toss a bouquet of sweet peas to Morro Bay City Councilwoman Nancy Johnson, who conceded to challenger John Headding this week.

Headding, you may recall, needed 50 percent plus one in the June primary to win a council seat outright. He came tantalizingly close, but there was a pesky question of what to do about 123 Morro Bay ballots that had not been marked for council candidates. If they had been included in the count, Headding would not have won a majority and the race would have headed to a runoff in November.

Rather than drag things out and subject the city to the expense of another council election, Johnson bowed out.

As it turned out, Morro Bay’s interim city attorney later determined the 123 ballots should not be counted, which meant Headding would have been declared the winner anyway. Still, we appreciate Johnson’s gesture. But did she really have to go on and on about the “deviousness” of local politics and allege that a “political machine” is operating in Morro Bay?

For not taking the high road, we add a few sour grape vines to Johnson’s sweet bouquet.

Yosemite expansion at risk

A boulder-sized brickbat is en route to Rep. Tom McClintock, who is standing in the way of purchasing land to expand Yosemite National Park by 1,500 acres. As reported in a San Jose Mercury News article published in Thursday’s Tribune, the expansion is in jeopardy because the nonprofit conservation group that owns roughly half the property (owners of the remaining portion also have indicated a willingness to sell) plans to sell by the end of the year if the federal government fails to move forward with the purchase.

While the expansion enjoys bipartisan support in the state — as it should — McClintock’s backing in Congress is critical to ensuring enough Republican support there. McClintock — whose district includes Yosemite — has been balking because he doesn’t trust the National Park Service to properly manage the land.

“John Muir’s vision for Yosemite was for public use, resort and recreation, yet today, public access is increasingly restricted. His promise must be redeemed,” McClintock wrote in a rebuttal to the Mercury News article.

We’re not going to pretend to know exactly what John Muir would or would not have wanted, but we’re reasonably sure he would have opposed the idea of allowing private homes to be built on this precious ground. That could happen if we lose this opportunity.

So let’s just secure the land first, shall we? Then we can worry about what uses to allow there.

Experiment doesn’t go as planned

We thought this stuff only happened on “South Park” or “The Simpsons,” but the county bomb squad really was summoned to a summer YMCA kids camp in Los Osos Tuesday after a science project fizzled. In what’s been described as a “sanctioned YMCA science experiment,” dry ice “bombs“ were created by combining dry ice and water in plastic bottles. Two of the bombs went off; a third did not. At that point, authorities were called in to disarm the dud.

We suspect this incident will be a highlight of some “how I spent my summer vacation” essays. With some minor hyperbolizing, decades from now it might even make it into the lexicon of tales the former campers tell their grandkids.

In lieu of a brickbat or bouquet — because frankly, we’re not sure who deserves what — we’re serving a round of s’mores to the kids and their counselors. But for safety’s sake, we’ll forgo the campfire.

Pismo pitches in big for Preserve

The Pismo Beach City Council deserves a big bouquet of oak leaves and wildflowers for recognizing the importance of our rural open spaces by allocating $900,000 to saving the Pismo Preserve. That brings the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County within $1.5 million of its goal.

The Conservancy needs $12 million — $10 million to buy the 900 acres east of Pismo Beach and $2 million for improvements and maintenance of the land, which will provide opportunities for hiking, biking and other outdoor activities.

The goal is within reach, but let’s not celebrate quite yet — unless you want to do it at one of the upcoming Pismo Preserve fundraisers. One — a concert at the Arroyo Grande Village Concert Rotary Bandstand — is coming up Sunday at 1 p.m. There also will be an art exhibit at the Blakeslee & Blakeslee office, San Luis Obispo, on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and a free jazz concert at Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo Beach, on Sunday, July 6, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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