We’re inviting the top administrators of the Cambria Community Services District to a big bonfire of brickbats, but for safety’s sake, we’ll hold off on the ceremonial lighting, seeing as the town is without its fire chief right now.
That would be because Fire Chief Mark Miller — who by all accounts has been a capable, dedicated and professional leader — was fired by CSD General Manager Tammy Rudock, without a word of explanation.
Oh, we know, this being a personnel matter and all, Rudock can’t discuss the details. That’s unfortunate, because the action has infuriated a community that thinks highly of Miller. So if Rudock has an excuse — err, reason — for taking what appears to be an arbitrary and capricious action, she should at least be able to share it.
By the way, we don’t believe that Rudock should be taking all of the heat for this. Her bosses, the CSD board of directors, deserve some too. For starters, why in the world did the board give Rudock the power to fire the fire chief — one of the community’s most important and visible officials?
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For that matter, why would the board pay her an annual salary of $166,538 that inflates to $231,376 when you add in benefits that include a housing and car allowance? Not only does Rudock earn considerably more than any other CSD general manager in SLO County, she’s also paid more than just about every city manager in SLO County, Katie Lichtig of the city of SLO being the notable exception.
Sheriff takes action on DUI education
Sheriff Ian Parkinson earns a by-the-book bouquet for ensuring deputies are up-to-date on all DUI laws — including one that allows suspected drunken drivers sitting in parked cars to be arrested on the basis of circumstantial evidence.
Parkinson’s directive was triggered by the 2009 debacle involving an obviously inebriated CHP captain, Martin Whited, who was found sitting in a car parked in a remote location. The two deputies who responded did not administer a field sobriety or blood alcohol test to Whited, and they allowed another CHP official to come on scene and drive Whited home. Whited was eventually arrested, but the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence. The episode justifiably fueled a public outcry over special treatment for law enforcement.
By way of remedy, Parkinson — who took over as sheriff this year — suggested his department investigate DUI cases involving CHP officers. His offer seems like a no-brainer, but the CHP was less than enthusiastic. Coastal Division Chief Adam Cuevas told a Tribune reporter that he’d consider it on a “case-by-case basis.”
“Our general policy is that everybody gets treated equally,” he said, though he admitted that mistakes were made with Whited. “I hope we never have an issue like this again.”
So do we.
Striking a reasonable tone
After all the rancor over binding arbitration, it was refreshing to read what Erik Baskin, president of the SLO firefighters union, had to say about the city’s budget crisis.
“ we look forward to sitting down with the city and trying to find solutions to make sure we all get through this fiscal crisis,” he told Tribune reporter AnnMarie Cornejo. “We want to be a part of the solution.”
For striking a harmonious chord, we toss Baskin a well-played bouquet.
Learn to drive safely, lawmakers
We’re towing a load of dinged-up brickbats to Sacramento for those accident-prone lawmakers who cost taxpayers $768,000, thanks to their misadventures behind the wheels of state-issued cars.
We’re not talking about an occasional fender-bender; as The Sacramento Bee reported, 20 lawmakers and former lawmakers have filed multiple claims stemming from collisions in state-owned vehicles.
Two former assemblymen — Rick Keene of Chico and Anthony Adams of Hesperia — each had three accidents in less than 18 months. Keene backed into an object, hit something in a parking lot and rear-ended another vehicle, while Adams hit a wall and a curb and also caused a rear-end collision.
By the way, our local lawmakers — state Sen. Sam Blakeslee and Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian — did not show up in the Bee’s report on errant drivers.