What should be a routine housekeeping matter for local officials — the appointment of chairs and vice chairs of countywide boards — once again has turned into an embarrassingly juvenile power struggle.
Take this week’s dustup over the appointment of a new chair and vice chair of the Air Pollution Control District board. San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill, who served as vice chair last year, was in line to be chairman this year. But Supervisor Debbie Arnold nominated newly elected 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton.
Here’s Arnold’s argument: Because the air board’s biggest, most controversial issue — controlling dust from the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area — is in Compton’s district, she should be chair.
Excuse us while we cough up a brickbat.
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By Arnold’s logic, the chairmanship of any board — including the Board of Supervisors — should be decided not by rotation or by seniority but rather, by some Big and Important Issues Index.
(You’ve got the Los Osos sewer? Hah! I’ve got a drought and a declining water basin! Oh, yeah? Well, I’ve got Diablo Canyon!)
Compton is brand new to public office. It’s ridiculous to expect her to jump right in and chair aboard that she has just joined. The majority of board members recognized that and elected Hill. Good for them.
Yet the nitpicking over chairmanships is not over; the brouhaha over Hill’s appointment as vice chair of the Board of Supervisors returns to the board Tuesday. The rehearing is necessary because the board failed to take public comment the first time around and was called out for that by a clique of government watchers, some (maybe all?) of whom support Arnold for vice chair over Hill.
For the record, the board made a procedural mistake, and it should correct it. But then, can we please get on with it? The board has real issues to decide, and enough time has been spent squabbling over who gets the gavel.
Good move, anti-graffiti painter
With a nod to Nike, we toss a Just Do It bouquet to the audacious graffiti eradicator who covered up the giant four-letter word (no, not that four-letter word!) spray-painted on a Union Pacific bridge in San Luis Obispo a couple of weeks ago.
Removal of the graffiti got mired in multiagency red tape; the SLO Police Department was not legally authorized to access the bridge, since it belongs to Union Pacific Corp. The city was working with Caltrans and Union Pacific Corp. to paint over the graffiti, but before that could happen, a mysterious Good Sam (or Sams?) armed with a roller and a can of gray paint trespassed onto the bridge and blotted out the graffiti.
Yes, it was dangerous and technically illegal, though police aren’t looking for the person (or persons) responsible for the cleanup. So whoever you are, relax, and know that a lot of us were tickled pink to see the bridge restored to its gun-metal gray.
Importance of homeless census
We toss countless bouquets to the many volunteers who took part in Monday’s homeless census. Starting at 6 a.m., volunteers fanned out in communities around the county, looking for people who are living out of cars and tents, in abandoned buildings, under bridges and in creek beds. A separate count of homeless youths was conducted later in the day.
Such counts are important because they give local governments and nonprofit agencies an idea of where services are needed. Also, counties that receive funding for homeless services from the Department of Housing and Urban Development are required to conduct a census at least once every two years.
A similar census conducted in 2013 found 2,186 homeless people in SLO County; results of this year’s count will be released later in the year. We’ll let you know what it reveals.