We’re affixing a Tribune letterhead to brickbats for Cuesta College President Gil Stork and Athletic Director Robert Mariucci to let them know our official opinion: They were out of line when they sent out letters in support of the Phillips 66 rail spur project on Cuesta College stationery. Each man is entitled to opine on the project. But when they send out remarks under Cuesta’s letterhead, it makes it appear they are conveying the official position of the college. That’s not the case; the Board of Trustees has not taken a stand on the controversial project, and while it was urged to do so at a meeting Wednesday, it declined to put the item on the agenda.
Here’s an idea: If the board doesn’t want to take a position, could Cuesta at least consider hosting an educational forum on the proposed rail spur? And how about formulating a position on use of letterheads and putting it in writing?
COLAB should spread its wings
For months, Supervisor Adam Hill has been sounding an alarm: COLAB, a conservative special interest group, has been meeting privately with certain members of the Board of Supervisors, i.e. Lynn Compton and Debbie Arnold, to go over the weekly board agendas.
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Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Individual supervisors are free to meet privately with anyone they choose to discuss county issues; it’s only a violation of California’s open meeting law if there is a quorum of three or more supervisors present. Hill, though, wants the public to know that COLAB is the only interest group that meets on a regular basis with individual board members.
COLAB does deserve a brickbat for that — but only for inefficiency. Why is COLAB wasting time briefing the two most conservative members of the board? Don’t Compton and Arnold already see eye-to-eye with nearly all of COLAB’s positions?
If COLAB really wants to wield influence, wouldn’t it be better off meeting with middle-of-the-roader Frank Mecham, who is sometimes the swing voter on the board? And what a coup it would be if Michael Brown, executive director of SLO’s COLAB, could occasionally bend the ear of liberal supervisors Hill and Bruce Gibson in private sessions!
Brown says his organization has extended an invitation to meet regularly with each supervisor, but didn’t hear back from Hill or Gibson. Mecham occasionally meets, but only once a month or so, said Brown.
For the record, Brown doesn’t view the weekly meetings with Arnold and Compton as a waste of time.
“Absolutely not!” he said.
The two supervisors don’t always vote in sync with one another, Brown said, nor do they always follow COLAB’s recommendations.
For example: Last December, Arnold joined her colleagues (Compton was not on the board then) in unanimously approving $1,000, one-time payments to county employees to help them defray rising health insurance costs.
“We were absolutely against that,” said Brown.
So there may be a rare occasion when Arnold and Compton disagree with COLAB, but we’re absolutely not taking back the brickbat. We do promise a bouquet, though, if Brown can score a meeting with Gibson. We’ll make it a double if it’s with Hill.
But good luck with that. As Gibson put it, “I hear plenty from him when he comes before us on Tuesdays.”
For his 90th, a party environment
We’re hopping into our hybrid to deliver an environmentally friendly, drought-tolerant birthday bouquet to Bill Denneen, who celebrates his 90th this weekend. Bill and his friends are extending an open invitation to a potluck/birthday bash that starts at noon Sunday at the Dana Cultural Center, 671 S. Oak Glen Ave. in Nipomo. Speakers include state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, Congresswoman Lois Capps and county supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson.
Whether you agree or disagree with Bill’s politics — or fall somewhere in between — it’s tough not to be inspired by his commitment to the environment; his willingness to speak his mind; his readiness to offer support and encouragement, whether it’s a quick email or a formal Bill Denneen Environmental Award; his love of nature and his generosity in sharing that appreciation with others.
In lieu of gifts, guests at Sunday’s celebration are asked to consider donating to one of Bill’s favorite charities: Sierra Club, ECOSLO, Planned Parenthood, Humane Society and Dana Adobe. Bring food to share and your own reusable utensils and plates. Birthday cake, beverages and entertainment will be provided.