The fractious San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District board has agreed — though not without dissension — to spend up to $5,000 to hire a facilitator to help smooth over its rough edges.
Consider that a bargain. The initial proposal was for an $8,000 workshop, to be held at an off-site location (one that would have been open to the public). There also was an option of adding a follow-up that would have boosted the cost as high as $12,000.
The costlier proposals did not go over well; in addition to concerns about expense, some members worried the longer, more elaborate session would involve group hugs and too much generic “happy talk.”
A few questioned whether the exercise would do any good. County Supervisor Lynn Compton was particularly skeptical about whether a four-hour workshop could change behavior.
“People are going to act the way they act,” she said.
In the end, board members compromised by voting 7-4 to spend up to $5,000 for a facilitator. They’re hoping it will cost much less, and SLO Mayor Jan Marx suggested someone may even be willing to volunteer his or her services. (Good luck with that.)
The session will be conducted during the board’s March meeting, at the usual location: the County Government Center. It won’t be just a lesson in manners; board members also expect to use the time to establish more clear-cut rules of procedure and to clarify exactly what the board’s responsibilities are, especially when it comes to protecting public health.
Still, we agree with the astute observation of Eric Greening, who spoke during public comment. “My preference is you not have to do this at all,” said Greening, who closely follows county government.
Exactly. For that reason, we’re delivering a load of dusty brickbats to the air board, though we’ll throw in a frugal bouquet of day-old daisies for keeping costs down. And we’ll take back the brickbats if board members agree to clear the air with a group hug.