SLO County Roundup

Cal Poly

State Sen. Leland Yee has issued a statement of condemnation for Cal Poly’s handling of the recent lecture by agribusiness critic Michael Pollan.

Yee, D-San Francisco, said the university was catering to the elite and committed a “gross violation of academic freedom” after changing a free lecture scheduled for the best-selling author into a panel discussion with three speakers, including Pollan.

David Wood, chairman of Harris Ranch Beef Co., had threatened to stop financially supporting the university because of Pollan’s scheduled talk.

The panel was organized to include Colorado State University professor Gary Smith, a speaker popular among cattlemen groups.

“This was a shameful decision and a gross violation of academic freedom, whether one agrees with Mr. Pollan or not,” said Yee. “Yet again, the CSU caters to the elite at the expense of students.”

Cal Poly officials said its goal was to provide a broad spectrum of views on a controversial topic so that students have a more comprehensive understanding of commercial farming as well as sustainable agriculture techniques, which Pollan promotes.

— Nick Wilson

Paso Robles

‘Endless Summer Fun’ is the chosen theme for the 2010 California Mid-State Fair, the fair’s board of directors announced Friday.

Focusing on the essence of the beach, ocean and surfing, the winning slogan — chosen from more than 150 entries from the public — will be incorporated throughout the fair’s marketing materials, building displays and public events. The contest was first announced in early October.

Two locals — Matthew Holland of Morro Bay and Rachelle Tarango of Paso Robles — happened to submit the same winning idea, officials said. They will receive two season passes for the annual North County event, scheduled for July 21 through Aug. 1, 2010.

— Tonya Strickland

San Luis Obispo

The county will continue collecting problem animals from the streets of San Luis Obispo and transporting them to the Animal Shelter.

The City Council voted Tuesday to pay $200,000 for the service this fiscal year.

Usually the contracts are extended for three-year periods, but city staff and the staff of other cities had expressed concern about rising costs for the service the county provides. Different agencies affected met with the county, according to a report by San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deborah Linden, and the cities agreed that a method based upon each jurisdiction’s actual use of the system was better than the current one.

The city paid $176,000 for the services last year. Finance Director Bill Statler said it wasn’t the 14 percent increase in one year that worried staff as much as proposed 14 percent increases annually for all three years, bringing the cost in 2011-12 to $258,000.

— Sally Connell

Paso Robles

Free facials, haircuts and manicures will be offered today by a local nonprofit group to people affected by cancer, in celebration of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Wellness Community of the Central Coast organized the “A Day Away” event courtesy of Designs School of Cosmetology at 715 24th St., Suite E, in Paso Robles.

Services will be offered by appointment only; call 237-8575 to schedule one.

The Wellness Community’s local chapter is designed to provide free support, education and hope to people with cancer and their loved ones in San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties.

For more information on the Wellness Community, to volunteer or to make a donation, call 238-4411.

— Tonya Strickland