Over the Hill

Mistake on Paso Robles water district vote still stings

I made a significant error in last week’s column. It was about the mail election now being held for the proposed Paso Robles Basin Water District. I incorrectly said that the property owners in the proposed district get one vote for every acre they own.

I was very wrong. The law actually says each landowner has the right to cast one vote on the formation of the district. It further says people who own several parcels are still entitled to just one vote. And it further says that if land is owned jointly, the owners collectively get just one vote. Basically, it says one vote per ownership. How could I have gotten it so wrong?

I allowed myself to be confused by the rules for electing the district’s nine directors. Three directors would be elected by the district’s registered voters. The other six would be elected by the district landowners: two by large landowners, two by medium landowners and two by small. And the law does allow those landowners to cast one vote for every acre owned.

But actually, only the two large-landowner seats are contested. The candidates for the other four landowner seats have no opponents and are automatically seated. The three registered voter seats are also contested, but that voting is not based on acreage. It is complicated, but I’m supposed to be smart enough to keep it straight. Apparently I’m not. Facing that fact and also being stung by the embarrassment of a major public error had me feeling mighty low last Friday.

But on Friday morning I had an appointment with my eye doctor. He’s been treating me for a long time. Fifteen or 20 years ago he removed cataracts from my eyes and brought color back into my life.

He scheduled me for two visits this month, a week apart from each other. During the first visit, an assistant had me look into two machines. With one she said to watch for little specks of light. In the other a brilliant light flooded my eyes, and a picture was taken of my optic nerves.

The second visit was last Friday. Another assistant tested my vision and checked my eyeball pressure. Then the doctor came in and looked deeply into my eyes to inspect my optic nerves.

He said that a routine checkup last year had found the pressure of my eyeball fluid was a little above the warning line, but now it reads below it.

“You don’t have glaucoma,” he said, and scheduled a checkup visit in six months. If that’s OK, he said, we’ll go back to annual checkups.

Later Friday I stopped at a store with a short shopping list. While there I decided to check again to see if they had a pair of jeans in my size and favorite color. I had sought them unsuccessfully for more than a month. I must wear the most popular size. But Friday I found one, on top of the pile.

If you think the lesson of this story is “Good news can drive out bad news,” you’re wrong. I still felt depressed. For me the lesson is “Embarrassment is stronger than good news or good luck.”

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.

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