Editorials

Bouquets and Brickbats: Hey, did you hear?

Pssst — listen, this really can’t get out because if Lisa Schicker ever got wind of it, she’d probably insist on another big, expensive investigation.

But we have it on excellent authority that county Public Works Director Paavo Ogren actually plans to award the Los Osos sewer contract to County Counsel Warren Jensen’s niece’s best friend’s brother’s girlfriend, who went to school with one of the Kardashians.

But wait, it gets better. They don’t plan to build a sewer at all. It will look like a treatment plant on the outside, but in reality it will be a private club where the Kardashians can hang with their celebrity friends when they want to escape the paparazzi, which truth be told, isn’t all that often. So mostly the faux sewer plant will sit there empty, which means it will be a great place for Poly kids to party. Oh, and did we mention that Paavo Ogren is the devil?

OK, that last part’s not true. In fact, none of it is. But what the heck, why not waste several thousand more bucks investigating additional bogus charges against Ogren? We don’t mean to discourage government watchdogs or whistleblowers from coming forward with legitimate claims, but the investigation of Schicker’s allegations of bid rigging and other wrongdoing sounds like a ginormous waste of time and taxpayer money. According to the County Counsel’s Office, the allegations were based not on documentation, but on Schicker’s personal opinions.

The circus surrounding the sewer project needs to end now. In the meantime, we’re placing a standing order for boneheaded brickbats with our dog groomer’s cat trainer’s best friend’s masseuse who, we have it on good authority, has no ties to any Kardashian.

Williamson Act was worth saving

County government earns a bouquet of forage grasses tied up with a calico ribbon for managing to scrape together enough money to rescue the Williamson Act. That’s the program that helps ensure our wide, open spaces stay that way by giving farmers and ranchers tax breaks for not developing their property. The state yanked its support of the program, which meant the county had to come up with $1 million to keep it alive. Through a hiring chill and careful budgeting, the county managed to do just that — well done.

Is team building really worth $62K?

We’re scratching our heads over another of the county’s fiscal moves — spending nearly $62,000 to hire a consultant to train General Services Agency staff. Among other assignments, the trainers are expected to “evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and individual managers and provide appropriate coaching” and “provide team-building exercises and customized training for GSA teams.”

Team-building exercises seem on the superfluous side when the economy is tanking and jobs are on the line. We’d send the county a team-built brickbat, but we haven’t been trained on that — at least not yet.

Jury did its job well ­in De Vaul case

In the case of the people vs. Dan De Vaul, we award the jury an extra-long recess and justly deserved bouquet of carnations for conscientious public service. After deliberating over three days, the jury ultimately found De Vaul guilty of two misdemeanor counts, acquitted him on two others and failed to reach a verdict on five. Whether you agree or disagree with the outcome, the jurors were clearly a dedicated group of individuals, not easily swayed by either the defense or the prosecution.

The county had accused De Vaul of several code violations; jurors found that he created a fire and safety hazard by converting a barn into living quarters as part of his homeless encampment/clean and sober living facility. The District Attorney’s Office now has the option of retrying De Vaul on the five misdemeanor charges that the jury could not agree on. That would be a huge waste of time and taxpayer dollars. The District Attorney’s Office should let this go, and Dan De Vaul should finally learn his lesson.

We agree that De Vaul is providing a service the county obviously needs, especially in this time of economic crisis. The county should cut him as much slack as it can — but De Vaul needs to cooperate.

An olive branch bouquet to both sides if they can — at long last — work this out.

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