Bouquets and Brickbats: Open meetings are a good idea

We’re delivering a big bouquet of sunflowers to SLO City Manager Katie Lichtig, for reversing course and opening meetings of a budget task force to the press and public. Shining a light on these budget deliberations will not only better inform the public, it also should help allay concerns that a hand-picked group of non-elected VIPs is calling the shots at City Hall.

But unions should take part

Now that SLO’s budget meetings are open, we urge the unions representing police and firefighters to reconsider their decisions to drop out of the group.

We understand that the unions are concerned about the makeup of the task force, and we agree that the membership roster —which reads like a “Who’s Who of SLO” — isn’t exactly a representative cross-section of the community.

But if police and fire union reps stay away, there will be even fewer viewpoints represented. That would be a shame, because salary and pension benefits for public safety employees are a huge issue in the city of SLO, especially after a 2008 arbitration decision awarded police officers a whopping 22 percent raise.

This is an opportunity for union representatives to outline their concerns, contribute suggestions, answer questions and hear what other segments of the community have to say.

A bouquet of olive branches if they come to the party — and a briar patch of brickbats if they don’t.

Decision time for Blakeslee

Hello? Sam? Are you there?

Maybe not, because as of Thursday afternoon, SLO’s League of Women Voters had still not gotten a solid “yea” or “nay” out of Sam Blakeslee’s office.

The League, as you may already know, is sponsoring a forum for the four state Senate candidates at the Cuesta College Student Center at 7 p.m. Monday. (Full disclosure: The Tribune is among the co-sponsors.)

Sam’s staff indicated earlier that it would be difficult for him to make the event, though the League suggested he could participate via video or teleconferencing.

A downright refusal would have been disappointing, to be sure.

But no word one way or the other isn’t what Emily Post recommends.

For not minding his P’s and Q’s when it comes to RSVP’s, Sam and his handlers get a case of brickbats, PDQ.

Projects moving ahead, finally

We offer bell-lap bouquets to the patient citizens of Los Osos and Nipomo, who are seeing progress — finally! — on two of the county’s longest-running projects: the Los Osos sewer and the Willow Road extension in the South County.

Call us cockeyed optimists, but we were downright giddy after hearing that work on the sewer could begin as early as September, 2011. And even better, work on the first phase of the Willow Road extension is actually under way.

True, the county doesn’t have funding lined up for the other phases of Willow Road, and the Board of Supervisors is hinting that taxpayers may have to pick up part of the tab.

But just for now, we’re clapping our hands over our ears and singing a la-la-la song. We’ll worry about the rest tomorrow.