Bouquets and Brickbats: Kudos to the candidates

The Democratic candidate for state Senate, John Laird, was understandably wary about attending an Aug. 6 candidates forum in Arroyo Grande sponsored by the Coalition for Labor, Agriculture and Business. COLAB is a right-leaning, property rights advocacy group that started several years ago in Santa Maria with columnist/radio show host/tea partier Andy Caldwell at its helm. Andy is a nice, mild-mannered guy, but on the topic of John Laird, Andy, is, well, a bit rabid.

Here’s his take, from blog.calchronicle.com:

“I have great respect for Sam Blakeslee. John Laird, on the other hand, scares me to death. Without a single exception that I am aware of, every single business, manufacturing and taxpayer advocacy organization that is part of COLAB or that we belong to gave John Laird straight F’s when he was in the state Legislature. Further, family values advocacy organizations rated Laird as a zero when it came to promoting family values.”

Caldwell, however, won’t be running the show Aug. 6.

The San Luis Obispo County Cattlemen’s Association and the Home Builders Association of the Central Coast will co-sponsor the forum. And Laird praised the selection of Arturo Santiago of KCOY and Ben Heighes of KUHL AM 1440 as moderators.

We’re just glad to know there will be a local forum with all four candidates in attendance. Bouquets for that, though as some Tribune posters have pointed out, it is a little late, inasmuch as some voters already have sent in their vote-by-mail ballots.

SLO inhabitants satisfied with city

The city of San Luis Obispo deserves a taking-care-of-business bouquet for keeping its customers satisfied. In a recent, city-funded survey of 400 registered SLO city voters, a remarkable 97 percent of respondents rated the city as either an excellent or good place to live. The number of respondents satisfied with the services provided by the city was a respectable 72 percent.

Of course, not all is perfect in paradise — lack of affordable housing and good-paying jobs were among the drawbacks highlighted by the survey.

The poll also gauged the level of support for renewal of Measure Y, the half-cent sales tax due to sunset in April 2015. Sixty-four percent of those polled supported extending the tax. True, 400 voters isn’t a huge sample, but 64 percent is a strong indicator that the tax has a good shot at the ballot box.

Emergency response charge is bad

While we’re on the subject of municipal services, we have a few choice words for the odious practice of expecting motorists to foot the bill if a fire department responds to the scene of an accident. Several California cities, including Stockton and Roseville, are billing for such services. To our knowledge, no local agency is doing so, and if some are tempted to, we strongly urge them to forget about it. Charging people who set fires deliberately or through sheer negligence is one thing, but billing motorists who, often through no fault of their own, are involved in a crash is a brickbattable offense. After all, what do we pay taxes for, anyway?

Theater project applicant a no-show

The ongoing drama over whether Atascadero can support two 10-screen theaters — the Galaxy, now under construction, and La Plaza, which is still seeking city approval — continues to play out at City Hall.

However, one of the major players — La Plaza Theater applicant Larry Wysong — was a no-show at Tuesday’s Atascadero City Council meeting. Wysong has indicated that he doesn’t want to further inflate the issue with public debate. But for an applicant to deliberately miss a meeting when his project will be discussed sounds like a diva move to us, and that earns Wysong a spare-us-the-drama brickbat.

Actually, Wysong’s nonappearance at Tuesday’s meeting probably made it that much easier for the City Council to stand by its earlier decision and insist on a study of the financial feasibility of having two theaters in town. For that, the council earns a best sequel bouquet. A study by an objective third party should help settle whether there’s enough of a regional audience to support two theaters. In fact, the city should have made that a requirement from the start, before allowing the project to get this far in the process.