Editorials

Bouquets and Brickbats: Bell officials should repay own salaries

We had hoped that the big, hot mess in the city of Bell wouldn’t touch us here on the Central Coast, other than to serve as a cautionary tale.

Now we’ve learned that the city of Morro Bay may be on the hook for helping to pay the pensions of Bell’s ex-city manager Robert Rizzo ($600,000 a year) and ex-police chief Randy Adams ($411,300 a year).

It’s an odd turn of events, but Morro Bay is unlucky enough to be in the same pension liability pool as Bell, along with around 140 other small and medium-sized cities and special districts.

The exact amount each jurisdiction may have to kick in for Bell pensions is unclear. Some cities already are aiming to fight this ludicrous liability — as they should. Instead of being rewarded with pensions, these shameless crooks masquerading as public servants should have to repay the ridiculous salaries they earned.

We may be late to the Bell wringing party, but we’ll make up for that by supplying the beer and the brickbats.

A strong advocate for students

We offer a huge bouquet of 50 long-stemmed roses — one for each year she’s served on South County school boards — to Lucia Mar school district trustee Georgie O’Connor. The longtime board member recently told us that she doesn’t plan to seek re-election in November.

O’Connor, 88, was first elected to the Arroyo Grande Elementary School District board in 1961. Four years later, several small districts in South County merged to form Lucia Mar, which is now the largest school district in the county.

O’Connor was elected to the Lucia Mar board for 12 consecutive terms. Among other honors and accolades, her remarkable career set a state record for length of service on a school board.

“I think I served the children of the community well,” she told a Tribune reporter.

We’d call that an understatement. Over the years, O’Connor has been a strong advocate for students and has often voted against teacher layoffs and other budget cuts she found unacceptable.

On a personal note, we’ve always found her to be approachable, understanding, gracious and ready to go to bat for students. Thanks, Georgie.

State Parks’ dawdling is unacceptable

County supervisors can talk the talk when it comes to demanding action at the Oceano Dunes off-road recreation area, where OHV use has been linked to air pollution on the Nipomo Mesa.

But if supervisors are serious about wanting State Parks to move more quickly on a dust reduction plan, why not insist on more stringent deadlines instead of signing off on what they consider to be a weak agreement? The county, after all, does have some leverage — it owns a chunk of land at the Oceano Dunes that it leases to State Parks for off-road recreation.

In lieu of brickbats, we’re sending county supervisors a package of wieners to roast at the Dunes — along with masks to filter out the dust particles.

State Parks, on the other hand, doesn’t get off so easily. True to expectations, the agency already appears to be dragging its feet on the dust-control plan. A State Parks official told the Board of Supervisors that it could take as long as six months to hire a technical expert for the project. That’s unacceptable – and it earns State Parks a sandblasted brickbat.

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