Bouquets and Brickbats: Parkinson dinged for testimony

We’re dusting the cobwebs off a 10-year-old brickbat and delivering it to sheriff’s candidate Ian Parkinson for testifying as an expert witness in a 2000 civil case involving his sister-in-law.

Parkinson’s relative was a plaintiff in the case, which stemmed from a fatal accident near King City in 1998. At the time, Parkinson worked in his off-duty hours as an accident reconstruction expert, and often testified in civil cases.

As Tribune writer Cynthia Lambert reported on Wednesday, Parkinson told the attorney handling his sister-in-law’s case about his connection to the plaintiff. The attorney says he relayed that information to the defense.

Legal experts interviewed for the story say it was up to the defense to raise the connection at trial. They also pointed out that it is not unethical for an expert witness to testify on behalf of someone he knows.

That’s all well and good, but this wasn’t just someone Parkinson knew casually — it was a relative. Given the closeness of the connection, it would have been better had he passed on this particular case, to avoid even the appearance of bias.

That said, we’ve got to ask: If this were so egregious, why are those responsible for spreading this information only now stepping forward, 10 years after the fact?

Right call made on ‘Kaffir Boy’

A SLO High review committee earns a big, un-bleeped bouquet for agreeing to keep “Kaffir Boy” on the shelf, despite an anonymous complaint about a passage in the book that deals with childhood prostitution.

Some background: “Kaffir Boy” is Mark Mathabane’s account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid. It’s been used in an honors world history course at SLO High for the past 10 years, and has also been on the shelf in the school library.

While the book has been challenged elsewhere, it wasn’t controversial here until last spring, when school district officials received an anonymous letter about a graphic passage in the book. That led to the appointment of a seven-member committee, which conducted a meeting Monday to review the book — and unanimously decided to allow the unabridged version to remain in use.

Bottom line: It’s a little frightening to know that an anonymous complainer wields such power, but on the positive side, we hope the publicity will lead more readers to Mathabane’s powerful account.

Prospects improve for Paso dog park

We toss a dogwood bouquet to the Paso Robles City Council for unanimously agreeing to reserve an acre of land at Larry Moore Park for an off-leash park for dogs.

Paso has been lagging in providing amenities for dogs — it’s the largest community in the county that still doesn’t have an off-leash park — so this is an encouraging step.

We should point out that it’s not a done deal; additional study needs to be done before the project gets a final OK. But given the dogged efforts of the volunteers from Parks-4-Pups, we’re hopeful that the pooches of Paso will eventually have their day.

Maldonado passes the buck

Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado earns a shift-the-blame brickbat for his knee-jerk response to a query about numerous violations at his family business, Argo-Jal Farming Enterprises in Santa Maria.

As the Los Angeles Times recently reported, the business has been cited for safety violations 28 times since 1990. In one tragic incident, a 25-year old worker was crushed beneath a tractor.

According to the Times, Maldonado blamed many of the violations on overzealous regulators “who put businesses out of business and dissuade new businesses from coming to California.”

We don’t doubt that some regulations are excessive, but it’s disappointing that the state’s No. 2 leader would be so dismissive of California’s efforts to protect the health and safety of farmworkers.