Bouquets and Brickbats: SLO workers pitch in to save money

We toss penny-wise bouquets to the SLO city employees who agreed to take a one-year pass on cost-of-living raises and health benefit increases. Four of the city’s five employee groups — representing 81 percent of workers — signed off on the agreement, which will save the city $490,000.

With the city facing a $2.2 million shortfall next fiscal year — and even larger ones in the following years — this is a sensible and necessary step. Let’s hope the city can reach a similar agreement with the Police Officers Association.

Lawmakers should pay own way

We’re stripping the leis from California lawmakers who took advantage of a free trip to Maui last week, where they hobnobbed with powerful special interest groups even as California’s deficit continued to grow by the billions.

As The Sacramento Bee reported, 22 lawmakers (none from SLO County) attended the conference at the posh Kea Lani resort. Their airfare and lodging was covered by the event’s sponsor — the nonprofit California Independent Voter Project — in exchange for their participation at the conference, which also included representatives from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, PG&E and other utilities, pharmaceutical companies and other corporate interests.

Not that there’s anything wrong with taking part in conferences, but to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, why can’t lawmakers travel on their own dimes? Or if that’s asking too much, can there at least be more transparency, so we know which contributors to the nonprofit made such generosity possible?

For basking on Hawaiian beaches — at someone else’s expense — we’re gifting those 22 state lawmakers with a lavish supply of overripe pineapples, rotten bananas and sun-bleached brickbats.

Blakeslee still aiming for gift limit

Speaking of lawmakers, we understand that state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, plans to renew his crusade to reduce lavish gift-giving to the state’s elected officials. Blakeslee tried repeatedly to get gift-limiting legislation passed when he was in the Assembly, with no luck.

We hope he has more success in the Senate.

We’d offer Sam a dozen long-stemmed roses as an incentive, but we don’t want to compromise his principles. He gets half-a-dozen day-old carnations instead.

Atascadero ice rink will be missed

No one’s to blame, but it is disappointing that the popular ice rink has been frozen out of this year’s Winter Wonderland event in downtown Atascadero. It would require an additional $6,000 in donations to install the temporary skating rink and given today’s economic realities, it’s understandable that the contributions haven’t materialized.

There will be plenty of other attractions at the Dec. 10 event, though, including a snow slide, ice sculptures and a visit from Santa. That earns a big snowflake bouquet for the event organizers, including Atascadero Main Street, as well as the donors.