Bouquets and Brickbats: Investigation demand reeks of sour grapes

That union leaders of SLO police and fire associations would be unhappy with the conclusions of a cost-cutting task force is understandable. The task force, after all, recommended doing away with binding arbitration; setting up a two-tier pension system; and reducing base pay, among other things.

But now the president of the SLO Police Officers Association, Matt Blackstone, is demanding an investigation into the consultant hired to moderate task force meetings. Blackstone claims that moderator Michael Gunther — founder of Collaboration LLC — had a conflict of interest because he is also chairman of the SLO Chamber board of directors.

Please. For one thing, isn’t it a little late to be raising such an objection? And for another, wouldn’t it be more constructive if the unions offered their own cost-cutting ideas, rather than attacking the task force? For that matter, why are the unions so anxious to discredit the task force? This was an advisory group formed for one purpose, with no decision-making power. We might also add that union leaders were invited to join the task force, but pulled out — and now they’re criticizing?

That said, we do wonder: Does anyone else find it ironic that the city spent $10,000 to hire a moderator for a budget-cutting task force?

But back to the demand for an investigation. It’s uncalled for, and it warrants a brickbat soaked in sour grapes.

Pacific Beach deserves recognition

We’re delivering a well-nurtured, grade “A” bouquet to the faculty and staff at Pacific Beach High School. The San Luis Obispo campus was recently named one of 27 model continuation high schools in the state. The school serves 16- to 18-year-olds who, for one reason or another, have not thrived in a traditional high school and are at risk of not graduating.

Under the leadership of Principal Chris Dowler, the Pacific Beach staff gives students the individual attention they need to succeed. We especially like the school’s practice of meeting with students at the end of their daily sessions to forge one more connection and deliver some final words of encouragement.

It’s great to see Pacific Beach receive statewide recognition — congrats to all.

Bench-turning plan a waste

Santa Barbara’s plan to spend $50,000 to turn public benches around to discourage panhandling — using redevelopment money, no less — puts a new spin on out-of-sight-out-of-mind.

Sorry, SB, but we side with the homeless advocate who believes it makes more sense to spend money on homeless services — especially when so many people are out of work. We’re taking up a collection to send Santa Barbara a bench of brickbats.

Garth has been a positive influence

We toss a SLO-grown bouquet to Chamber President Dave Garth, 64, who recently announced that he will retire in July. Garth has led the chamber for 38 years, taking it from a small organization with 250 members and a budget of around $30,000 to one with more than 1,400 members and a $1.5 million budget. He’s been creative, energetic and focused, and has been a positive influence not only here in SLO, but also in other California communities where chamber leaders followed some of his initiatives.

“I always wanted to go out while I felt like I was contributing,” Garth said of the timing of his decision.

We’d say he’s met that goal, and then some.