San Luis Obispo City Council members may have been frustrated by the rising cost of a two-block downtown improvement project, yet a majority of them voted to move ahead with it anyway.
Could someone give these folks a crash course in PR 101?
When 12 percent of Californians are out of work, the state is on the brink of another round of cuts and the city of SLO is asking employees to give up 6.8 percent in pay and benefits, it’s not the best time to conspicuously spend $786,500 outfitting two blocks of Higuera Street with fancy sidewalks and new lighting, tree grates and trash cans.
We aren’t saying the city shouldn’t invest any money in the downtown, but this level of extravagance is out of touch with economic reality. And the fact that the money is coming out of the capital improvement fund, rather than the general fund, doesn’t make the expenditure any more palatable. Nor does the decision to deny a staff request to allocate $25,000 to hire a project liaison. That should never have seen the light of day in the first place.
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Expense aside, we also question whether it makes sense to lavish so much attention on two blocks. Won’t the rest of downtown look a tad shabby in comparison?
Mayor Jan Marx and councilmen Dan Carpenter and John Ashbugh earn a two-block-long brickbat for this blunder, while council members Kathy Smith and Andrew Carter merit frugal, single-carnation bouquets for voting no.
When the dust settled
We toss breathe-easy bouquets to members of the county Air Pollution Control District board who voted to impose new limits on dust pollution linked to off-road recreation at the Oceano Dunes. The controversial regulations passed, 7-4.
While she abstained from voting, Grover Beach City Councilwoman Karen Bright also deserves credit. Her colleagues on the Grover Council had already voted to oppose the new rules, but Bright — who is Grover Beach’s representative on the APCD board — said she believes OHV riding does contribute to higher dust levels. That left her “in a moral dilemma,” she said, when it came time to vote on the new dust rules. Given how politicized this issue has become, that abstention took courage, and that earns Bright a follow-your-conscience corsage.
Paved with bad intentions
The Santa Barbara-based Rottman Group is accusing Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of backing out of a verbal commitment to fund improvements on Atascadero’s Del Rio Road. The project would accommodate increased traffic generated by a new Walmart store and the adjacent Annex shopping center, which the Rottman Group plans to develop.
In a Viewpoint in Tuesday’s Tribune, CEO Steven Rottman spelled out his position: “Wal-Mart should stop trying to save itself $2 million and should fund the traffic improvements that have been identified in the EIR.”
We agree, but we also wonder why in the world the agreement wasn’t put in writing. Half-an-unpaved-brickbat goes to Wal-Mart, and the other half to Rottman Group.
Pizza as a vegetable? Puhleeze
Pizza is a vegetable? According to Congress, it is. The lawmaking body on Monday blocked rules proposed by the Agriculture Department to try to fight obesity in kids by requiring more fruits and vegetables to school lunches. The proposed rule would have cut down on starchy potatoes and halved the sodium content of school lunches. It also would have required at least a quarter-cup of tomato sauce to be in a slice of pizza before it could be considered a serving of vegetable.
Legislators, accused of having carrots being dangled in front of them by the big cheeses of the food industry, are rightly being criticized.
With rates of obesity and diabetes at all-time highs in children, any effort to promote healthy eating should be encouraged. But once again Congress shows that it is more interested in protecting industry than looking out for public health.
All this just leaves a bad taste in our mouths. For this we hurl tomato paste-covered brickbats at Congress and those who opposed healthier school lunches for kids.