Vandalism to Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial in Atascadero a disgrace

We’ve got a truck-sized brickbat for the driver of the pickup that tore through the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial in Atascadero, causing $15,000 in damage. This was no garden-variety vandalism, but rather, defacement of atribute to veterans who sacrificed their lives. The monument includes walls inscribed with the names of fallen service members from San Luis Obispo County — and this is the place where someone decides to do a little off-roading?

The memorial was the result of many, many hours of planning and fundraising by a dedicated group of volunteers. In a short amount of time, one misguided person managed to do substantial damage to this fine tribute. That’s a shame, but we have no doubt the community will rally and make sure the memorial is put to rights as soon as possible — and we have a huge, red, white and blue bouquet for those efforts. For more information about the memorial — including ways to help — go to http://facesoffreedommemorial.org.

Report fraud, waste to new hotline

We’re phoning in a penny-wise/pound-sound bouquet for Jim Erb, the county’s auditor/controller and treasurer/tax collector. On Erb’s recommendation, the county Board of Supervisors recently established a whistleblower hotline for reporting suspected cases of fraud, waste and abuse in county government.

Erb points out the vast majority of county employees, vendors and contractors are honest and ethical. We agree, but we also believe it makes sense to establish a formal process for reporting and investigating suspected problems. The hotline number is 855-326-9623. Reports can also be made online at http://www.reportlineweb.com/sanluisobispo.

Speaking of Jim Erb, we’re wondering if something can be done about his job title, because auditor/controller and treasurer/tax collector is a mouthful. Can he even fit all that on a business card? We understand that two county departments have been merged into one, but isn’t there a way to abbreviate the name? How about AC/TT? Or if you’re not into acronyms, would department of finance work? A bouquet of brevity to the county if it can whack a few syllables off this unwieldy name.

Advocacy group’s threats misguided

We’d toss sand-encrusted brickbats to Friends of the Oceano Dunes and their BFF, Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson, but they’d probably consider them badges of honor. So, we’ll settle for registering our disgust with the tactics Friends used to try to get Peterson reinstated to the county Air Pollution Control Board. In a letter to the city, “Friends” more or less demanded that Peterson be returned to the board, OR ELSE.

And by “or else,” Friends threatened to file an appeal of the Grover Beach Lodge project — a development two decades in the planning — unless Peterson was reinstated on the air board. Granted, Friends had been raising concerns about a lack of OHV parking at the lodge, among other issues, yet it waited until it got wind of Peterson’s dismissal from the air board to issue an ultimatum.

At a special meeting this week, the Grover Beach council majority refused to reinstate Peterson, and Friends announced it’s going forward with the appeal. Now that’s neighborly, isn’t it?

We have no problem when an advocacy group tries to protect its turf — in this case an OHV playground. We do, however, have a big problem when a narrowly focused group headed mostly by out-of-area residents (according to the Friends website, only one of the eight members of the board of directors lives in SLO County) resorts to threats in a misguided attempt to influence local politics. The air board is a countywide board that deals with a range of issues that affect all of SLO County — not just the Oceano Dunes — and we believe local officials should decide who sits on that board, not residents of San Jose or Hanford or Glendale.