Opinion Columns & Blogs

Can scandal reeks of peril for SLO

I’m still reeling from Sunday’s exposé dealing with San Luis Obispo City Council members breaking the law — a law of their own making, mind you.

I’m shocked, simply shocked by the revelations that the city fathers and mothers are scofflawing their own statute that deals with wheeling one’s garbage bins out of sight once they’ve been emptied. Speaking for the collectively outraged, what’s next? Will we learn that our elected officials’ dogs and cats are living in sin together?

The consequences of civil disobedience of this magnitude are such that I’ve been forced to go to my expert — Paddy O’Fernture — on the issue, seeking further clarity on what this may portend for the Happiest Town in America.

“It could be the beginning of a great unraveling of the community’s fabric,” Paddy noted, his thick brows knitted in obvious concern. “Or it could just be so much hot air blown up our civic kilts.

“For argument’s sake,” he went on, “let’s look at some of the other edicts that have come to define Happy Town, USA: laws banning duck feeding, parking cars on lawns, drive-throughs or inappropriately placed couches.

“Let’s face it, those laws put the kibosh on behavior that, if left unchecked, could certainly lead to the rampant misuse of plastic grocery bags and unregulated transfat-fueled foods in city restaurants.”

So if those laws are designed to modify tasteless behavior, affronts to aesthetics as it were, what other laws can we expect to be passed and ignored by our elected officials?

“Well,” said Paddy, “in light of the council’s fright of visual blight, they could look to El Paso, Texas, where it’s against the law to wear a ‘lewd skirt’ in public. Or look to Carmel, where a man can’t go outside while wearing a jacket and pants that don’t match.

“Or, in conjunction with the city’s law prohibiting basketball hoops on city streets, they could outlaw playing catch on city streets, as is the case in Bartlesville, Okla.

“And if the goal of these laws is to help with flagging municipal coffers,” said Paddy, “in addition to adding parking meters on Sundays, they could follow Chico’s lead and charge a $500 fine for detonating a nuclear device within the city limits.

“Now, personally,” said my sage friend with an intake of breath, “I’d raise the fine for that last one to something like $2,500 to put some real teeth in it.”

“Final tally?” he asked. “The San Luis City Council — with the exception of Dan Carpenter — seems to have adopted the rationale of former New York Mayor David Dinkins when he said, ‘I haven’t committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law.’ ”

Bill Morem can be reached at bmorem@thetribunenews.com or at 781-7852.