Friday, September 09, 2005

The Tribune Endorses Sewer Pork Over Hurricane Relief
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It's no secret that curiously strong parks advocate, scrupulously-questionable marketer, former Solution Group member, and initial Los Osos CSD Board director, Pandora Nash-Karner has had a long, and uncomfortably cozy relationship with The Tribune's Opinion Page editor and fellow Los Ososan, Bill Morem, but these days, it seems that Nash-Karner has sent one too many fruit baskets to the offices of The Tribune and The Sun Bulletin.

Because now, that uncomfortably cozy relationship seems to have clouded Morem's judgement. For example, The Tribune is now recommending Nash-Karner's "drop dead gorgeous" sewer-park over hurricane relief for the victims of Katrina.

Fortunately for United States taxpayers, Nash-Karner is not sending fruit baskets to the editorial offices of the New York Times, because, unlike The Tribune, The Times is not swayed.

In a recent editorial (Time to cut pork, fund storm relief), The Times calls for members of Congress to give up their local pork projects, and instead give that money to hurricane relief.

According to The Times, "The overwhelming need of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, coupled with the nation's shock at government ineptitude, should inspire members of Congress to sober up and become something approaching responsible policy-makers. If they do decide to reform, there's an easy way to prove it. They could turn in their pork."

The editorial continues, "Imagine what would happen if each member of Congress announced that he or she would give up a prize slab of bacon so the government would be able to use the money to shelter hurricane victims and rebuild New Orleans.

The Democratic minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, could afford to donate back some multimillion-dollar plums -- just one bike and pedestrian overpass, perhaps, or a ferry terminal. Another Democratic standout, James Oberstar of Minnesota, would have a hard time choosing from his cornucopia, but that $2.7 million for what is already described as the nation's longest paved recreational trail looks ripe."

SewerWatch would like to add to the Times' list a local "prize slab of bacon" that "looks ripe" -- the $2.3 million public park included in the Los Osos sewer project that Congresswoman Lois Capps is attempting to fund with Federal tax money. The park includes, among other pork products, an amphitheater, tot lot, public restrooms, public parking lot and community gardens.

Unfortunately for hurricane victims, The Tribune does not agree with SewerWatch.

In their editorial from Sunday, September 4 (Osos must go ahead with sewer), The Tribune says, "It's imperative that our local legislators, from state Sen. Abel Maldonado to Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee to Rep. Lois Capps search every avenue to secure financial relief for (Los Osos's) economically fragile residents...".

However (and The Tribune should know this, but apparently does not), the problem with the $35 million that Capps is seeking for the project is that it isn't earmarked for "the town's economically fragile residents" at all. According to Capps' office, that $35 million is fair game for park funding. (You guys at The Trib might want to actually make that phone call, like I did, before you start popping out editorials on this subject.)

Additionally, since the park is dictating the downtown location of the sewer plant, all the costs needed to mitigate that controversial downtown location are also on the park. The costs of the odor scrubbing facilities, the burying of the plant, the "wave wall," the expensive land cost of the Tri-W site, and the extra environmental mitigation required, are all on the park. Yep... that $35 million should just about cover it.

But that's alright, Tribune. I'm sure those sleeping in their 2-foot by 6-foot cots on the floor of the Astrodome would gladly give up that $35 million so Los Osos can have an amphitheater at the site of their sewer plant -- an amphitheater that the town's taxpayers have already voted they do not want to pay for.

Why does The Tribune completely ignore the impact the multi-million dollar park is having on the entire Los Osos sewer project? Why does The Tribune refuse to cover that vitally important angle of the story? Please tell me the answer is not a long history of Nash-Karner fruit baskets.

Unlike The Tribune, SewerWatch agrees with the New York Times -- it's time to put New Orleans above "drop dead gorgeous" sewer pork.


Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert, Pozo Saloon, Sunday, Sept. 18
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