Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mecham, Ochylski, and SewerWatch Support Public Participation in Government -- Supervisor Gibson? Um. . . Not So Much

TO: Franck Mecham, Chairperson, SLO County Board of Supervisors
DATE: 4/28/10

Dear Supervisor Mecham,

I just wanted to send you a quick note saying, "Thank you!," for how you handled yesterday's Board meeting. That 'question and answer' segment you held at the end of the Los Osos wastewater project update was flat-out brilliant, and unbelievably refreshing.

SLO County government actually listening to, and responding to SLO County citizens? Wow... great work!

Can I ask you a quick question?

I'm curious: Did you get that idea from 2nd District Supervisor candidate, Marshall Olchylski, when he appeared on Dave Congalton's radio show on Monday -- the day before your meeting?

The reason I ask, is because I listened to that interview, and I heard Mr. Ochylski say that one of the things he did as President of the Los Osos CSD, was actually create a regular agenda item where the Board takes questions from citizens, and then answers them. And, according to Ochylski, if the LOCSD Board, or staff, doesn't have the answer to a question at the time of the meeting, they make a note of the question, and have the answer ready at their next meeting.

When I heard him say that, my first thought was, "What a GREAT idea!"

Based on your excellent Q&A on Tuesday, I get the feeling you also heard Mr. Ochylski mention that, and your reaction was similar to mine: "What a great idea."

And, please ignore Supervisor Gibson's whining yesterday, when he questioned your Q&A by saying that many of those questions have already been asked and answered "once" in the past 3-plus years.

He's just bitter, because many of those same people that ask those great questions were SO right when it came to the pre-recall LOCSD's $25 million, wildly unpopular, mid-town sewer plant disaster, that so many of Gibson's "supporters" were responsible for, including his current Parks Commissioner, Pandora Nash-Karner (that he appointed to the SLO County Parks Commission, AFTER she developed and then implemented a "strategy" (her word) to have the entire town of Los Osos "fined out of existence.").

So, these days, he'd rather muzzle the public commenters, than build consensus, obviously.

Apparently, Supervisor Gibson fails to understand the importance of repetition of information, especially for a subject as complex and important as the Los Osos wastewater project.

As you may recall, when Supervisor Gibson was Chairperson, he actually limited the amount of time Los Ososans could speak on the subject. The problem was, those people were pointing out serious problems with the county's sewer development process -- like the Tonini site problem, where the location of that site didn't return groundwater to the basin -- and had he actually listened to those speakers, instead of shutting them up, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars could have been saved on the study of the Tonini site, that the Public Works Department selected as its final treatment site location, before it was eventually moved by the Planning Commission, because it didn't return groundwater to the basin.

(Wow, was Gibson wrong on that... on sooooo many levels.)

So, thank you again for that question and answer period. Great job, and, heck, the entire segment only took a few minutes to complete. Beautiful, beautiful work.

And, again, please ignore Supervisor Gibson's whining, and continue with that excellent, highly democratic process.

Thanks again,

P.S. I've published this e-mail (with fun links) on my blog:


[17 weeks down... 35 to go.]