Friday, May 28, 2010

SLO County Election Coverage, SewerWatch Style

TO: Bruce Gibson, SLO County Supervisor, District 2
DATE: 5/28/10

Dear Supervisor Gibson,

I'm researching a story on the upcoming election, and I just have a quick question that I think the voters of District 2 would find interesting, however, I've yet to see this question asked by the local media, let alone answered by you.

My question involves the proposed "$20 - $50 million" expansion of the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, just off Highway 1, between SLO and Morro Bay.

As you probably know (from my recent reporting), your own appointment to the SLO County Parks Commission -- Pandora Nash-Karner -- also sits on the Board of Directors for the SLO Botanical Garden (a facility that sits on county-owned land and has a lease with the county) and is spearheading the expansion project -- a project that, according to SLOBG officials, will bring "millions" of visitors to the area, and include an "up to 5,000 seat amphitheater," a "railway," "trams," numerous food concessions (including a "10,000 square foot restaurant"), a "dormitory," and much, much more.

Additionally, as I also recently reported at this link:

http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2010/01/great-san-los-osobispo-botanical-sewer.html

... Nash-Karner's husband's landscaping firm -- the SWA Group -- provided the sole bid to design the project, according to the Garden's executive director, Liz Scott-Graham.

The reason I know that is very, very interesting. Last year, I phoned Scott-Graham, and asked her if they had received any proposals to design the expansion.

She said, "Yes. One."

What happened next, journalistically speaking, is great.

My next question wasn't, "Who gave the bid?"

Nope.

My very next (and immediate) question was, "Was it from the SWA Group?"

She said, "Yes."

The reason I already knew to ask that question, is because, at the time, I had recently reported on that exact same arrangement at this link:

http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2009/07/exclusive-sewerwatch-investigation-how.html

... where I first exposed how, shortly after Nash-Karner took office in 1999 as the initial vice-president for the Los Osos CSD (that she and her husband were solely responsible for forming through their failed "better, cheaper, faster" sewer "project," by the way), official LOCSD sewer design documents began containing the words "SWA Group."



That's why I already knew to ask Scott-Graham if their one proposal came from the SWA Group, because I had recently reported on that exact same arrangement -- the "Nash-Karner on a board that is proposing a major project in the county, and then the words 'SWA Group' appearing on official documents regarding the project" arrangement.

I was right. It was the SWA Group that gave the sole proposal to design the SLOBG expansion. (I guessed "SWA Group," and I was right. Think about that.)

So, with all of that in mind, here's my question, a question I think the voters of District 2 would be very interested in getting answered, before the June 8 election:

Considering that Nash-Karner is your appointment to the SLO County Parks Commission (a position she has held since 1991), do you also support the expansion of the SLO Botanical Garden project?

Do you support that project, that your Parks Commissioner -- who is also on the Board of Directors for the SLO Botanical Garden (yet fails to disclose that fact during the numerous occasions that the Botanical Garden is discussed at Parks Commission meetings) -- is spearheading, a project that will include "trams," a "railway,", a "maximum 5,000 seat amphitheater," and could potentially bring "millions" of extra car trips to Highway 1, halfway between SLO and Morro Bay?

Are you in favor of your Parks Commissioner's/SLO Botanical Garden Director's (and her husband's landscaping firm's) project?

Considering that the election is just a couple of weeks away, I (and the voters of District 2) would very much appreciate it if you could comment on my question as soon as possible. A quick "yes" or "no" would be great, but if you'd like to comment more on this subject, that would be better.

As always, much thanks,
Ron

P.S. A couple of weeks back, I asked your opponent, Marshall Ochylski, a version of the same question, but he never replied. However, he did inform me that, if elected, Nash-Karner will NOT be his appointment to the Parks Commission.

P.P.S. I've published this e-mail on my blog:

sewerwatch.blogspot.com

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[If... IF he replies, I'll publish it.]

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[21 weeks down... 31 to go.]