Thursday, August 27, 2015     Volume: 30, Issue: 5

Weekly Poll
How should decision makers hold developers responsible for their impact on already low water supplies?

Copy Cambria: build an emergency water facility, hope for the best.
Pose as Paso : Ban new water use unless it can be offset.
Pretend to be Pismo: (allegedly) con someone into buying water for you.
Screw rules: El NiƱo will save us.

Vote! | Poll Results

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New Times / Letters to the Editor

Support an independent water district in Paso

Pearl Munak - Paso Robles -

Planting of new grapes has helped lower the water table in the Paso Robles Basin by 70 feet in recent years, causing wells of rural residents to go dry. More wells will go dry if nothing is done. Certain wineries, which are causing the problem, prefer to deny the problem and do nothing. State law demands dealing with the overdraft. Their second choice is to have the SLO County Board of Supervisors deal with it. They have formed a PAC called PR-WIN to donate to candidates running for supervisor to ensure they vote in favor of wineries. They oppose a water district with a nine-member board, with five seats reserved for rural residents, ensuring a one-vote majority against wineries. CALM—Citizens Advocating for Local Management of the Paso Groundwater Basin—supports such a district. If you vote against the district, you are voting for the wineries to continue to take water from rural residents who need it to drink. Small farmers will be next.

Support the End of Life Option Act

Tim Rochte - Los Osos -

I am very pleased to provide readers with an important legislative update regarding the subject of a recent New Times opinion piece written by Dr. Zaf Iqbal, “The Dignified Choice” (Aug. 6).

On Aug. 18, the End of Life Option Act was reintroduced in the state Assembly Public Health Committee during the special session called by the governor. The bill’s new designation is ABX2-15. The deadline to bring the bill to the governor’s desk is Sept. 11.

ABX2-15 would allow terminally ill adults with the mental capacity to make medical decisions in the final stages of their disease to request medication from a physician to bring about a peaceful death. Californians should be free to choose how they die. This private, personal decision must be free from governmental interference.

All supporters are urged to immediately contact state Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) and ask for his “aye” vote. Requesting Katcho’s support for ABX2-15 can be done by:

1) Calling his office at 549-3381 for an in-person meeting (he’s in on Fridays).

2) Dropping into his SLO office at 1150 Osos St., suite 207, and speak to staff.

3) Sending an email:

4) Simply calling his office to ask for his “aye” vote.

For more information, visit

Morro Bay doesn't need fireworks

Lynda Merrill - Morro Bay -

I watched the Morro Bay Tourism Bureau meeting where Michelle Jacquez proposed fireworks be added to the Harbor Festival. Her reasoning was that this would lure people staying in the motels she manages (Best Westerns) to stay an extra night. She would benefit. 

The cost of fireworks is approximately $1,000 per minute! The city of Morro Bay has contributed $5,000 to assist the Harbor Festival this year, but as a taxpayer I do not want any of this “gift” to be used to support fireworks. The city could use that money to benefit our police, fire, and harbor patrol as they must oversee visitors who attend these events and might need assistance. 

The Coastal Commission requires a permit to shoot off fireworks over the bay; I do not know if the city has gotten this permit. Our wildlife and domestic pets are frightened by the booming noise and flashes of light from fireworks. 

The city calls itself a bird sanctuary. The city representatives say they value our wildlife and that we want to encourage people to come here and enjoy it, but this fireworks display says otherwise. We have a lovely increased population of shore birds in the estuary in October; the bay is the home to endangered sea otters (with new babies added to their group); we have seals and sea lions and many other animals. We are fortunate to have the endangered peregrine falcons nesting and raising their young on Morro Rock. We have a bay and sand spit full of wildlife that will be frightened away by this needless fireworks display. I oppose fireworks at the Harbor Festival and will not attend the event this year.

Common Core is common sense

Don Casebolt - Santa Maria -

Common Core fundamentally is akin to making a standard requirement that all children learn their multiplication tables by a certain age. It’s just that simple. Mr. Bargenquast’s anti-Common Core opinion piece (“Rational education is the right education,” Aug. 13) has several items with which I whole-heartedly agree:

1) The values of “hard work, respect, excellence and patriotism” should be inculcated in our students; 

2) Assuming the statistic he cites is accurate (only two of 20 Santa Maria high school administrators “have ever worked in the classroom”), it is undesirable.

It would be better if administrators were required to have a minimum number of years of actual classroom teaching experience. Just like I believe it preferable for anyone teaching surgery or flying to have a minimum number of years doing actual surgery under experienced supervision or flying an airplane a minimum number of hours prior to administering either a surgery program or an aviation program.

However, the remainder of his argumentation is full of ideological assumptions and short on factual and rational documentation. It is a moral and ethical accusation: He claims that a godless immorality is the independent variable that has caused an educational and intellectual decline. It is a thinly disguised mix of “states’ rights,” anti-immigration, anti-environmentalism, anti-Obama, and free-marketing ideology with a chunk of the kitchen-sink thrown in for good measure: A godless cabal of central government bureaucrats have caused the USA to go “to hell in a hand basket,” as the old saying puts it.

This is a faith-based ideology, which is anti-rational but widely preached among Mr. Bargenquast’s partisans. It is full of un-falsifiable hypotheses and assertions, and no amount of empirical evidence can possibly succeed in convincing its believers otherwise.

Additionally, he has an old-fashioned conflict of interest. His solution is that more taxpayer money be paid to Montessori schools, in which he had (has) a proprietary interest.