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New Times / Shredder

The following article was posted on October 4th, 2012, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 10 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 10

Pulling strings

Generally, I try to make a point of being as uninformed as possible. The reasons behind what some might call my apathetic lifestyle choice are threefold: One, I’m lazy. Two, this way I don’t have to worry about anyone bugging me, expecting me to know stuff. Three, I’m usually overwhelmed by the fact that I’m expected to change my underwear every couple of days. That’s a pretty significant obligation, and if I try to take on more social responsibility, I’m pretty sure my personal hygiene will suffer. I make a few exceptions to this rule, occasionally departing the apathy train. But it takes a pretty powerful impetus—such as an issue that will have a major impact on my quality of life. If the city decides to crack down on riffraff (code: me and people like me), or shut down McCarthy’s, or pass a law against gawkers at Pirate’s Cove, at the very least I’ll put on a pair of pants, head down to the city council meeting, and issue an opinion on the subject.

So I’m a little baffled by the fact that most of the coastal cities who will be most directly impacted by PG&E’s proposed (and now delayed) seismic testing have had very little to say on the subject. Morro Bay’s City Council came out swinging on behalf of its fishing industry, but what do its neighbors to the south have to say on the subject?

Very little, apparently.

I mean, essentially that’s what city councils do, right? They issue proclamations along the lines of: Likes—firefighters, fishing, long walks on local beaches, tourists. Dislikes—anyone who tries to mess with our fishing industry. Any time there’s a major issue that will have a profound effect on the community, they issue a statement about said issue, whether they’re capable of influencing the outcome or not. That way, they can at least tell their constituents they undertook the grave and terrifying task of formulating an opinion—even if they didn’t actually do all that much to act on said opinion.

So, Pismo Beach, what say you? Wait, I’m sorry, that was rude of me. I forgot that Pismo Beach Mayor Pro Tem Kris Vardas is actually a paid spokesman for PG&E. And, in fact, that he very recently attended a Fish and Game Commission meeting arguing in support of the seismic studies on the utility company’s behalf. Maybe the reason the Pismo Beach City Council hasn’t had much to say on the subject is because its mayor has been too preoccupied taking orders from PG&E to lead the community in addressing the impact the seismic studies would have on his constituents? Sorry, Pismo Beach. My bad. I wouldn’t want to interfere with your mayor’s ability to make some extra cash on the side. Just forget it. Let’s all wing it, and just see what happens! It’ll be fun, like waiting for a tornado or hurricane when you’ve done absolutely nothing to prepare because the tornado gave your mayor a fat wad of cash, which is crammed in his mouth and keeping any warnings or other words from coming out.

Of course, Pismo Beach doesn’t get all the credit for failing to follow Morro Bay City Council’s lead. Grover Beach has been uncomfortably silent on the subject as well.

Oh, crap, I did it again.

I’m sorry. I forgot that Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals is also on PG&E’s payroll. We certainly can’t expect him to lead any kind of effort to better understand the impact seismic studies will have on his city—not when it’s in his best financial interests to play yes man to PG&E.

I’m actually noticing a theme, something along the lines of elected officials with financial interests that undermine their loyalty and commitment to their constituents, PG&E having its fingers up so many elected behinds that city council meetings look like a marionette convention, except marionettes operate with strings from above, right? Looks like it’s back to Puppetry 101 for me.

Wait, hold on. PG&E’s on the other line, and it looks like it’s going to help me out with the whole being able to afford beer thing, so I guess I’m officially announcing that I, too, am now a PG&E spokesperson. And you can look forward to never reading another negative thing about PG&E in this column ever again. Or, at least, until it stops depositing those handsome, handsome Franklins into my bank account.

PS: Confidential to candidate Jerry Jones, who, in this week’s cover story, said, “They spend money like crazy Indians.” Really? Sure, you added a “not to be derogatory” to that phrase, but are you trying to make Paso Robles look backwater? With wannabe city council members like this, who needs red-faced rodeo clowns?

Shredder wouldn’t mind some carefully placed strings. Send checks to shredder@newtimesslo.com.