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Nice and juicy 

Following San Luis Obispo County’s political whims since January have been like walking into a gas station convenience store. I want a candy bar but there’s also Flamin' Hot Cheetos, peanuts, hot burritos, and 52-ounce plastic cups to fill with Mountain Dew.

It’s too hard to decide what to write about.

It’s like a freakin’ ampm: “Too much good stuff.”

Yeah, it all gives you gas and makes you want to throw up, but you’re going to consume it anyway. That’s exactly how I feel about the SLO County Board of Supervisors: Daytime TV’s weekly drama that unfolds on SLO-SPAN almost every Tuesday. You can almost predict what’s going to happen, but you have to watch it anyway.

Like a cocaine addiction, you know it’s bad for you, but you just need that fix! At least on March 14, they did something sane by voting to uphold the Planning Commission’s denial of the Phillips 66 rail spur project. After a riveting seven hours of almost 200 people who made public comment on the issue—and by that I mean it’s not like the high you get off a cocaine bump, more like the low you get off taking a Percocet—Supervisors Adam “Lash Out At The Media” Hill, Bruce “Questions Are Really Condescending Lectures” Gibson, and Lynn “Loud But Squeaky Wheel” Compton all did their part to “Keep Oil Out.”

Although, if you want my opinion, oil’s already in. We have a huge oil field in Price Canyon, a refinery on the Nipomo Mesa, and oil trains that rollick their way through our rolling hills weekly. So maybe you fracktivists should change your slogan to “Leave Oil Where It Is.”

The 1st District’s quiet-but-savvy supervisor, John “I Don’t Say Anything Because Everyone Else Up Here Has A Big Mouth” Peschong, was more silent than usual because he recused himself from the discussion due to a conflict.

Thank goodness Debbie “Sticks to Her Guns, Dammit” Arnold was the lone hold out. She’s had a love affair with oil for as long as she’s been in politics, and she’s not voting against it—even if it doesn’t make a lick of difference to the outcome! Hey, all you oil and gas folks, those “Arnold for Supervisor 2020” coffers won’t fill themselves.

The way Arnold shoots off her guns, though, might have gotten the county into a heap of deep Brown Act violation doo-doo. I was so busy pin-pricking my favorite voodoo doll of Hill last week for turning a March 7 plea for fairness with public facility fee allocation into a flea-infested jackass of political stupidity that I forgot to do the same to Arnold for her magic trick during the water discussion on that same day.

She turned an update on the county’s compliance with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act into a vote that changed county policy regarding the issue, which could cost $2.2 million from the general fund every year. Whoa! I told my cocaine-lovin’ horse. Slow down!

Like pulling a bloody rabbit out of a pointy black hat, Arnold whipped out a copy of the county’s policy with her changes marked all over it, and the board approved it. What? No public notice?

Well, surely County Counsel Rita Neal said something? No? WTF guys? I told you to knock off taking that Percocet before the meetings.

Seriously though, Laurie Gage from Paso Robles was upset enough about it that she sent Neal a written complaint about the county violating the Brown Act, which lays down the law for public meetings. One of the stipulations in it: Items that involve policy changes need to be agendized—that’s the public notice part—and allow for public comment.

Of course, Hill was beside himself, shooting out another one of his infamous emails to constituents blasting his fellow board members. Always sassy, never classy. It’s not even funny anymore. It’s just predictable: #sad.

Speaking of class, the defamation suit filed against CalCoastNews by Arroyo Grande-based business owner Charles Tenborg finally went to trial. Self-proclaimed “investigative journalists” Karen Velie and Dan Blackburn took the stand alongside loved-but-confused Cal Poly journalism ethics professor Bill Loving (who works as an editor/consultant for the site) to defend their website’s article accusing Tenborg of illegally transporting hazardous waste and encouraging public agencies to ignore state law.

Watching the trial was like sitting in on Loving’s Mass Media Law class about journalism ethics. Don’t use unnamed or anonymous sources unless you absolutely have to, use primary sources, don’t make factual statements without proper attribution, and give the accused a chance to speak. And this week, the ethics professor sat on the stand attempting to defend a published article by two “journalists” who didn’t do any of that, yet Loving gave it a green light and it still got published. All three CalCoasters are still staunchly defending its truthiness.

Even if you have a good juicy tip, as a journalist you still have to do all the legwork to get your truths in a row before you tell the world. After all, the label of “fake news” gets thrown around like a hot burrito from ampm.

Maybe Loving was distracted by too much good stuff. Or as Tenborg’s lawyer put it, “The facts got in the way.”

The Shredder always gets the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Send comments to [email protected]

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