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Cashed Out 

Deb Cash retires from the Downtown Association and Shredder bids her a “fond” farewell

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Dearest Deb,

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? A gentle, Central Coast summer’s day, of course. The type that brings out the wealthy white yuppie couples strolling along Higuera Street, ice creams cones in hand, Visa at the ready lest a shirt or pair of slacks wink slyly at them from Abercrombie & Fitch or GAP or Express or one of the other many chain stores eagerly receiving cash infusions downtown. There’s nary a homeless person in sight—they’ve all been banished to a North Korean gulag, per your orders. There are flag banners lining the streets—and they don’t look fascist at all, the way flag banners usually do.

The farmers—for whom San Luis Obispo’s popular Farmers Markets are named—are properly chastened, standing meekly in the corner selling their wares while you and your fellow bureaucrats lord it over them. They still haven’t forgotten your stinging words at a May 2010 city council meeting:

“But no more should a chef run a restaurant or a dog lover should run a pet store does it hold true that all people in their industries make good managers.”

Bold words to back the Downtown Association’s bold move to seize control of the farmers section of the event from the Farmers Association—with no dialogue with the actual farmers, or even sufficient notice that the coup had taken place. A farmers market in which the farmers are properly in their place—beneath the leather booted heel of Deb Cash and Co.

It’s such breathtaking displays of leadership and management that I’ll miss the most.

Or, possibly the creative and insulting nicknames for the city’s down and out. “Untidies” and “will nots,” for example.

I’ll miss someone having the bad taste to start a petition to further persecute the homeless. It takes a special kind of lady to appropriate a website intended for social change and utilize it to express disdain for people with nothing to their name.

It’s been 18 years of laughter—mostly yours while you somehow finagled $640,000 from the SLO City Council to tart up two teeny tiny blocks downtown while the same budget accorded just $105,000 to the city’s homeless shelters. That $640,000 could have covered rent for 20 families of so-called untidies for nearly three years, but instead we got two blocks of pretty trashcans and mission-style sidewalks, which is so obviously superior to providing housing for people that I don’t even know why I’m bringing it up.

Why whine about not having a roof over your head when there are plenty of good-looking benches to sleep on downtown anyway? Unless, of course, you were planning on resting for more than 20 minutes, in which case you might wind up getting hassled by some police who are just trying to protect the public from people sitting on benches. See, Deb’s vision was for a downtown in which benches are purely ornamental. Kinda like the farmers holding lettuce and carrots at the farmers market. 

With the announcement of Deb Cash’s retirement as Executive Director of the Downtown Association—effective Dec. 31—an important chapter of San Luis Obispo’s history is coming to a close, and I think it’s time we all express our true feelings.

Deb, I’ve only ever loved two women: Dolores Umbridge and you, and you’re so alike that I feel I can fairly state that you are, for all intentions, the same person. Actually, that’s not technically true. Until Monday, I, like all reasonable people who don’t own a wand and attempt to brew butterbeer at home, was unaware of the existence of one Dolores Umbridge. But an associate whom I will simply call a nerd and leave it at that pointed out the similarities between you, Deb, and the really rather brilliant Harry Potter villainess.

She hates mudbloods. You hate untidies.

She once tried to chase a herd of centaurs out of the Forbidden Forest, where they live. You repeatedly attempted to chase homeless people out of your downtown paradise.

She crafts incredibly patronizing put-downs against those she deems her lessers, and you compare local farmers to chefs and dog lovers incapable of running a business.

Her vision of a magical world in which wealthy pureblooded wizards politely sip tea in rooms decorated in kitten wallpaper perfectly matches your vision of a downtown in which wealthy yuppies sip pinot noir while strolling along mission sidewalks past perfectly empty benches. In fact, given that you still have four months with which to Disnefy downtown San Luis Obispo, you should consider paving the streets in pink kitten wallpaper. It might be a hefty financial investment, but you could probably convince the city to part with some cash they’d earmarked to benefit the people you’ve deemed “untidies” and “will nots.”

Fortunately, we’re living in reality as opposed to carefully crafted fiction. Deb Cash will not be consigned to Azkaban for crimes against homeless people and muggles. She’ll be feted and fed grapes—or at the very least, locally produced wine—and walk away from the entire affair with a healthy retirement package.

Camelot is dead. Long live Duloc.

Just don’t forget to shine your shoes, wipe your … face.


Shredder can be reached at


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