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Charter nonstarter 

"I ... got spanked."

Those are not words you would expect to hear during a SLO County Board of Supervisors meeting, much less from a sitting county supervisor—and yet they flowed forth from 1st District Supervisor John Peschong's mouth during the May 17 board meeting.

My question is: Did he like it?

And my guess is, probably not.

The response to Peschong's casual suggestion last year that SLO County should change its governance structure from general law (following state rules for county governance) to a charter—simply so that neither the governor nor the board can appoint people to fulfill elected positions when the sitting official either resigns from their position or dies—was overwhelmingly not what he wanted to hear.

Both from the general public, which didn't like his idea, and county staff, who said the board couldn't insert "safeguards" into charter language that would make it more difficult for future boards to amend the charter. Doing that would violate the California Constitution.

"I will not be supporting this today," Peschong said on May 17, when the board was discussing whether or not to put the charter thing on the November ballot.

Phew! So laws really do work! Peschong can't just do whatever he wants to this county or limit the ability of future boards to govern as this current board governs.

After the redistricting debacle, I was really beginning to wonder.

"At the end of the day, it's not a good idea," he said.

I feel like maybe the guy should have done his research before he proposed the bad idea—it would have saved us a tremendous amount of time and sowed less angst in an already angsty time. But, you know, Orange County did it! So it's got to be a good idea, right? Wrong.

Just because conservative Orange County did it, doesn't mean not-really-conservative-but-conservative-owned SLO County has to do it.

Maybe, in the end, this whole issue brought everyone closer together, because all five supervisors voted against the charter idea. Just kidding! Your friendly neighborhood liberal 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson just had to get jabs in there about the redistricting process—because what kind of a politician loses out on the opportunity to grandstand in front of the public.

"My support for the charter county concept had always been completely contingent on it including an independent redistricting commission," he said. "The thought of electing the vacancies is a democratic one, and the cost is the cost. But if those districts that those elections are conducted in aren't fairly drawn, then that isn't a good idea."

Santa Barbara County seemed to be able to create an independent redistricting commission without becoming a charter county, so why can't SLO County figure it out? Because everyone hates each other.

Maybe looking at the hullabaloo over Oceano's airport will shed some light on the political situation in this county—which is hyper-partisan and adversarial, to say the least! The county-run airport is an apparent lighting rod in South County. Or maybe it's not. Is it just me, or is it always the same people making a big stink about things?

Charles Varni, Allene Villa, and April Dury can't resist getting their jabs in against 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton when they can. These three members of one of Oceano's two advisory councils are adamantly opposed to both Compton and the proposed campground renovations at the Oceano airport.

"I'm pretty sure it's going to pass anyway because in reality Lynn Compton, who is still our supervisor, has been a strong supporter of the airport," Villa said. "The supervisors are not supposed to be political but they are, so they're probably gonna go ahead with it."

Sick burn! The supervisors are political. But what exactly is political about an airport campground? Also: There's a campground at the Oceano airport? Who knew?

But, that, I guess, is exactly the three musketeers' point.

A renovated campground wouldn't benefit the community at all, they claim, adding that the airport itself is actually detrimental to Oceano, taking up valuable space that the community could use for other things. Dury, who has a penchant for the dramatic, shamed the pilots who showed up to the advisory council meeting to advocate for renovated campgrounds.

"You fly places ... you get to write it off as a tax deduction. I get no benefit whatsoever from this airport," Dury told them. "Oceano's land poor, but clearly, you guys have demonstrated that we're private plane rich."

OK, first of all, yes, Oceano always gets the short end of the county stick. Second of all, I don't think the private planes using Oceano's airport are the rich folks you'd like them to be. People who pay $10 to use a crappy county airport campground to break up their flights aren't exactly the jet-setting crowd. It'd be like getting angry at truckers and road-trippers who use rest areas to nap on long drives.

The advisory council, which was only supposed to discuss the issue at hand (the renovation), decided that it also needed to recommend that the county close the airport entirely—an item that wasn't on the agenda and isn't being discussed by the county. Now who's getting political?

Maybe that's why Oceano has two advisory councils. Δ

The Shredder thinks Oceano needs a third advisory council. Send help to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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