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I know you are but what am I? 

You’re opaque!” “No, you’re opaque!” On May 24, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted to make it mandatory that all members and the city manager, attorney, and clerk are copied on any correspondence by any other member—especially the mayor—if said correspondence is sent on official city letterhead or in a member’s official capacity … because “transparency!”

The new rule resulted from an ongoing battle between Mayor Jim Hill and City Councilmember Barbara Harmon over a letter the mayor sent to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) encouraging it to allow Spencer’s Fresh Markets to lease a vacant store formerly occupied by Albertsons, which the FTC had forced Albertsons to yield to Haggen to avoid an Arroyo Grande grocery store monopoly with the evil Safeway (the grocery store giants are now married, btw), but after which Haggen almost immediately went bankrupt, leaving the store empty and nearby residents living in a food desert! 

“Come on, kids! Let’s go get three-day-old rolling hotdogs at 7-11 again!”

According to Hill, he was just trying to encourage economic vitality and get his citizens fresh veggies. According to Harmon, Hill was using political power to promote favoritism since it turns out that Spencer’s owners, including Beatrice Spencer, were big Hill campaign supporters.

“I think it’s obvious we’re in an election year,” Spencer quipped during public comment, suggesting this was pure politics aimed at discrediting the mayor, who is a swell guy. News flash! Obviously, every single part of this is politically motivated—the letter and the response. And obviously, AG is once again mired in silly business that wastes time and taxpayer money.

When a bankruptcy court forced the sale of Haggen assets to pay creditors, Spencer’s was the high bidder. The only other grocery store rumored to have expressed interest in occupying the vacant location was Albertsons, which the FTC ruling already forced out. Harmon wasn’t having it.

“Believe it or not,” she said, “the council is a whole body. We’re supposed to work as a team.” 

Yeah, and there’s no “i” in “teAm” unless you do that trick where you use a capital “A” and pretend the negative space inside the “A” forms an “i.” But only an immature child would do that.

Speak the truth, Harmon. Your idea of “team” is to force the minority part to play along with the majority. Hill, of course, was unbowed by the criticism.

“I make no apology for that,” Hill said of his FTC letter. Or, as I like to say, “Sorry he’s not sorry!”

Hill wasn’t alone in being completely out of f*@#s to give.

“As for the letter issued by the mayor? I wish I’d done it myself,” Councilmember Tim Brown boasted. By the way, Brown and Hill were the two “nays” to Harmon and Councilmembers Jim Guthrie and Kristen Barneich’s “yeas.” 

Harmon’s team wins!

“This is much ado about nothing in a political year,” Brown added with a Shakespearean flair. He would challenge Harmon to a battle of wits, but he can see she is unarmed.

“You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!”—Shakespeare.

Guthrie did have his wits about him and asked Hill and Brown, “What if it was the other way around?”

Nope, the mayor said the letter controversy was merely a “distraction” from more pressing issues. 

Brisco Road closure anyone? Rampant homeless encampments? The ongoing drought? The food desert thing? Since the Adobe Press will be staffless and now the Times Press-Recorder is shutting down after 129 years, what intrepid reporter is going to keep city councils in the Five Cities honest? 

Do I have to do everything? Sheesh!

For a so-called “body politic,” the AG City Council seems pretty dyspeptic. And speaking of bowel irritability, I managed to get under the thin skins of three candidates recently! Hat trick!

After I questioned SLO County District 3 supervisorial candidate Debbie Peterson’s position on the Phillips 66 Rail Spur, she sent a histrionic email titled “Does Shredder Have Eyes & Ears?” detailing her stance against the rail spur project and asking, “How about issuing a correction?”

First, I’m an office machine—earless and eyeless. I do have gears! Second, issuing a correction for asking you a question? Go campaign already!

Then District 3 supervisorial candidate Dan Carpenter emailed to suggest my characterization of his rail spur position was due to 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill’s “lying ads” about Carpenter. Just call him “Lying” Adam Hill and get your full Donald Trump on!

And lastly, 24th District Congressional candidate Matt Kokkonen finally got around to responding to my astute May 5 observation that both he and the Ku Klux Klan have three “K”s in their names and hate illegal immigrants. He apparently wasn’t a fan.

He then sent out a follow-up press release asking for a response from media outlets about his previous press release, which he will then tally into another press release. FYI: If we responded to every press release sent out by every person running for political office, we couldn’t fit anything else in the paper, but since it seems like he really wants me to respond, here goes. 

Kokkonen’s comments “are beyond civility and reflect the dregs of a cesspool of his mind.” Oh, wait. He said that about me. Grow a sense of humor, Mr. Legal Immigrant.  

The Shredder suggests soda water with bitters and a lime squeeze. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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