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Lies, damn lies, and statistics 

Did you hear the good news? The SLO County homeless population decreased by 2 percent! That's right! Since the last SLO County Point-in-Time Homeless Count and Survey (aka—PIT Count) in 2019, a whopping 35 fewer people were counted as homeless. God bless, you 35 lucky Americans! So, how many millions do we spend on this tragedy?

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In 2019, the county got $4.8 million from a one-time state grant. Did they just give the 35 people $137,142 each? They probably could have reduced homelessness by 96 people by simply giving $50,000 to each. My point is what we're doing isn't working ... at all. In fact, I seriously doubt the new count is accurate.

Community volunteers conduct the count, which according to county officials was delayed by COVID-19. Homeless Services Division Program Manager George Solis admitted it was a "tough time to get an accurate count." Local shelters had closures and reduced capacity due to COVID, the county had "problems" getting volunteers, and they "couldn't pair up previously unhoused/current unhoused with volunteers to act as guides."

"That's a big aspect of the count: We rely on the knowledge of the peer guides," Solis said, to show volunteers where the unhoused people are, because despite what many believe, they're not all in downtown SLO aggressively panhandling.

My point is this: Chances are there are more, not fewer, homeless people in SLO County now than in 2019. Not only that, but the PIT Count was conducted in February, and we're just getting these numbers now. Somehow Santa Barbara County managed to release its PIT Count within a month—but it took SLO County five months? Why?

Solis was quick to say, "Not it!" He instead threw the county's "outside vendor" Applied Survey Research under the bus for the delay: "Our data is handled outside the county," he said.

Where? In SLOWER County? The 2019 PIT Count found 1,483 unhoused people. This year, 1,448 were counted. On a related note, two months ago on June 21, officials unveiled the SLO Countywide Plan to Address Homelessness, a five-year plan that aims to cut homelessness in half by 2027. Mind you, this plan is being enacted about four years after the expiration of the previous plan to "end homelessness," like, completely! How'd that go? Maybe in 2031, they'll announce a plan to cut homelessness by a quarter. Sigh.

Speaking of numbers and counting, it appears that the recount—demanded by Paso Robles resident Darcia Stebbens and endorsed by the local Republican Party—of ballots from the SLO County elections has finally uncovered the voting fraud smoking gun they knew was there ... oh wait. Never mind. With 25 percent of the hand count concluded, exactly zero votes have changed. In other words, Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano appears to have a 100 percent accuracy rate in counting the election.

That should finally put a stop to all the paranoia-driven conservative claims of stolen elections, right?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! You can't stop crazy conspiracies, and denial ain't just a river in Africa. These nutters either need to stop smoking pot or start! Probably start.

Do you consume cannabis? It's legal, baby, and if you're a user, chances are you're buying it legally from a dispensary. If you're in SLO Town, you probably go to Megan's Organic Market or SLOCal Roots, two local brick-and-mortar stores that got contracts from a city that terminated the contract with Natural Healing Center because its "former" owner, Helios Dayspring (he transferred ownership to his girlfriend, which was totally legit, right?), got arrested for bribing a county supervisor (who subsequently committed suicide) and cheating the IRS out of millions in taxes. Oops!

Thanks to a plea agreement, poor (actually, super rich) Helios will do two years in federal prison, and how noble of SLO Town to refuse to do business with this criminal ... except according a court declaration he wrote as part of Natural Healing Center's lawsuit against the city, Helios says he bankrolled your favorite mom-and-pop pot shops Megan's and SLOCal Roots. That's right, dopers. Your marijuana purchases, according to Helios, can be traced back to an admitted briber and tax cheat.

So many questions, right? According to his side of the story, the SLO Police Department actually recommended the city not give Natural Healing Center a permit to operate based on Helios' background check, but the city did anyway ... well, until the city revoked it when Helios pleaded guilty. The documents claim Helios loaned (invested?) $800,000 to Megan's in February 2019 and $1 million to SLOCal Roots in March 2019, and the documents appear to suggest there were management agreements among the businesses and that Helios acquired (or could have acquired?) major ownership interests in both.

Megan's and SLOCal Roots are taking issue with Helios' declaration. SLOCal Roots owner Austen Connella claimed that he agreed to the loan but that Helios didn't pay the full million (only five figures, not seven, he says), and then he and his partners ripped up the whole contract as soon as they found out Helios was a crook (as if they didn't know before!). And Megan's attorney has a similar story.

I'm sorry ... but this still reeks.

What did the city of San Luis Obispo know and when? Cannabis dispensary applicants are required to disclose their sources of financing to the city as part of their application process. Well, turns out those deals with Helios were inked just a month after the application window closed. How's that for timing?! But SLO City Attorney Christine Dietrick says she's concluded there's no harm, no foul. She seems more interested in beating Natural Healing Center (NHC) in court and ending the dispensary battle once and for all.

"I would note that it is interesting that Mr. Dayspring continues to actively participate in NHC's litigation," Dietrick told us via email, "while both NHC and Dayspring vehemently assert he has no continuing interests in or control of NHC, other than as the building owner."

Very interesting, indeed! Δ

The Shredder is flummoxed and flabbergasted. Send your thoughts to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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