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Might I suggest 

Relinquish your pitchforks and your torches. Annie’s home.

The spotlighted dog’s new family returned her to her original owner while at the same time fleeing a rabid mob led by radio host and animal advocate Dave Congalton, who at one point called the new owners and left a message that apparently frightened their daughter.

Bob Cuddy wrote a really—wow, my fingers are resisting typing this—thoughtful and logical piece in The Trib. Cuddy just said what we all know in our heart of hearts to be true: This community bullied a family into giving up a dog rather than let private parties solve a private issue privately.

Sasha Sampson, someone claiming to be one of Annie’s harassed new owners, posted on Facebook and sent letters to local media that said her family had been terrorized by strange cars outside their home, creepy phone calls, and a quivering ball of Internet nut jobs—at least a few of whom made threatening statements in one of the many threads jabbing at their reluctance to give up the canine they legally adopted.

Naturally, I hopped on the “Friends of Annie” Facebook page to see if Cuddy’s message had stuck.

“So, according to Bob, The Friends of Annie is a terrorist organization????” Congalton wrote. Nice.

I guess the point just winged them. Remember, Cuddy, never use Nazi or terrorist comparisons in an argument.

I’m still embarrassed about this mess. Seriously, even my love handles are blushing. Most of the needy people living at Sunny Acres could be tossed out on their keisters, but is there a mob of livid community members supporting the disenfranchised? Nope. Maybe if DeVaul’s dog was getting chucked to the curb—or was even headed to a new, loving home—everyone could drum up some freaking empathy.

Really though, I’m glad Annie’s home. Woof, woof; nudge, nudge.

Speaking of The Trib: Lately the paper’s been running a series I like to call “It probably won’t happen here.”

They ran a story about how the off-road deaths that occurred in the Mojave Desert probably won’t happen here because a state superintendent said so. Phew! I can finally resume my favorite Oceano Dunes hobby: extreme metal-detecting.

They had a story that local city managers don’t make the same nausea-inducing pay as Bell City employees. Our city managers only average $218,000, and that’s barely enough to buy a matching dingy to go with their favorite yacht, never mind the much-needed anchor polish.

Then the Trib wrote about CSU Stanislaus hiding a $75,000 payout to Sarah Palin so she could demean liberals, minorities, and small mammals that supported Obama. The Trib went to Cal Poly and talked to one dude. Four paragraphs in the story start with “Kelley said,” as in Larry Kelley, vice president of administration and finance. Surprisingly enough, Kelley said nah, this school could never mix up public and private funds and hide stupid expenditures.

Here are a few more ideas for similar stories:

• A chunk of Guatemala may have disappeared into a gigantic sinkhole, but one local geologist said SLO is built on mostly solid materials.

• Hurricane Earl is barreling down on the East Coast, but local meteorologists contend the Central Coast is, in fact, on the West Coast.

• Responding to reports of U.S. surveillance for inane and borderline criminal purposes, Sheriff Pat Hedges and Undersheriff Steve Bolts replied, “No way dude, not in SLO.”

(By the way: So long, Bolts and soon-to-be so long, Hedges. It was a blast trying to keep up with your mischief!)

Holy crap, there’s a lot to cover this week. What’s next?

I’m feeling like a kinder, gentler Shred this week—the kind of snarky columnist who admits wrongness.

Case in point: The Nacimiento Project Commission is backing down from its exorbitant valve-turning ceremony. Correction: It’s not backing down, but it’s removing most of the hoopla planned to commemorate the end of a three-year project that’s claimed three lives, hundreds of millions of dollars (to be fair, it’s still under budget), and enough gaffs to make Glenn Beck cringe.

Yes, the commission made a valiant effort to vanillafy its previously planned celebration that could have cost as much as $50,000, dragged grieving family members into a big showy pouring of salt on their wounds, and irked many county residents fearing higher water rates because of government waste.

New Times had two boobs watching the recent meeting where it was agreed they would scale down the now-November valve-turning ceremony. The commission decided to still hold an event, but it squeegeed out the more expensive plans and will invite family members of the deceased construction workers to a less showy commemoration rather than the Dick Clark New Year’s celebration it had planned.

Real quick, because I’m running out of space: SLO City is pawing for money anywhere it can stick its greasy fingers. Given the city’s financial tar pit of a budget, it’s tough to blame them. But they’re going around collecting fees and taxes with as much hutzpah or tact as a Droopy Dog loan shark.

They’re going after rental property owners for business license fees. And they’re trying to bleed out $5,000 to $10,000 penalties from homeowners in historic districts who don’t keep their places up to the desired Pleasantville standards.

“Keep that grass mowed or pay the price. Mwah, ha, ha!”

I’d include some ideas for other ways to eke out a few bucks, but I’ve reached my word limit, and I don’t want to give the loonies at the SLO City helm more wacky ideas. ∆

Surrender your gently used pitchforks and torches to

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