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Raising arts consciousness
Glen Starkeys essay, “The art of compromise,� New Times, March 30) touched on all the bumps and blessings that are synonymous with any good public art program. Sadly, one of the biggest bumps, vandalism, must be a reality in credible public art program thinking. Thanks to the forethought of SLO City Council, much of the cost of the repair comes from the private developer in-lieu fund and is not borne entirely by the taxpayer. Vandalization is not the only reason for the demise of the revolving public art program. There were enormous and expensive administrative bumps.  Despite this, the concept has not died!
The City's capital improvement funds are not the only funds generated for public art. There are many avenues for the addition of public art funding: private developer projects, private donations from individuals or groups, matching fund projects and money left in trusts or bequests earmarked for public art.  Therefore, this exercise in public art becomes a true community program.  Yes, it is “ yours, mine and ours.�
Glen is absolutely correct to express his opinion and some dismay about the collection. Public art is meant to receive praise and criticism. In fact, I urge everyone to participate; it is healthy, satisfying and necessary.  Yes, we need and someday will have more challenging work for Glen and me and everyone.  It will come when artists are paid more for their work and expertise, when they are brought into a project in the planning stage (not when the project is completed) and when language is less restrictive.  This WILL happen and the art landscape will change, with more mature and more edgy art, and risky blessings will result.  Hopefully, Glen has raised the consciousness of how a public art process works and has raised the banner for improvements. In the meantime, I am proud to claim SLO art as my art.
Last but not least, the Arts Council for many years has assisted in establishing various public art policies and programs, not only in SLO, but in communities throughout the county.  The Council has been working since the 80's to establish these public art programs. Some are more advanced than others, but still, they are in place due to the Arts Council's efforts with community leaders. This work has meant hours and hours of meetings, conferences, and providing education and support for artists to make public art happen. As Starkey says, “ It matters.�

Ann Ream
 Chair, Art in Public Places
SLO Arts Council

Cristo wouldn’t make the cut
Thanks New Times for the Art issue, and for including the intrigue. If Judge Duffy, (who, as a presiding judge of the Grand Jury is used to telling David Edge how high to jump) has a problem with the democratic process of selecting Art in Public places, then maybe the Grand Jury should investigate how easily this process is circumvented. Duffy just proved that contractual agreements somehow do not apply to artists, and that special interests can affect the use of public funds.
Cristo, creator of the largest Public Art Installation in California, “Running Fence,� would have been eliminated from the Request For Proposals for the new County Government Center if he had been residing in California.  Because Cristo doesn’t rely on commissions, he wouldn’t have had his proposal read.  He wouldn’t even have learned about the RFP.
The RFP was not a good faith offer.  It should be re-written and re-issued to the public without obstacles, including the ones presented by the planters and the palm trees. 

Rev C. Hite

Childification of America
It’s so amusing that people cannot just ignore something that offends them. I really hate the way people now feel that, if something offends them even slightly, then NO ONE ELSE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD should be allowed to view it. What is really funny is that these same items are available in other stores besides Urban Outfitters, including Barnes & Noble, but I don't see them being picketed.
This is all part of the "childification" of America. If something can be seen, read, heard, overheard or glimpsed by a child, it must be removed from the market completely, and all stores that carry the item should be picketed and driven into bankruptcy due to "corruption" of our children! GASP!!!!
The world is full of adults as well as children. I am tired of irresponsible, lazy parents who expect the entire world to watch out for their child because they don't want the hassle. Should we just cover the entire world with foam padding & block access to anything not approved by Sesame Street because parents expect adults to sacrifice their personal preferences for the sake of the little terror they haven't bothered to discipline?
As an adult in this country, I have MORE rights than your child, since they are not legally recognized as adults until they are 18 years old. It is YOUR job as a parent to limit what your child sees, not have it completely removed from availability for EVERYONE because you are too lazy to supervise your children. Maybe you should try shopping with them instead of expecting the store/mall personnel to babysit while you get some "downtime" from your little terror.
Parents seem to think that dropping their kid at the mall is the equivalent to dropping them on a school playground. There are shootings, beatings, gang activities and just plain wild behavior occurring due to parents thinking that letting their kids "shop" for fun is an appropriate form of supervision.
TO ALL CLUELESS PARENTS: If you are afraid you child might see something that you find offensive, maybe you should SPEND TIME shopping with your kids instead of turning them loose on retail stores as a form of recreation.  All of us adults, individual patrons and store personnel, would greatly appreciate you engaging with your own child so we don't have to spend our time supervising them for you.

Julie Hansen

Taking eminent lumps
If Mr. Perkins is so dedicated to the City of Grover Beach, and is the honorable man  several people claim him to be (even Councilmember Shoals), why wouldn’t he be in support of a fellow landowner who has now come forth (under duress) to work with the Improvement Agency? It is Perkins (and his attorney Belcher) who ran like babies and made childish remarks. How disrespectful, to his own city officials, what he is claimed to have said in the news media.
Perkins/Cobalt Construction has several projects underway and should focus on them to begin the revitalization process. Build it, Mr. Perkins, and your neighboring property owners and fellow developers will follow your lead. Set the example with pride and grow up! Note also that the property owner at 4th and Grand, The Polin Trust, has a perfectly viable business on improved land supplying significant tax dollars to Grover Beach. This is not blight nor is it a financial drain to Grover. Let’s donate a few palm trees!

Karen L. and Hugh Davis
Five Cities

Gaggle of geese?
I can't believe that not a one of our “honorable� elected officials can stop Roger Briggs, an employee of the state, from implementing these fines on the citizens of Los Osos. This unjust law was not meant to go after individual homeowners and renters of Los Osos. We have over 10,000 people living in fear of losing their homes. If we were a minority, this would be stopped on a dime. Well, over half of this community is on fixed or low incomes and in reality are minorities. Our newly elected CSD directors will get us an affordable sewer treatment plant.
In the meantime having an impatient civil servant is not what we need right now. What other CSD people or the county did in the past is not the fault of our property owners. The people did not want this location or cost of the Tri-W plant. In fact the homeowners were deceived when the previous CSD promised the people a "cheaper, better, faster" sewer plant and when the cost went out of sight we had to get rid of them. I ask you to get the ball rolling and have this unreasonable dictator and his gaggle of incompetents fired so as to bring some sanity to our local government. It will be built, just get out of the way

Ben DiFatta
Los Osos

Waving the flag
Lately kids have been involved in marches, protesting the coming vote on immigration reform. If they were so intent and sincere in bringing to the surface injustices in the U.S., why were they not waving our flag, speaking our language, or pledging allegiance to our country with hands held over their hearts, as my ancestors and most others had to do, displaying pride in our country?

Ray Pezzoli Jr.
Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Another Sarah-and-Andrew couple
Sarah Christie is not by any way or shape a fair-minded arbiter of the SLO County Planning Commision. She and her husband, Andrew, President of the local Sierra Club, are totally agenda-driven . She wouldn't be serving if she weren't.
Although sometimes obscured, who she is and what she stands for is becoming more widely understood, despite slanted reporting otherwise. If she really believes in what she’s doing, I 'd hope she'd be more vocal about it so everyone would understand. She's not being 'outed ' for nothing.
P.S. Kathy Johnston is an award-winning journalist for what? Being fair and balanced?

Gregg Schallen
Arroyo Grande

Two words: Sarah Christie
I read, with astonishment, the recent Grand Jury report on the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission. As a former four-year county planning commissioner, I am appalled at the Grand Jury’s lack of understanding of what a planning commission does and what the responsibilities of a planning commissioner are. The report’s transparent bias in favor of development interests is an embarrassment and it severely erodes the Grand Jury’s credibility and public confidence in what is supposed to be an impartial investigatory body.
Contrary to the Grand Jury’s assertion, the County Planning Commission, is not an “advisory committee.� It is a decision-making body whose decisions are final unless appealed to the Board of Supervisors (BOS). It is true that the Commission does “advise� the BOS on General Plan updates and new or revised land-use regulations, but the bread-and-butter work of the commissioners is to review discretionary permit applications, interpret the county’s land-use regulations to the best of their ability and make findings of consistency with the county’s ordinances and state law, or to condition projects so that they are consistent. It is a commissioner’s responsibility to deny a project that is inconsistent with the county’s ordinances or state law, regardless of what the staff recommendation might be.
Each commissioner brings his or her personal views, education, and experience to bear in this process, and there is often a diversity of opinion and vigorous debate on the commission. In my opinion, the decision-making process benefits from a diversity of opinion and the public is better served as a result. While decisions made by the commission are less political than those made by the BOS, a majority of commissioners, mirroring the BOS majority, are generally inclined to give developers most everything they want.
But a commissioner who is articulate and well versed in the law can point out where a staff report is inadequate or a project is woefully understudied and/or would involve multiple violations of environmental law, thereby forcing staff and the commission to at least consider the laws designed to protect the public interest. Apparently, this is what the Grand Jury report means by "personal agendas" on the part of commissioners who don't vote in lock-step with the commission's pro-development majority.
And here are the two words the report was dying to say but didn't: Sarah Christie. She's the commissioner the grand jury went after hammer and tongs. Christie does her homework, understands the law, and has a marked tendency to vote for the interest of the PUBLIC. Additionally, her clear, concise analysis and articulate arguments often expose errors or omissions in staff reports and leave her fellow Commissioners fumbling for a response.
Much is made in the report about Christie working for the California Coastal Commission. The building industry desperately wants this to be a conflict of interest, but it's not. This has been confirmed to the satisfaction of the SLO County Counsel's office, Coastal Commission lawyers and the Attorney General's Office—all of who have considerably more experience in these matters than the lay volunteers on the Grand Jury.
While certainly not the Grand Jury’s intention, their report is the highest possible commendation for the job Sarah Christie is doing. Virtually alone, she has applied so much heat and so badly frightened the development industry that they have felt the need to stoop this low. Manipulating the grand jury process to produce a transparent political attack—13 pages of rumor, speculation, innuendo and, yes, "personal agenda"— is beyond the pale. The public trust has been violated and the public’s faith in its institutions has been eroded. This Grand Jury needs investigating.

Pat Veesart
California Valley

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