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Out with the old! 

Pardon all this dust. I'm up to my elbows in spring cleaning. Before I get up to my eyeballs, I'm throwing a bunch of stuff out. Boxes of old Shredder action figures that never sold very well? Gone! Stacks of fan mail from that time I offered a free Shredder decoder ring in boxes of cereal? Chuck 'em! Empty beer bottles glued together to make cool-but-uncomfortable furniture? To the Dumpster!

Actually, I'm going to keep that Heineken ottoman. But the Bud Light Barcalounger? Recycled!

It's just so refreshing to clear out all this clutter, cutting vast swaths through the mess, making room for all of the new junk I'm going to buy.

Sheriff Pat Hedges knows what I'm talking about. He's got spring cleaning fever too. He's ready to roll up his sleeves and chuck out bushels of old documents. Stacks of them. Reams. At the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting, his department asked for approval to destroy old documents and papers that they don't want around any more.

I misread the request the first time I saw it and thought the Sheriff's Department was asking for permission to destroy the old cats and dogs they don't want around any more at the shelter. My mistake! It must be all this dust I'm kicking up, getting in my eyes and making it hard to see.

A few eyedrops and a closer examination later, I discovered the list of records threatened with the proverbial axe. Jail inmate grievance forms from before 2006? Burn 'em! Or shred 'em! Or whatever! Nuisance abatement cases resolved before 2006? Send 'em to the same fate as the grievance forms! Injury and accident reports from before 2003? The same!

I can see why they want to get rid of all this stuff. On the surface, at least, it seems pretty boring in the way that only such procedural stuff can. But who knows what juicy gems might be lurking in the middle of all those discarded papers? I might just snap on a pair of Latex gloves and dig through the department's trash in the next few weeks. If I'm lucky, I'll just have to shake off a few coffee grounds, maybe a lipstick-blotted napkin or two, and--voila!--it's free dirt on the department!

I do have to admit that I was intrigued by one particular item on the trash-it list: "Recorded radio and telephone communications over 100 days old."

The resolution itself cites some government code or other that allows such destruction, but any time the word "recorded" comes up in relation to the sheriff, my ears prick up. Could be some good listening. I mean, you won't be able to dance to it, but that's what rock is for.

Settling for silence

When an intrepid citizen expressed a little outrage over the question, raised by a New Times story, of whether SLO City Councilman Allen Settle has been actually living in a home he owns in Arroyo Grande, he didn't get much in the way of a response from the other council members.

In fact he didn't get any response.

City Attorney Jonathan Lowell said that any question of where Settle actually lives would have to be investigated by the state Attorney General's office, and either citizens or the council itself could request such a probe.

Judging by his peers' silence, my guess is it will be up to us citizens.

Settle, for his part, used the moment as an opportunity to offer a new explanation for why he doesn't seem to be living in his SLO house. He said he's preparing for a fancy wedding rehearsal dinner at the A.G. home, so he's been staying there more often of late. Mazel tov!

Twice the stress

We've already got a big story about Abram Baxter's duplicated court proceedings on page 4, so I won't say too much about it here, but I do want to throw in my couple of cents.

To sum up: Abram was charged with a pot-sale-related crime and thereby inextricably linked to the demise of the now defunct Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers medicinal marijuana dispensary, where he worked. He recently took a misdemeanor plea offered to him by the D.A. But they then called the offer a mistake. Now, Abram's back on track for a possible felony conviction, and he's not too happy about the emotional and financial yo-yo he's been riding.

And now, my take: No matter what anyone says, he's being made into an example. Though no one persecuting him--sorry, I mean prosecuting him--seems to be drawing an obvious line, the message is clear: Watch out anyone considering running a dispensary. This could be your employee. Or even you.

Welcome to the Republic of Oversight Committees

Congresswoman Lois Capps' office recently sent out a press release giving her response to the U.S. House of Representatives holding a "rare secret secession." Our national leadership leaves a lot to be desired, I know, but a new president is on the way, and I didn't think that our representatives should be forming their own breakaway country--in the open or otherwise. If our top elected leaders don't even want to represent this country anymore, we're pretty much doomed.

Capps' office soon sent out a nearly identical brief, though this one decried the House's "rare secret session." That makes more sense to me, but it's not quite as exciting.

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