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Pomp and circumstance 

To the graduating class of 2006: I’m sorry

I’m sorry for a lot of things. I’m sorry that you won’t get to graduate in Cal Poly’s beautiful stadium because of the construction, and that you’re missing out on a long and proud school tradition of which you will never, ever be a part.

I’m sorry that Cal Poly once again rejected my bid to be your graduation speaker, so I have to write my speech here instead. I’m sorry that reading this column in print means you’ll miss out on my thundering and stunning oratory skills, which would put Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.’s love child to shame, even if that child grew up in Winston Churchills’s house and joined Toastmasters with Jesse Jackson later in life.

I’m sorry that most of you fell in love with San Luis Obispo and would like to stay in this city but can’t because of high housing prices, a lack of jobs relating to your major, and—for a few of you—outstanding warrants that will keep you on the move for years. I’m sorry to say that most of the locals won’t be sorry to see you go, though they’ll sorely miss the money you bring in. I’m sorry to report, however, that tourists bring in money, too, and they don’t stick around as long.

I’m sorry, but I’m right.

I’m sorry that anyone who runs into Cal Poly President Warren Baker this week will hear the same tired words he’s paraded around for years, probably since he first learned who Ghandi was back at Toastmasters with Jesse Jackson.

I’m sorry that I don’t have something more substantial to say, though I’m sure you understand the necessity of padding out assignments with extra words in order to meet deadlines and quotas and expected goals. I’m sorry that an ability to B.S. your way through situations will get you farther in life than will your diploma—whether you end up framing it and hanging it on your office wall or not. I’m sorry that you’ll get even farther if you have connections to people in high places to whom you can demonstrate your B.S. abilities.

I’m sorry that I misread this headline as “Pomp and circumcision� and thought I was going to be attending a bris. In that vein, I’m sorry for the gift I brought, especially because you probably won’t be able to return an ice pack that reads “Mazel Tov!�—I got it on sale: half off.

I’m sorry that I learned some gossip about campaign finance contributions after the elections, so it’s too late to mention them. I’m sorry that I’m so strapped for ideas this morning that I’ll mention them anyway: Campaign contribution disclosure forms blowing around show that folks like Rodger Anderson and Katcho Achadjian were certainly pocketing a fair share of funds from developers and Realtors, as well as money from Republican names like Tom Bordonaro, or at least the Bordonaro for Assessor campaign. Since Tom ran unopposed, I guess he had some funds left over. I’m sorry to touch on the developers issue again, but a few seem to have donated to both Rodger and Katcho from different companies that share the same address. Looks like Rodger got $1,000 each from five separate development companies in Atascadero, all from the same spot on Alcantara Avenue. I’m sorry, but doesn’t developer Kelly Gearhart live somewhere around there?

I’m sorry to learn that Abel Maldonado is not as bulletproof as I once thought, considering that he lost the first election that I can ever remember him losing—no Republican state controller candidacy for him—but he still has two years to spend in the Senate, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Sorry?

I’m sorry that the people of this fine community didn’t pass Cuesta’s bond measure. I’m sorry to say that students and staff there will have to make do with the few pennies they have, but maybe next time around they’ll take a tip from Allan Hancock College President Jose Ortiz to the south and not ask for quite so much money from taxpayers—he got all $180 million that he was hoping for.

I’m sorry that within days—hours, even—you graduates will have to face a life outside of college boundaries. I’m sorry to say that you’re entering a world that can’t wait for a fresh batch of graduates, piping hot out of the collegiate oven, to chew up and swallow in bite-sized chunks with an ice-cold glass of milk.

I’m sorry that you can’t believe everything you read, except you just read that, which means you can believe everything you read. If it turns out that you can’t actually believe everything you read, that’s OK. I’m not really sorry. About most of it, anyway. ∆

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