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Sensitivity trigger 

As North SLO County residents sweated in their hot, dark houses multiple times over the past couple of weeks wondering what the hell was up with the power they weren't getting, PG&E was flying helicopters over their transmission lines desperately trying to figure out what the problem was.

Turns out, it was all just a silly overreaction—or several overreactions all in a row.

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PG&E spokesperson Eric Daniels spoke to the SLO County Board of Supervisors about the issue on Sept. 14, telling them that the utility's new wildfire prevention feature was shutting down power in certain areas of the county because it was too sensitive.

Customers, though, received no such information from the embattled utility about their power problems. A text message alert that said something more than, "Whoopsies! Your power's out! We don't know why or when it will be restored (shrug emoji) ... " would be nice!

But it is PG&E, so what do we expect? Customer service?

Called "fast trip," like a gas station convenience store where you can pop in and pop out with the unhealthy snack of your choice, it automatically shuts off power when a foreign object is detected in the power lines—popping off your power for the foreseeable future as the utility casually inspects the entire circuit to make sure nothing's awry before turning the lights back on.

"This process takes time," Daniels said.

Apparently, it takes a loooong time. Thousands of residents were without power for full days because the transmission lines along Highways 58, 46, and 41 were dealing with foreign objects on a somewhat regular basis, and the fast trips on those lines needed a wee bit of an attitude adjustment.

"What we're finding is that they're overreacting," Daniels said.

Oh really? You power lines need to calm the F down!

You know, like people in the Bible Belt who freak out about immigrants coming to the U.S. to legally work on temporary visas. Or like a California Men's Colony correctional officer who allegedly beat up a Wells Fargo employee in Grover Beach, calling him racial slurs, for asking the officer to wear a mask in accordance with San Luis Obispo County public health mandates!

Calm it on down people!

This officer was so pissed that he went back to the bank that evening to try to beat the employee up in the bank's parking lot, according to The Tribune's reporting. The Grover Beach Police Department arrested the man on Sept. 14, 11 days after the incident, according to a press release posted on the department's Facebook page.

All of this because the guy didn't want to wear a mask in a private business!

What level of overreaction do you have to operate at to do something like that? Is it FACEBOOK COMMENT IN ALL CAPS level sensitivity? Or is it lights out PG&E fast trip level sensitivity? Or is it a level of sensitivity that's becoming all too common in modern America?

There's "If I don't win the election, I'm claiming voter fraud" level sensitivity, which candidate for governor, conservative radio personality, and now loser Larry Elder threatened in the weeks leading up to the recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom; "If I disagree with you, I'm going to picket outside your house" level sensitivity, which parents and odd hangers-on recently did to Lucia Mar Unified School District school board member Colleen Martin; and "government mask mandates are trampling my GOD GIVEN right to be an angry, violent asshole" level sensitivity, which is Exhibit A.

This is democracy, baby! Well, it's kind of democracy. It's like a really dramatic half-assed attempt at democracy.

But even half-assed, "Democracy is not for sissies!" according to Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray Russom.

She was referring to Arroyo Grande's gigantic overreaction in the case of Central Coast Blue—a multimillion-dollar project between South County's three cities to augment the groundwater supply and prevent saltwater intrusion. Sounds pretty important, right?

Well, Arroyo Grande threatened to put years of work and millions of dollars in grants into the trash bin because it didn't like the contract agreement between the cities. And it was quite the stunt—with elected officials taking a stand for their city! Well, they probably could have gotten what they wanted without actually pulling out of the project, but that's the route they chose and they got what they wanted, kind of.

Democracy, amirite?

Maybe we just need more public policy ideas that put a smile on your face, such as reusing iconic landmarks for extreme sports activities. Someone suggested that the smokestacks in Morro Bay get repurposed for "thrill-seeking opportunities" rather than get torn down.

Who wants to base jump off a 70-year old smokestack with me?

No? Come on, we can overreact together.

Morro Bay City Manager Scott Collins said that it's an unlikely outcome due to safety concerns during a community forum on the stacks and their future. The forum's name: Facts About the Stacks. High five for whoever came up with that name!

Either way, though, the city has to make a decision about whether it will demolish the three stacks that have defined Morro Bay's skyline for decades. My big question: whose sensitivity levels will be triggered into an overreaction? Δ

The Shredder is fast twitch, not fast trip. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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