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Time to celebrate! 

Oh yes. I’ve been a saucy little Shredder. This past week I’ve received not one—but count ’em—two propositions of love. Perhaps they weren’t propositions, but I’m going to count the following correspondence as being seductive in nature.

One of my admirers sent a card and box of Rice Krispies treats.

“You’ve got it all! Looks, brains, personality, charm, and a sense of humor,” the front of the card said over a cute little cartoon dog. Inside it went on, “Nice butt too,” signed, “With love, Rice, K.”

Though the signature was a tad on the cryptic side, I can only assume that it came from Oceano dunes off-roader Kevin Rice. I’m only guessing because of the treats and the fact that last week I referred to Rice’s off-roading followers as “Rice Krispies.”

Thanks for the gesture Kev, but the miserly little office dregs snatched up all but one of my marshmallowy treats before I could get to them. Of course, I threw that one away because I have to assume any edible gifts are tainted and will eventually come firing out of me through one orifice or another.

Then there was another love note that has all the familiar symptoms of a drunken text, even though it popped up in my e-mail inbox.

“love yourstory couldnt agree more Whaat  The Wilkison! duh cop! Peace~Melissa”

(Note to proof reader: That’s verbatim so don’t go fixing the grammar and punctuation.)

And after all that you’d think nothing could sour my mood. On top of the notes of admiration, Aug. 13 marks the beginning of New Times’ 25th year of existence. You might just say we’ve turned 24, but I like my interpretation of the milestone better. Twenty-five is right where you want to be: Just old enough to be taken seriously (and to rent a car) but still young enough to be less square, more hip.

So listen up because I’m about to school you all with some wisdom. Recently, my mindless pecking for ridiculous news-fodder in need of mocking landed me on the May 27 minutes of the Nacimiento Project Commission. I didn’t even know there was such a commission, which is probably good for them … read on.

The Nacimiento Water Project—basically an arterial vein pumping agua down the line from Paso Robles to San Luis Obispo—is nearing completion and coming up on its three-year anniversary. And we all know what that means: time to party!

According to the commission, the project’s “ribbon cutting” ceremony—they’re wondering whether to call it a “dedication ceremony” or possibly “valve turning”—has been allotted anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 from the project budget. Since the project is coming in below its $176 million estimate, I suppose they figure blowing the remainder is just a drop in the bucket of sweet, sweet Nacimiento tap water.

But a few members reportedly (I’ve only got minutes here) warned that with all the proposed water-rate hikes currently pissing people off throughout the county, it might be best “to be sensitive to such issues in terms of timing and expenditure.” That’s probably why project manager John
Hollenbeck
and the commissioners recommended finding an MC (I think he meant emcee, unless they’re talking about Hammer). And here I’ll quote, “from the media (perhaps a radio DJ or newscaster) with an upbeat, light tone.”

I hear Tony Cipolla is available.

If not, might I recommend a used car salesman? Maybe a carpet salesman? They’re usually able to sell heaping piles of overpriced bullshit with big toothy smiles.

Yet all of that pales in comparison to the suggestion from Commission Chairman Dave Brooks, who also serves on the Templeton Community Services District.

Brooks, according to the minutes, “suggested that the families of the men who lost their lives on the project be invited.”

In case you lost count, three men have died building this pipeline. First, back in 2008, two men drowned because of a colossal screw up when the managers diverted construction into unknown territory instead of obtaining an easement to build near a Paso Robles gym (the gym owner later said he would have been willing to change his construction plans for a water fountain had he been asked). That diversion caused crews to tear up Paso city streets laden with countless unknown underground utilities. Then the Teichert Construction managers misread their utility maps, which resulted in the crew accidentally breaking an existing water line, flooding the trench where Jake Gaines and Manuel Villagomez were working.

Those men died, but, apparently, the commission wants to drag their families back into tortuous memories.

And just a year ago this month, Timothy Nelson died when a dump truck backed over him.

Yeah. I’m sure the families will want to be there to commemorate the shoddy construction that contributed to the deaths of their sons, husbands, fathers, and friends.

To even suggest asking the families to attend a ceremony is so beyond insulting I’m bereft of metaphors. If, say, these guys died while building a dam, and if it were 100 years ago, such a gesture may have been heartfelt and more heroic. Nowadays, and under these circumstances, Brooks’ idea is calloused beyond belief. But I guess that’s what happens when five guys get together in a room with $50,000 to blow on a party. ∆

Find the Shredder in the “anything goes” section of Craigslist. Or send a love note to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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