Praise Via New Times Letters

Colin Rigley’s “Paso’s cop headache” (Aug. 18) was superb. It was a casebook study of what investigative reporting should be, but rarely is. Alas, it says legions about what bureaucracies (police and otherwise) too often embrace: staying silent and circling the wagons when criticized. It also says legions about why people often shun getting involved. “Don’t question authority” and rather go silently into the night, partly to avoid getting involved.
It’s clear Rigley did his homework in bringing the Bromby case into the light. The reporter and New Times are to be congratulated for their efforts. Award material.

Richard Kranzdorf


Morro Bay Aquarium has our full attention now (“The aquatic anachronism,” May 17). With its focus on commercial fishing and tourism, Morro Bay is the ideal community to improve this site. Let's get together and do it. Mr. Alcorn, are you willing?
Morro Bay's resources for fishing and marine mammals are among the best anywhere. Sausalito's Marine Mammal Center has an outpost facility here. They rescue stranded elephant seals, among other critters, which are the focus of Friends of the Elephant Seal. For seals in trouble, this is the place to get help.
Morro Bay Aquarium is located on a premium piece of Embarcadero property. Tourists can't help finding it as they stroll along the harbor. Mayor Yates, what can the city do to improve this business? Harbor Director Endersby, how can these community organizations work with the city and the business to create a win-win?
Let's brainstorm: How else could this property be used? What would make it even more inviting to your customers, Mr. Alcorn? Perhaps it could be converted into a display for rehabilitated wildlife from Pacific Wildlife Care that can't be released to the wild.
Could those tanks become an educational display for Morro Bay's ecology? Could the Natural History Museum work with them on creating something special, unique, and exciting? Cal Poly's Engineering Department has stepped up to help the community on other occasions. Can you help, Cal Poly? Or refer this effort to other resources? Could the Civilian Conservation Corps play a role?
When the aquarium was built, it was with good intentions. That was years ago. When we know better, we do better. This is an opportunity to showcase a local business and the way our community works together to help each other.

Christine Heinrichs

Your May 17 article on the Morro Bay Aquarium (“The aquatic anachronism”) prompted me to see this tourist attraction for myself. I am dumbfounded by the support letters I have read to keep this place open and discourage criticism.
That these sea lions and seals have lived in such small quarters for so long is extremely sad. They must be slowly dying of depression and boredom or going insane from swimming in a little circle day in and day out. I equate this to a dog being tied to a tree all his life. The fish in the aquarium don’t fare much better. There has to be a bigger, more humane facility better equipped to handle these animals, where they can live out the rest of their lives, rather than as some sideshow in an outdated seaside gift shop.
I’m sure there are more people turned off by this place than impressed by it, so how can it possibly be seen as a positive representation for tourism in Morro Bay? It only shows a lack of compassion for animals and a backward attitude toward animal welfare. Regardless of the good work done by the owners in the past, we need to look at current conditions and demand a change.

Elena Autotte


ASH treats mentally ill violent felons. It takes a psychological toll to face this violence daily without the support from those who make and implement policy. Managements’ attitude is best summed up by Jon DeMorales’s “I think some of our employees like to brag about how big our place is and how dangerous our place is” (“A history of violence,” Dec. 2). Mr. DeMorales, it is a big and dangerous place.
Time and again, I hear “staff safety is our No. 1 concern.” I disagree. The majority of the day licensed staff members are implementing the policies of the “Wellness and Recovery” El-Sabaawi money grab. An environment of fear and intimidation is felt while new policies are implemented with utter disregard for legality or consequence.
Mr. DeMorales admits that assaults have substantially increased, explaining it away with admission figures and length-of-stay numbers. The failure of management to realize the increase in violence dooms employees to be assaulted. It is both unnecessary and unacceptable. Many individuals attend groups located throughout the hospital. Unit staff provide coverage, often working below acceptable staffing minimums. Those who are too sick or too dangerous stay on their home units where two or three staff members supervise and treat 30 or more individuals. This creates a volatile and unsafe situation for both the staff and the individuals served.
The disconnect between management and staff is amplified by DeMorales’ statement: “It is hard to implement change in a state facility that is so heavily unionized.” I again disagree.
According to ASH’s own intranet homepage, “We achieved substantial compliance overall” and “our facility is the best in the state, and many aspects of our program are the best in the United States of America.” Change has happened, and this has nothing to do with being unionized.
Colin Rigley nailed it when he wrote of staff’s distrust, anger, and frustration. Statements, such as DMH Director Mayberg’s, only promote this feeling among the level of care. Somebody’s mother, daughter, wife, husband, dad, brother is going to be assaulted, possibly killed while the Maybergs and DeMoraleses refuse to act.

eronica Dobrick

In Colin Rigley’s excellent article on the dilemma regarding the siting of much-needed renewable energy (“The great solar quagmire,” Oct. 7), the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO) was incorrectly characterized as having made an “about-face” regarding the two solar projects proposed for the Carrizo valley. Mr. Rigley correctly stated that the organization has not yet taken a formal position, and he then goes on to quote our office coordinator, Maria Kelly, regarding her own opinions.
The organization has a varied membership and equally varied opinions regarding this and other environmental issues; we respect the right of Ms. Kelly (as well as other ECOSLO employees, members, and volunteers) to express personal opinions, but they should not also be extended to ECOSLO, as Mr. Rigley has unfortunately done.
The controversy surrounding the Carrizo projects is a testimony to the complexity of the issues. While we all agree that we quickly need to develop local renewable energy resources, there is a wide continuum of cost vs. benefit when we talk about how and where, i.e., protection of endangered species and habitat; loss of valuable agricultural lands; cost and benefits to the county (who would likely not be end users); distributed solar vs. industrial installation (including financing, capacity, and timing considerations); proximity to transmission lines vs. proximity to end users; energy and human costs to manufacture and ship the panels; disposal of possibly toxic components to decommission, to name a few.
Before taking an official position, we look forward to continued analysis of all of the options on the table, as well as fresh and valuable perspectives from our community.

Clint Slaughter

Kudos for Colin Rigley’s Nov. 13 article, “Stuck on the list.” Though some past New Times articles (such as the Feb. 2006 story about methamphetamine production) haven’t always displayed positive editorial judgment regarding the topic of substance abuse, his story presented a responsible and balanced perspective on a very important topic.
The dramatic elimination of Proposition 36 funding has resulted in a gap whereby substance abuse offenders in our county are unable to access needed services that will aid in their sobriety. The negative repercussions are seemingly endless, including increased rates of incarceration (which, ironically, cost the taxpayer disproportionately more than would the treatment) as well as the break-up of families when children are taken from an offender’s custody and placed in foster care.
The San Luis Obispo Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board, charged with providing oversight and recommendations to the County Board of Supervisors, has witnessed the wonderful work county agencies and nonaffiliated community-based organizations have done in addressing the needs of people struggling with drug and alcohol dependence. We commend the organizations and treatment providers for their hard work and diligence during times of diminished resources. However, such other service gaps in our community—as the lack of an accessible drug and alcohol detoxification facility highlight the need for a great deal more work.
Anyone who feels strongly about these issues is encouraged to attend one of our regularly scheduled public meetings that are held on the third Thursday of every month in the Annex Building behind the Health Campus on 2180 Johnson Avenue in the City of San Luis Obispo. We welcome community participation to address unmet needs related to substance abuse and treatment.

Jason Reed

Thanks to Colin Rigley for his article on the DeCicco project in Cayucos (“DeCicco fights a two-front battle,” Oct. 15). I found the reporting to be objective, as responsible journalism should be. This is in contrast to the KSBY report by Stacy Daniel posted Oct. 9 on the KSBY web page. In her story, DeCicco has an “American dream” that has been frustrated by anti-growth activists. I feel this article was not “Balanced News You Can Trust” as KSBY claims on their web site (shades of FOX News!). Compare the two reports and see what I mean.
I would also like to point out that this project, as proposed, was rejected by the previous board of supervisors’ own planning commission, whose decision was appealed by DeCicco to that old board and approved by a 3 to 2 vote despite the request of the community to scale it back.   
To learn more visit the website of the Concerned Citizens of Cayucos, Thanks again, Colin.

Eddie Cosko


Congratulations to Colin Rigley and Adam Hill on a well-done piece (“Regarding Adam,” April 19). With all the former exposé pieces, it is very refreshing to have an opportunity to read Mr. Hill’s responses and candid views in real, down-to-earth terms rather than “political speak.” People should have a much better perspective on things. Hopefully much of the hearsay and she-said/he-said has been put to bed as well; no pun intended. Carry on, Adam; we support you wholeheartedly!

Matt Lombardini

Thank you, New Times, for your continued coverage of issues relating to homelessness in SLO County. Whether it be the recent cover story on individuals living out of their vehicles (Colin Rigley’s “You can’t go home, and you can’t stay here,” Feb. 22) or your ongoing expose of local residents’ unique stories (“The Homeless Project”), I commend you for bringing increased attention to this important topic and for providing a proverbial “voice” to those that are often “voiceless” in our community.
A documentary that my partner Christina and I directed and produced will be debuting at the SLO International Film Festival on Sunday, March 11, at 6 p.m. at the Downtown Centre Cinemas in the city of San Luis Obispo. Titled Homeless Not Hopeless (In the Happiest Place in America), this documentary seeks to bring awareness of the local prevalence of homelessness while showcasing the resiliency of many individuals dealing with such challenges. We would like to extend a formal invitation to the local community to come out and show support. In addition to the film festival screening, we are planning on having a number of local screenings and discussion forums in the coming months to better engage the community in further productive dialogue.
We have also created a website with additional information, resources, and suggestions on how we can all become allies in the fight to end homelessness. For more information, please visit Thank you for your support.

Jason Reed

We’d like to dot the “i” and cross the “t” on Colin Rigley’s excellent reportage of Supervisor Paul Teixeira’s efforts to quietly starve the South County Advisory Council out of existence, following the debacle of his public effort to oust the elected council members and replace them with personal cronies (“Cut off,” Nov. 10).
While it’s certainly true, as noted, that Teixeira “doesn’t agree with some of [the advisory council’s] decisions” and “wasn’t happy with their approach to land-use in the district,” there’s probably a more specific reason for the supervisor’s intense distaste for grass-roots citizen participation in land-use decisions affecting our communities and his relentless efforts to kill it off. (And with all respect to the Shredder, it’s not because he’s mad at the council for “making him look stupid.”)
Teixeira’s heavily developer-backed supervisorial campaign, and SCAC Chairman Dan Woodson’s reply on the March 14 Dave Congalton show in answer to the question of what he thought would happen if Teixeira succeeded in disbanding the council (“I could imagine there would be a lot of development that would be attempted”) should suffice to clarify the matter.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Teixiera is determined to fashion a rubber stamp that would provide him with political cover for the kind of rampant, unsustainable development that would deliver the biggest possible payday to his backers—the public and democracy be damned.

Andrew Christie


Hate Via New Times Letters

So the “new times” throwaway paper has done a number on the Morro Bay Aquarium. They must feel “real proud” about this. The author a Colin Rigley who attended the prestigious party school San Diego State, doesn’t like anything about the aquarium. Never mind that the owners have probably maintained this place at a loss since the 1950s, in order to keep the admission price low for kids. You can read the article and judge for yourself but hey, my grandkids liked it.

I found your article on the Morro Bay Aquarium (“The aquatic anachronism,” May 17) disturbing, but not for the reasons stated by the author. I think New Times missed an opportunity to report on a subject which is far more complex than just how deep the pool is. I have known Dean Tyler for 50 years and his wife Bertha for almost that long. I know them to be very kind and caring for the animals they have collected.
Dean was a commercial abalone fisherman, and when the sea otter depleted the abalone resource to the point it would no longer support a fishery, Dean didn't turn on the sea otter; he and Bertha took in pups and, through hard work, figured out how to keep these animals alive. In these days, there wasn't much known about sea otter husbandry. The Tylers invented as they went along. There were no books on how to feed or groom a sea otter.
Comparisons were made in the article to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. However, it costs 20 times as much to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. For a few dollars, a family can see wild, and potentially dangerous animals, close up. Some people quoted in the article wanted the seals and sea lions released. This cannot happen. The ocean can be a very hostile environment, and these particular animals would not be able to fend for themselves.
If anything is threatening to marine mammals, in my opinion, it is the Marine Mammal Rescue Center down the road. California sea lions are above historic numbers. The weak and genetically inferior animals need to die off. This is nature’s way. But capturing, feeding, giving them antibiotics, and then releasing them is a detriment to the health of the population.
So, New Times, reconsider the damage you have done to two wonderful people. It's the humane thing to do.

Steven Rebuck


I am appalled at your article about the Morro Bay Aquarium (“The aquatic anachronism,” May 17). Given the size and age of this facility, of course it can’t compare to Monterey. But when the Monterey aquarium had a motherless baby otter, they contacted Bertha Tyler, because she created a formula that saved another baby otter’s life.
And Suzy, the sea lion listed as one of the animals that died at the facility, was released several times and kept coming back. The last time, she actually walked back to the aquarium on the sidewalk (I have photos), and the Tylers were granted a special permit by the National Marine Fisheries Service to let Suzy stay where she so obviously wanted to be.
For nearly 50 years, Dean and Bertha have provided care and sanctuary for injured and abandoned animals at their own expense, and they deserve praise for that, not a hatchet job article.

Janice Peters

Regarding Colin Rigley’s Dec. 2 article “A history of violence”: I’m a little concerned that some relevant information was omitted from the article.
I’m a senior psychiatric technician at Atascadero State Hospital and have worked there for nearly a decade. While I don’t disagree that there has been an increase in violence at the facility, it does have to be noted the population of patients we treat has changed in the last five years. Previously, ASH was the primary treatment facility for sexually violent predators, a group of patients who were far less aggressive toward peers and staff. Starting in 2006, there was a change in treatment styles, and the primary population evolved into a group of patients who are far more psychiatrically unstable.
At that same time, the state of California began restricting the number of staff allocated to the facilities in a poorly executed attempt to cut funding to the Department of Mental Health.
It should also be noted that Atascadero State Hospital is still considered to be among the leading forensic psychiatric facilities in the world and, as such, is able to recruit some of the most skilled clinicians available. Working with the patients at the facility is dangerous, but the staff who work there are providing care for a population of men the community has turned their back on. If people were better informed on the treatment offered, perhaps there would be more support of the staff and less animosity toward the establishment.
Ed. note: Though Colin Rigley’s story didn’t get into specifics, it did note that one possible explanation for rising violence—or the perception of rising violence—at Atascadero State Hospital is the change in the facility’s patient population and methodology tracking since around 2006

Earl Smith


I was just a little disappointed this evening when I read your article, “The comedy and tragedy of dispatch,” by Colin Rigley (April 12). The article was certainly entertaining and well written, and I appreciate the fact that it gave clear validation to the serious nature of the dispatchers’ duties.
However, I was saddened that the entertainment of the article was made at the professional expense of some of the county’s most dedicated employees. One must be completely honest when they admit that any office has its share of comical antics and slight vulgarities, and this behavior can even be psychologically necessary as morale and a sense of camaraderie is built between employees at a high-stress job. I just don’t think this exploitation of those office inter-workings paints a fair picture of these dispatchers.
I’m pleased that they are healthy enough individuals to find humor in their duties, and competent enough employees to switch from giggly to life saving on the drop of a dime. I’ve seen and heard this office in action, and I can vow with 100 percent certainty that they are professional and above-standard county employees both in and out of the office.
So in closing, Ms. Porter, Ms. Fontes, Ms. Dishen, Ms. Cox, Chief Giese, and all the rest of the SLO County sheriff’s dispatch office, thank you for your continued professionalism, dedication to your job, and bravery to interview with New Times!

Heidi Rogers


In his piece “‘Asshole’s neighbor’” (July 7) concerning an ongoing community dispute in Cayucos, New Times News Editor Colin Rigley emphasizes the so-called “thick accent” of the “profoundly Brooklyn” subject of the article, who Rigley claims “sounds like he was born in an East Coast deli.” Rigley implies, by his comments, that all or most of the people who come from New York City not only sound like this, but also comport themselves similarly to the way he has characterized his subject.
I feel Rigley thus diminishes any arguments he makes with unnecessary, pejorative remarks that can only offend your readers from that part of the country, who have chosen to relocate here. (FYI, I am a former Cayucos resident and native New Yorker who, as Mr. Rigley can attest to following our phone conversation, speaks with no “deli accent.”

D.J. Smith