By KAREN VELIE
More than a dozen times since losing the board majority, San Luis Obispo County supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson have claimed that their conservative counterparts are incompetent, bad to staff and fail to understand the facts. In a recent Tribune opinion piece, Hill and Gibson blame the board majority for an alleged “budget deficit” and marijuana rules they deem are unsafe.
So lets check their facts.
“When breezy ideology trumps math, when political dogma substitutes for reasoned analysis, we can end up going from a healthy budget surplus to deficit overnight,” Hill and Gibson wrote.
However, the current 2016-2017 budget, which the board majority voted to approve in June, is not in a deficit.
While working on a 2017-2018 projected budget, a county staffer misstated the expenses. As a result, the county produced a proposed budget that was based on inaccurate numbers. In February, the board will discuss and reconfigure the proposed budget, which is unlikely to remain in the red.
Hill and Gibson also blame the miscalculation on the resignation of former county administrator Dan Buckshi, who they said quit because of the board majority.
“The board majority drove off our outstanding county administrative officer, Dan Buckshi,” Hill and Gibson wrote.
While Buckshi accepted a job in a Bay Area city that included higher pay and benefits, he did not blame the board majority for his departure.
More than four years ago, longtime county tax collector Frank Frietas warned that by merging the offices of the county treasurer-tax collector and the auditor-controller, the county would lose financial checks and balances.
In July 2013, Hill and Gibson discounted Frietas’ concerns and voted to consolidate the two offices to be run under their political ally, Jim Erb. Supervisor Debbie Arnold dissented.
For months, supervisors Hill and Gibson have battled to allow retail stores to sell cannabis in the county while Supervisor John Peschong has successfully sought to ban brick and mortar dispensaries and to allow growers to deliver marijuana directly to clients.
In their opinion, Hill and Gibson say storefront dispensaries are safer than deliveries from the farm.
“He (Peschong) casually rammed through a radical change to push cannabis distribution into rural areas, while banning safer public dispensaries,” Hill and Gibson wrote.
In Colorado, crime increased at a greater percentage in communities that permitted public dispensaries (brick and mortar retail stores) than those that banned them.
Since cannabis was legalized in Colorado in 2013, crime has increased statewide by 6.2 percent, according to a report by the Rocky Mountain Investigative Support Center Strategic Intelligence Unit. Even though 68 percent of local jurisdiction in Colorado banned public pot shops, there are currently more than 400 brick and mortar cannabis stores in Colorado.
Denver, a city that permits brick and mortar shops, has reported a 16 percent increase in crime since pot was legalized in 2013. While crime and homelessness have increased, Denver’s convention business tourism has declined, according to Visit Denver, the city’s marketing organization.
“Denver is losing visitors and valuable convention business as a result of these overall safety (or perception of safety) issues,” according to Visit Denver. “Unfortunately, word is beginning to spread among meeting planners about the safety challenges Denver is facing.”
On Nov. 7, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to resume talks on the accounting error and marijuana regulations.