Come home Sam—We need you

August 17, 2011

 

Sam Blakeslee

OPINION By DAVE CONGALTON

I begin by making a statement that I have offered repeatedly on the radio these last few weeks. I have been part of this community for nearly 25 years and I’ve never seen San Luis Obispo, a town I love deeply, so torn apart. This special election on Measures A and B, regardless of outcome, is destined to only increase bad feelings on both sides of the binding arbitration debate.

Most people assume that both measures will pass easily. Perhaps. But then what? What happens when we wake up on Aug. 31st? What kind of morale will we have among our police officers and firefighters after beating them into the ground over salaries and benefits, repeatedly suggesting they are not worthy? What kind of relationship may we realistically expect between our public safety personnel and City Hall, especially when we continue to lavish high salaries and benefits on managers? How many years will it take these wounds to heal?

A couple things to keep in mind. (1) Mayor Jan Marx has been weak and ineffectual in providing leadership, standing by helpless (and hopeless) as Andrew Carter seized the spotlight and pushed his agenda; (2) I suspect there are police and firefighters who would rather take their chances in Compton than work under Mayor Andrew Carter, a likely scenario for 2012 if A and B pass; (3) Abel Maldonado has already announced his intention to challenge Lois Capps for Congress next year; and (4) Sam Blakeslee, who has never lost a race, is heading for certain defeat, pundits say, if he chooses to run for re-election in 2012, facing a stiff challenge from Democratic Assemblyman Bill Monning in a newly-redesigned state Senate district that leans heavily to the left.

For about a week this summer, Sam told friends and colleagues that he would challenge Maldonado and try to go to Congress. Wisely, he changed his mind and avoided a bruising primary bloodbath against the former lieutenant governor. That doesn’t leave Sam with many options. He could try and take on Monning and hope for some kind of political upset. It is unlikely that Democrat Jerry Brown would offer him an appointment. With his Ph.D., Sam would be ideal to be president of Cuesta College, a school where he launched his political career as a trustee, but that would mean sticking it to Gil Stork and Sam won’t do that.

So what does that leave for Sam Blakeslee?

To me, it’s simple. Come home, Sam. Come home and run for mayor of San Luis Obispo.

Hear me out.

Given the weakness of the current mayor and the collective egos of the four remaining council members, it is not far-fetched to picture an election where Ashbaugh, Carter, Carpenter, and Smith all decide to challenge Marx. Just tonight, on my radio show, Dan Carpenter, who was appointed less than a year ago, announced that he was considering running for mayor. Can you imagine the circus?

No, the next mayor should be an outsider, someone who has not been tainted in the current debate. Someone who might serve one, or possibly two, terms and focus on getting San Luis Obispo beyond the nasty binding arbitration issue.

Sam Blakeslee is the ideal choice. He brings a veteran politico to the job at a time when his knowledge, experience, and political skills are needed the most. Only someone like Sam can reach out to both sides in this bruising debate and try to nudge the city forward. Even if they lose, police and firefighters have no reason to blame Sam. His connections to Sacramento come as an added plus in these tough economic times.

Lois Capps will retire soon enough. Then Sam can make his move, having done his part for San Luis Obispo. And I suspect his wife and children wouldn’t mind having Sam home for dinner more.

So come home, Sam. Run for mayor. San Luis Obispo needs you.

Dave Congalton serves as Contributing Editor for CalCoastNews.

 


21 Comments

  1. WiseGuy says:

    Dave’s comments are tempered in part a response to police officers letting him off for his continual speeding in his car and for the fact that his home burnt down a while back and firefighters came to assist. Plus he has relatives in law enforcement.

    We have plenty of decent people who are presently trained and eager to join our local fire departments and would be willing to work at wages less than what are being offered presently.

    I’m not in a position to say whether compensation is adequate now, but this idea that it is difficult to recruit new employees is ridiculous. There are plenty who would jump at the chance.

    One thing is for sure, local law enforcement officers are, in general, not adequately trained and this accounts for much of the police brutality accusations that we have witnessed in our county. They are not trained adequately in ways to de-escalate violence when appropriate, but are encouraged to ramp up violence as the primary way to defuse troublesome situations.

    The fact that law enforcement has continued to be encouraged to treat pot users as criminals has also contributed mightily to the animosity that is often found running between citizens and law enforcement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    • r0y says:

      Are you sure you are in the right news item / opinion piece?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. wolfhound says:

    I guess “Oil Man Sam” could become a lobbyist for his past employer and other oil companies to ratchet up offshore drilling.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  3. WiseGuy says:

    In any case, it sure will be fun watching Maldonado get his butt kicked if he runs against Capps. It’s nice to know that both Republicans and Democrats are finding common ground in despising Maldonado as the ultimate phony, sleazy, selfish politician.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  4. r0y says:

    Sam Blakeslee is the only coward who RAN from ECV initiation in the local chapter’s history. What a weasel. Another phoney-baloney schmoozer who was lucky enough to be born to his family. That’s about all he’s got going for him.

    Maldanado, Blakeslee, Capps…. you can have them all, I wish they’d go away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

  5. abigchocoholic says:

    “What happens when we wake up on Aug. 31st? What kind of morale will we have among our police officers and firefighters after beating them into the ground over salaries and benefits, repeatedly suggesting they are not worthy?”
    —————-
    Give me a break Dave. The only thing that’s going to happen is a government employee reality check. Something that’s long over due. Something the private sector has lived with since 2008.

    A government employee idea of sacrifice is to give up their scheduled raises. That’s just not reality. Reality is a 10% across the board cut. Just as the private sector has done–and that’s in the lucky industries. In the unlucky ones like construction, families had to move out of state and live off unemployment in Arkansas or Texas.

    If the government employees don’t like it, quit. Quit tomorrow. There’s 10 people lined up to take your place 10 people who would kill to have 9-5 high paying, cushy government jobs and benefits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

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