Our top news picks of the year
January 1, 2012
Picking the top CalCoastNews stories of 2011 is no easy chore, but fortunately we have our readers to help with the selections. And while the numbers don’t always tell the whole story, it helps to know which stories have been most visited by our ever-growing audience.
Here, then, are the editors’ picks of the most important, most interesting, and most read articles among CalCoastNews’ daily offering of unique news — the kind of reporting you won’t find anywhere else.
When a local firefighter beat a man unconscious in a bathroom at Pappy McGregor’s in San Luis Obispo, it marked a conclusion, of sorts, to an eight-month rift stemming from claims the firefighter was having an affair with another city employee’s wife. And when SLO cops waited five days to arrest the suspect, John Ryan Mason, community members suspected a cover-up.
News of an ongoing affair between Paavo Ogren, San Luis Obispo County Public Works Director, and Maria Kelly, vice president of the Los Osos Community Services District, created a buzz that the pair had been conspiring to help push through a $200 million sewer project and to keep Ogren out of trouble for prior acts.
James Hurst Miller, the hard money lender who staked Kelly Gearhart to many of the controversial developer’s more questionable endeavors was targeted by federal authorities for fraud and money laundering. He awaits sentencing as investigators probe his business dealings. A 2008 CalCoastNews’ investigation revealed Miller and Gearhart swindled some 1,200 investors out of more than $100 million.
Veteran journalist George Ramos, 63, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times journalist, Cal Poly journalism department chair and CalCoastNews editor, was found dead in his home July 23. Police officers found Ramos’ body in a hallway of his Morro Bay home Saturday after CalCoastNews investigative reporter Karen Velie insisted they break into the home and check on his well-being.
After the children of Chris Adams, a well-paid San Luis Obispo County school district superintendent, were signed up for a federal free lunch program, details emerged of a widespread scheme by many school officials to increase federal funding by inflating estimates of poverty-level student numbers on program applications. County Superintendent of Schools Julian Crocker suggested a “proxy” search for impoverished students is the reason Adams’ wife would fill out a lunch form.
San Luis Obispo County judges give themselves perks that total more than $235,000 a the year, to go with individual average salaries of $178,789. After getting control of the local state court budget, judges in San Luis Obispo County began voting themselves perks without complying with existing laws and regulations. Their perks are among the most generous in the state.
Cal Poly Provost Robert Koob said university officials are discussing a change to its affiliation with the CSU system. Koob made his privatizationcomments at a Retired Faculty Association luncheon, and the university almost immediately issued a denial. The proposal, Cal Poly’s response to cuts in state funding, coincides with statements made by President Jeffrey Armstrong that the university needs to look to new models to raise money for its operations.
A prominent ad executive from San Luis Obispo, Jeffery Lind, was charged in a flurry of felony charges allegedly threatening a police officer, a charge eventually debunked by video tape of the incident. Lind and Tom Murphy, of Nipomo, still face charges in Santa Barbara courts for allegedly filing false documents with the court.
Aggressive marijuana busts prompt protests
As federal drug enforcement authorities step up their local pursuit of medical cannabis patients,marijuana advocates protected the “aggressive and uncalled for raids” on local cannabis delivery services. At least six agencies and 50 agents participated in the investigation and arrests of 15 people in late 2010. That raid appeared to be based on an interpretation of state law – specifically that everyone in a collective must be actively participating in the cultivation of the plants.
An Open Letter to the SLO City Council and the Citizens For SLO By ROB FARINO
Angry white people By STACEY WARDE
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