Dripping, Dropping: More N-P-and County Planning-Bloodbath

With the forced lobotomization now taking place at the
News-Press, reporters and editors who’ve accumulated any
body of knowledge of the town or their beats are being chased out
by a series of management “reforms.”

The most recent involves the reshuffling of the beat assignments. Normally this is
something many newspapers do to keep their reporters fresh. But at
the N-P, the motivation is to make working conditions
sufficiently odiferous that those who are young, footloose, and
relatively fancy-free will seek employment elsewhere. The desire is
to cull the herd of potential union sympathizers. By the time any
union election gets held, there will be no one left to vote in the

Admittedly, some of the shuffling makes little difference. For
Dawn Hobbs to be re-assigned from cops to courts
seems a natural progression. But for Barney
to go from the county beat to cops makes no
sense at all. The county beat is among the most politically
charged, tedious, and important. Barney has spent the better part
of the past two years developing contacts, trust, respect, and
rapport. He hasn’t been there long enough to become tired, bored,
or jaded. Shifting Barney is bad enough, but even worse, there’s no
on in the new scheme to replace him.

But the N-P is hardly the only institution sterilizing
its work force. The County Planning and Development
—long the whipping boy for just about
everybody with a megaphone—has lost about 50 employees since last
January. That’s an alarming number for one department. The new
pro-growth Board of Supervisors
have made their impatience with the department keenly felt; the
supes have been far less skillful, however, at fixing things.

Efforts to reform the department have been akin to whacking
one’s computer. The last one to leave is deputy planning chief
Steve Chase, who will soon be taking a new gig as
planning guru at the City of Goleta. This suggests that
Chase is a glutton for punishment, but at least there he’ll be a
better paid glutton.

Chase’s departure will be a huge loss for the county. That’s
because he’s surrounded by an invisible Buddha Bubble force field
that effectively deflects and dissipates all the free floating
hatred, hostility, suspicion, ire, wrath, and general distrust
that’s directed at high ranking planning directors as a matter of
course. On controversial development projects—Naples, for
example—Chase has ability to calm a room that might otherwise
explode. Combatants on all sides sense that Chase is actually
listening to them. They know if he lived in a parallel universe, he
might actually do something to alleviate their concerns. This is an
exceptional quality for someone routinely in the line of heavy
fire. As the county confronts a host of hornets nets, we’ll all
discover how important it is.


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