Home > Los Osos; Gail McPherson; The Tribune; Sona Patel > The Tribune & Mrs. McPherson

The Tribune & Mrs. McPherson

I was very pleased with how things went on Wednesday’s broadcast, especially the 5 to 6:30 segment with Gail McPherson from Los Osos. I wanted to give Gail a chance to respond to the Tribune coverage of her from last Sunday’s edition.

There was a time when I considered those behind the infamous Los Osos recall to be a fringe element, obstructionist in their viewpoints and desires. I remember urging them more than once to stop their tactics and let Los Osos move forward. Then I met Gail and she has appeared on my show more than a dozen times. She was different from the others. Her professional background was in sanitation. She was intelligent, articulate and seemed to make sense. Those interviews changed my mind about Los Osos. Gail convinced me that there indeed was another way and that there didn’t have to be a sewer plant in the middle of town.

I honestly believe the emergence of Gail tipped the balance in the recall election and gave legitimacy to the recall supporters. True, Gail has only been in town a few years and, yes, she doesn’t live in the Prohibition Zone, but I believe her heart rings true. I believe she has the best interests of Los Osos at heart.

Then along came The Tribune last Sunday with a lengthy “profile” of Gail by Sona Patel, a relatively new and inexperienced journalist. As Gail pointed out tonight, The Tribune has been trying to do this story since December 2004. Abraham Hyatt, who used to cover Los Osos for the Trib, flat out refused to write the story last summer because he thought the paper was trying to smear Gail. I’m told that there was much debate within the newsroom over this story.

So why has The Tribune singled out Gail McPherson for such extended coverage? Where are their “profiles” of Pandora Nash-Karner, Gordon Hensley, or Stan Gustafson? Is it merely coincidence that this story is running as the 218 vote is getting under way in Los Osos? The Tribune was against the recall–is this payback to Gail for her efforts to push the recall? It’s clear the paper has an agenda and they smeared someone I believe to be of good character. There were numerous errors in the article and Patel completely distorted Gail’s position on 218.

Lots of phone calls. Surprisingly, Santa Maria Bill chimed in with a call for the people of the county to step forward and help the people of Los Osos. Bill wants us to be taxed. Personally, I want nothing to do with that. I love Los Osos, having lived there for almost five years, but the infighting and foot-dragging for 30 years is the root of this problem. The rest of us should not have to pay for a Los Osos problem.

Let’s have the Tribune get back to the facts and stick to reporting. Going after people is my job.

  1. Overtaxed
    September 6, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    I live in Arroyo Grande and I have absolutely zero interest in seeing my money go to Los Osos. Should we expect the people of Los Osos to be taxed for our projects? Doubtful. They made their own mess. Let them clean it up. We’re taxed enough as it is. They had their chance as far back as the ’70s to put in a sewer and they chose not to. I would also be concerned about the precedent this would set.

  2. Marilyn
    September 7, 2007 at 4:57 am

    When we talk about the “people of Los Osos” over the past 35 years, we have to consider the fact that they are not a group that has existed there all this time. Why should the current residents foot the whole bill for the mistakes of people for the past 4 decades.

    Firstly, I am sure there are people who used to live in Los Osos years ago and they enjoyed the cheap and scenic lifestyle. They live somehwere else now, and many of them are still in San Luis County. Are they not too partially responsible for the “mess?”

    At the same time, some residents who currently live in Los Osos have only been there a few years or less. Are they as responsible as those who have lived there for decades or as responsible as those who had lived there for decades in the past and who moved in the near past?

    It is only fair that at least those who lived for any duration of time in that city share the responsibility. The sense of community comes from that perspective. It has nothing to do with socialism but with what our responsibilities are are citizens towards each other.

    Why should the current residents of Los Osos pay for the mistakes of the past generation? Is that really fair?

  3. Rich from Paso
    September 7, 2007 at 6:36 am

    Typical liberal response to point a finger at someone else. Tell you what: find the names of everyone that lived in Los Osos 35 years ago and make them pay the bill. That’s what you are saying. Since the people living in Los Osos now didn’t create the problem 35 years ago, why should they pay for it? Well, I hope you feel the same way about Women’s lbieration, reparations for African-Americans, Affirmative Action, or any other methodology used to redress past grievences. Oh wait, that’s right! America is the Great Satan for all the evils we have visited on the world on every issue I identified and more so those of us that had nothing to do with any of the injustices of the past must pay.

    As for Dave’s comment that he doesn’t feel that he should pay for Los Osos’ sewer because of their mismanagment. Apparently you and Marilyn finally found something that you disagree about. That, and I hope that you feel the same way about the universal health care proposals that every Democrat presidental candidate thinks you should pay for. I don’t think there is any good reason why I should be taxed to allow someone else to dodge their responsibilities. That holds true for the Los Osos sewer, the SCHIPS program for people who are not children, every universal healthcare proposal and the Social Security ponzi scheme.

  4. Mary from Los Osos
    September 7, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    The September 2, 2007 article on Gail McPherson would have been good reporting had it ended at the title: “Activist says fairness is why she fights for Los Osos.” Her work for Los Osos IS for fairness, fairness and kindness, a type of medicine others should also consider offering us, including

    The Tribune in its reporting on the complexities
    facing our town. Her 218 position has been clearly stated: she wants it to be fair. She has been advocating that it be the very best that
    it can be, as has our entire LOCSD Board, not exclusively Joe Sparks.

    For Sparks to see his peers’ scrutiny of the process (to make it the very best) as a lack of support of the County LOWWP process is a failure in leadership. He is capable of wonderful guidance but here I am disappointed. Furthermore, Ms. McPherson is working FOR the County
    process as she is wanting their 218 to succeed by advocating that every single family in Los Osos have equal treatment by the Regional Water
    Quality Control Board. If the RWQCB does not rescind the active enforcements this coming Friday, September 7, they are putting the 218
    Assessment at far greater risk of failing than any action of one woman and that is what the vast space used by this article should have been
    devoted to. I hope the attention this article raises will be that of our entire county awakening to see fairness for Los Osos as absolutely essential and something to help advocate.

  5. Anonymous
    September 7, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    I agree with Rich.
    If some residents have only been there a few years then they were very aware of the sewer problem long before they made a buying decision. They knew the risks and rolled the dice.
    As for those that left before the hammer fell…well, that’s called plain smart! They took their money and ran. They know, love and understand capitalism.
    This problem is decades old so are the possible solutions. Who should pay?
    The ones flushing the toilets!
    It’s not brain suregery…It just what makes our nation so great for those that don’t think the government should provide us with a lifesyle.
    America is a true free enterprise society. Those that want to get ahead have all the opportunity and some risk. Some make it and some fail.
    I for one do not want a lifestyle the “government” thinks is best for me. If I did I would check into a zoo.

  6. Anonymous
    September 7, 2007 at 4:28 pm


    I hope no tax payer money, other than Nipomo residents, goes towards a new offramp in your neck of the woods. It would be a shame for anyone from los osos to have to pay for the traffic mess of Nipomo.

    Same holds true for the Prado Rd overpass.

  7. SLO Bear
    September 7, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    I agree that Ms. McPherson may have good intentions, but unfortunately, she has a long history of making poor decisions. Usually, where there is smoke, there is fire.

    I have no love for the Tribune or paying taxes for other’s lack of leadership, but you may be getting snookered by a charming woman on this one.



  8. Beacon of Truth
    September 9, 2007 at 5:45 am

    Turns out the reporter has her own web site at sonapatel.net. She graduated from college…wait for it…in ’06. So first year reporter gets to slime Gail after all the hard work she’s done on behalf of us in the Valley of the Bears.

    Let’s see a show of hands. How many people have cancelled their subscription to the Tribune? Not much news left in that paper any more.

  9. Woodward & Bernstein
    September 9, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    A friend of mine sells advertising for the Trib. She claims the paper is down by three reporters and can’t replace them because of budget.

    Sadly, we can’t depend on New Times to fill the void. There was a time, but not anymore.

  10. Ron
    September 9, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Dave wrote:

    “So why has The Tribune singled out Gail McPherson for such extended coverage? Where are their “profiles” of Pandora Nash-Karner…”

    The Trib may never profile Nash-Karner, but I sure will (I mention Dave in that piece).

    Her story is, by far, the best story out of Los Osos. The sewer story is a distant, distant second, and it’s just a by-product of the amazing Nash-Karner story.

  11. Anonymous
    September 9, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    Get real! When was the time you could count on the trib? I have been here for 29 years and it sucked when I got here.
    If there was a story that went against a major advertiser or high profile public figue with advertising dollars influence the story got swept under the carpet.

    This blog used to present both sides including editorial comments about bloggers…now it seems to have gone the way of the trib.

    I could never figue out what’s wrong with the truth, especially here when so many shoot off their mouths then cry when their facts and logic are shredded.

    Oh well, we never had the trib, we lost the New Times nd now even this blog is “sanitized” by the master.

    Truth has no home in SLO.

    ps: $50 to your fav charity that this never gets posted.

  12. Dave Congalton
    September 9, 2007 at 10:28 pm


    Please send that $50 to ARF (Animals Requesting Friends) which is the volunteer group at county animal services.

    You keep whining to me about this new blog and how I am sanitizing everything. Wrong.

    I am only toning things down and weeding out personal attacks. I am not censoring. I am welcoming different points of view. But we are going to stop the childish, juvenile, anonymous attacks that once festered here.

    If you read these first two threads, the level of debate has increased beyond words. I am VERY pleased with how this is going now.

  13. Anonymous
    September 9, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    Dave, with all due respect, you can’t tell us you are not censoring and sanitizing to your slan…when before the conservatives made you shut down the blog because you couldn’t stand the scrutiny of the truth and how your and your lefty friends posts were shredded with logic and facts.
    Call it personal attacks if you want, but on all real BLOGS when you post BS and you get caught it’s good for all.
    My point is made when the posts went from in the 100’s to in the teens (like the approval rating of your belo0ved “do nothing” congress.)
    No doubt you and your cronies are happy now since your umbrella of protection of their hate of everything America and our military give them free rein to spew more of the hate that you love with zero accountability.
    We ain’t buying this excuse…got any others?

    ps: it never ceases to amaze me what a liberal will do for a free $50…tsk tsk tsk

    $50 more if you post this!

  14. Dave Congalton
    September 9, 2007 at 11:39 pm


    Wow, so the only reason I’m posting your stuff, according to you, is to get the $50. Gee, thanks for that professional respect. I appreciate it.

    You will see, however, that both threads I’ve posted thus far contain multiple postings by Rich from Paso Robles, someone with whom I could not disagree more.

    But Rich, unlike yourself, sticks to the issues and makes his arguments and offers evidence to support his assertions. He does not wade into the sewer of personal attack.

    So I really don’t understand why it isn’t enough for you to be able to post an argument on this blog. Why is it so important to you to focus more on the emotional cheap shot than the reasoned argument?

    You really need to go hang out on MichaelSavage.com because that’s where they welcome thatlevel of argument.

    But thanks for sending a $100 to ARF. They really need the $$$$.

  15. Marilyn
    September 10, 2007 at 1:00 am

    In my opinion, the sign of a good blog is not measured by the number of posts, but by the ability of the participants to argue intelligently and with respect. Most good blogs with serious topics do have some form of moderation and that is due to the fact that such blogs attract people bent on disrupting the discussion.

    Blogs with political and social commentaries are far more heated than those that deal with knitting, for example. Certain people may not possess enough knowledge or have the ability to argue intelligently, so some of them resort to personal attacks. That is pretty common, unfortunately. Others may want to attack anything voiced by people they perceive do not represent their view of the world.

    People who do not have any facts to share or who cannot stay civil may need to stay away or they can start their own blog where they can have that kind of discourse as part of their standard of posting.

    Research the blogsphere and check out the serious blogs and see the kinds of comments that are allowed.

    It takes a lot of time and effort to research a serious topic and to present an argument. It is unproductive when people who choose to post anonymously use that anonymity to exercise abusive and personal behavior. That was never the intent of blogging and there are strict standards that govern verbal behavior relating to personal attacks, stalking like behavior and violent speech.

    It seems that there are a few people who still cannot make the distinction between critiquing and attacking. Sometimes there are posts that are gray and it is up to the administrator to decide. It becomes a judgment call on his or her part, but that is their prerogative. I have had a few of my posts deleted or not posted but I am not going to get upset over it. I have to afford the person running the blog the courtesy of refraining from constantly challenging them about the way they run their blog. I do not agree with Dave on everything either or with what some of the people on both the right or left have to say, but this is a community and, whether we like it or not, we have to live together.

    I could be wrong, but I do not think that the blog was put of hold because “the conservatives” made Dave do it.


    International Peace Day is coming up alongside Global Ceasefire Day on September 21st. Maybe we can use the message of that day to try and treat each other decently and reach out instead of constant attacks.

    The case of Gail McPherson is a symptom of the confrontational approach we seem to use with each other. It is good to be aware of it so we can change it for the better.

  16. Dave Congalton
    September 10, 2007 at 1:07 am

    Well said, Marilyn! I agree 100%

  17. Rich from Paso
    September 10, 2007 at 2:22 am

    Unilateral peace is capitulation unless both sides agree to that peace. I’m all for every day being the “International Day of Peace”. Marilyn, if you have any contact or sway with the Muslims on that side of the world, see if you can convince them not to do any car bombings, attacks or suicide bombings in either Spain or Iraq or from Iran or in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Sudan or Morocco or Algeria or Lebanon or Isreal and I’ll talk to our side and see if they will do the same thing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Sound like a plan?

  18. Anonymous
    September 10, 2007 at 9:25 pm


    You, and others, find Gail persuasive. I am not there yet. The Trib article, while I agree it is a hit piece, does shed some light as to her motivation to get involved in this issue. That motivation, as far as I can tell, is, at the least, a desire to be important. If there was proof that she was benefiting financially in this mess, then that would be another motive. Yet, I get the feeling she would still do what she does for free.

    My questions about her qualifications are this: Is she a registered engineer? Has she ever designed a sewer system? Does her educational background include the design of sewer systems?

    It is one thing to be a manager of a treatment plant (and I grant you that does count for something) but if she does not have the required qualifications to design a sewer system (in California you need to be a registered Civil Engineer), how can she outweigh those that ARE qualified?

    I find many of her answers on your show to be indirect, confusing, or she avoids them all together.

    The unfortunate thing for those who want a sewer system is that a glib newcomer who has no vested interest in the project was instrumental in effectively derailing a solution at a very expensive cost.

  19. Dave Congalton
    September 11, 2007 at 4:08 am


    You raise some legitimate questions about Gail and I truly don’t know the answers. I’ve never had a conversation with her off-air.

    And I’m certainly not a pop psychologist, but this is my two cents on Gail’s motivation.

    She got burned at Riverside. What happened down there? I don’t know, but her reputation got sullied pretty bad and she walked away. That had to hurt.

    I think she’s involved in Los Osos strictly for personal redemption. She wants to show the world that she is worthy of our trust and that she is a professional.

    Compared to some of the other yahoos out there, why not????

  20. Eyes On The Future
    September 28, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    The misconceptions about anyone else in the county paying for the Los Osos sewer seem rampant. Please clear up this and other “Sewer-Myths”

    Multi-millions of Los Osos supplied tax dollars are sucked away from Los Osos to the State and County coffers, never to return to Los Osos. No drainage, unpaved streets, parks or lighting.
    A sewer assessment/redevelopment district should and could have been set up years ago, but the County was negligent and greedy for the Los Osos tax infusion to their general fund.
    Each homeowner is now asked to pay $24,941.19 Prop 218 assessment vote for an unknown project at an unknown location. This is not all of the costs. They have to get a loan for on lot improvements in order to hook up. Then there is the unknown monthly user charges, current estimate is $40-$60 per month.
    Not a dime of this cost-or any costs will be paid by anyone but the property owners of Los Osos.

    So now that you know, maybe you can have some compassion for the 1/3 of the community, elderly and working families that will have no choice but to vote yes to avoid water board fines (up to $5000 per day)and are forced to sell-out and relocate.

    Gail McPherson

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