Saturday, May 26, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 12

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on June 19th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 15

Leeches and fleas and ticks--oh my!

Sure, vampires are sexy these days, but back in Bram Stoker’s era, they were less sparkly and more, well, greasy. Dracula, as he was first written, had a unibrow, a scraggly goatee, and hairy palms. He wasn’t the sort of undead guy who would wind up on a teen girl’s poster, is what I’m saying.

But as Type A-positive drinkers go, he seems pretty much par for the course. Everything I can think of that considers a vein to be nothing more than a warm bendy straw is less than appealing: Leeches are slimy, mosquitoes are gangly and disease-ridden, bats are wannabe birds with a shaving problem, and ticks are—ugh. Don’t get me started on ticks.

OK. With that out of the way, let me move on to this bit of governmental news that’s entirely unrelated.

Or is it? (Insert lightning flash and thunderclap here.)

According to a Santa Maria Times article, Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino recently called lawyers representing a former (fired, actually) city dispatcher “bloodsuckers.”

I’ll bet, as lawyers, they’ve heard worse. Heck, as a canary, I’ve heard worse. And everybody loves canaries!

Anyway, the mayor was letting off steam generated after the law firm representing Anjanette Ordonez called the city out for dragging her case against them along, thereby wasting taxpayer money. Turns out Anjanette didn’t think she should have been fired, and an arbitrator apparently agreed. But arbitrators have about as much power as a grand jury, which is to say they can make some noise, but that’s about the extent of it. It’s like someone getting into a boxing ring and then just shouting at the other guy—not out of choice, but because that’s how the rules say it works.

The top brass at the city can say, “Yeah, yeah. We hear you.” And then go back to building scaled-down replicas of scenes from old Westerns—or whatever it is they do.

I’ll get back to the city in a minute, but first I’d like to note that the law firm in question—Lackie, Dammeier, McGill, and Ethir—has recently been active to the north in San Luis Obispo, too. Operating under a slogan of “Former Cops Defending Current Ones,” the attorneys specialize in handling badge-related suits.

Our sister paper New Times recently reported that a fired San Luis Obispo Police Department officer, Dan McDow, has been fighting to get his job back for years, and his attorney (from L, D, M, and E) put out a press release in early May, celebrating victory in the fight. Which, to me, sounds like he won his job back. Except that’s not what happened.

Confirmation is hard to pin down, but it seems that an arbitrator heard the case, and—well, there’s not much to say beyond that, since I’ve already discussed the sort of power arbitrators have. If an impartial third party indeed found that the city shouldn’t have kicked McDow out the door, there are still a lot of steps (up to and probably including going to court) that would have to be taken before anybody would be pinning any badges back on any uniforms.

But that’s semantics, I suppose. Lawyers certainly know how to turn a phrase without going too far, and if one wants to declare a victory, well, who’s to say what isn’t an outright loss isn’t a victory?

And since I’m broaching the subject of how far is too far to go when turning a phrase, I’ll return my gaze to Santa Maria itself. Or, rather, its leaders. Or, rather rather, the mayor referring to specific attorneys as bloodsuckers. I’ll bet, as lawyers, they’ve heard worse. Heck—oh, wait. I’ve done this joke already.

But there is a difference between jokes about lawyers in general, and a specific comment directed at a particular firm. Dropping a term usually reserved for leeches, ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, some bats, and vampires might not be the best decision when in the midst of a controversial legal tussle, no matter how satisfying doing so might be. I mean, I’m pretty sure Alice wasn’t comparing attorney Andrew Dawson and his partners to a brooding, pouty, bare-chested Robert Pattinson. Those Twilight books are so late-2000s, anyway.


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