Boys’ Night Out?
Lou Calcagno is drawing criticism for his old-school style.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
It may be 2010, but Supervisor Lou Calcagno doesn’t see anything wrong with attending a private, men-only event. Calcagno invited several Salinas city councilmen to the 54th annual Paisano Feed on Feb. 9, but didn’t include any female politicians. “This is not a political dinner,” Calcagno says. “It’s a fun dinner. There are female events going on that I don’t get invited to.”
The feed landed on the same night as a City Council meeting, causing some female officials to take umbrage.
“It’s one thing to have a private gathering of friends, and a very different thing to invite politicians that are men only,” says Councilwoman Jyl Lutes. “It kind of belongs to the Middle Ages.”
Councilwoman Janet Barnes says she didn’t feel snubbed by Calcagno.
Event M.C. David Armanasco says the Italian-led party is a longstanding lead-up to the Pebble Beach golf tournament, and is not intended to exclude women: “It just happens to be… mostly a stag night.” In Calcagno’s world, it’s another guys-night out.
Calcagno is old-school: He rises at 5:30am each morning to feed the 1,000 cows at his dairy, shies away from computers and does business deals on a handshake. At 73, he’s been in this county long enough to know just about everyone, including the developers looking for his vote on the dais. Local cattle ranchers, growers and realtors are throwing down cash for his reelection campaign, part of the more than $45,000 he’s raised so far toward a fourth term.
At the same time, Calcagno says he’s done more to preserve local farmland and habitat than anyone, helping found the Elkhorn Slough Foundation and Ag Land Trust. Calcagno pushed for a compromise on the county’s general plan. GPU5 will likely be adopted by the supes this year (knock on wood), and at least one enviro sees Calcagno as a solid third vote in the eternal struggle.
Ed Mitchell, his challenger in the June election, is in many ways Calcagno’s antithesis. He relies on records rather than memory to make his points. From his desktop, he pulls up letters he’s written to supes and rolls out a subdivision map of Carlsen Estates, which encroaches upon his Prunedale horse ranch. The development threw Mitchell and his wife Jan into the county political ring and led them to start the Prunedale Neighbors Group. Now, with $20,000 in personal loans and contributions from retired residents, Mitchell hopes to represent District 2.
Mitchell says Calcagno has crossed the conflict-of-interest line by voting on a North County subdivision back in 2000. Calcagno used to own what became the Terra Linda subdivision, yet he voted for the nearby Grey Eagle development, which had the same water provider, ALCO. Calcagno paid for a legal opinion, which says he had no economic interest in Grey Eagle and didn’t violate any rules.
Mitchell also claims Calcagno was late to the party on getting water to Granite Ridge residents and wants faster action by the county. Calcagno, who just met with residents in the Oak Ridge and Via Del Sol neighborhoods on Feb. 8, says the neighbors will soon be able to hook up to the Aromas Water District and could have water within two years.
Another deal, another day.