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TOAST Magazine Publisher, columnist and consultant from Morro Bay, California.
Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

If what’s happening in Los Angeles County is any indication, SLO County is in for more trouble.

COVID-19 test positivity increased by 700% in one month. One month! Because of the Delta variant, which is more contagious than the variants we’ve seen pass through our state, L.A. County recorded thousands of new coronavirus cases that are primarily found in unvaccinated people. To curb the meteoric rise in cases, the county is now imposing mask mandate for indoors for vaccinated and unvaccinated residents.

And sure, our current numbers in SLO County pale in comparison. But consider the following.

Two weeks ago…

Attorney Charles Bell, District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton with her attorney Stew Jenkins. Source: Cal Coast Times

In their June 16 editorial, The Tribune broke some interesting news: San Luis Obispo attorney Stew Jenkins was the first person to submit a letter of application for the SLO County Clerk-Recorder position. The current Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong announced he was leaving amid unfounded partisan and character attacks.

“I was a Democratic activist in the past but gained the trust of my friends in the Republican Party and in some of the less prominent parties,” Jenkins said in his letter, adding that he would run the elections office in a “completely nonpartisan way.”

“No one can do the job unless…

Last Friday evening, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow discussed at great length the extreme partisanship, election conspiracy theories and racism that partly motivated San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong to leave his post. Maddow also prominently featured The Tribune for their excellent reporting and subsequent editorials chastising the SLO County Republican Party for pushing for “forensic audits” about our local elections in response to the Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election.

This would mark the second time in 30 days that Maddow dedicated a segment to what’s happening in SLO County. Why? The frenetic pace of disinformation being cycled in…

Jan. 6 Capitol rioters using part of a fence to attack Capitol police. Photo by KENT NISHIMURA

Couple of weeks ago, I called out an anonymous Internet troll. Normally, I would look the other way and not even care. Most of that kind of nonsense is out of my peripheral vision these days. Don’t have the time or the patience to peruse comment sections. But this troll was different. They appeared in comments sections on several local news sites and Facebook, posting dozens if not hundreds of times within the span of a few hours, declaring with absolute certainty that a San Luis Obispo police officer died partly because the shooter was influenced by Black Lives Matter…

Six years ago, my former employer told me that CalCoastNews co-founder Karen Velie personally told her that she “made income” filing lawsuits.

These comments were made during a time when Velie attempted to blackmail my employer. The implication was fairly clear: if I wasn’t fired for my job, Velie was going to harass my employer and her family through a lawsuit, specifically a “class-action defamation lawsuit.” Since then, Velie has pulled similar stunts against her perceived adversaries. …

SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow speaking at the New California fundraiser in Pismo beach on October 13, 2020

SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow may be up for re-election in 2022, but that’s not stopping him from courting voters in all the wrong places and undermining the integrity of his office in the process.

Traditionally, the role of District Attorney is a nonpartisan one. There’s a reason for that. Adding partisanship to the traditionally nonpartisan District Attorney position can create the appearance of bias and partiality. In other words, politics can play a significant factor in determining whether or not a case is properly or thoroughly pursued.

Around the time when 20-year-old Black protest organizer Tianna Arata was…

Recently, I had to make a significant correction on a Facebook post made on my personal profile. It wasn’t a column, but it was something that had to be swiftly addressed and resolved in any event. I formally apologized to the individual who was haphazardly mentioned in my post. I could’ve easily made my point without invoking their name and raising implications about their political opinions. This person also happens to be a personal friend.

Out of respect for them, I’m not going to re-litigate what the original post was about.

In a journalistic capacity, making mistakes aren’t good. In…

Josh Friedman (front) streaming the NAACP August 6, 2020 protest at the San Luis Obispo courthouse

When San Luis Obispo started seeing an increase in protests following the death of George Floyd in May, readers asked me questions about one of CalCoastNews’ reporters Josh Friedman. People asked me because he’s appeared at several local protests, recording video and live streams on YouTube.

Recently, Friedman made headlines on his website when they said he was “battered” by supporters of 20-year-old Black protest organizer Tianna Arata. Despite CalCoastNews claiming he was a victim of battery, Friedman did not file a police report. …

I have to admit it’s rather peculiar to see a story written by CalCoastNews of Black Lives Matter-inspired protesters allegedly demanding money from San Luis Obispo businesses, especially considering one of SLO’s mayoral candidates is a victim of CalCoastNews doing the same thing to them.

Since mid-July, CalCoastNews has ramped up coverage of recent protests taking place throughout SLO. As they often do, the website generated controversy for reporting claims that could not be independently verified — from claiming protesters “detained” a pregnant woman in labor to organizing a protest in front of a District Attorney’s home to attempted extortion…

A 2016 video named “Arrest Adam Hill” was uploaded by an account associated with CalCoastNews. Other video uploads include video evidence specifically sent to CalCoastNews as part of their libel trial.

I wrote Defamers: How Fake News Terrorized a Community & Those Who Dared to Fight It with the expectation that CalCoastNews was an anomaly we could eventually move past from. But I wouldn’t have imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I would be eulogizing someone who was a target of their harassment for almost a decade more than a year after publishing my book.

There’s a lot I don’t…

Aaron Ochs

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