Saying politics are dirty may be like saying water is wet, but even if that’s the case, county politics are a drenching tsunami of filth.

It’s hard not to notice the guys with clipboards and petitions loitering around campus and in front of the grocery store, pestering people to sign a clean water petition. At least, that’s what they say when they call people over. Actually, they’re asking folks to sign three different petitions: the clean water one, another that would “end racial profiling” and a third to remove 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall.

The clipboard guys have a fairly simple procedure. First, they call you over (women take note: that shout of “Hey girl!” is coming from a petitioner and not a meathead). Second, they tell you about the clean water petition and maybe about the other two, although reading said petitions is not encouraged. Third they try to get you to sign all three. If you don’t, they’ll tell you that since you signed one you have to sign them all, which isn’t true, but hey, all’s fair in love, war, politics and cock fights.

Here’s a rundown on the petitions: Petition 1 would cost $3.44 billion and do wonderful things for both the environment and drinking water; petition 2 wouldn’t do anything about racial profiling but it would make it hard to tell if minorities are getting into state schools and jobs; and petition 3, well, that would screw the South Coast’s environment.

How? Third D Supe Marshall is part of a 3-2 anti-development majority on the County Board of Supes. Pro-development folks in the northern part of the county want to change that balance. Marshall is the most vulnerable of the Supes because she relies on the student vote in Isla Vista to push her over the top in elections. So, all the North County folks have to do is get the county to hold an election when the students aren’t in town – say in June, July or August. The way to do that is with a recall election, and to do that they need to get 8,819 signatures by March 18. They get those, they force the special election and pit Marshall against the ruddy-faced Sheriff Jim Thomas. The recall folks, a motley assortment of greedheads and College Republicans, figure Thomas is more in line with their interests and, besides, he’ll owe them.

The recall folks are not going to come out and say they want to nix Marshall so the Board of Supes will swing pro-development. They say she’s violated her oath of office, undermined the future of agriculture in the county and “ignored the expressed will of her constituents,” by which they mean themselves. Besides, they’ll tell you, signing the recall petition doesn’t mean you want to replace Marshall, it just means you’d like to see it on the ballot. They don’t tell you it will be on the ballot when you won’t be here and that it’s about, as most things are, money. Never mind that. Pay no attention to the assholes behind the curtain.

This is not to say a recall petition is bad. The existence of said petition may be a wonderful thing. Suddenly, Marshall is paying all kinds of attention to I.V. Roads are getting paved and there’s finally a practical plan for putting sidewalks on the streets that don’t have ’em.

The only way the recall petition could be bad for Isla Vista is if people sign it.