Thu. Sep 29th, 2022

Opinion by Samuel Strait – May 7, 2022

Yes, I am an opinionated old curmudgeon, when it comes to the County’s
desire to fund all the County’s problems with grants from higher
authority.  The recent effort through the DC lobbyist, Greg Burns, has
netted the attention of Senator Dianne Feinstein to add Del Norte
County’s jail house woes to a recently resurfaced “ear mark” funding
process used to “bring home the bacon” from the federal budget.  Nothing
like the explosion of federal dollars to stimulate inflation, but that
is a discussion for a later date.

The recent lobbying effort has landed Del Norte County with a $3.1
million token to fix a County jail that is estimated to take $52 million
to correct all its deficiencies.  Little short on funding but never
fear, as the County with all likelihood can solicit the state for
matching funds.  The total in my calculations are $6.2 million, still a
bit short of the $52 million end game.  Do I hear Measure “R” money in
the mix? Suffice it to say, that even in the best case fantasy world of
Supervisor Chris Howard and Darren Short this may be a bridge too far. 
Fortunately it does not have to be paid back, if you ignore the idea
that some of your income taxes will be paying this bill.

So, the County will receive at least $3.1 million dollars, sometime in
the future, and is already gearing up with dances of fairy tales for
another $3.1 million from the state, not yet granted, with talk of…
yes the usual, money to pay for consultants to offer expert advice on
“how to spend the money”. Looks like a normal way for the local
government to proceed, after all got to get to the spending part as
quickly as humanly possible.  I would guess the only snag in the
ointment is that even if the higher amount were to materialize, the only
thing the County will accomplish is more lip stick on the pig, and… no
real solution to the problems that the jail is currently fielding. 
Sounds like success?  Or more like half measure failure?  You Chose.

Not to put too fine of a point on the pig’s lips, the nearly first thing
out of CAO Neal Lopez’s mouth was the “need” for a specialist to tell
us, meaning the Board of Supervisors, what to do with the money. 
Apparently it hasn’t risen to the level of consciousness that the
funding is woefully inadequate.  No surprise there.  There hasn’t been
much in the way of critical thinking displayed by the BOS for some time,
so why change now? All the Feds and the State need to do is toss us a
few scraps now and then, and local government sits up in supplication,
salivating over the next scrap likely a further ten years down the time
line in Sacramento, longer from DC.

Seems like everywhere you go, the Board and its hired bureaucracy
produce disappointments with increasing regularity.  As much as District
Three’s Supervisor Chris Howard likes to paint a rosy picture for the
future of Del Norte County, it does not appear to be materializing. 
Decisions to go after “grant funding” may seem like an added layer of
shine on the pig, but the pig stubbornly remains gobbling up local
resources without the “light at the end of the tunnel”.  So, Yay, we
will shortly have an “expert document” to be produced by a “specialist”
that will support any and all decisions by the Board to spend a grant
from the Federal government to “fix” the County’s jail.  Did you get all
that?

The final bit in the whole fiasco, is the “concern” the BOS has for the
proper treatment of its Incompetent to stand trial incarcerated that
will be unlikely to be addressed by the funding.  The convoluted
twitching by the BOS over conditions currently exposed at the jail, are
hardly going to be contained within the “expert’s report” and remain
unsolved.  As with the renovation of the jail, just another problem to
be swept up in the mounting issues faced by County Government for the
future if ever.  Bravo BOS, on to the next issue….

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