By Donna Westfall – October 4, 2016 –
Bob Berkowitz has experience in three worlds. His career began as a high school teacher for 13 years, then he built the first FM Stereo radio station in Del Norte County, KCRE-FM and then he was selected to work for the U.S. Congress as a Field Representative for Congressman Frank Riggs. Most recently he is the owner of 1st World Partners, a real estate investment firm that specializes in providing homes for low income folks.
I asked Bob Berkowitz about his health and whether or not he could do the job. He replied, “I’ve never taken a sick day. I don’t drink alcoholic beverages, I don’t smoke and the only recreational drug I take, if you want to call it that, is aspirin.”
What changes do you want to bring to the office, Bob?
In my first 180 days, I’d like to accomplish the following three things:
First: Introduce an ordinance to institute term limits either 2 or 3 terms limits so the maximum any one person could be in office is a total of 8 or 12 years in one position. Incumbents usually say that it takes a long time to learn the job? State legislators seem to do quite well with term limits. Without term limits long term elected officials begin to do those things that benefit them instead of the people they represent. An example is Martha McClure as California Coast Commissioner, being sued twice. Once for 82 transparency violations which could result in $600,000 fines to her; and the other also got the County of Del Norte sued when she and others on the California Coastal Commission ousted Chairman, Charles Lester and refused to turn over public documents related to his firing. That’s the kind of publicity we don’t need.
Second: Bring civility back. Never make the board meetings personal, always follow policy.
Third: Re-evaluate the budget line by line. “I’ve seen the budget and it’s atrocious. Their policy seems to be, ‘Look at what we spent last year and add to it.’ That no evaluation.”
In going over the laundry list of other issues in this county, Bob responded:
1. Sutter Coast Hospital –
Sutter earned over $10 million in 2014 and sent that to Sutter Health which used it in part to pay the exorbitant salaries to their top board members. If we take away the tax exempt status, that means $80,000 more per year. And if we are able to charge them back for all the years they have been doing this, that could mean $2 million more added to our budget. David Finigan has asked Sutter Coast Hospital to open their books, but that’s all he has done. The entire board must apply the pressure to Sutter Coast Hospital to be open and aboveboard.
2. Airport Terminal Remodel–
Once again the BOS put the cart before the horse. Last year, Finigan, said that this won’t cost us any money because the partners (Curry County, City of Brookings, the Tribes and others) will come through with their share. That didn’t happen and now the BOS was forced to borrow $2.8 million because the other parties failed to come through.
3. Blight –
Del Norte County has never had adequate funding to fight blight in this County. We’ve relied on volunteers and program’s like Gitlin’s “Take A Bite out of Blight.” I’ve never seen David Finigan get involved in any of the clean-ups. I really enjoy all of the times that I have spent on the various county clean-ups
4. Last Chance Grade –
Cal Trans has put together a 23 year plan and that’s no plan at all. David Finigan says we can’t build it in five years with all of the road blocks. Think about that statement for a minute. If the road were to go down tomorrow, It would be rebuilt in less than three months because it is a federal highway, Why would it take more than two decades to rebuild it if it were a planned project? It’s because governments can cut the red tape when they want to. I have experience working in congress in cutting red tape and getting projects done in a timely manner. That’s what I want to do, cut the red tape for Last Chance Grade. I prefer a timeline with five years as the goal. So, where is Finigan’s plan? What is his goal for the rebuild? If not five years, what then? 10 years, 20 years? The least he can do is give us a plan. We need, and you deserve, a permanent solution.
5. Jobs/Industry –