OPINION PIECE BY CONNIE MORRISON
I attended the council meeting specifically to talk during public comment time about all the Special Districts in this area. There are fourteen. While reading California Controller John Chiang’s website, I learned that special districts are a way to create jobs, and more income for elected politicians and their “cronies” (in my opinion).
For example, Del Norte Solid Waste Authority (DNSWA Transfer station/ dump) is a SPECIAL DISTRICT. Prior to last year and for many years, Board members were taking home $350/month.. Their Executive Director, Kevin Hendricks and his right hand, Ted Ward had a package worth $1/4 million more or less between salary and benefits. Not too shabby. No wonder so many in this area want that Special District to be privatized or restructured. It goes to the issue of increasing rates to the consumer. Their income/benefit package is higher than many employees at the County and City levels including City Manager, Gene Palazzo. Their tipping fees are among the highest in the State of California in one of the poorest counties in the State.
On the last DNSWA Board, Del Norte County Supervisor Martha McClure sat there for many years and didn’t rotate off. Same thing with Supervisor Leslie McNamer, City Council members Kelly Schellong and Kathryn Murray. Then they had “public member” Sarah Samples who used to sit on the Board of Supervisors also collecting her $350. Not exactly my idea of a member of the public. These people keep recycling onto boards, usurping financial resources without regard for the consumer as they tended to increase their income and increase the rates to consumers. That’s part of the reason the Super- committee was established. So ten people (all the county supervisors and all the city council members) meet once a month and now have to waste their time making decisions on a less than $3 million operation
I asked how much city council members were getting paid to sit on Boards that constituted Special Districts:
Then it dawned on me that part of the reason they censured former councilwoman Donna Westfall in 2009 was to make sure she didn’t sit on these boards, get paid and point out all the various ways those districts may have been cheating the public.
After making my public comment, I listened to agenda item number four: authorizing the city manager to sign a contract to have effluent pass through pipes to heat the pool water and heat the Cultural Center.
On the surface, there is $935,000 sitting in Prop 50 monies to pay for something. When you read that approximately $40,000/year savings will results if they can accomplish this it sounds good. But, then if you add up the numbers, it sounds to me like instead of saving the general fund money, it’s going to cost the public more money….. once again.
And my neighbors and I, who are on fixed incomes or jobless or about to become the victims of Wal Marts infamous urban take over by lowering their prices thus eliminating all competition.
This fear was brought up over and over again in the past to the Supervisor’s deaf ears by citizens producing exhibits of urban decay, testimony from Brian at Safeway of an identical situation at the previous Safeway he worked…Wal Mart came in, lowered prices, as Safeway laid people off Wal Mart hired them at lower wages with less benefits. The supervisors and Wal Mart would not hear this. “They would create jobs and put Crescent City back on the map! Right, people are going to drive past 45 Wall Marts so they can buy some GMO piece of poison to enhance their fat diabetic diseased body.
I also voiced my fear of losing the mom and pop stores that was the only charming asset this town had left. The supervisors claimed over and over that no businesses would be lost to Wal Mart and Wal Mart would save the day!
Wal Mart would be an asset to the community (they also know, once again, many of us will not be able to pay the increased utility rates and when the unpaid balance is added to your property tax plus late charges and interest and your property tax becomes delinquent, your house is foreclosed and your home is the nearest gutter. You receive a notice in the Triplicate that your house will be sold to the highest bidder. I asked Mr. Black if the City Council and supervisors could bid on the houses.
He said, “Yes, why wouldn’t they be allowed to bid?”
“Conflict of interest,” I said.
They ( council and supervisors) write the ordinances that determine the rules, fines, rates, interest, penalties, bonds, salaries, conflicts of interest etc. All they have to do is raise the rates or create a fine or fire a worker or annex land to Mr. Barnts, who starts the Wall Mart ball rolling.and with no wages you will eventually be unable to afford your property taxes. Even though Mr. Chiang has created a way for taxes to be deferred, leaving it up to your county supervisors to “run our city in our best interest.”
“Pay up or get out of town”, sound familiar?…These are the same folks that just swore an undying allegiance to their constituents, the same folks who placed adds in the Triplicate. Wanting nothing more than to continue doing their very best for you and there newly acquired properties.
Mr. Black could see no conflict there, but felt it was an interesting philosophical question.
Your supervisors and council-people and don’t forget Mr. Black , the king of monopoly!
Let’s examine the new $935,000 pool heating system that’s going to SAVE THE CITIZENS MONEY”
Here’s the breakdown:
Prop 50 money $935,000
Less design fees (160,000)
Less construction (pool) (700,000)
Sub total $860,000
Cultural Center 200,000
New Sub-total $1,060,000 ($1,060,000)
DIFFERENCE $ 125,000 OVER
That leaves $125,000 over and the question is where will that money come from?
And that also begs the question: What if they go over budget like they did on the Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade?
On the other side is the $40,000 per year projected savings which means that at $125,000 overage, the project should start paying for itself in year four.
But, the Cultural Center was supposed to be profit center and art gallery, but instead has been a money pit.
On the surface it sounds like a great idea. What about other ideas? Can the pool be privatized?
Can construction be accomplished if the pool is privatized?