Thu. May 23rd, 2024

By Linda Sutter – March 28, 2017 –

Got an opinion about an issue in Del Norte County? Some of the Supervisors on the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors want you to keep it to yourself.

Democracy depends on the free flow of ideas, but the board — one of the most powerful local government bodies cut the microphone on a speaker because they did not like to hear what she had to say. This was followed up with County Council Elizabeth Cable stating, “You can’t make statements that attack the supervisor.”

This violates the state’s Brown Act and the First Amendment. Instead of the board acknowledging its role as servants of the people, it treats the community as an impediment to conducting its own business. It’s the duty of supervisors to listen to their community; it’s not an inconvenience to be endured, it’s their job.

The board also prohibits people from directly addressing individual supervisors. Comments must be directed to the “board as a whole through the chair.”

Preventing the public from addressing an individual supervisor directly leads to absurd results. It would prevent a person from responding to a remark made by a particular supervisor, ignores the fact that the supervisors are not a cohesive body and subverts the supervisors’ roles as representatives of specific districts.

With that said, today at the Board of Supervisors meeting I begin to read this speech:

“Supervisor Cowan, you worked very hard to get elected and despite that the Supervisors position is a non-partisan position, a party backed you which happens to be the Republican Party.

I have been asked to obtain signatures for your recall. I will not disclose the proponents name but I will be serving you notice at a regularly scheduled BOS meeting.

The reason for the recall is because people are very disappointed with your self serving attitude.”

At that moment, Sup. Gerry Hemmingsen says, “cut the microphone,” which was followed by Chairman Howard ordering Kylie to cut the microphone, followed by the County Counsel Elizabeth Cable stating, “ You can’t make statements attacking the supervisor.” I was asked to sit down.

Donna Westfall got up and began stating the same thing and again Chairman Howard cut the microphone. County Counsel Cable gets on the microphone and states, “Freedom of speech and she can continue.” Donna Westfall continues her speech for the entire 3 minutes. Sup. Lori Cowan smirked the whole time and could care less that her constituents are unhappy with her.

Once Donna Westfall was done with her public comment, Elizabeth Cable got back on the microphone and asked, “If there is anyone in the audience who feels they were not heard? We do not want you to feel that way.” She offered me the opportunity to return to the microphone to read my speech. I begin again:

“I have been asked to obtain signatures for your Recall. I will not disclose the proponents name today but I will be serving you notice during a regular scheduled BOS meeting. (Chairman Howard, “Those are attacking statements.”) I continue to read besides the best intimidation tactics by Howard.

“People are very disappointed in your self-serving attitude, in your refusal to call them back, in your wanting to increase garbage rates when you yourself didn’t pay for the microbrewery disaster and for your demonstration of frivolously attempting to spend money on the backs of taxpayers to go to Japan and now to go to Washington D.C. The people in the 2nd district are not only disappointed in your blatant deception of broken promises; but in your inability to understand issues of importance.

The people of 2nd district understand there is a learning curve for any new Supervisor but are not understanding your blatant disrespect, self-serving alignment with democratic points of view that are dangerous with absence of intelligent decision making.  Supervisor Cowan this is your last and final chance to uphold your campaign promises or lose your position as a Supervisor.”

The County Counsel made the right decision to allow me to speak. My words did not create anything more than an uncomfortable feeling for Sup. Cowan. My words did not constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence.

  1. The huge issue…The issue WE ALL should be addressing is FREE SPEECH. I clearly heard Supervisor Hemmingsen utter the words,
    ” cut her mic… ” ( referring to speaker Linda Sutter) and Chairman Howard dutifully obeyed. UNLAWFUL! The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors cannot restrict your free speech rights because the majority of the BOS disagrees with your opinion. I heard no profanity, no vulgarity expressed. I did not hear any threatening of…no threats of violence or physically threatening of anyone’s life…What clearly was expressed by Ms.Sutter was her unhappiness with Supervisor Lori Cowan and her allegations of broken campaign promises and other allegations that Ms. Cowan was using her Office position for travel perks such as Ms.Cowan attempting to use County funds for travel to Japan and her seeking the non-existing alternate position should Supervisors Howard and Hemmingsen opt of travelling to Washinton,DC. Ms Sutter expressed her Constitutional option to gather signatures for a recall. That language is Constitutional.

    What is more disturbing is even after County Counsel Elizabeth Cable admonished Chairman Howard to allow her 1st Amendment rights to be expressed, he still attempted to cut Ms.Sutter’s Free Speech. Folks, this issue is center to Democracy. It matters not your opinion on any issue. You have the right to express it WITHOUT government interference.

    Supervisors Chris Howard and Gerry Hemmingsen owe Linda Sutter and Donna Westfall a PUBLIC APOLOGY at the next Board of Supervisors meeting, Tuesday Aptil 11 at the Flynn Center.

    Our Board is dysfunctional. The Chairman must bring this Board of five together. Again, I have publicly requested the item of Board decorum be placed on the Agenda. My first request was ignored for the March 28th meeting. Ignoring a colleague supervisor will not make the requesting supervisor suddenly disappear. Not very prudent thinking.

    I am hopeful current Chairman Chris Howard will reconsider his past imprudence.

    Roger Gitlin
    District 1 Supervisor
    County of Del Norte

    1. Thank you Mr. Gitlin for the support, however, a public apology will not suffice. March 28, 2017 will make a great instructional video for any class studying law. The blatant egregious acts performed by supervisors Hemmingsen and Howard and then County counsel attorney of law Elizabeth Cable demonstrated just how severe the saying, “no law north of the Klamath” is a reality.

      The beauty of this modern age is the video that was produced for public including highschool kids to view first hand how the local governing body will violate your civil rights and the Brown act. all the while they each and everyone stand up and state the Pledge to the Allegiance: liberty and justice for all…yadda yadda yadda.

      Chair Howard needs to step down and be replaced by either Berkowitz or Gitlin. Hemmingsen, the most senior and allegedly knowledgeable person on the board needs to ride out the rest of his elective year and retire. County Counsel Cable needs to either go back for remedial training on the Brown Act and first right amendment or be terminated as her ESQ. license is not doing the county any good with her substandard legal advice.

  2. So let me see if I understand. The BOS is a non-partisan position, but since the republican party backed her, she has to make her decisions along their party lines? haha whatever

    1. Some how I don’t think that resolving the Last Chance Grade issue has much to do with “Party lines” or the Republican Party supporting Lorrie Cowan’s candidacy. It is simply a problem that should cross all party lines towards a quick solution. Chris Howard, who is also a “Republican” seems content, as Ms. Cowan does, to grind it out through this undefined “process”. It does seem rather peculiar that our local Democratic Central Committee who is generally opposed to most things that will resolve Del Norte County’s most pressing issues is strangely silent. In this case it is two of the board’s Republicans that seem most entrenched in a long drawn out “process”. Never fear turtle head I’m quite sure that they will be heard from before this is all over. Supervisor Hemmingsen, have you made up your mind yet?

    2. dear turtle head, you must be democrat because you picked out one sentence and dismissed the fact that two people had their civil rights violated by two board members AND AN ATTORNEY OF LAW…TIME to get your head out of the shell…

  3. Pete, It is board of supervisor’s policy that when something is located completely in that supervisor’s district, then the supervisor from that district is the one to represent that area. Here is the policy from the board manual 1.260 Rule 26

    “In consideration of maters before the Board which are specific to a district, the board shall endeavor at all times to provide deference to the supervisor representing that district.” As we all know Last Chance Grade is totally in District 5.

    Unfortunately the chairman choose to ignore that rule and appoint the supervisor from District 2, when the rule clearly states that deference requires that the supervisor representing district 5 should be the representative to the stakeholders committee.

    I hope this clears up the matter.

    1. Good afternoon, Supervisor! What’s the plan for bringing some new businesses into town? Too many people go up to Brookings to spend their money! Let’s keep it local! And what does a guy have to do to get some decent Indian food around here?

    2. Great to see your website supporting the recall, Supervisor Berkowitz! Who do you support as a replacement candidate? Man. What a great day. Any plans to introduce your candidate at one of the future BoS meetings? What leadership! I’m excited! Let’s get this county moving in the right direction!

  4. So how does this work? You ran for Supervisor in District 5. Ms. Westfall says she lives in District 5. And now you’re trying to influence the result of the election in District 2? If people in one district can’t vote for another district’s supervisor, what standing do they have to try to recall them? Doesn’t seem right to me.

    1. The Westfall’s live in Dist. 1. Anyone over the age of 18 can get signatures on a recall. Doesn’t matter what district they live in.
      Our publication endorsed Cowan for Sup 2nd District based on what she said she stood for. It’s always disappointing to find out when people flip-flop and don’t keep their word.

      1. All right, but my question is why should people outside of someone’s district be allowed to overturn a legitimate election result? Your vote doesn’t count because someone who lives somewhere else doesn’t like who you voted for?

        Take this article for example:

        It advocates for the position that Last Chance Grade is a District 5 issue, so District 2 should stay out of it. So if we’re going to stand for the proposition that one district should stay out of another’s business, well… it just doesn’t seem right.

        1. Glad to see that you have at least put on your thinking cap. Perhaps this will help. You will admit that Last Chance Grade does indeed represent a potential problem of epic proportions for anyone who lives in Klamath, District #5, and works or goes to school in Crescent City and vice versa should the Grade fail? And as this past winter has shown that it could collapse at any moment in spite of assurances by CalTrans that it is safe. Who do you think would be most interested in seeing the problem resolved as quickly as possible even though the entire County would be effected negatively in a huge way? The person that represents District #5? Or Lorrie Cowan?

          Lorrie Cowan is already on record as being a willing participant in “the process” which has had Last Chance Grade on the “fix” list since the 1970’s. The group of “stakeholders” for Last Chance Grade whose only task was to pick a route, could only narrow it down to seven or so in nearly a year of meetings, which they now have completed. Moving forward, we now have “the process” which has turned the project over to yet another morass of evaluations intending to delay “the process” even further. What is it about that kind of “process” that shouldn’t make you uncomfortable about the speed at which “the process” is moving?

          Recently we have had any number of “flybys” of State and Federal officials who all have assured Supervisor Cowan, and Chairman Howard for that matter, of their “good intentions”, but “good intentions” don’t solve precipitous problems rapidly if ever. For the most part, it has been my experience, that only people that will be impacted the most are truly interested in a quick fix. This by no means makes those people in District #2 or any other district excluded from moving forward with a solution.

          On the flip side the Supervisor from District #2 has shown herself for whatever reason not to be willing to use every tool available to fix this common problem, making her action not beneficial to the County as a whole. Items that the voters from District #2 might not have been aware of when they voted for her. She has shown herself to be more concerned with the benefits she seems to think are hers by virtue of being a Supervisor than what is good for this County. By that reasoning don’t you think that the whole County ought to be able to weigh in on her performance thus far? We are after all directly or indirectly affected by any decision she makes. If her decisions are welcomed by the entire County, then the voters of District #2 will be vindicated. If she happens to be recalled then the COUNTY that she ALSO represents will have spoken.

          Guess you just can’t go off half cocked and wing it when you represent a group of people in serious matters, there are consequences…. Recall is one of them.

        2. Only residents of district 2 can sign the recall petition for district 2 supervisor. Signatures from 25% of the registered voters in that district are needed to launch the election. Then, only voters in that same district can vote in the election. Any person over 18 can collect the needed signatures or advocate for their collection. Anyone, please correct me if this is not accurate.

          1. You are correct. District #2 has approximately 2400 registered voters and therefore being more than 1,000 and less than 10,00, 25% would be the necessary number of voters registered in District #2 to sign a petition for recall to proceed. At least 600 valid registered voters would need to sign the recall petition before it could be placed on a ballot for registered voters in District #2 to vote yes, recall or no remain as district supervisor.

        3. Hi Pete Great insight. Let me clarify some things…first off district 2 approached me and asked if I would be willing to obtain signatures for Sup. Cowan’s recall. They also gave me reasons why they want her recalled. She ran on the backs of Gitlin and Berkowitz, where they all three were in favor of getting things done with the Last Chance Grade (LCG). However, Cowan once elected decided she would align herself with Sup. Howard (RINO = Republican In Name Only) and Sup. Hemmingsen. They believe it should take another 20 years to fix LCG. I am sure you are aware of the condition of that road. And, although Caltrans says it is safe to drive. the workers of CALTRANS says otherwise. Sen. McGuire visited this county during the Economic Summit meeting. When he announced it was going to take another 7 years to finish yet more studies, (which by the way have already been conducted) you could hear a pin drop on the floor which is carpeted. This is not acceptable by any means and Lori Cowan is doing a great injustice as well as the other two who do not understand politics 101…that is what the issue here is….Howard is a biologist. aka birdboy..he is intelligent in that area of his expertise, however he does not have a clue how to conduct political business. Politics is Sup. Berkowitz’s business and he knows the right things to say, to whom they are said, and how to get necessary actions done in a timely manner…Sup. Cowan ran on a go-along platform and now reneged on her entire platform…this has not gone unnoticed…and I will help collect signatures necessary to end her political mess that she has created.

    2. I wish people would do a little thinking before they post something like what Mr. Hornberger just posted. Come on, do you really believe that the votes that Supervisor Cowan casts only effect those voters in District #2? Granted She is supposed to represent District #2, but really Mr. Hornberger, don’t you think that decisions made by Supervisor Cowan might just have a profound effect on other lives in our County?

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