Opinion and Commentary By Donna Westfall – January 31, 2024
Dean Wilson is running for re-election. He ran in 2022 and won against Susan Masten who was appointed to the seat after the death of Bob Berkowitz.
Last year, staff at Crescent City Times interviewed Wilson. You can read about it published on February 24, 2023. In follow-up to those questions, this year we asked Wilson to update his responses:
First: The Consent Agenda. Realize that 10-22 items more or less can be placed on the consent agenda. If you are a member of the public you have three minutes to speak to an issue. Why? Because the Consent Agenda is looked upon as ONE item. So, if there are 20 items and you want to address anywhere from 2-20 items, you only get 3 minutes TOTAL PERIOD. This seems wholly unfair and against a process that supposedly welcomes public comment but in reality does not. It doesn’t speak well for transparency.
Last year, January 10, 2023, Smith River resident Branden Bieber went over 3 minutes. He was warned by Chair Darrin Short several times. Finally Short stopped the meeting and had a deputy escort Mr. Bieber out of the chamber. You can read about the incident in the Triplicate by Roger Gitlin dated January 25, 2023 titled, “Eye on Del Norte: A failure to communicate.”
Also, hundreds of pages of back-up documentation is presented with the Consent Agenda. It’s hard to impossible to believe that Supervisors take the time to read through each page.
BACK TO WILSON’S RESPONSE: “I have in the past year pulled those items on the consent agenda that I felt need more comment or that I opposed. Many times issues I had questions about I was able to talk with the agency head that requested the item and clarify my issues prior to the meeting.”
No one on Crescent City Times staff can recall any instance in the last year wherein Wilson didn’t vote for all the consent agenda items even after pulling some off for discussion. Sometimes 2-4 staff members are present at the Board of Supervisors meetings. Sam Strait regularly writes about them.
Branden Bieber continues to try to address issues on the Consent Agenda. Something needs to change.
Next: Should dysfunctional government agencies be eliminated or downsized before raising taxes?
He said yes last year. In our follow-up question we asked, “Which ones?” His answer:
This question is one that I hope will be addressed in the strategic plan that will be going forward in the next 3 months.
Then: What would he do to cut waste in Del Norte’s Budget? He was pushing towards closure of Juvenile Hall. Did he/they accomplish that?
“We closed the juvenile hall and have established contracts in Humboldt and Shasta counties to hold those juveniles as needed. It will be in the strategic plan that we need to look at the whole organization and determine where our priorities lie.”
Question #4: Eliminate 1 executive position making $250,000/year or 5 boots-on-the-ground making $50,000/year? His answer: Eliminate 1 executive. Follow-up: Were any eliminated?
Answer: Again the strategic planning process will help determine.
Question #5: Supporting secession of California. Join Idaho or create State of Jefferson? He prefers State of Jefferson since Idaho is not contiguous.
Update: “Nothing has changed here, I do not believe that Sacramento is governing for the needs and concerns of rural counties and never will. We have to deal with all the legislation that is passed that negatively impacts our county.”
Questions #6, 7 and 8: Support a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary (which prevents confiscation of guns and ammunition) declaration for Del Norte County. Bring back gun safety classes to schools and did he work within his budget while sheriff.
Answer: Yes to all and nothing has changed.
Question #9: Support a Declaration in Del Norte County refusing to comply with California’s blanket illegal immigration sanctuary status?
Answer. YES. Follow-up question this year. Has it been agendized? Answer: No it has not.
Question #10: The Department of Health and Human Services is the lion’s share of the budget. Any suggestions?
Answer: Most of that budget comes from the State. I would be in favor of breaking up DHHS into welfare and mental health.
Follow-up question: Have you done anything to suggest breaking up DHHS?
Updated response: DHHS has been restructured so it should be better managed, but we will see.
Again that is why we will be having a strategic plan , so that it will be the board on an annual basis that will be setting priorities and goals not just reacting to what is presented before them at the meeting.