By Donna Westfall – December 18, 2016 – “What does it take for the county supervisors to really listen to the people?” According to Supervisor Elect, Bob Berkowitz, “Three minutes in front of the board of supervisors at their meeting once every two weeks just is not enough time, especially when the speakers don’t get any feedback.” This was the basis behind his idea of making a supervisor or two available to anyone who wanted to present their ideas or just vent to a supervisor on a daily basis.
Thus was born the daily opportunity for anyone to talk to a supervisor. Each weekday there is an open forum held at the Fisherman’s Restaurant at 6 am where anyone can talk about any subject that interests them. Usually from four to a dozen people show up and express their opinion on a number of different subjects. The forum lasts for an hour.
It is from those ideas that have been expressed at these meetings that Berkowitz has developed his priorities for his term as a county supervisor.
We asked him about his priorities based on these 6 am meetings. Here they are:
- LAST CHANCE GRADE
- It’s no secret that this road needs to be replaced. It’s the one subject that everyone talks about. The one thing that no one talks about is where the funds are going to come from. Berkowitz says that the only ones with the kind of piggy bank it’s going to take to get the road done is the federal government. He would like to take the case to the Trump Administration and have it be part of the infrastructure improvements President Elect Trump mentions at every opportunity.
- TERM LIMITS
- According to Berkowitz, it’s time that we forced the county to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things. Unfortunately politicians seem to get stuck in a rut if they are in office for long periods of time and they just want to go along and get along. He wants to stimulate new thought and ideas by eliminating the good old boy system and establish term limits. “After all, he says, if you can’t get the job done in two or three terms then you might as well give up and give someone else a chance.”
REAUTHORIZATION OF THE SECURE RURAL SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES ACT
- Back in the year 2000 both Berkowitz representing the Del Norte County Schools and David Finigan representing the county, were successful in obtaining millions of dollars for the local school district and a matching amount that went to fixing our local roads. Now that legislation has expired and needs to be reauthorized in order to keep successful programs in our schools and maintain our local roads. Berkowitz says that legislation is critical to our future and he wants to be a part of the solution.
- FIGHTING BLIGHT
- Part of the draw to bring in economic development to our area is how the area looks to tourists and those who are looking to establish a business here. A community that looks dirty is not very inviting. Berkowitz wants to bring the county in as a partner in the “take a bit out of blight” program so that we make it a priority to beautify our county. Part of that might include filling in the pot holes in some of the streets that are not now maintained by the county.
- When Berkowitz worked for Congressman Riggs, he established the Congressional Recognition Awards program that recognized people who were making a difference in Del Norte County. Berkowitz wants to do the same thing where the county supervisors create a special recognition award to those who are making a difference.
3 thoughts on ““IT’S YOUR TURN””
Supervisor Gitlin’s point is well taken. He speaks from experience. Beyond that, most Rules of Order discourage substantive dialogue between Members and the Public during General Public Comment periods, since the issue(s) may not have been properly “agendized” in advance. Rather, the comments are taken under advisement, and often are referred to Staff for study or other action. A potential compromise exists in the fact that there is nothing sacred about the three minute time limit. The Board could establish a new limit at four, five or any number of minutes — as long as it applies to all, and allows the Chair to temporarily impose a shorter time when, as sometimes happens, a very large number of Citizens wish to speak on a particular issue.
Respectfully, I’m going to disagree. Three minutes properly organized can accomplish much more than you think. It’s quality, not quantity. I encourage public discourse but I don’t believe your going to garner anyone’s attention with a meandering, long, poorly organized presentation which could actually do, more harm than good. I encourage all to address our Board but the emphasis should be on quality and bullet points,not quantity and poorly focused meandering. And more importantly, call me if you want to discuss an issue. I will be receptive but candid with you.
Especially about the 3 minutes not being enough. We know this all too well. I have done my civic duty a number of times in my life, speaking up though channels afforded to us. But that 3 minutes is certainly not enough for many of the issues brought before the council.
Unfortunately, some people like to abuse that.