Opinion Piece By Linda Sutter – February 28, 2019 – I attended the Special District Fair Board meeting the morning of September 26th. As a reminder, this Special District was created by adding a 1/4 cent sales tax to help keep the Fairgrounds open becauses Sacramento stopped funding for Fairs in 2011.
I was shocked to hear Board Member Wakefield say Sacramento cut ties with their board and he repeated the message he received from Sacramento, “THE HICKS FROM CRESCENT CITY WAS TOO MUCH TO HANDLE.”
Board Member Richard Wier stated he could not understand why their board had to follow and change all the rules.
All I have to say is this; you better learn the rules of running a meeting or you will suffer the consequences like not having the support of Sacramento or the people of this town. Let’s see some of the rules they don’t think they have to follow:
- Rules like allowing the public to comment after each agenda item.
- Rules like having meetings separate from the 41st District Board instead of together.
- Rules like providing back up proof on expenditures within 10 days of a public records request.
- Rules like posting their agenda and minutes 72 hours before a meeting.
- Rules like not having serial meetings
Here’s why. They are elected. They, like all the other duly elected officials, are supposed to follow rules and regulations on how to conduct the people’s business. There are Rosenberg’s Rules, Brown Act rules and others.
Why is it the people’s business? Because they are receiving taxpayer’s money. It’s called sales tax. If it were their own money, they wouldn’t be elected and they could conduct meetings in secret, but once you start getting and spending the public’s money you are legally bound to be accountable to the people.
What the elected group continues to fails to understand is the fact that they are a Government entity elected to conduct the people’s business. They do not understand any of the Brown Act which appropriately distinguishes proper authority on how to conduct a public meeting. At today’s meeting the Board offered public comment at the beginning of their meeting and then took action on each agenda item without opening it up for public comment. It was as if the public was not there and were certainly not allowed to participate, and in fact when the public attempted to inform this board they were not allowing public participation, Mr. Westbrook told the public participant, me; “Public Comment is closed. You’re not allowed to speak.” Board Member Westbrook apparently does not understand the value of public meetings and the ability and the necessity for the public to participate.
Additionally, Lindsey Reichlin, Fair staff personnel informed the public the 41st DAA no longer provides Agenda’s or keeps minutes of the meetings for the Special District. If you want to review all of that material, then you must contact their Attorney Martha Rice. When I spoke with Attorney Rice, she told me that people can’t come to her office to review the agenda’s or minutes of the meetings.
The Special District has NO office. No website. They are NOT posting the agenda’s or meeting minutes. Except, they are supposed to place all agenda’s on their website 72 hours before a public meeting. Remembers they have no website.
The Measure F money was placed on the Ballot in November 2014 by the Board of Supervisors of Del Norte County. What is imperative for the County Residents to understand is no feasibility study was conducted. Who came up with ¼ cent sales tax instead of, let’s say 1/8 cent sales tax?
To conclude, since the Special District Board acts as though they are not accountable to the people, let’s see what the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors have to say about repealing the 1/4 cent sales tax.