By Donna Westfall – March 14, 2017 – Board of Supervisors Agenda Item #23. The vote – 3 to 2. That means that taxpayers are sending two supervisors (Howard & Hemmingsen with Cowan as the alternate) to Washington DC. Isn’t that special?
What’s the crisis? Last Chance Grade.
What’s the plan? There isn’t any plan.. It’s to rub noses and press the flesh. It’s not like the entire board can agree on an alternate route or a price tag to replace Last Chance Grade. But, they’re off and guess what? There’s not one scrap of documentation. Yep. Once again, the county has neglected to let those of us footing the bill know how much this escapade is going to cost. How do they get away with it? Well, here’s the explanation:
Per Jay Sarina:
- The request was outlined on the agenda as a decision on approval for travel to the location. Travel cost is dependent on the price of flights and hotel rooms primarily. Neither have been determined because the BOS had not discussed nor acted on the approval request until today and dates of travel cannot be determined until the issue is acted upon. The Board has a budget that is adopted annually to cover the travel of all Board members as needed for the fiscal year. As I mentioned today during the meeting, funds may be moved within the budgets, if needed, to accommodate such expenditures by reducing other budget lines while continuing to maintain a balanced budget.
- The schedule on the last trip to D.C. was one day to travel to the location, one day of meetings, and a day to travel back. Meetings were scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for the trip a few years ago. I assume that schedule would be similar to this one. The dates aren’t set at this point as the Board only acted on the item today. The dates would be determined based on the availability of the agency personnel and legislators/staff that the BOS members will want to meet with based on the issues outlined in the County’s adopted Federal Legislative Platform.
Did you know we already spend $60,000 year for Greg Burns of Van Scoyoc & Associates. They are our lobbyist. I didn’t even know we had a lobbyist, did you? $60,000. Sixty thousand dollars! A year!
BIG OOPS… UPDATE: March 16, 2017 – According to Supervisor Gitlin, the County now spends $72,000 a year for their lobbyist. I asked what we’re getting for $72,000. Stay tuned. More about that another time.
You mean to tell me they couldn’t call the lobbyist? They couldn’t email or text? For $72,000 a year, he couldn’t fly out to Del Norte County? Guess not. They are bound and determined to achieve something that our $72,000 a year lobbyist can’t do. Why can’t he do anything? Because our five supervisors can’t agree on a plan.
Who voted NO to sending two supervisors back to Washington DC?? Gitlin and Berkowitz, who has experience in working in Congress.
Why do you think Howard, Hemmingsen and Cowan voted “YES?” Because they were told by our Congressman, our Senator and Assemblyman that Del Note representatives need to go back to Washington DC and make contact. Not just about Last Chance Grade either.
Unlike the Japan trip which was paid for by the Japanese, no such luck on the Washington DC trip. It’s coming out of our pockets.
When Sup. Gitlin pointed out we don’t have the money, Chair Howard asked him if he would give up going to the CSAC meeting so that money could be spent sending him to Washington DC. Gitlin said “NO.” When Sup Gitlin pointed out that they were the wrong people to go to Washington DC because one of them opposed the Great American Renewal Plan which hoped to get money out of the proposed Trump $1 trillion infrastructure plan, (Howard) and the other one abstained (Hemmingsen).
Wish them luck. Hope for the best and let’s also hope it’s not an exercise in futility.