Wed. Jun 12th, 2024

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.



5 thoughts on “Sending two Supervisors to Washington DC…a case of the blind leading the blind?”
  1. Sorry, the last paragrah did not get in…..
    I think the choice is obvious as to who is capable of speaking about the urgency of tending to the critical condition of “Last Chance Grade” (LCG). That would be the two supervisors who’s campaign put LCG as the most important issue facing Del Norte County as a safety issue that could become a matter of life and death and as the only available commute that unites our county’s citizens, jobs and services. The citizen’s already voted for these men to represent their views. Finigan and Murray shared the view that the only possible way to deal with “LCG” was Cal Trans 35 year method that has several prerequisites before a plan can start. Finigan and Murray were defeated at the ballot box. Why would the citizens consider Howard and Hemmingsen to speak to anyone about the “LCG” urgency since they have only voted with Finigan and McClure to have “LCG” follow the same protocol as putting in street lights. Plus isn’t Hemmingsen going to be busy as an airport authority, helping his buddy Finigan untangle their mess? As for Mr. Howard, this citizen cannot find any cohesiveness with his critical thinking skills. To simply demand I want to go to Japan and I want to be present when “LCG is presented” and now it is “I want to go to Washington, even if I have nothing to say”. I think you will find at election time, Mr. Howard, that nobody appreciates you as much as you.

  2. Is this the same Cowan that designed her campaign to align herself with Mr.Gitlin and Mr Bob Berkowitz surrounding the urgency of an immediate, permanent correction to the “killer” bridge, known as “last chance”. Perhaps we should rename it “last breath”. Gitlin and Berkowitz wanted it fixed in 5 years, emphatic that 35 years was an outrageous expectation for an already disintegrating road to last or to expect commuters to give any credibility to the TRANSPORTATION SPECIALISTS reassurance. Cowan agreed with the need for immediate focus and fix and distanced herself from McClure and Finnigan’s “Hey, we’re on it, 35 years goes by fast”. Good move politically, Cowan. Not so good is your immediate flip flop, joining Howard and Hemmingson’s equally apathetic reassurance, “Don’t worry, in 35 you’ll still be alive,(if you survive)”.
    Nobody ever accused you of being a genius, or even smart, but to vote for Japan instead of giving “Last Chance” the urgent attention your campaign promised is stupid.
    Warning: Woman who speaks with fork tongue could stab herself in the throat.

  3. I vote “no confidence” , for our supervisors and our overpriced lobbyist. $72 K per year? For what? The only thing I have seen him do is manage a 20% raise for himself while the rest of us are cutting every corner and our workers are doing more and more with less and less.

  4. I was very disappointed when Berkowitz asked Howard what he was planning to do when he got to Washington D.C. and Supervisor Howard could not answer the question. It was clear to me at that moment we are in trouble…Howard and Hemmingsen are expecting the Lobbyist to get them where they need to go and talk to the right people…. neither Howard nor Hemmingsen know who to talk to, what to talk about, nor where to go to get business done…this is an atrocity …dog and pony show at best where they will be eaten up and spit out by the wolves in sheep’s clothing in Washington D.C….spending money we don’t have is the least of our problems…it is time to get these two humpty dumpty’s out of office before the county goes bankrupt…

  5. We may be in the unfortunate position of having to go forward with recall elections for Supervisors Howard, Hemmingsen, and Cowan. I watched a news cast on KAEF, the ABC news affiliate, out of Eureka last Monday and it was clear to me at least that Mayor Inscore, and Supervisors Howard and Cowan thought that State Senator McGuire was there to help us. What a joke! There is no effort what so ever being made by Senator McGuire, Assemblyman Woods, or Congressman Huffman towards moving the Last Chance Grade Bypass forward. They are content with band aiding the current road until it falls into the ocean. This was very clear in the content of Senator McGuire’s interview for KAEF. Our intrepid three looked lost in the weeds. Some kind of leadership. And that is what is being proposed for going to Washington D.C. Money wasted on incompetent people who are clearly out of their collective league. Another pointless road trip, this time at County Taxpayers expense from three Supervisors who balked at a very reasonable and simple plan and have yet to detail why it is exactly they are going to speak for us and more importantly what it is they are going to say. What to they have to offer anyone in Washington D.C. that can’t be detailed before the public at a Board of Supervisor meeting for the PUBLIC to comment on before going? This action is outrageous…….

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