By Donna Westfall – July 28, 2016 – One question I’m tempted to ask, “Is this Board of Supervisors (BOS) operating on autopilot?” It reminds me of the Crescent City, City Council of the last eight years.
Does our BOS just goes along with what has gone before without ever questioning any items that come up on the consent agenda?
Take this item for example:
- On the consent agent at last Tuesday’s BOS meeting was this item asking for the board to authorize an expenditure of $24,102.
- Approve and authorize the Chair to sign an Agreement between the County of Del Norte and Area 1 Agency on Aging to provide an area service plan relating to services and support for elderly Americans in Del Norte County as requested by the County Administrative Officer.
- Now you’d think that any normal thinking person would ask what does the county get for the $24,102, but not this “get along to go along” board.
- Well that’s not true. One supervisor, Roger Gitlin, had the courage to ask that the item pulled from the consent agenda so that he could find out the substance of the item, so he asked the question, “What do we get for our money?”
- You would have thought that he had asked a question that was completely out of line. Supervisor Hemmingsen said, “Supervisor Gitlin needs to do some research before he says there is no substance, because, what they do (Area One Agency) would cost us a lot more.”
- Well Supervisor Hemmingsen may well be right, but I doubt it. Supervisor Gitlin should have gotten an answer to his question which was again, “What do we get for our money?”
- In digging deeper into the agreement between the County of Del Norte and the Area 1 Agency on Aging we found under Scope of Services, “Contractor agrees to provide all of the services described in Exhibit A consisting of one page.”
- When we looked at Exhibit A “Scope of Work, we found this:
1 Prepare and develop an area plan for Del Norte County.
2. Insure this area plan provides a comprehensive and coordinated, system, supportive and nutrition services.
That’s basically it. Again, the question, “What do we get for our money?” needed to be asked and answered. Supervisor Gitlin was correct in pulling the item until we get answers.
- Does the Area 1 Agency on Aging provide any services to our Senior Center? We don’t know and the contract does not tell us.
- Do they provide “Meals on Wheels?” We don’t know and the contract does not tell us.
- Do they provide any specific services at all? We don’t know and the contract does not tell us.
- It’s like spending $24,102 for a new car without any details. Does it come with air conditioning? Does it come with a spare tire? Does it come with GPS? If the car dealer refused to give any answers to those questions, no one that I know would buy the car, but the BOS wants to approve the contract with A1AA without any details. In effect Supervisor Hemmingsen was saying, “Trust us we know what we are doing.”
- Possibly Supervisor Gitlin was taking a page from the Ronald Reagan play book, “Trust but verify.” Here, all he wanted to do was get some answers.
- In January when Lori Cowan takes her seat replacing Martha McClure along with Gitlin and Berkowitz when they wins their seats, I expect that they will demand that this board not just be a “Get along to go along” board but one that gets and gives real answers to their questions. Enough with the sanctimonious “Trust us we know what we are doing” BS.
Let’s not have a repeat of the Crescent City, City Council not giving detailed answers to pertinent questions reminiscent of the scam they pulled on the super-expensive wastewater treatment plant upgrade of $43.8 million.
We, (city and county residents/taxpayers/ratepayers) all have to demand that our elected officials, whether city or county, start doing their job and answer the questions concerning expenditures of OUR money in greater detail.