Sun. May 19th, 2024

Commentary and Mostly Opinion by Samuel Strait – July 6, 2023

It is hardly a surprise that should the opportunity to vacation in
Japan, Supervisor Chris Howard would have his hand up first. Seems that
hobnobbing with the Japanese is far more important to him than being an
actual representative to the constituents of District Three.  Like the
Sister City association has reaped an amazing amount of benefits to the
local population, and locals are literally tripping over hoards of
Japanese tourist every day.  Be that as it may, another political pipe
dream that uses money best left in taxpayer’s pockets.  Something our
local Board of Supervisors is rather good at, by following along a well
established path common in all local government.

Anyway, nothing new from our local BOS “bobble heads”, a Consent Agenda,
eighteen items, loaded with agreements and contracts to provide services
that our bloated local bureaucracy can’t seem to manage even with a
steady parade of “new” hires.  4-0 was the vote to approve with zero
effort by the Board to discuss the mostly obscure items found in the
Agenda.  Apparently it is now up to the PUBLIC to do the job that the
BOS was elected to perform.  No surprise there.   In case the PUBLIC
missed it, Supervisor Starkey is there to assure us that it is “OUR
FAULT” if the public fails in their task to keep the BOS going forward
and upright.  Go figure.

Public comment was ignored as usual, and the BOS labored under the heavy
lift of two remaining items of “General Government”, the Measure “R”
Oversight Committee report and the further efforts of the County “going
into the homeless” business.  The Measure “R” Committee report was the
expected twenty minutes of a wasted breath by David Jones.  The
Oversight Committee hasn’t a clue as to what they are supposed to be
doing.  They have no power to direct the expenditures of Measure “R”
funding and they wouldn’t know what the voters, all twenty percent of
the electorate who voted to approve it, were told how it was to be
spent.  How embarrassing in spite of all the back slapping and
congratulatory remarks by the BOS.  Clearly, even they don’t know what
was promised to the public prior to the vote.

After the total fiasco of the Legacy, another publicly funded foray into
“Project Homekey”, where housing the homeless has done nothing but
increase the number of homeless in the County, one wonders if the BOS
has noted that since California and the Nation have involved themselves
in “housing the homeless”, the numbers have only grown exponentially  to
where it is reported that California has exceeded the bar of containing
more than 25% of the Nation’s unhoused.  Clearly this phenomena has
escaped those on the Board, where people who find themselves without a
roof, more than likely have some sort of personal issue that should be
addressed before anyone worries about having the public “pony up” money
to provide them that “roof”.  But, “NO” hurry up and get “something”
passed because the “Ad Hoc Committee” on the homeless, claims, in spite
of the evidence housing isn’t working that there is a nice “FAT” grant
waiting to solve the entire problem of homelessness in the County. 
Phew, another vote to approve, 3-1, Supervisor Borges, a nay vote, not
because he recognized that the project was another “feel good” band aide
that would only worsen the situation, but because of the “proposed
location”.

Budget Transfers consisted of a legal settlement of $78,000.00, nice
payday for someone, and the convoluted transfer of money within the
Agriculture Department.  The mysteries of local government for sure. 
The remaining business of the BOS consisted largely of a lengthy list of
“New” executive level positions with, no doubt, a generous package of
salary and benefits.  Four positions in the Department of Health and
Human Services alone, because over seeing 210 employees, 50 positions
unfilled, is such a burden on the Director and her current Assistant
Director. Looks like three more administrators will make things “All
Better”.  Not that a recent report to the Board covered the department
in anything that wouldn’t be considered abject failure, but that seems
to be the consensus for all the County’s departments thus far.

While this concluded the regular BOS meeting for June, the public was
treated to yet another circus like event on June 28th, where the BOS
held a “Special Session” to address what ultimately became another poor
decision by the BOS.  The subject of the “special” meeting was the
consideration of yet another tax on a portion of the County’s parcel
owners.  There was considerable discussion about the 218 protest and the
behavior of County Bureaucrats who made the process as difficult as
possible.  This discussion allowed Supervisor Wilson the sole “NO” vote,
yet it really misses the point of massive indifference to the proper
maintenance and funding for decades of the County’s sewer districts.  It
is not as if the system users would have any idea that the system was
troubled and in poor condition.  It is not as if the County addressed
the issues to the sewer system in a timely manner or made much of an
effort to be proactive, sound familiar?  So now in the eleventh hour,
the BOS’s solution is to burden parcel owner further with an increase on
their property tax.  Sure it may not seem like much, but we live in
California which already takes little bits from taxpayers to the point
that many people can’t afford any more taxes.  Hence, this simply
becomes another burden that is unlikely to solve the original problem.

The egregious part in all this was the attitude displayed by the Board
which was a complete divorce of responsibility for the debacle.  The
sewer users are on their own.  Their problem.  They should be
responsible for correcting the mistakes made by the County for forty
years.  If the sewer user haven’t kept up, too bad.   When it was
pointed out to the BOS that they have been quite comfortable hiring a
steady stream of new employees, sitting on $1.9 million dollars of
Measure “R” money expressly promised to the public for infrastructure
repair, spending significant sums for the comfort of various County
department employees, yet not much  effort has been made to address
significant failures of the sewer system that most certainly haven’t
appeared in the last six months.  Where is the new Measure”R” funded
grant writer in all of this.  Why hasn’t the County made a serious
effort to attract the kind of money that seems to grace the City and the
Tribes just in the last year.  I can appreciate Supervisor Wilson’s
concern for the direction of the current disaster, but in spite of the
Board’s attitude of “let the users suffer” they cannot separate
themselves from this particular issue because they DO HAVE SKIN IN THE
GAME, and should shoulder a bulk of the responsibility for the current
state of affairs.  Shame on them!

4 thoughts on “The 4-0 Club, Supervisor Howard Vacationing In Japan Again”
  1. Blake Inscore (CC City Council), and Jeff Harris (DNCUSD Superintendent) joined Supervisor Howard and other citizens to deliver the mural to our sister city. Are taxpayers on the hook for their travels? Not likely any of these representatives would inquire to the millions of gallons of hot radioactive water Japan is releasing.
    Fisheries are another example of Government’s restrictions that handicap private economy.
    These travel costs would be better served in the pockets of our local fishermen/women.

    1. The claim has been made that the cost is coming out of his pocket, but no one can be entirely sure that is the case. Seeing Supervisor Howard in action for many years, a claim such as that probably needs a paper trail to insure it’s legitimacy. I know the public is on the hook for the “pottery” he is accompanying to the tune of many thousands of dollars. Besides, as a “politician”, when you have a good side gig going, it’s hard to resist all the accumulated benefits, whether it ultimately benefits your constituents or not. There is absolutely no evidence that Howard’s multiple trips to Japan have rewarded anyone in the community but the usual suspects. So it is anyone’s guess who has paid for his recent “vacation”. I may be going out on a limb here, but I suspect he’s managed to get someone else to cover the cost.

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