Commentary and Opinion by Samuel Strait – May 11, 2023
Another meeting, the May 9th version of the 5-0 Club and growing local
government on display with some rather unique observations about how our
Board of Supervisors manage to increase spending without the obligatory
four fifths requirement. Nothing like true shiftiness in local
government spending practices, but we will leave that for later in this
grand scheme of spending Del Norte County into oblivion. The opening
ceremonies are finally going without a hitch as the stumbles often
displayed by our Board’s Chair, Darren Short, for the first four months
of his occupation of the throne have finally penetrated that thing that
rests on his shoulders. Now the damage he does to the County’s citizens
rests largely in his appetite for spending large amounts of taxpayer
funding for things that generally do not serve his constituents nor the
rest of the County’s population. It is my hope the County will remain
more or less solvent until the current free spending members of the
Board are retired in 2024. Are you listening Ms. Starkey and Mr. Short?
No new hires that were reported, one now only wonders how many hires go
unreported. Board reports while necessary to see what our esteemed
leadership is up to was largely unremarkable. Wilson, Howard, and
Starkey got right to it. Short and Borges held their peace. Ms.
Starkey and Mr. Howard gave their usual troll for “brownie points” and
Former Sheriff Wilson seems to have dropped right back into his previous
role as a member of the County’s government, somewhat disappointing.
On to the Consent Agenda which has at least proved more interesting with
some discussion of random parts of a majority of the County’s
business. Wouldn’t wish to overload the collective brain power of the
Board members when an easy 5-0 vote takes care of the notion that work
should be done. Hold up, county resident Branden Bieber politely asked the Board
for some clarification on three of the Consent Agenda’s dozen items and
as per usual was ignored. Wouldn’t want to aspire to actual
transparency would we, after all there is nothing to see here.
On to scheduled items of government business, public comments all for
the convenience of the public, err, rather for the County’s employees as
public comments by the public are conveniently ignored. Financial
malfeasance by the Harbor staff, followed by the trifecta of
indifference by the County’s law enforcement, the County’s auditor, and
the District Attorney. Wouldn’t want to pursue a case that couldn’t be
won after all. More about the benefits of vacation rentals at least
during the “season” which quite likely put a smile on Supervisor
Howard’s face, he has after all a vested interest.
Culture in Del Norte County, while very necessary for those that can
afford it and a small leg up for those that can not, was contained in a
presentation by the Del Norte Association for Cultural Awareness (DNACA)
as well as a plea for more money.. Much of that had to do with the
expense of an office space and its increasing cost to DNACA. Supervisor
Howard, always free with taxpayer funding, was quick to suggest an $8,000
increase in funding for the beleaguered from the County, with absolutely
no thought to any other alternative. Must be nice to freely spent other
people’s money. The County, according to Chair Short, has no available
space to house DNACA freeing it from its current housing costs. In
fact, to all you landlords out there with available space, the County is
looking for additional space to house its exploding bureaucracy.
The meal ticket of the day when it was announced by our esteemed
director of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) presentation was
too big to be contained in one presentation, four would be required.
The meeting’s audience was graced with the appearance of the
Assistance/Employment and Training branch. The presentation while
lauded by the Board was a classic encounter with the blindness of the
Board to understand that as local government costs to fix problems grow,
doubled in this case, the numbers of dependencies grow in proportion.
The sad facts revealed by this presentation is that the burden on the
taxpayer is not declining and more money to DHHS is in fact acerbating
the issues of homelessness, poverty, and welfare dependence. Nothing
like government “Help” making things worse, not only for the dependent,
but by those that are paying for that failure.
We now will have the rudiments of yet another expansion of government
in the form of a cool $1,000,000 expense for a public defenders office,
after all Sonoma County, population of nearing 500,000 has one, at least
according to Supervisor Valerie Starkey. Therefore, it is incumbent
upon the 27,600 citizens of Del Norte County to have one as well. Just
not sure that this free spending Board can come up with the additional
cash,but likely no problem, there is always Measure “R” money floating
around. Maybe even a Measure “V” to fund Fire, Police, and Emergency
Services for another 1% is in our future? Sound familiar?
A quick dip into Planning Board representations, such a useful
department for all of our citizens. Likely they are feeling their oats
with a “New” planner funded by Measure “R” clearly a vital new crisis
resolved by our BOS to alleviate the stress on law enforcement, fire and
emergency services. Maybe Admin can get a piece of that action, or it
can be labeled an “infrastructure” need.
Rounding out the Board’s weighty business was what is laughably called
“Budget Transfers” which is a mechanism by which the Board can authorize
expenditures without a four fifths vote required by law. Money from one
source is transferred into into another budget unit to cover future
expenditures not yet made. At times the expenditure would not be made
as in the case of the recent funding of a bit over $35,000 for data to
make it “easier” for the lobbyist we already pay a substantial amount
for and receive very little in return. Once the funding is transferred
into the other unit it becomes part of the over all budget request for
the year and is, as a package voted on when the entire budget is
approved which will be the necessary 5-0 vote in June. Pretty slick,
for Supervisors Short, and Howard to get money expenditures approved
that ordinarily on their own merit would fail to pass muster.
Other budget transfers consisted of more money to planning, and DHHS,
plus a tidy sum to Probation. And then we have another crisis to be
addressed by our local Measure “R” Oversight Committee’s recommendation,
that of repairing the netting that surrounds Pyke’s Field. A “TRUE”
crisis in the making. But this is but the ongoing frivolous nature of
how Measure “R” money is being used, which in turn allows County
Government to be even more wasteful with funds from the COUNTY’S GENERAL
FUND. Such is the life in Del Norte County as we continue to get
fleeced by local governments when we can ill afford it.
One legislative item and the elephant in the room of allowing County
government to contribute $70,00 in a pool of $110,000 to resurrect the
clown show that is the Tri-Agency. Supported by Supervisors Short,
Howard, and Wilson, no real surprise there. Short and Howard are current
members of the Board of the Tri-Agency. Another opportunity to waste
public money on wind power. For the life of me, I do not understand
Supervisor Wilson’s “yes” to approve vote and thinking that off shore
wind power was a “sure” thing. Once Climate Change continues to fail to
emerge, wind and solar are simply not ready to produce sufficient
electricity to fuel the grid reliably and never are likely to fulfill
more than an expensive and secondary role in electrical production.
California, its leading proponent, barely produces 15% of California’s
needs for that kind of electricity. The Tri-Agency is not a proper
vehicle for economic development if this is their priority and should
not be allowed to proceed with this “fairy tale”.
Board Adjourned before too much more damage could occur.