Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

Commentary and Opinion by Samuel Strait – May 26, 2023

I am beginning to think that the Bobble Head Club is a more apt title
for our illustrious Del Norte County Board of Supervisors. May 23rd’s
meeting was nothing to be proud of, as what we have come to expect out
of our County’s leaders is a complete and total sell out to bigger
government as a rule. I suppose it must remain a fantasy that local
government in the slightest degree has a bit of embarrassment over the
transparent effort to grow local government to a point where even a
constant stream of grant funding will not cover the cost.  The recent
effort by the BOS no longer even pretends that the continual parade of
new employees is anything but business as usual.  Not that the public
should complain when we no longer have an inkling as to what anyone does
or whether or not they are the least bit necessary or affordable in
this, one of the smallest Counties in the State.

Yet, the show must go on.  Closed session had “nothing to report”,
although when everybody is gone, the session will resume and maybe a
report at next meeting, says County Counsel.  On to the opening
ceremonies, where Chair Short demonstrates his fine reading skills and
various Supervisors assure us they are hard at work growing yet more of
the local “nanny state”.  Supervisors Howard and Starkey are
particularly adept at major accomplishments in that direction.  Seems
the Economic Forum that was held recently was quite the show, more hot
air to spur the local economy.  Low income housing, a vain hope, and hot
air quality was for the most part Howard’s contributions in his report. 
“The government has a solution for everything”, Supervisor Starkey, long
winded as usual, focused on the Tri-Agency, mental health, department
head replacement in the future, juvenile hall services,youth activities
locally, medication assistance, the County’s sewer woes, the economic
summit, the Sheriff, and Habitat for Humanity.  Sounds like that about
covers it.  Not a lot of verbiage from either Supervisors Borges and
Short, Wilson being missing as mentioned before.

And we have the Consent Agenda, twenty five items, a majority of what
passes for local government business.  Nothing to see here folks, no
need to discuss anything, twenty five items passed with a quick bobble
of all four heads and 4-0 put the consent agenda in the rear view
mirror.  If you are thinking that I missed the pointless discussion of
item #23 and Ms. Starkey’s rather meaningless concern about
qualifications and subsequent “No” vote one only has to realize that the
County’s government is riddled with unqualified employees, so what’s
another to add to the rolls.  The remainder of the Agenda is riddled
with contracts, agreements, and MOU’s that have little meaning for a
bulk of the local population and expend hundreds of thousands of dollars
with no evident purpose other than keep the County’s employees and
contracted service providers fat and happy.  Must be nice to go to bed
at night without a care in the world while spending other peoples money
at a prodigious rate and increasing at every meeting.  After all, got to
get all that budgeted money spent before June 30th, in order for
department heads to plead not enough money in last year’s budget, how
about more for the coming year?

Scheduled items featured a list of failures by County Bureaucracy just
in the past few weeks, presented by Donna Westfall and the Del Norte
Taxpayers association.  The bobble heads were stoic and with glazed eyes
gracing their collective faces uttered not a word of understanding. 
This seems to be the mechanism for the BOS to ignore the import of what
is being conveyed to them, and move briskly on to the business of
employing more useless employees and giving pay raises.  Not that the
cheer leading for various bureaucrats of the department of which a
constant stream of failure ooze at each and every board meeting isn’t
important, must keep up morale after all.  Wouldn’t want to burden the
pampered with the idea that much of what passes for County government is
so utterly useless and pointless for that matter.  And of course
Vacation rentals made the comment period as well.

Other items of “General Government” include the appointment of a Chief
Public Defender, we are after all blessed with a population of less than
28,000, including the “fellows” out at Pelican Bay. Sonoma, population
of a half million, has one, so according to Ms. Starkey, we must have
one as well.  Only another $1 million or so to start with.  A
proclamation about mental health by the Director of Health and Human
Services, and a nice little pay raise for the second time this year. 
You wouldn’t know it from all the cheer leading by the bobble heads, but
DHHS is considered by most thinking residents as the most dysfunctional
department in the County, but hey, what do I know.  Guess the Board must
be in bobble head heaven when those that point out the departments
failures don’t measure up against all the money squandered by DHHS.  The
GROWTH OF THE NANNY STATE.

Moving on to a nice fat raise for our esteemed County Counsel as
requested by the BOS.  Seems like there has been a pattern established
by the Board here, with more to come.  Guess getting your salary bulked
up twice a year will be the pathway of the future for those whose
dysfunction is the trade mark of local government.  A couple of
ordinances to pass, yes you guessed it 4-0 like every thing else.  A
couple of items postponed, finding an absences of the  probation head a
problem, a new updated security system for DHHS at a miserly $6,000, and
on to a budget presentation for Building Maintenance/Parks.

Nothing unusual here, as the same litany of vacancies, “green”
employees,  and more money required.  Looks like Measure”R” money, you
know it as the “promised” funding necessary to fix County
infrastructure, has graced this department with those crucial items, new
pavement at the parking lots of the Veterans Hall and the Sheriff’s
Station, as well as that emergency “crisis” at Pyke’s Field, replacing
the netting around the baseball field. Other than that, Maintenance has
received exactly zero Measure “R” funding from the County.  CEO Neal
Lopez says they are “saving it up” to do “really important things some
time in the future”. The word is that we will be thrilled by the list of
“really expensive projects” yet to be drawn up.  But really, really
soon. And vital, crisis solving projects likely similar in stature to
the flashy and pointless infrastructure projects that the City is
blowing its Measure “S” funding on, Front Street, H Street, and 9th
Street which hardly should have been the focus.

Quite a work out for the bobble heads, two hours and change, twelve 4-0
votes and this misery is over.  Might be that coming every other time,
or even once a year, is sufficient to check on the “GROWTH OF THE NANNY
STATE’.

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