Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Commentary And Opinion by Samuel Strait – December 21, 2023

I am away for a few months and the train wreck at the Board of
Supervisors trundles on.  They can’t for a moment understand that “doing
something” within the framework of government does not always include
the best of results for the community.  This is something that the five
that currently represent the County have yet to learn.  The December
12th meeting of that “brain trust” is case in point.  While the basic
framework lurches from topic to topic, the current tunnel vision and
failure to critically think is not that hard to point out, as the
December 12th meeting of the Del Norte County Board of Supervisor
exceeded all expectations.

The Opening Ceremonies as one would expect followed by the postponement
of the normal Board reports to the end of the meeting.  The Consent
Agenda, loaded as usual 20 items of Bureaucratic fluffing without any
serious consideration to its contents.  5-0 apparently just to keep the
Board awake and on task, because the inmates in the insane asylum have
got this one covered.   Wouldn’t want to ruffle the feathers of those
that appear to be running the show.  And on to the topic that the “Bread
and Circuses” crowd are here for.  Item #29, a budget transfer of
$10,823,724.00.  A lot of taxpayer money.

While it is rare that anyone from the public appears in numbers at the
BOS bimonthly meeting, you can always count on a crowd of “bleeding
heart liberals” when there is virtue signaling to be done and another
significant bite out the taxpayer’s wallet.   It just seems that every
time it happens, the Board never can live up to their sworn duty of
protecting the well being of EVERYONE they purport to represent.  It is
sad honestly, particularly when they have had the recent experience of
Health And Human Services’ debacle surrounding another County attempt to
“do something” ABOUT THE HOMELESS CRISIS IN THE COUNTY.  Of course learn
they did not.

To back up first and flesh out the story.  It has only been a few years
since DHHS went into the “house” the homeless mode and spent several
million dollars through Project Home Key to temporarily house less than
forty of the County’s unfortunates.  No one was supposed to notice the
new residents at a former motel along L street in Crescent City when a
revenue positive business was turned into a negative for the County’s
coffers.  Nobody was supposed to notice when the “new” residents brought
their old habits with them  or when a nearby pharmacy closed its doors.
Nobody noticed when it wasn’t working as “temporary” housing and the
motel is now undergoing renovation into “permanent” housing. The Board
didn’t seem interested that $4 to 5 million was expended on the first
futile attempt at “doing something”, nor did it notice the sharp
increase in the over all numbers of homeless in the more recent (Point in Time) PIT’s
recorded in the County.

Just to add to the story, it has been several years now since the Newsom
administration noticed the Homeless problem in California. Since that
time “Housing First” was adopted as the model for solving the crisis and
billions of dollars have flowed into the pockets of the homeless
complex.  The initial numbers are beginning to appear and they aren’t
very good.  In 2018 California had but 22% of the nation’s homeless
population.  In seven years that number has gone up to near 30% of the
nation’s homeless that reside in California.  $42,000 is the cost to the
taxpayer for each bed allocated to the homeless population in California
and the numbers keep climbing by double digit percentages each year.

According to “studies” housing the homeless before dealing with the
issues that got them to that state, run in the 70% success range; 
however, when examining these studies they appear long on promise, but
short on follow up.  It is indisputable that since California has
adopted this model, homelessness numbers have shot up to the highest
since first being recorded in 2007.  Del Norte County’s homeless
population appears to mirror the State’s.  Much of the problem stems
from the lack of affordable housing, sound familiar.  This recent
infusion of $10.8 million will have the same results as the previous
attempt by the County and Supervisor Wilson assurances that this “will
provide the tools” to address the encampments will go down in flames
unless the County has $40 million lying around to address the entire
homeless population. So on that front the County will have allowed $10.8
million dollars to be spent and still not solved anything except a
future population that when the money runs out, Mission Possible will be
back before the Board hat in hand.

Unfortunately it does not end there.  As we all know there are many that
remain in Del Norte County on the edge of following those that currently
man the ranks of the homeless.  Inflation and County policies of growing
government and correspondingly placing a heavier tax burden on the local
population will certainly cause an increase in numbers of poor and the
fixed income seniors to hand over their collective keys and go “camp out
in the woods” hoping that when the weather turns foul in the fall a
“garden shed” will be available.  Others from nearby communities will
also see the County’s actions as an invitation to participate in a “free
Housing” possibility.  Members of the audience at the BOS meeting spoke
to this as a real future for this program and the words went unheeded.

Of course perhaps if the Board on their “field trip” to visit Rouge
Retreats were to ask if the County might be of some assistance in
closing a $2 million gap in their funding or have Supervisor Howard
volunteer some of his acknowledged “trusted employees” to fill the
vacancies left by the recent termination of twenty five employees of
Rogue Retreats because the inhabitants felt “abused and disrespected”.  
And so it goes in the world of the homeless.

Other than that, more millions to be spent on the County’s failure to
keep its communication systems up to date.  Kind of like most everything
else that local government infrastructure is suffering through, plenty
of money for social programs while the County’s infrastructure
disintegrates around us.  Appears to be a common theme in Del Norte
County, the City, the Harbor, the transfer station and just about every
where in between.  I would think that “wait until it is too late” should
be an alternative moniker for this BOS.  And on to more ordinances, the
Board of Equalization, a new  and pointless speed reduction on Boulder
Avenue, more fluff for DHHS (will it never end), and finally a revisit
to the taxing of Cannabis (not how this one was supposed to go).

The end is near as the County, after several years is distributing
Measure “R” money to the sheriff for equipment and vehicles like it will
solve that Department’s woes, DHHS to get another $340,000 to combat the
“windmill” of homelessness, and a Howard initiated letter to the Feds to
round out the business of the BOS.  Four hours and twenty seven minutes
later and is everybody still awake, No, Chair Short has forgotten “Board
Reports”.  Well, it looks like the “Reports” are playing to a mostly
empty house.  Supervisor Starkey can’t resist, and Supervisor Howard has
“Good News”?  Till next time……..

EDITOR’S NOTE: Know your supervisors.

Supervisor and Chair 1st District – Darrin Short

Supervisor 2nd District – Valerie Starkey

Supervisor 3rd District – Chris Howard

Supervisor 4th District – Joey Borges

Supervisor 5th District – Dean Wilson

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