Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

Commentary by Samuel Strait – February 15, 2023

It is not often that the Board of Supervisors have anything but a
spotless record of wall-to-wall affirmation in a Board meeting, but this
is what passes for one.  In the current version of County government
inaction there were times when members of the Board were not ear-to-ear in
joint coronation mode when addressing the County’s awfully important
business.  I will leave that topic until later in this current account
of a wasted, as per usual, four plus hours of pointless drivel that
clearly established that the County’s august leadership stumbles around
like a ship lost at sea and is inevitably headed for the rocks of oblivion.

It was;  therefore, somewhat of a relief when Chair Darren Short managed
to mumble his way through the opening ceremonies with nary a gaff.  Of
course your hearing had to be exceptional, as Chair Short, in his
pronouncements was barely understandable. Microphone discipline is a
talent he has yet to master.  Opening ceremonies, introduction of yet
more new employees of which we know not what it is they actually do to
merit employment.  Likely nothing that anyone in the community is
desperately seeking their services, but someone in the local bureaucracy
must need someone to lean on.  Growing government what else is there the
need to say. Corrections to the Agenda, oops!  And the pronouncements
from each member of the Board as to make someone, I do not know who,
think that the minutia of member activities has some bearing on the
welfare of the community.  Is this beginning to sound depressing?  Wait,
it is just beginning.

Skipping the troubled Consent Agenda for later, mustn’t  keep the Public
Comments and Scheduled Items hanging in the wind.   A bit of
embarrassment to start off with when local resident, Linda Sutter,
castigated the Board over the rather unhealthy situation in the County’s
Foster Care program.  Not much to say here and the Board had nothing to
add.  Kind of makes you real feel welcome and heard at the County’s
Board meetings.  Maybe for another time, but suffice it to say, I am not
sure any of the public comments penetrate the apparent wall of
indifference displayed by the Board, unless it is a face of complete
anger at being called out for their ineptitude.  I will at this point
give a pass to the newest members of the Board, as much of this
incompetence happened well before their time on the Board.

Moving on to other Scheduled Items where the actual disservice to the
public occurred.  Beginning with a presentation from the Cooperative
Extension Department and the introduction of two new and likely
expensive staff members, we were regaled with more undefined  benefits
from apparently, a Department associated with some sort of collaborative
effort with Humboldt County, that requires the hiring of a herbalist,
and someone with a degree in Biology that will get our weaknesses in
economic development sorted out.   Oh joy, an absolute must for the
County’s welfare. I can hardly wait for the obvious importance that such
a wealth of knowledge will bring to the County’s residents, that is all
of them?

At that point we were blessed with the expertise of a life long fishing
guide about the devastating impact of a recent decision to place Chinook
Salmon on the Endangered Species List.  Not perhaps a good thing for a
local fishing guide, not  terribly surprising from the empty suits that
exist in Sacramento that literally have in most cases no idea
whatsoever of what they are doing. Unfortunately, Mr. Coopman, when asking for
more “scientific data” by which the decision is to be finalized, has no
idea as to what he is asking for and likely to receive.  Clearly the
decision to remove dams on the Klamath is a stark reminder of the kind
of science that went into the decision to remove dams on the river that
was roundly criticized as biased in the extreme and in no way
contributed to any meaningful decision on whether or not to remove the
dams and the expected outcome.  Somewhere in the discussion was an
unexpected series of comments which included the clear oversight by the
“science” of fish populations not to include data on what happens to
salmon when they spend a bulk of their existence in the Ocean and the
fact that the Salmon fish population did not begin to decline until well
after the dams had been in existence for fifty years.  That is some kind
of “science” is all that can be said.   Of course I would be remiss if I
did not mention the fact that dam removal has become a cottage industry
for the Eco Nazis up and down the Pacific Coast for decades with no
evidence of any fish population restoration.  The decline has continued
unabated.

Homelessness emerged in another form on the Board’s list of failures
with yet another rarefied fantasy in the form of Alison Ramsey and
Daphne Cortese-Lambert. Yet another ambitious scheme to spend yet more of Governor
Hair Gel’s billions to be thrown at homelessness.  I hesitate to mention
the historical fact that homelessness has been a common theme ever since
man inhabited the earth and people who were far smarter that the current
“brain trust” that gave their pitch will result in but two outcomes:

  • The first is with the approval to initiate this ill starred venture, is
    that homelessness will increase.  
  • The second is that those that represent “success” will be a minority overwhelmed by more homeless with an approved hand held out. 

Keeping in mind that when homelessness finally breached the conscious mind of our erstwhile empty suits in Sacramento, California had but 25% of the entire population of homeless IN THE COUNTRY.  After less than three years and billions of dollars spent California has reached the enviable state of now claiming to be the home to 30% of the entire nation’s HOMELESS POPULATION.  Maybe
someone should have checked to see if Sonoma County’s claims of the success of its “Pallet” housing has reduced the homeless population in the County before plunging head long into another pointless exercise in futility.  Just an aside, the proposed Waldo Encampment tends to be a bit wet even in the summer time.

Even the regular items produced some controversy, the consent agenda,
with more ineptitude publicly displayed by Chair Short, something that
has come to be expected by someone so ill equipped for the post.   More
First Amendment violations on his part and later the ill advised removal
of Mr. Branden Bieber requested by the said Chair and dutifully carried
out by our “Constitutional” Sheriff?  Minor, but largely irrelevant
fumbling with the Consent Agenda, many of which should have been at
least held for discussion.  Two items on the Consent Agenda were pulled
for discussion, not that that revealed any serious attempt by the Board
to find any value in either item, 5-0 was the result for twelve items of
the County’s business.

More street lights for the County, only wondering how long they will
stay lit, then on to granting County’s Chair the right to sign
professional service contracts, nothing to see here.  An update to the
County’s Administrative Manual likely to give cover when things go
terribly wrong, and the prize in the General Business column, that of
extending a shelter crisis resulting from the recent January storms,
which brought “rains of unprecedented amounts in modern history” to the
County, yawn, and I have a bridge to sell to you in Brooklyn.

But the Board’s blundering didn’t end there.  A Juvenile Hall update,
because for some reason the Board’s Chair, yes you guessed it Darren
Short, is too stupid to put the closure of the Hall on the Agenda and
put it out of its misery.  Of course we were treated with another “stomp
her foot and pound on the lectern” round of indignation by Employee
Association President, Norma Williams, wondering when she actually has
time to do her work for HHS, clearly insulted by the all too real
characterization of members of her tribe who are constantly being
praised by the Board as “excellent” yet cannot seem to accomplish
anything of benefit.  More taxpayer dollars being wasted on something
some members of the Board find emotionally satisfying yet completely
impractical in a County of this size.  Supervisor Starkey are you listening?

Budget transfers?  Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and a drone or two for
good measure.  Failed culverts, Title III needs, and a nice little slush
fund for the Agriculture Department all tidied up in a pretty package of
“furnishing the new office”.  Wondering if there is leftover money for
a nice Kuerig Coffee Machine?  The reason given is we wouldn’t want to
make the separation more difficult for Animal Control.  Sounds like a
married couple fumbling through an amicable divorce.   Just saying, but
when there is money to be spent why waste it.  Besides, we want the new
tools anyway.  More vehicles, road materials, and yet more vehicles to
round things out to the tune of $238,000.  No need to explain whether
any of this was really necessary or a County “desperate” need, but hey,
the employees are always supposed to be taken care of before the
taxpayer.  Anybody want the County to buy them a new truck?  Fat chance
unless you work for the County.

Even the final foray into the County’s business, Legislative and Budget
issues, elicited some controversy, with some light insistence on more
County government.  Never seems to be enough for Supervisor Starkey.  A
legislative platform for Del Norte County and some rather sickening
adulation for the Assistant County Administrative Officer for “doing his
job”.  Then a rap up in under five hours with a rather pointless
insistence that more steps should be added to the Budget process.  I had
to laugh at all the concern over being transparent in the process as it
is unlikely anyone from the public is going to participate in any
meaningful measure and I am quite sure every line item in the proposed
budget will be considered irrevocably essential to the running of said
government without entertaining some cataclysmic event as to be
unprecedented in the modern history of the County.

Enough said.

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