Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Commentary by Samuel Strait – January 12, 2023

It is becoming a regular feature of the Board Of Supervisor meetings to
degenerate at some point from being a rudderless circus to a complete
clown show and the initial meeting of the Board for 2023 did not
disappoint.  Suffice it to say it had only a slight resemblance to
anything that remotely imitates “good governance” and that was only in
the form of the opening ceremonies.  Thankfully, imminently to be
elected Chairman of the Board, Darrin Short, managed to led those in the
Supervisor’s chamber through the Pledge of Allegiance without even so
much as a glance at the County’s Teleprompter.  The meeting was all down
hill from there.

Supervisor 1st District, and Chair of BOS 2023 – Darrin Short

The next action of the Board set the tone for not only the meeting, but
the entirety of 2023, by electing 5-0, naturally, Darrin Short Chair of
the Board Of Stupervisors.  It will be no doubt a trying year for the
Board to be led by someone clearly incapable of rising to the task of
being the County’s leader. While it was never considered that anyone
could follow Gerry Hemmingsen’s incompetency as the previous Chair, it
wasn’t long before Supervisor Short made that calculation a faint hope. 
Ten new employees was the report, seven to Health and Human Services. It
continued.  While watching the top of Chair Short’s head while he
mumbled at the desk in front of him through the opening admonishments,
it became a noticeable relief to move on to the important remarks given
by other supervisors and their efforts to be relevant in the community
since the December 29th Special Meeting.  As per usual, Supervisor
Starkey’s meddling did not disappoint.

The real “fireworks” manifested itself almost immediately, and exposed
Chair Short as deficit in any measurable way as a leader.   In the
course of mangling the Board’s ineptitude even further while handling
the Consent Agenda, Chair Short “cleared the chamber for safety reason”
over a relatively meaningless dispute regarding the three minute rule
for public comment.  Sheriff’s deputies, no doubt pre positioned for
what quickly degenerated into a clown show over a member of the public’s
ongoing dispute with the three minute rule being applied for an agenda
that contained eighteen items, fully three quarters of the County’s
business over the previous dozen or so days.

Not only is the rule regarding the public’s participation on the Consent
Agenda tantamount to censorship, but it allows items offered for Board
consent initiated by the County’s bureaucracy to be RUBBER STAMPED by
the Board with little oversight by the PUBLIC and no meaningful PUBLIC
discussion on a bulk of the County’s business.  A policy that could
easily be corrected had the members of the Board had any notion of
integrity or thought to being said representatives of said PUBLIC if the
will existed for these representatives to DO THEIR JOB and actually
benefit the PUBLIC and not those that WORK FOR THE PUBLIC.

This Country’s government was founded on the principal that governments
had done NOTHING for thousands of years to entitle them to the “Trust”
ordinary citizens reserve for most people that are intimately known to
them and have proven their trust worthiness, something governments
historically have almost never managed to accomplish.  Give what is now
our local sample of governance, a dysfunctional sheriff’s department, a
dysfunctional emergency services department, a dysfunctional Health and
Human Services, a dysfunctional Animal Control, a dysfunctional
probation department, District Attorney, Judicial System and who knows
what else all revealed over the course of just the last year of
troubling revelation with in the chambers of the BOS.

A couple of timed items entered into the Circus Arena following Chair
Short’s mishandling of the Consent Agenda.  The first was an effort by
the Del Norte Unified School District to ramp up local appreciation and
participation in the out doors activities available but not utilized by
the local public.  Apparently, both the local park service
representatives and the local school district are unaware that accessing
public areas in the County have become much more difficult in the
intervening years through increased regulation and closure of access to
many parts of the County’s wilderness areas.  Staging organized
activities in relatively easily accessible areas of the County will do
little to improve that anticipated outcome.  The other timed item was
the report by the County’s Treasurer, Barbara Lopez, who indicated as
the Auditor in an earlier report of the rather robust financial
condition of the County.  This report as well as that of the Auditor
puts the claims by the County of extreme poverty squarely in the
misinformation column and places the burden of bad decision on the backs
of the fourteen percent of the County’s citizens that failed to repeal
the one percent increase in the County’s sales tax when the opportunity
was afforded them in November.

It is not surprising that no one attends the meetings of the governing
body in the County or the City when such obvious disdain and contempt
for which the County Supervisors and the associated members of the
County’s Bureaucracy have for the PUBLIC. Fabricating a message of the
inability to provide “essential services” no longer passes the smell
test.  Continued obstruction by the County’s leadership and Bureaucracy
of the County government of the failures at many levels is no longer
acceptable.  The simple matter of Board policy of three minutes for
public comment on the Consent Agenda consisting of dozens of individual
items, many of which should be questioned not only by the Board but
members of the public of which they seem to have forgotten, and that
they are sworn to serve.  What compounds the problem the Board has with
the three minute limit and double dipping violations, is that they are
constantly ignoring the limit when the message they receive is found to
be “acceptable”. Something that happens with regularity in most Board
meeting without any notice by the Chair.  The Board is quite comfortable
with public commenters allowed to drone on past the three minute limit
if they meet the approval of the Board.  It is small wonder that many in
the community have given up on having a government that has any respect
for their needs in lieu of those of the local bureaucracy.

Enough.  On to General Business, where things didn’t get any better for
the Board.  After nine years in the position of Chief Probation Officer,
Mr. Reyman is suddenly found to be improperly supervised by our County’s
Judges, and after being thrown under the bus by a multitude of
unsubstantiated  complaints and anecdotal events, has had his
supervision by ordinance, no less, moved to the County’s fumbling
preview.  Bet that is going to work.   Being sarcastic here, just for
the Board’s benefit.  This clown show was immediately followed by
certain members of the Board being unable to face the reality that
Juvenile Hall needs to be CLOSED, as it no longer serves a USEFUL
PURPOSE when Juvenile Justice has turned the page on mass incarceration
for juvenile offenders and adults as well.  Time will tell whether or
not that was such a smart move by the geniuses in Sacramento.  In the
mean time, led by “the government has all the answers”, Valerie Starkey,
Juvenile Hall closure continues to be batted back forth to the detriment
of its staff and the on going dysfunction at probation. 

Supervisor 2nd District, Valerie Starkey

Supervisor Starkey seems frozen in her own biases and dismisses reality as a
result.  For this issue and many others, her political thought processes
represent a true problem for any successes in the County’s future.   She
can not seem to grasp the concept that he who exercises the lightest
touch on the wheel of government is often the most successful leader. 
The clown show did not end there.

The remaining item on the General Business side of things was to decide
the fate of Del Norte County’s only ambulance service, and a clown show
it was.  Suddenly anecdotal evaluation, true or invented is an
acceptable metric to be used by those with obvious bias or vested
interests.  In no way did Del Norte Ambulance receive the level playing
field necessary for proper governance. There were two members of the
board, both with known biases and vested interests that should have
recused themselves from the decision made in this process.  While one
member deserve no respect, the other while new to the Board should have
been better prepared to undertake the duties where an option to hear
BOTH sides of the dispute was a major failing on his part and
participating in a decision without mentioning a vested interest which
established a clear bias was yet another failing.  This is the kind of
leadership that we do not need in this County.  While the vote was not
5-0, the norm for most Board votes, this was a decision that surely
needs revisiting.  Thus far the only glimmer of hope rested on the
shoulders of the fifth district and newly elected Supervisor, Dean
Wilson.  One can only hope that his wisdom and experience in government
will transfer itself to two other of the Board’s members.  The 5-0
Club lives on.

Supervisor Dean Wilson, 5th District

$42,000 and change to accomplish a generator purchase and the
replacement of a water heater at the jail.  Must be some kind of
generator and water heater to warrant that kind of expense.  Who said
governance can’t be as costly as possible.  No legislative or budget
issues to report, then on to adjournment. Whew, while the entertainment
factor ranked up there with a late night comedy show, the government
trust factor took a serious hit.  One had hopes for a better dynamic
with two new members on the Board.  That dynamic almost immediately took
on water in a clear display of small town politics.  Sigh, maybe next
election will provide better results.

2 thoughts on “The 5-0 Club’s Descent Into Authoritarianism”
  1. You must belong to the fire department Kevin. I only report things that I know about. Must be kind of tough for you to reconcile. But hey, nice try.

  2. Sounds like your long on wind and short on facts , Del Norte Ambulance has not been meeting their required times , just a half hour ago a call came in for a car that had wrecked off the road way on 199, a potential life threatening situation at least , Del Norte ambulance did not respond in the required 1 minute time frame , but took 3 minutes to respond, as for you accusing the supervisor of having biased and an undisclosed “vested” interest , that is an absolute falsehood , you. Need to have your facts straight before throwing around untrue and unfounded accusations.
    I have been told that The owner of DNA has already sold have the business and moved to Texas, I’m sure with an EOA the remaining half of his business is worth much more money , that is troublesome. I’ve heard with an EOA it was worth 3 million . Allegedly. So if it’s human life’s that are in question, why worry about a substantial finically gain , rather than quality of care and DNA meeting their required response time to their tone outs , I find you impressed with your own words, and very short of true facts regarding bias and “vested interest”. You should at least retract these words if you consider yourself a true reporter . But hey what’s a few minutes matter on missed call times when someone is drowning in the river or bleeding to death , sweep it under the rug and forget it ??

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