Sun. May 19th, 2024

Commentary and Opinion by Samuel Strait – April 6, 2024

What do you expect, I’m on vacation and am also on “Island Time”.  It is hard to sit still to catch up with the local brain trust when it is 85 degrees and blue skies outside every day.  More on that later.  Just before I left for sunnier places I had the opportunity to experience one last “paint drying” session in the Board Of Supervisors chambers.  One hour and a half of less than stimulating governance.  I can’t say that this belated description has my undivided attention, but here goes.

Things started pretty much as usual on March 26, 2024, opening ceremonies, yet more new hires from Health and Human Services, and the expected Board of Supervisor’s reports.  There are times when I wished that “instant replay” was a feature for the current Board members so that they preen in the afterglow of seeing themselves pat themselves on the back repeatedly over their most recent misadventures.  After being on the Board for sometime Supervisor Starkey has yet to realize that she is no longer in a County with a population of a half million but in one of 27,000 that does not have the material resources to plug all her perceived “holes” in treating various “vulnerable populations” within the County.  Supervisor Howard, what can I say, but quite the “traveling man” who thinks that makes him “important”.  Then there is Supervisor Short who remains well below the surface of cognitive activity and could do with a little of the quiet contemplative nature of Supervisor Borges.  And finally our “knight in shining armour”, Chair Dean Wilson, who hasn’t been able to free himself from years of dysfunction while working for both City and County governments, so sad, but we are going to have a plan, a strategic plan, you just wait!

On to the “Consent Agenda” which is where the “real governing” happens.  Sixteen items less number four, passed 5-0 with some discussion on the latest government obsession, lack of affordable housing.  Naturally what is lost in all the discussions of “affordable housing”, is that there has been such an “animal” for some time thanks mostly to ill advised actions in Sacramento.  The only way in recent history to bring housing costs to the near realm of affordability is to subsidize the process to the extreme and let the taxpayer bear the burden of a sizable portion of the cost.  I would suggest that this has been the way things work in California for some time.

The timed items consisted of “Public Comment” by itself, where yours truly gently reminded the Board that fighting the salary game as the sole excuse for lack of recruiting and retaining employees was while easy to trot out was unlikely to be the biggest “elephant” in the equation.  They may wish to examine the “Toxic Workplace” side of the equation and put some of the County’s finest, Directors, Assistant Directors, Program Managers, and Supervisors on the “hot seat” rather that become a perennial cheering section to find out what exactly they are doing to right the ship in their respective departments.

General government consisted of an inter Board squabble over who was going to represent us Nationally.  Not surprising, the two contenders Supervisor “Government knows best” Starkey and Supervisor “Traveling Man” Howard were the two contenders.  Not that spending money for Del Norte County to go “national” will do a whit of good for the County, it is a good example of how our local Board thinks.  Nothing “grand” can be accomplished within, so with that in hand it must come from without and all the strings that are attached.  Look out taxpayers.  The remainder of general business was three items generated to protect County employees, nothing to see here folks.

A quick 5-0 as the Board of Equalization and we are on to Budget transfers where money approved to be spent on one thing is transfered to be spent on something else.  After all, what good is establishing a budget in July when things don’t turn out the way you think and it can easily be “fixed” by a budget transfer somewhere in the future where it is unlikely to be discussed or questioned.

And finally as we near the end of a blazing fast meeting, we are confronted with an interesting array of Legislative and Budget issues.  The first being a letter being sent to state and federal governments complaining about rollbacks of funding for local housing.  And I thought that developers had to bear the costs of building housing.  What a fool am I.  This followed by a plea for the resumption of a recreational Salmon fishing season this summer, fishery’s expert Supervisor Howard.  A tip of the hat to the “extraordinary workload” of the County’s employees and finally an effort to limit the damage of the Coastal Commission when building any place else but San Francisco.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *