Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Commentary and Opinion by Samuel Strait – February 25, 2024 – Cartoon credit to Behance.net

You can only tell a child so often that when they play with a sharp
stick, sooner or later, it will come back to poke you in the eye.  This
is something the current Crescent City Council has yet to learn.  I
don’t often attend the local City Council meetings because the
contradiction of statements clearly fail to be recognized by this
bunch.  Say one thing and do another, often to the detriment of both the
city’s residents and the County’s as well.  It has become difficult to
warn this Council that they’ve made serious mistakes in judgement when
they either haven’t been listening, or think they know better.  Thus it
is hard to invest much time in stupid is as stupid does.

The recent City Council meeting, February 20, 2024 is a case in point. 
This particular City Council for whatever reason, fails to understand
the statement, when your local government exceeds the ability of those
they serve to pay for that local government it is all down hill from
there.  Crescent City has long since exceeded the ability for the local
population to pay for what this Council aspires to expend.  One only has
to look at the mounting acceptance by the City of grants totaling in the
millions of dollars that are not funded by the local population.  As a
citizen of the County of Del Norte, my public comment led off the
night’s adventures, not only addressing this Council’s failings, but
pointing out that their issues also affect the entire County’s
population in a negative light.

While it does not serve any purpose to wade through much of the City
Council’s treacherous path while reaching certain very poor decisions
over the four hour meeting, a few should be recognized for the
absurdities contained in the trail towards what future catastrophes lie
in wait for the City and the County as well. Item #7, has created a
public employee with an annual salary and benefits to the tune of nearly
a quarter million dollars.  Granted the City is on the hook for slightly
less than half that amount, but I can hear the wheels turning for the
next round of talks with various labor groups over what they expect in
salary and benefit increases in the coming months.  This move coupled
already with the State’s insanity of raising the minimum wage for some
restaurant workers to $20 per hour beginning April 1, 2024 will not only
make the City’s negotiating position very weak, but will also affect
those of the County when they begin negotiations.

This Council seems oblivious to a few salient points prior to increasing
a previously breath taking salary and benefits a few cents shy of
$200,000 per year to near $240,000.  Granted most employers would love
to give significant raises to valued employees provided the employee
added significant value to the company and it was recognized as such. 
That same employer does not often take into account what similar
employees earn out of the area due to the fact that there are greater
factors involved.  Can that employer afford to pay his other employees
more when considering the health of his business, remembering his
business is located in the County and not in other nearby County’s?  Can
an extravagant increase in salary of a single employee be justified
within the confines of his market area?   How will public perception of
this increase by viewed by the greater public, remembering that they in
this case pay the bill?   Finally is this move absolutely essential to
those it is meant to serve?

I could certainly appreciate the fact that the Council was placed an
awkward position by all the cheer leaders of the Chief that this was an
essential move in order to retain what the fire department considers an
imperative in their world, but the world in Del Norte County exceeds
that of all the fire departments in the County.  What is a fact, and one
does not need to go beyond the borders of the County, is that the
Chief’s raise likely exceeds more than the entire income per year of more
than 50% of the entire County’s residents.  That alone should have given
pause for the Council’s action.  Nobody is saying that the current Chief
is not a valued member of the community, it is just saying that the
community really can’t afford such extravagance, particularly when the
chief has had the City hire three additional fire captains costing the
community another substantial amount of coin which for years the
previous chiefs did not have.

While the decision as to how to proceed regarding Item #12 is somewhat
interesting, there is a certain amount of hypocrisy in the Council’s
obsession with Front Street’s completion, item #13, and the issue with
Pebble Beach Drive’s slippage into the Pacific Ocean.  Both seem to
occupy that significant dollar amount upon completion, none of which the
City seems to have factored in when addressing which is actually the
most important project the City is currently wrangling with.  It brings
to mind the question just how valuable to the City’s residents, when
many of the City’s streets are poorly lit and in the condition that
rivals that of a third world nation, are either project?  Probably great
for the tourists, maybe not so much for the City’s residents.  Seems
like a few years back the City on bended knee promised to address such
issues, if they could have a bit more money.

By the time the Council addressed Item # 16, the Tri Agency’s Joint
Powers Agreement, it was clear that the Council barely recognized the
conflict of their collective statements and the rational for their
decision.  In the first place the City has its own Economic Development
segment making any involvement with the Tri Agency redundant and
unnecessary.  The Tri Agency has currently only offered one suggestion
for economic development which recent history has rendered null and void
of producing any economic benefits whatsoever.  There is no money in
the future pipe line for off shore wind power, because it has proven to be TOO
EXPENSIVE!  There are no jobs in the pipe line for off shore wind power
no matter how much Prince Hendrick wishes it were so.  There is no
“science” according to Supervisor Short that needs to be accounted for as
the problems with off shore wind are economic not scientific  If all
five members of the Crescent City Council publicly stated that they
were not in favor of pursuing off shore wind power, why would they
participate in a redundant agency whose sole reason for existence is to
pursue that which they have no interest in pursuing?   This is precisely
what happened when the City addressed the choices for which version the
JPA Agreement was to take.  Maybe is was to move the meeting along so
that they might take up nearly an hour to discuss that vital City issue
of sign regulations within the City?  What was most certainly a head
scratcher was what justification either the County, the City, and or
Harbor have for the need of a Tri Agency for economic development when
they all have elements in their regular government hired for just such a
purpose.   Maybe the children inhabit other governing bodies and not
just the City Council.

When I say children playing at government, the above is but a few
elements of this particular meeting.  The City’s choice of priorities
leave much to be desired and with each meeting of this Council the
problems facing the City’s residents expands with nearly every decision.
  

If they mean to be somewhat functional as a government it would
behoove them to be at least consistent with their public statements and
follow through with those statements.  Saying one thing and doing
another does not build trust with those you are supposed to be
representing.  The continued expense of Front Street and Beach Front
Park, the Community Pool need to be reconciled with the deplorable state
of the City’s streets, the massive problem the City’s sewer system and
plant has become, and how can the City incorporate the County in
decisions that potentially are negative impacts to the welfare of the
County at large.  We do all have to acknowledge that we can prosper or
sink together.  That shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

2 thoughts on “The B Team: Children Playing At Government”
  1. I understand that there are hurdles but in this tiny, poor town why not consolidate city/county services and city/county government?

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