By Donna Westfall – February 18, 2017 – Let’s talk Last Chance Grade again. Talk, talk, talk, talk, yak yak yak……… that’ s what you hear from Supervisor’s Cowan, Howard and Hemmingsen. All talk and no action.
And then there’s Editor Fornoff from a local newspaper who needs a lesson on the Brown Act because you see, the Ralph M. Brown Act passed in 1953 was to prevent “secret meetings, informal meetings, workshops and undisclosed meetings by local elected officials” and things done without public scrutiny.
The infamous “Valentines Day” Board of Supervisors meeting was a public meeting. It was announced in advance. Both Hemmingsen and Cowan asked to see THE PLAN in the previous BOS meeting. Then, when Sups Gitlin and Berkowitz brought it up as an emergency item, they (Hemmingsen and Cowan) both voted TO WAIT!
An emergency to one is clearly not an emergency to another. In 40 years the grade hasn’t slipped into the ocean, let’s wait and see how much longer it will last. Are they serious? You betcha!
Ya just can’t talk outta both sides of your mouth at once. Either it is a problem and you make it an emergency or it isn’t a problem and you have time to sit back and relax. Every once in a while things like this just bring out the snarky remarks I don’t normally think of. Hard to hide my disappointment with Cowan. I really thought she was going to be a horse of a different color.
The agenda was supposed to have Last Chance Grade on there, but Chair Chris Howard decided not to do so since he was going to be in Japan and whaaaaa, whaaaa, he wanted to be around for the discussion. Like life stops if Chair Howard can’t partake in a discussion. The public has to right to ask Chair Howard why he didn’t put it on the Valentines Day agenda. FYI, half the time I ask him a question he has no opinion anyways. The other half when I ask for things to be put on the agenda, I generally am disappointed because he doesn’t… want an example? Term Limits for one. Free fishing for another. I’ll be sure to bring them up one more time this coming Tuesday.
I called and spoke with my Supervisor 1st District, Roger Gitlin and asked him if life stopped when he missed any BOS meetings. ” In the four years I have served on the BOS, I may have missed three meetings. Did the Board ever consider postponing a discussion on any item because I was unable to be at that meeting. No, they did not. Big double standard. Also, I remind your readers of Del Norte County Administrative Manual 1.10.010(b) that ANY supervisor may place an item on the Agenda after consulting with the Chairman. It seems to me there are a lot of exceptions to this Administrative rule.”
OK, so here was a public meeting under public scrutiny. Berkowitz was all ready to read and disclose THE PLAN.
Then things came to a screeching halt. Call the wambulance. We can’t possibly discuss this, huff, huff and puff because, because Chair Howard is not here and it’s not on the agenda. BROWN ACT VIOLATION. No it’s not.
Let’s turn our attention to The First Amendment Coalition: A knowing violation of the Brown Act with the intent to deprive the public of information to which it is entitled is a crime. However, no one has ever been successfully prosecuted for a violation of the Brown Act. Oh is that a fact? Yes it is. No one has ever been successfully prosecuted for a violation of the Brown Act since 1953. The Brown Act actually is not and has not been enforced by the State in many years. Del Norte County did vote to follow the “spirit of the Brown Act.” Presently, the Brown Act is unenforceable. Bet Fornoff didn’t know that either.
MORE ABOUT THE DOUBLE STANDARD:
Editor Fornoff of the Triplicate likes to pride himself on being a watchdog. Here’s an exception: where was this “watchdog” when former supervisor McClure was and is still being held accountable and subject to huge fines for her “conflicted” role while she served on the California Coastal Commission. Oops! Fornoff must have been asleep at the wheel for that one. Some “watchdog”. He may be some kind of a “dog”, maybe a “junkyard dog”.
Let’s now turn our attention to the County’s legal counsel, Elizabeth “Liz” Cable for whom I have a great deal of respect. She actually answers questions in a timely manner in contrast to her predecessor, Gretchen Stuhr.
What did she say and what didn’t she say?
She NEVER said, I advise you not to place this item on the Agenda. Matter of fact she underscored, it is a Board decision to add an exigent ( emergency) item. Counsel did advise them that if they moved forward in this discussion, it could be subject to a challenge. At the very least, the discussion could have been started, then tabled for further discussion and contemplative action on the 28th of February, the next BOS meeting.