Submitted By Linda Sutter – July 13, 2020
On June 9th, 2020 the Board of Supervisors approved to give $60,000 to a company in Washington DC to lobby for the better good of Del Norte County. The Company they hired is called the Thorn Run Partners and the person allegedly representing Del Norte County’s interest is Greg Burns.
The name of the company and the last name of the representative should give you a red flag from onset, however, we taxpayers place too much faith in our leaders and the end result explains why our county and city are broke begging for more.
So, I do what I do best, I requested to review documents to help explain how to justify $5,000 a month for Greg Burns representation.
These are the following questions I asked documentation for;
1. name and actual hours worked for each calendar day and each calendar week by each worker employed by the consultant for years 2016- May 2020. This was not answered.
2. List all projects and hours worked on each project along with details of the project. This was answered through numerous articles provided by TRP, mostly duplicate of the 863 page document sent to me, and not in chronological order.
3. I want to review complete records of payrolls, expenditures, disbursements, and other cost items charged to this county for work performed by this group. This was answered.
4. I would like to review all electronic emails from Run Partners to Del Norte County from 1/2016 to 5/2020. The county only provided a couple of emails, mostly dating this year a couple from 2018 and a couple from 2019, which means the county is either hiding something or the TRP breached their own contract of performance at a tune of $5,000 per month.
5. List all dates Run Partners were in Del Norte County, from 1/2016 to May 2020. This was never answered in violation of the Brown Act and FOIA request.
The first Document I received was 863 pages of horse manure. On April 1, 2020, “Potential Framework of a 4th covid19 relief package-infrastructure, with direct payments to local governments.
“In addition to surface transportation sections, such as highways, transit and rail, the House Democratic infrastructure framework includes several non-traditional sections, including funding for airports, water, broadband, energy, and school construction.”
School construction? My understanding is our local school board wants another bond for the schools after spending 25 million in the last 5 years with nothing to show for it.
The memorandum goes onto say, “While House Leadership and Committee leaders begin this discussion, we will continue to share your infrastructure needs with the committees of jurisdiction and will work with your Congressional delegation on this effort.” Keywords “infrastructure needs.”
That was worth $5,000? The next set of documents that was sent by Greg Burns were articles from the Thorn Run Partners daily generic newsletter. Again Dated April 1, 2020 a 5 page Covid19 Edition letter outlining a barrage of subject titles and Covid19.
The next 3.5 pages is a politico article talking about the covid19, pretty much everything that you see on television and social media is reiterated in this article. I might add that politico articles are free on the internet.
The next article provided by Greg Burns is called ROLL CALL. “Insurers call for a federal fund to help coronavirus-impaired businesses Groups representing the mutual insurance and property casualty insurance industries joined dozens of other groups Tuesday in calling for a federal business continuity fund to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Another article sent is called “The Hill,” Insurers call for federal fund to help coronavirus-impaired businesses Groups representing the mutual insurance and property casualty insurance industries joined dozens of other groups Tuesday in calling for a federal business continuity fund to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. A one page document.
A second article by “The Hill,” Coronavirus brings quick changes to state alcohol laws States are temporarily relaxing laws on alcohol purchases, providing a major win to the beer, wine and spirits lobby during the coronavirus pandemic.
Another article of “The Hill,” Fed’s expanded lending program opens funding to the oil and gas industry Changes to a new lending program from the Federal Reserve have paved the way for the oil and gas industry to get government financing amid the pandemic. Yep a bailout to oil companies.
June 1, 2020 Burns writes, “From:Greg Burns Sent: Mon, 1 Jun 2020 16:04:03 +0000 Subject:TRP Influencer Series: Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Thursday, June 4 at noon ET Hello all, For those of you that have enjoyed our virtual ‘TRP Influencer Series’ events, our next one will give you a different perspective from some of the more recent ones as it’s with Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) on Thursday, June 4 at noon ET. Rep. Mullin is a member of the Energy & Commerce Committee who sits on three subcommittees: Health, Oversight and Investigations, and Environment & Climate Change. As usual, our guest will participate in a moderated discussion before taking questions from attendees. The event will be held over conference call, and dial-in information will be provided upon RSVPing to my colleague Hannah Kelman (firstname.lastname@example.org). Questions will be read by our moderator and must be emailed in advance to email@example.com. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks, Greg.
Is that worth $5,000? And by the way, just so everyone knows, all articles including the TRP (Thorn Run Partners) newsletter is available for free at www.thornrun.com and facebook.
As I go through these numerous pages of articles the common denominator is the fact that absolutely none of these articles, or work conducted by Mr. Burns is directly related to the issues of Del Norte County. The articles that are sent to the supervisors board are generic in nature and are discussed widely on all news casts.
One interesting aspect I personally found in the numerous articles was this, “Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF). The Fed will purchase up to $500 billion in state and local debt with the intention of supporting cash-strapped municipal governments’ access to liquidity. More information on the program can be found here. • The Federal Reserve announced that it is expanding the scope of cities that will be able to borrow money through its emergency program for state and local governments. This expansion will allow at least two cities or counties in every state to be eligible, regardless of population.”
Never heard any mention of that from our Supervisors, maybe because they don’t take time to read these articles we all pay for? Or we can always hear the same old excuse, “Well, this is very competitive,” implying that we would never make the mark. Nor have our Supervisors and City Council heed the Executive Order by President Trump, “calling on agencies to target regulations “that may inhibit economic recovery” during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Or how about this,
“As expected, House Democrats just now have released a $3 trillion, 1,815 page bill entitled the “Heroes Act” which is expected to be voted on in the House on Friday. Among MANY provisions in the bill, a summary of which has not yet been released, the bill provides the following for states and local governments, all of which could be used for revenue loss: • $500 billion for states • $375 billion for all cities and counties o $187.5 billion for all counties based on population o $187.5 billion for all cities ▪ $131.25 billion allocated under the formulas used to distribute CDBG funding (if you are an entitlement city) ▪ $56.25 billion for non-entitlement cities allocated via population.”
Maybe that is why Dr. Rehwaldt and our Supervisors want to keep lock down mode in Del Norte County despite lack of scientific evidence to support the pandemic. (no Death, and only 2 hospitalizations which is questionable if the hospitalized persons were there for other reasons other than covid but was forced to test for covid and found positive).
So much for the homeless efforts and issues this letter was written November 2019, “From:Greg Burns Sent:Sat, 16 Nov 2019 15:25:27 +0000 To:Jay Sarina (firstname.lastname@example.org);Lori Cowan;Gerry Hemmingsen Subject:FYI: USICH Trump has fired Matthew Doherty, the executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. His dismissal comes after a September report by the president’s Council of Economic Advisers criticized efforts, led by Doherty, to move the chronically homeless into subsidized housing.” Did we hear about that? Nope. Does it affect our County? Ask a Supervisor.
“Trump has promised to take action against California’s homelessness problem, arguing that homelessness hurts the quality of life and the “prestige” of some of its largest cities. The Washington Post reported in September that administration officials have considered razing tent camps for the homeless, creating temporary facilities and refurbishing government facilities.”
In one letter written on June 3, 2020 Mr. Burns delivers news;
“Democrats, along with some Republicans, have called for bailing out state and local governments whose budgets have been decimated by the coronavirus crisis. As those governments have increased spending to fight the pandemic, they’ve seen tax revenue drop drastically.
Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the progressive Economic Policy Institute and former chief economist at the Labor Department, told the committee that nearly 1 million government jobs at the state and local level have been lost already.
She warned those layoffs could create a vicious cycle that could drown the recovery: Government workers’ wages stop flowing to businesses struggling to recover, leading to further private-sector layoffs and bankruptcies.”
Shierholz said forcing states to rely on debt to get through the coronavirus’s economic crisis would be repeating a mistake from the last recession. “State and local austerity in the aftermath of the recession delayed the recovery by over four years,” she said. “We’ll be facing that, and more, this time.” Senate Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, asked Shierholz if Congress should provide states additional grants, rather than just rely on the Fed’s lending facility. She agreed. “In order to keep them from becoming a drag on the recovery, we need to make sure that their budget shortfalls are filled in,” she said. “It is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a robust recovery.”
“To have a large tax increase in the middle of the recession, as state and local governments will be forced to do, that is about the last thing we need.”
This piece of information applies to our County and City, as I attend City meetings and learn they approve nearly $700,000 for a stabilization project at the end of 9th street, where council believe (wink wink) “Congress,” will pay them back and then turning around wanting to raise our sales tax up to 8.5% for other services (and capital projects). It should be noted the city took the money out of the water enterprise fund as a “loan”.
This is not the time for raising taxes for sure, but the point of the matter is, taxpayers are paying 60,000 for representation in Washington, the BOS receive this information, hide from the public and then are going to vote on a sales tax increase to make up for lost tax revenue. How do you like the elected so far? And folks, let us not forget all this trillion dollar bailout stuff is gonna hit us in the pocket books at tax time.
In closing, unless we are getting more than a few articles every month from TRP, it is hard pressed at these times for our County Representatives to have a Champagne Budget on a water diet don’t ya think?