Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Opinion Piece By Donna Westfall – February 22, 2018 –

Three of the 5 supervisors have expressed an opinion on commercial cannabis.  Here’s the breakdown:

District 1 – Against, I believe District 2 – For, District 5 – For

There’s the slightest question mark about Dist. 2 – Lori Cowan only because she has not told me directly.  I’ve emailed her twice but no response.  I heard about her stance from Paul Critz at KFUG. Apparently she believes everyone knows her opinion as she stated in a BOS meeting. But, her opinion was not forthcoming.

Berkowitz and Gitlin voted against extending the ban another 10 1/2 months even though they are on polar opposite ends of the spectrum.  Cowan voted to extend the ban. All gave great explanations for their reasons. YET, because it appears Berkowitz and Gitlin’s reasons don’t agree with Howard’s, they are on the hot seat.

What about the other two Sups? 3rd District, Chris Howard; and 4th District, Gerry Hemmingsen? Have they expressed any opinions for or against recreational cannabis grows yet other than wanting to extend the ban?

Howard – NO!

Hemmingsen -NO!

Howard further writes: ” However, simply put – ‘we’ are required by law as elected under AB1234 (ethics) to governmental transparency and fair process.”

Another quote from Howard, “The principle underlying governmental transparency laws is that the public trusts what it can observe. That’s why the Board conducts its business in the open.   Thus, the laws in this area are designed to promote the general ethical values of trustworthiness and responsibility.”

Let’s stay on trustworthiness for a moment. Sup. Roger Gitlin states, “I find Chris Howard to be lacking in trustworthiness. He is the worst kind of politician because you don’t know where he stands on any given day. He lacks core values.”

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong.

Sup. Roger Gitlin is against legalizing recreational cannabis, commercial grows, distribution and retail sales.  This is his core value.  No one is going to change his mind on the subject. He sees it as undermining society.

What are Sup. Chris Howard’s core values?  As my Grandpa Max would say, “He talks out of both sides of his mouth.” So, it’s hard to know what his values are.

How is that possible?  On Chris Howards Form 700, he lists his employer.  His employers have already expressed their negative opinions in meetings, on video, about recreational cannabis.  Is Howard’s job, his livlihood going to be on the line if he votes for recreational cannabis grows?  Does this put an undue influence on his decision making?  Does it put him into a conflict of interest? Should he even be sitting on the BOS dais while discussions about cannabis are taking place?

I think not.  He should recuse himself because it gives the appearance of impropriety.

Let’s evaluate Howard’s next statement: “There is an obligation for any elected official to be a Fair and Unbiased Decision-Maker.”

I agree, but I don’t find this board to be particularly fair and unbiased.  And this gets back to expressing an opinion. The Supervisors are elected to vote on issues. They are supposed to do their due diligence before they go into a meeting.  Howard maintains that since the cannabis issue is quasi-judicial (matters include variances, use permits, annexation protests, personnel disciplinary actions, and licenses) that he is correct in reserving judgment for now. In other words, not express an opinion.

Howard writes, “It can be argued last year when Supervisor Gitlin announced during our first special meeting on cannabis that he violated Fair and Unbiased Decision-Making statues.” And, “…. the public’s views of an official’s responsiveness—are seriously undermined when it appears an official is not listening to the input being provided by the public. An example of this…. is when the Yurok Tribal Council conveyed word through their Deputy Council that they supported the interim ban.  Supervisor Berkowitz represents this District.”

Berkowitz voted for the 45 day ban, did some more research on the issue and found out that it’s been 3 years on this topic. I asked Berkowitz what gives? He told me he changed his mind on extending the ban another 10 ½ months. Changing one’s mind doesn’t make him a liar.

So there we have it.  Again with the slamming of Gitlin and Berkowitz.  Nothing is said about Sup Lori Cowan’s stance?  Why? Does she get a free ride because she has voluntarily hog tied herself to Howard & Hemmingsen?

Can it be that Howard can justify his continual bias against two supervisors and look the other way for the third?

Yes, I believe he can and does.  Howard’s claim in a recent email that I don’t treat him fairly and took one statement out of context on a Facebook posting sounds a lot like cherry picking or sour grapes.

In my quest for truth, I find it very difficult in my email exchange with Chris Howard. I find him evasive, unclear and pontifical, condemning of his critics and I have a hard time with that.

A good chairman is open to all supervisors, trying to work together. Communication lines are open.  Howard has the bully pulpit, denying democracy by not finding out even if it’s possible to satisfy Gitlin &  Berkowitz

In conclusion, I don’t believe Howard or Hemmingsen will announce any opinion about recreational cannabis grows unless they’re actually up against the wall on the issue.



3 thoughts on “When politicians won’t express an opinion”
  1. You cannot go to a pot expo and ask people how to vote, vote that way, then act like you voted just to get a ban. Either admit that you attempted to dupe your people or that you voted to bring cannabis to Del Norte because the other three “kick cans” or admit that Bob asked you to do it and you agreed, purely to affect districts that you do not represent. You helped Patients Together to offer cannabis to all of age after asking the person who operates it how to vote, own it, one way or another. Roger, voting down a ban on cannabis just to enact a ban on cannabis is like inserting yourself in a democratic voter guide even though you are republican.

  2. When a local representative chooses to express an opinion, a voter can have some sense of how that rep will vote on a particular local issue. During the last election I asked candidate Gitlin to express his opinion on cannabis. He responded with a short and clear ‘no comment’. He was afraid to face the voters with his true opinion. Candidate Berkowitz answered the same question by saying simply that he had many concerns but was open to hearing from the community. He now has no concerns and doesn’t want to hear from the community based working group. Both candidates exercised their right to express only what they were comfortable with at the time. I respected their decision to not be clear about their opinions. You, Donna, also gave them all a free pass on this.

    When a local rep, like Gitlin, chooses to take a position based solely on personal core beliefs, with no consideration for their constituents as a whole, a voter is obligated to correct such injustice by removing them from office. When a local rep, like Berkowitz, states that he has no knowledge of the progress and process created by county staff, and chooses to not consult or communicate with staff, then that rep is incompetent and unfit for office, or is a liar. Bob claims to be a politician, not a statesman, so he should not be offended to be challenged when bluffing, or lying. In my opinion, Bob has chosen to accept this public accusation because he is unable to intelligently debate facts with me and would further expose his lies.

    Roger would get more of what he wants if he would choose to participate in the process. He will never get everything, so he gets nothing. Cannabis regulation is not about being ‘for’ it or ‘against’ it. We are way past that point. Bob has no idea what he is ‘for’ exactly. He wants to pretend like this is a simple yes/no vote with nothing more to do. Bob has no interest in doing the hard work it takes to regulate a newly transforming industry. We don’t need politicians or their selfish crap; we need representatives who will work hard to find real solutions that serve the whole community. Politics is for Washington gridlock, not local progress.

  3. I appreciate your ” quest for truth,” Donna.
    The issue of marijuana is a contentious one: over my entire adult life, I have learned much about weed. I have and will continue to be transparent in my opposition to the mainstreaming of marijuana into our community. I believe to my core, recreational marijuana will devastate our youth.You have quoted me correctly in this Op/Ed.


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