Sat. Oct 24th, 2020

By Samuel Strait – April 6, 2017 – I’ haven’t had any real expectations for some time that the leadership in this County was focused on improving the lot of its citizens,  You know them as the people that live and work here, and have some expectation that their leaders have some notion of how to make things better for them.  While the previous Board of Supervisors, some in office for more than twenty years, had little to be proud of, the current Board, in particular Supervisors Cowan, Howard, and Hemmingsen, are well on their way to do even less.  I for one, couldn’t even imagine that was even possible, but the first three months of watching the Board have proven me wrong.  Thus far the three Supervisors identified in the preceding sentence have been involved in a Brown Act violation, and narrowly escaping a first amendment violation.   They have spurned a good faith effort to speed up addressing the Last Chance Grade funding, and further the RCRC appointee, Supervisor Hemmingsen squandered any possible attempt to move it forward with other County’s as the lead.  Supervisor Cowan, a new Supervisor, felt that a trip to Japan for her benefit on the Taxpayer.s nickel was in order, and Supervisors Howard and Hemmingsen feel that a largely pointless one day visit to Washington D.C., again at the Taxpayers expense, will result in some kind of attention by the D.C. elite.  Would that be all that has seen the Board come up short, mostly 3 to 2, we continue to have real problems at the Airport Authority, the Harbor, and Solid Waste as well.  In each case, with Howard, Cowan, and Hemmingsen directing the Board do not expect anything but painful solutions for the County’s residents that is if anything happens at all.

I could go on and on about the Board of Supervisor’s state of dysfunction, that would fill a book, but it appears that the City of Crescent City, under the astute leadership of Mayor Blake Inscore can share much of that dysfunction as well as some of their own.  Fortunately for the City, only the current state of the Waste Water treatment plant  debacle is front and center, and for most, without any sensible solution on the horizon other than to inflate the cost of sewer and water service for the rate payers.   Of course, apparently it hasn’t factored into the thinking of the City’s consultants, the Staff, and Mayor Inscore that many rate payers are at the end of their financial tether already and increases for service will only serve to create a ghost town.   Mayor Inscore has applied this same faulty reasoning to solve the crisis at the Solid Waste Authority, where policies enacted at the request of the staff will do nothing more than make the problems they are responsible for worse.

It should be relatively easy to identify the lack of leadership from many of our elected representatives, as most of their business is conducted in view of a video camera, and the mistakes and errors of judgement are there for the viewing.  I can’t say that this lack of leadership extends to the shadows in violation of the Brown Act, but is is difficult not to think that way when Supervisor votes on contentious issues are consistently 3 votes to 2 with the same combinations every time.   Beyond that, there is considerable evidence that leadership at the County and City is also lacking at various executive staff positions.  There have been a number of occasions when directors of various Departments and Joint Power Authorities have come before the Board to plea for certain considerations or are asked for information where the response has been less than forthright, accurate, or within the staff’s ability to deliver the required information.  It is safe to say that there is often a distinct lack of ability and competence within many of the County and City departments, Commissions, and the JPA’s as well.  While I fully understand both the City and the County’s inability to attract the most qualified to fill many staff positions, it is a bitter pill for many to swallow in this community when staff are regularly found to come up short when they are in the public view at Council and Board meetings.  One has to wonder how many of the serious issues that face both representative bodies are compounded by poor, false or activist direction of the respective staffs.  It is also difficult to swallow the fact that many of the staff that are found to be partly or solely responsible for some of the more egregious problems that this County faces and still are able to remain employed.

So it is within these words, I ask the question, “Where has all the leadership gone?”, and what will it take to have it return? The prospect of it not having been here for awhile, and is showing no evidence that it will return, that is a daunting prospect for the future in this County!

2 thoughts on “Where has leadership gone in Del Norte County?”
  1. During my 12 years on the Del Norte County school board we accomplished a lot by all working together. We were able to get the Secure Rural Schools legislation passed by the federal government which got our schools an extra 12 million dollars in federal funds. We were able to upgrade our schools, build a new track and gym floor at the high school and kept the state from cutting popular programs like music education.

    When you elected me to the board of supervisors, I thought we could cooperate to bring even more accomplishments for this county. Unfortunately, so far, this has not been the case. At every instance when both Supervisor Gitlin and I have wanted to move this board forward we have been thwarted at every turn. This board seems to be content to be stuck in the 1980’s mind set. Their attitude to getting a bypass for Last Chance Grade is to just “follow the procedure.” Unfortunately we have been doing just that for the last 40 years. Were still waiting for a bypass.

    Both Supervisor Gitlin and I are doing the best we can, but it’s just not enough. Now the rest is up to you. If you want things to change, it will be up to you to make it happen.

    Bob Berkowitz
    Supervisor, District 5
    County of Del Norte

  2. The problem lies in a rooted culture with a long-practiced history of apathy. The County of Del Norte has relinquished its limited powers to State and Federal authorities with hardly a whimper of dissent.. Supervisor Betkowitz and I will continue to represent our constituencies and stand up against politicians who refuse to do their jobs. We ALL took Oaths. Interrupting one’s right to free speech is a violation of that Oath. At least two of the three Del Norte politicians will face the voters next year. And apparently, a third may face a recall election. Citizens of Del Norte, you have enormous power. Do Not be afraid to exercise your power. The Constitution allows and in fact encourages this process. Good post, Samuel.

    Roger Gitlin
    Supervisor, District 1
    County of Del Norte

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