Board Notes 051512
A Fringe Interpretation
The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met in continued regular session in the social hall in lovely Loyalton California. All five supervisors were present.
The meeting started with the oath of loyalty to cloth and an imaginary nation with liberty and justice for all. Your Fringe Editor steeled himself, and remained seated during the pledge. To my surprise Homeland Security did not burst in and club me senseless. Don Russell of the Mountain Manifesto never salutes the flag, but he has a cane and a handicapped card so is excused.
Ken Perry, president of the East Sierra Valley Chamber of Commerce (Link) attended to inform the board of all the great things the chamber is working on, reminding everyone of the farmer’s market in Loyalton, and this year in Sierraville, and Tour De Manure, the bike race that supports Sierraville Emergency Services.
Tim Holabird, local rep for Congressman Tom McClintock, reported that the California Energy Commission is poised to approve the Loyalton cogen plant as a “bucket 1” energy producer. This scheduling allows the cogen plant to sell power as renewable to electrical providers complying with California’s aggressive renewable energy program. Tim Holabird has worked tirelessly for the Loyalton cogen plant, joining local leaders to try to keep the generator spinning, green energy flowing, and local jobs paying.
Director of Health and Human Services Janice Maddox appeared before the board for a couple of items. First, the controversial contract with Magellan to process billing for mental health clients who have insurance. County Council Jim Curtis has balked at the loose and dangerous language that appears in the contract. The board directed Ms. Maddox to see how other counties do it, and she reported that about half or so of counties don’t provide services to people with insurance. Scott Schlefstein encouraged the board to accept the contract so people with health insurance don’t have to travel to receive benefits, but the board declined to accept liability.
During a mental health provision discussion Ms. Maddox explained that in Sierra County, suicide and Alzheimer’s disease were the areas of concern in terms of all causes of death. That seems right. No one is working, so on the job deaths are down; no one can afford $5.00 a gallon for gas, so road deaths should be down. This is an old county, with relatively few young people, and older people are more likely to commit suicide, and state wide about 50% of those deaths will occur after a visit with the doctor. Further, some might not care for the slow, thread by thread deterioration of Alzheimer’s, and dinner with friends followed by a swift and relatively painless and relatively dignified death might seem in order. Young people, too have high suicide rates, with deaths from 10 to 24 being about 20 per 100,000. Sierra County’s youth suicide rate might be high.
The Tobacco Kids came to talk to the board and beg them to pass a county tobacco retail license, including a paragraph which would revoke their ability to sell if they sold to kids. It’s the strongest measure yet to protect kids from tobacco and it totally sucks. It would add a burden to sell tobacco, and drive an increased liability if your clerk sells to a kid. Sure, tobacco is terrible stuff, it kills people all the time, but at what point does regulation become a prohibition? Legal age to buy tobacco in most nations is 18, with a few younger and a few 21. Californians already pay $1.88 in taxes on a pack of butts, and there is a proposition to raise it, which I don’t support. For God’s sake, let people kill themselves if they want to, it’s not your business, unless you have a grant.
Even so, the kids were earnest and sincere, and so relaxed I wondered if they’d snuck a toke before the presentation. They led the room in singing “Happy Birthday” to Don Russell, who single handedly supports most of the efforts of the anti-tobacco program through his generous support buying cigarettes.
Tobacco kids who sang
To Don Russell. It was sweet.
Ms. Maddox found herself discussing the two bulletproof laptops which cost the county $1600. The board disapproved the purchase, but it was made anyway. The board suggested to Ms. Maddox that there should be punishment for the person behind that purchase, perhaps even termination.
The board turned to discussing a plan compiled by a project at the Tahoe Resource Conservation District to prevent aquatic invasive species in the Truckee watershed. The project represents an attempt to get all interested parties to the table to contrive a way to do that. After a great deal of effort and listening to many voices the group came up with the same sure fire strategy that has worked so well in the war on drugs: pass laws, hire cops, bust people. Director of Public Works Tim Beals reminded the board of their hesitation, joined by the hesitation of other entities, to join a Joint Powers agency. He discussed the problem of cleaning boats of AIS, since the water is infected or contaminated with pesticides.
Supervisor Lee Adams stated it was time someone did something. There was general agreement on that point, but while it is a good idea, it is short of details. Who should do something? What should be done. He suggested we couldn’t wait for the feds or the state.
At that point your Fringe Editor took of his cap with the “PRESS” card in it and took the podium against the measure. I doubted the board has the legal authority to act on what is the purview of the California Department of Fish and Game. Even if it does, this plan is simply going to create another bureaucracy and more cops. Worst of all, it won’t work. A bucket of wet sand is all you need to infect our lakes with bivalves or weeds. I suggested that if the Board was going to disregard the state and the feds, they should legalize marijuana, which is a much more important action than trying to legislate against creepy crawly AIS. I suggested that if they had the authority they should do something better. Close the lakes to boats, create circumstances which would allow private concerns to construct infrastructure to keep boats at the lakes and rent boats. In-basin boats, the only logical answer. Facilities could provide storage for private boats, and steam clean them when they go in, and evaporate the wash water on site. Construct a plan that would not only encourage commerce, but which might actually prevent infestation. I went on to suggest the DFG, who already has bureaucrats in charge of this matter, and wondered if DFG cops could take time out from being TV stars to look at some boats. I apologized to those who want to own their own boats, but if we are serious about preventing AIS we have to prevent infection from other water bodies, and this is the only way to accomplish that. Use your boats unrestricted in waters that are already infected. Otherwise, from paddleboats to sailboats to kayaks to canoes to fishing boats, either check it in and leave it, or rent one.
Scott Schlefstein liked getting private enterprise involved, but didn’t like that people couldn’t take their boats as they wish. Bill Nunes suggested the board get input from people before acting, and agreed we had to do something, perhaps the “something” was getting input.
Bill Copren took the stand to point out that ag water was also at stake from bivalves and weed. The Sierra Valley Water Company, which takes water from the Little Truckee watershed and pipes it to the Sierra Valley and then to the Feather River watershed, is considering building a pipeline to replace the ditch which loses water to absorption and evaporation; AIS could thwart that plan. He pointed out that Stampede, which is a valuable resource and hosts kokanee salmon, is the lake most at risk. He encouraged the board to do something. They will do something, or someone will, because something must be done and someone must do it, we have concluded. But, who? What?
The board declined to approve a request of the Sierra County Fire Safe and Watershed Council for an addendum to the Master Agreement for Funding Hazardous Fuel projects. The addendum deviates from the agreement and more consideration is required.
The board then went into closed session to discuss something in secret.
The board before closed session.
The Prospect Spy Cam records the board during closed session.