Board Notes 072011
(Or, what the Fringe saw)
Astute readers will want to download the Board Packet ( http://www.sierracounty.ws/county_docs/bos/BOS%20JULY%2019%202011/07192011%20BOS%20PKT.pdf ). Heedless of better advice to the contrary, the Sierra County Board of Supervisors met in continued regular session in Loyalton on Tuesday, July 19th. All supervisors were present, as were Auditor (Treasurer Tax Collector) Van Maddox; the effervescent Jim Curtis, County Council; Director of Whatnot Sir Timothy Beals; Empress of Health and Human Services Her Grace Dr. Carol Roberts; and of course the irrepressible and irreplaceable Heather Foster, Clerk of the Board. The press was ably represented by the Sierra County Prospect, and otherwise by the Mountain Messenger and the Sierra Booster. There were also a dozen or so concerned citizens, busybodies, and slacking staff.
Sierra County youths reported to the Board their findings of the availability of tobacco to young people. It is a crime to provide children tobacco. Still, the group reported that 2 of 5 tobacco retailers in the county allowed minors to obtain tobacco. It’s also against the law for a person under the age of 18 to attempt to purchase tobacco products, and the little tykes can get 30 days of community service and a fine of up to $1000, which today would buy almost five packs of cigarettes.
The group didn’t report on what happened to the tobacco which was purchased, or the retailers who sold it. Present were Laurie Marsh, local anti-tobacco activist, and Katie Roberti, Liz Lizardi, and Danika Grissel, people under 18 in the county.
Director of Foul Gases Tim Beals reported to the Board that all homes must now have carbon monoxide detectors. It is for your own good! The Purpose of Government is to Protect The People. He asked the Board how they wanted to enforce the law. He left unsaid that there might be a Homeland Security grant for bullet proof vests, battering rams and high powered auto pistols to kick in our doors and save all citizens in their homes from the .00012% likelihood that we’ll die of CO even though most CO deaths happen not at home but in a tent, a car, a garage and so on. Still, protect us until we just can’t take it any more.
Director of Sand in the Vaseline Tim Beals reported that the Forest Service, in conjunction with the National Register of Historic Places (http://www.nps.gov/nr/) is about to do counter intuitive and macabre things to the real life town of Forest City. The intention might be to cause the little town to be completely historical, with no real life people living there at all.
Director of Public Works, Planning and Building Inspection Tim Beals reported that the building department was audited by the ISO (www.iso.com) and got very high marks, making it easier for us to get insurance.
Mr. Beals also reported that the California Highway Patrol is weighing in on the mixed use road issue. As readers know, there is a constant effort on the part of the Forest Service, “environmental” groups, and others, to shrink the use of off highway vehicles and over the snow vehicles. The CHP wades in with letters to counties where the Boards of Supervisors have tried to expand OHV use on county roads, telling them that it is illegal to allow unregistered vehicles on county roads. The Free and Brave will have to stay in their cars or try to use the shrinking road system on public lands.
The Drug and Alcohol Advisor Board appeared to present a letter to the Board. See the story HERE .
Then, the Board turned to the issue of rolling the Auditor and the Treasurer Tax Collector into one office. See the information in the Board Packet, address above.
Aware that they would be doing away with an elected office, the Board proceeded carefully. Chair Adams stated that he understood there were concerns, but there were safeguards and ethical firewalls that would protect county funds. He was concerned about the “nose of the camel” meaning if the second in command of the new office got a raise, the other departments would also want one. Further, it emerged that the department heads gave up their raises some time back so that rank and file workers could get raises. It’s overdue for them to get raises and if the Auditor and his deputy get raises, they might want some too.
The Board wrestled with the issue, which is contained in two ordinances, one that establishes the office and the second which establishes the pay for the office and the second in command. The Board tried to separate the jobs and the pay into two, but for the first of three times, Auditor Van Maddox put his foot down: one plus one is one, the two are part of a single whole, and he’ll withdraw his participation to merge the offices if the Board tries to separate them.
Peter Huebner favored the merger and had his ducks lined up. He’d called all kinds of people including past politicos, and there were some concerns but no negatives. He felt that was reason to go ahead.
Scott Schlefstein admitted there were concerns but read the portion of the ordinance which allows the Board to reverse itself.
The Board continued to work itself up to introducing the ordinances. Chair Adams said that only 10 voters had spoken to him about it and only two of them weren’t county employees. Adams had given a quick rundown of how different offices in the county have changed in the 150 years he’s lived here.
The Board eventually admitted it was about the money, and since there was no Treasurer-Tax Collector to unseat, this is the easiest time. We recall that the Postal Service is likely to close Calpine PO for the same reason: there is no unionized postmaster to defend it.
The Board moved to introduce the first ordinance, doing away with an elected position.
The next was more difficult. There is reason to believe the savings won’t be as high as expected, particularly if other departments want parity raises.
Mr. Maddox, over the course of the discussion, demonstrated that attorneys are under educated dabblers compared to an Auditor, and that a Deputy Auditor Treasurer Tax Collector was worth several under-sheriffs. Using education as the yard stick, the more education you have the more you should get paid. Further, rank and file are different, they just are, that’s just how it is. Mr. Maddox was adamant.
Having pissed off half the people in the room, he then proceeded to set the Board straight: if they wanted to do this they should; if they didn’t want to they should do something else.
Mr. Adams had moved from the nosey camel to the slippery slope, but it did no good, in the final vote, though the Chair voted “no” the motion carried.
An editorial remark: It will save money, and right now, that’s the name of the game. Once done, only gross incompetence on the part of Van Maddox or his successor will cause it to be undone. Still, who among us doesn’t want the Board to save money?
The Board grilled Health and Human Services and the Courts for seeking a program that would divert people from jail (who would then be sent back to the county to house) by providing life correcting services like job placement. The Board, naturally, wanted to know why people busted for drugs and alcohol got jobs when law abiding citizens couldn’t find work. Further, part of the grant, because it is a box on a form to be filled in, were candy, flowers, abstinence chips, and dinner. The candy and flowers became the “midnight basketball” of the discussion.
Pat Whitley, former supervisor and current honcho on the Loyalton City Council reminded the board that the people the program would help had kids. In perfect Helen Lovejoy style, Ms. Whitley challenged the Board to think of the kids.
But Chair Adams would have none of that. He stated that it wasn’t up to the state to worry about someone’s kids, it was up to them. Still, when the dust settled I’m pretty sure it was 4 to 1 in favor of the money, with Dave Goicoechea voting “No”.
The Board agreed to move forward toward finding a solution for the Water Master problem. Supervisor Goicoechea recused himself because he owns a water gobbling ranch.
Photo: Local artists presented their work to the Board. They are benefiting from some social services money.
The Board heard a presentation from Tahoe National Forest Watershed Program Manager Carol Kennedy to explained how short sighted and myopic the Forest Service can be, and how our watersheds are or aren’t in danger depending, and how they are now going to descend on Carmine Valley.
The Board also heard from staff who were assigned to research redistricting. A couple of tentative proposals were made to the Board.
Staff, in researching the matter, determined that Loyalton has too many people to be its own district. All districts have to be within 5% of the medium, and no more than 10% over all spread. There should be about 604 people in all districts. That’s people, not voters. Four hundred children and probably a similar number of felons can’t vote, but are counted for this.
All of the proposals so far have tried to keep like communities together, for example, Sierra Brooks in one district, or Calpine, Sattley, Sierraville all together as West Sierra Valley towns. As always, the problem of population is master of all decisions.
The Board will decide before the 1st of November what configuration they’ll choose.
That’s most of what happened!