The Mountain Messenger News,
PO Drawer A
Downieville Ca 95936
530 289 3262
DOWNIEVILLE–To say Tuesday was an interesting day is to note the ocean
is salty. It began in Downieville with a shocking Supervisors/Forest
Service trio singing Kumbaya. That show, the meeting of the Board of
Supervisors, continued through to yet another violation of California’s
open meeting law, the Brown Act; such a routine breakage of the law we
tire of mentioning the matter. The day ended at the Candidate’s forum
at the Loyalton Social Hall with a venomous political miasma that made
the act of leaving Loyalton a pure pleasure.
The supes’ penchant for secrecy is, on the one hand, amusing: there
are no secrets in Sierra County. On the other hand, such blatant
disregard for public law inspires in us a deep disgust for the local
The supervisors remind us of CIA torturers. They wait for someone
to tell them it is legal, then begin with relish acts against which
their consciences should rebel. County Counsel Jim Curtis is this
board’s John Yoo: his dubious assurances set the stage for the happy
disregard of the law and the ensuing bloodbath.
Without the public to observe, there are no adults in the room.
The supes’ excuse for ducking into secret session was: “Closed
Session pursuant to Government Code Section 54957.6 to discuss labor
What they actually discussed was the possibilities of budget
shortfalls. Before the discussion waned, at least three department
heads had loudly misbehaved, County Counsel abandoned his post, and the
supes merrily bandied doomsday scenarios involving laying off staff.
How do we know this? Because it was all any of the participants
could talk about following the meeting. The session was about as secret
as a bombing raid: even non combatants could see the flashes and hear
We’ll never know what conclusions were formed, but the public and
public employees are warned: conclusions were formed, and neither this
year’s budget process nor negotiations with staff can be made honest.
Treachery reigns. What begins at the top necessarily trickles
down, and the supes will prove more stupid than they appear if they are
surprised by further staff misbehavior.
The supes’ audience was shocked at a sudden, unique, love-fest involving the U.S. Forest Service and at least two supervisors.
Not surprisingly, the Forest Service official involved was
Sierraville District Ranger Quentin Youngblood. Since his arrival,
Youngblood has enjoyed more of the County’s respect than the entire
Tahoe National Forest. Youngblood has been consistently honest and
involved with the community.
An official of a sister federal agency in a former life,
Supervisor Dave Goicoechea has consistently been a skeptic and critic
of the Forest Service. Lately, Supervisor Bill Nunes has led the charge
against certain Forest Service projects involving water in the Sierra
Valley. Nevertheless, these two supervisors returned to the barn
recommending wholehearted support of a particular Forest Service water
project, and comfort with a developing a sort of ‘memorandum of
understanding’ for future projects.
“This could become the gold standard of cooperation and
coordination,” said Nunes of a proposed agreement with the federal
What has everybody been smoking? We’d like some.
The understanding developed when Youngblood, Nunes and Goicoechea
walked the ground of the Carman Creek project. Evidently, every concern
was recognized and accommodated, and the supervisors formally withdrew
the board’s objections to the project’s funder.
Time will tell if the rest of the Tahoe National Forest will join in the chorus of the old spiritual.
In other business, the supervisors are actively trying to help businesses: in this case seasonal restaurants.
Such establishments need annual health department permits,
traditionally issued once a year, valid for a year. The timing of the
permit issuance has resulted in the necessity of some restaurants being
required to purchase a full year’s permit for only a couple of months
before the next annual permit becomes available.
The supes propose to issue permits valid for a calendar, rather
than fiscal year, eliminating the seasonal overlap. This should be
accomplished at their next meeting.
The supes agreed to experiment with a form to assess financial
risk, developed by Supervisor Scott Schlefstein. The assessment will be
used for Health and Human Service projects; a guinea pig to test out
the concept. If the form proves valuable, expect it to be part of the
back-up information on any proposed action requiring supervisorial
The supes drafted a certificate of appreciation for Tennis Pro Mary
Johnsen’s youth program. Johnsen, bragging or complaining of 75 years
on the planet, is hanging up her racquet.
Since she and husband John “the hermit colonel” arrived in
Downieville, Mary has put the town and the school on the tennis map.
More than 50 kids have participated in her tennis program, 44 of whom
have won all-league awards.
Those skills have looked good on college resumes, and have assisted many in furtherance of their education.
In return, Johnsen thanked the County for its cooperation in
maintaining and improving the tennis courts, and supporting the
program, including Health and Human Service’s hiring of summer coaches
for the program.
“Military men say ‘old soldiers never die, they just fade away.’
It could be said ‘old tennis pros don’t die, they just take up golf,’”