The World newspaper has outdone itself this week for writing the most inane, nonsensical piece of double speak disguised as an editorial I have read in a long time. Titled “Adding more voices makes sense” the writer proceeds to criticize citizens who add their voice by calling them “natterers” and belittling them as people “who hang out at county meetings”.
At issue is the board’s decision to create advisory committees to, well, advise the commissioners on “expertise” they may lack. Many of us have operated under the assumption that this is why our laws provide that public meetings and public hearings be held and why the public are invited to comment. Consequently, forming committees seems a bit redundant but some of the proposed topics are harmless enough and can be viewed as exploratory by nature as, for example, with renewable energy. (Public hearings work just as well, however, and out of that people could choose to form a committee)
Two committees in particular have caused consternation amongst several people who consider it their civic right and duty to “hang out” at BOC meetings. One is a committee will that explore restructuring the number of commissioners or whether to hire a professional executive to run the administrative functions of the County and then presumably take their findings or “whittled down” choices before the public for hearings. Again, holding the public hearings first and whittling down later, before a committee is chosen, during these public hearings would work swimmingly.
The most vocal criticism has been directed at the committee to look into improving how the departments are run. “Natterer” Bob Arnold, voiced quite eloquently last Tuesday, as did fellow natterer, Phil Thompson, that both Parry and Messerle applied for their positions declaring they already knew how to do this and that they should not be passing the buck to ‘appointed’ volunteers. The paper acknowledges that when it comes to running a government both unelected interim commissioners are “green as grass”. How is relying on equally inexperienced grassy green private sector individuals to advise trained and experienced public sector professionals on how to do their jobs a good idea?
The local chamber of commerce, of which The World editor is an officer, is encouraging its members to apply for positions on these committees. Heaven forbid we have a committee populated with the same type of contorted “logic” that authored this editorial looking over the shoulders of our department heads and critiquing staff.
Commissioner Main has allowed the interim appointment of two anti-government guys who, without the credentials or qualifications to do an evaluation, automatically assume our department heads and staff are inefficient and are incapable of making good suggestions themselves. No one knows more about what goes on in these departments than the staff and yet they are being treated like mindless sheep bleating out for guidance from the gurus of the private sector.
The road crew were laid off New Year’s Eve, 2008, and testified at public meetings repeatedly that the plan Stufflebean had enacted would fail and create a public safety hazard. The most qualified people to advise the board on whether the roads could be maintained properly were dismissed simply because they were public employees and perceived to have a beef with the county. We all learned they were right and it is appalling that their valuable experience, paid for by public dollars, was ignored in favor of pressure from people aligned with the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.
Stufflebean’s term taught us just how much damage can be done by one person in a very short period of time and all the while he was supported and influenced by the chamber and the paper. If Messerle and Parry feel unequal to the task there are other more qualified applicants who recognize the significant difference between running a business and running a government. Better that than a bunch of nattering committees hanging out while our government is trying to get things done.