Resident scolds supervisors at start of new board term

By From page A12 | January 11, 2013

Shingle Springs resident Valerie Chelseth, a regular attendee at county board of supervisors meetings, threw down a verbal gauntlet at the board’s first meeting of 2013 on Tuesday. She scolded supervisors for “rudeness toward citizens” and chastised the past board for showing “your anger toward our opinions.”

Chelseth specifically named Sue Taylor of Camino as someone “who has been consistently treated badly.” Taylor is a frequent critic of board policy particularly related to development that could negatively impact  the county’s rural nature.

“We lose money (by leaving work) to be here,” Chelseth said. “We’re here to witness your proceedings… and we deserve to be listened to and responded to with respect. You lose your tempers (at us), but we’re all here working for the good of our county.”

Valerie and Pattie Chelseth are co-owners of My Sister’s Farm in Shingle Springs and were deeply involved in the more than year-long preparation of the “Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance” enacted by the county last month.

Pattie brought a gift basket to the ceremony Monday which saw new supervisors Ron Mikulaco and Brian Veerkamp and re-elected supervisor Ray Nutting take the oath of office. After the formal part of the event, she handed out pocket copies of the United States Constitution to all five supervisors, a CD called “The Creature from Jekyl Island,” the booklet titled, “The County Sheriff, America’s Last Hope” and the book “Behind the Green Mask,” by Rosa Koire.

“I hope it keeps them focused on their Oath of Office  and aware of the Big Picture. I did not include the California Constitution as it is the 2nd largest in the world. (no kidding),” Chelseth wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.
After Tuesday’s meeting, new board chairman Ron Briggs, District 4 responded to the Mountain Democrat via e-mail:

“In my opinion Open Forum is an opportunity for the public to use three minutes to convey their individual message not only to the board but through the meetings broadcast, to all of the County of El Dorado in a cogent and civil fashion,” Briggs stated.
Typically, the board chair introduces the Open Forum portion of the agenda by clarifying that the element is intended to bring up issues that are not on the agenda but that are matters over which the board might reasonably have some authority. In general, speakers stick to those guidelines. However, in the past year, board chair John Knight abruptly adjourned a meeting in order to prevent one resident from continuing to speak beyond the 3 to 5 minute time limit. And on rare occasions other chairmen have threatened to have speakers removed from the room by sheriff’s deputies.
“Open Forum IS NOT a back and forth question and answer forum. It’s receive only,” Briggs wrote. “In the past some chairs and individual board members have chosen to engage in a back and forth fashion with Open Forum speakers. It’s the chair’s duty to ensure the meeting runs within the agenda and to determine what represents cogent and civil discussion with every speaker.
“I understand people are people. At the podium, some get nervous; some speak very frank; some are more than frank; and then, there are a handful who simply want to slander and/or be mean spirited. In the past six years I have experienced the public to be on point and sincere in their speaking and this morning was no different.”
District 2 Supervisor Ray Nutting, re-elected in November, began a fourth term this week. He served as a supervisor from 1993 to 2001 and 2008 to the present. Nutting wrote:

“Each Chair runs meetings and many times they have their own style. I believe that the Chair should give the public every opportunity to speak and be treated equally. The prior Supervisor (Knight) always tried to keep the speaker on subject and within the time limit and at times it was difficult,” he said. “My hope with all boards and this new board is that the public always feels comfortable to speak before their representatives. There is always room for improvement and we should always try to be better listeners.”

Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or [email protected] Follow @CDaleyMtDemo

Chris Daley

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