Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Goofy gavel

From page A4 | January 01, 2014 | 43 Comments

“Having not said anything the first time, it was somehow even more difficult to broach the subject the second time around.”
― Douglas AdamsSo Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Sometimes being chairman of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors will go to a person’s head. A person gets control of the gavel and thinks he is God’s chosen one with powers beyond merely running the meetings.

One board chairman in the 1990s, John Upton, even signed a contract brought by the CAO without bothering to bring it to a vote of the board.

Now, we have learned from several sources that Chairman Ron Briggs allowed Bill Center to ramble on about his opinion of traffic conditions on Highway 50 without benefit of engineering staff expertise to set the record straight. That was because Chairman Briggs apparently instructed staff not to respond. He didn’t just abrogate the First Amendment, but he skewed the information for the rest of the board and the county as a whole.

Here is how the Business Alliance Newsletter recounted it:

“Supervisor Ray Nutting repeatedly asked for staff to respond to questions posed by the BOS and members of the public, but no staff came forward. After Supervisor Nutting expressed frustration that no answers were provided, Chairman Briggs (District 4) reported he had directed staff not to participate in the Measure Y presentation.”

Center’s conclusion: ”…according to the General Plan we must stop residential subdivisions.”

Oh, thank you Mr. Bill. You already helped close Michigan-Cal when you were on the board. Why not close down the rest of the county?

Apparently Chairman Briggs is going out in a chariot of fire. After giving county employees a 15 percent raise and chain-sawing elected department heads’ pay by up to 40 percent he justified the resolution he pulled out of a hat at a Monday meeting by telling reporter Chris Daley, “The joy ride for some electeds is over.”

He followed that folly up with letting rafting industry advocate Center pass himself off as a traffic specialist and the county’s nationally recognized traffic consultants as total dim wits.

By the end of the year the chairman’s gavel had clearly gone goofy. Someone else will get the chairman’s gavel for 2014. It can’t happen soon enough. Hopefully, the next board chairman or chairwoman won’t take 2013′s chairman as an example of how a chairman should act.

Denying valid information to the rest of the board is not in the chairman’s job description and it is just plain dysfunctional.

Mountain Democrat


Discussion | 43 comments

  • SparkyJanuary 01, 2014 - 6:32 am

    Briggs was re-elected and ran unopposed in a District that had not seen a repeat representative in about 50 years. How could that be? Who cleared the path? Could he be at the podium? 2013 was a wide ranging series of textbook examples of political paybacks for all to see. The MD is wrong to call this dysfunctional. It is manipulative, dishonest and maybe even worse. The need for leadership has never been greater...

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  • EllenJanuary 01, 2014 - 9:54 am

    Staff is not typically invited to participate in presentations to the Board, such as this was. Staff will be coming back to answer questions along with Caltrans in February. I am sure there are plenty of things that can be complained about without promoting the false drama perpetuated by the Business Alliance Newsletter. For the record, all of Bill Center's facts were just that: Facts, drawn from county staff data and Caltrans data.

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  • Peter MelnicoeJanuary 02, 2014 - 2:33 pm

    Bunk. County staff always has their say, but are not necessary for theater and do not have to testify at every hearing.

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  • Process ShamJanuary 01, 2014 - 10:28 am

    Not true Ellen. I have never seen a board process that generate so many unanswered engineering questions and no response allowed by staff or caltrans, Not questioning the facts, calling out the process sham. The public was not served fairly by that approach.

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  • Not a False Drama, EllenJanuary 01, 2014 - 11:53 am

    There is a considerable difference between staff "not being invited to participate in" a presentation and Ron Briggs giving specific direction to staff not to answer issues raised. Briggs has done the public a disservice by allowing Bill Center a forum to pontificate, while instructing staff not to respond to correct the facts or even answer questions from the Board. Ron Briggs is only one of five elected members of the Board and as the 2013 Chair, he serves at the pleasure of the entire Board. It is an abuse of Briggs' authority to use his position to deprive other Board members and the public at large of a fair and open dialogue about important issues.

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  • JohnboyJanuary 01, 2014 - 2:14 pm

    Nite MaryEllen

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  • 1036-FrankJanuary 01, 2014 - 6:54 pm

    Facts stand on their own and the fact is traffic is already confirmed at level F on the west end of the county according to Caltrans and the people voted twice to control residential development under M-Y that will increase traffic on Highway 50 if the development is over five units, this isn't hard to grasp and is fair enough to understand people want slow managed growth and no high density re-zoners. The Department Head pay issue was something people have been asking to correct for years and most are happy it was corrected except the affected people who enjoyed the ever higher and shocking pay levels, some of which were nearly the highest in the state, and were not sustainable in a small tax base county. Next on the list should be reductions to parity to other counties for top staff positions of the same departments. This issue has little to nothing to do with employee raises. New leadership coming to the BOS with the elections of 2014 should focus heavily on maintaining the rural county values people want by enforcement of M-Y as the people demand after two votes of confirmation.

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  • Phil VeerkampJanuary 01, 2014 - 7:25 pm

    Right on, Frank. I'm retired. I've got mine. Economic paralysis aka " enforcement of M-Y as the people demand" is no skin off my nose. I've got mine. The youngsters need to . . . uh . . . adapt.

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  • Ron BriggsJanuary 01, 2014 - 8:04 pm

    Dear Editor Regarding your January 1, 2014 “Goofy gavel” editorial I am not sure where to start? What comes to mind is my dads’ fond paraphrase of an Abraham Lincoln quote “if you cannot beat a man with logic, you can always resort to calling him names”. I thought the Mountain Democrat stood for democracy and for the taxpayer. Instead of a sneering reference to a yearlong open dialogue about salaries for elected department heads that culminated into a November 2013 action by the Board of Supervisors who voted affirmatively, adamantly, to reset elected department office holders from a run a way system of enhanced and special pay which had an infinite compounding scheme, to a simple no gimmicks pay schedule using the average median pay from eight of our neighboring counties. Your editorial should’ve thanked the board for their decisive action which, in fact, will save the taxpayers of El Dorado County hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, in current and future pay and retirement for a handful of department heads who happen to be elected. In an effort to educate the readers to what was going on let’s take the Treasurer Tax Collectors position in example. The “list price” or base pay was $135,000. On the surface this is fair pay when compared to similar size departments within El Dorado and amongst our neighbors. But, over the last couple of decades past boards decided to add extra pay differentials or “add on’s”. By the time the Treasurer Tax Collected got out the door she was, in fact, being paid W- 2 wage of $179,000 annually. Our staff had been pouring through all past board ordinances and through personnel resolutions where all the “add ons” were surreptitiously woven into paychecks during the past twenty years. It has taken months for staff to put all the pieces together, just imagine if a member of the public were to seek the same information and how frustrated they may be. As far as I am concerned, there is no blame to place on any single person or prior boards. The fact is the system was rotten. We were a poster child for how taxpayers are being stuck with six figure retirements that are breaking the fiscal backs of government. The County of El Dorado was right to take a leadership position and do something about it fairly. With regard to your astoundingly absurd observation that members of the public need to be refuted by staff when they present their thoughts to the board. Really!? Back in August of 2013 the authors of Measure Y and a majority of localized citizen groups having banded to create “Rural Communities United” (RCU) asked for time to speak, present, their view of our county general plan, the traffic demand model and in general about future growth. On their behalf I sponsored a two hour presentation to the board followed by two agenda items of staff discussion of the points made by RCU. This was not a good combination, as staff, and public became polarized in defense of their respective view. With experience now held, I agreed with leaders of RCU who asked for a second unfettered presentation in December which your editorial takes exception to. It is incumbent upon Supervisors to listen to all sides, gain staff input then deliberate. For your paper to suggest anything less is being done by our Board of Supervisors is wrong and misleading. The citizens - taxpayers of El Dorado are best served when its government is open minded to all. I have worked the past seven years to repair some deep land use growth wounds which were gouged into our daily lives in part by editorials like yours of January 1, 2014. So, yes, RCU presented a second time in December and if they want a third time, I would sponsor that request as well. The more we understand one another’s position the better government can be. In closing, I believe that fair and reasonable compensation for government employees extend to elected officials. And that taxpayers and citizens have a right of unfettered access to their representatives. Finally, I consider Bill Center a friend, and I reject the Mountain Democrat suggestion that his or any other person or groups voice be selectively censored or deliberately refuted as suggested by your editorial. rb Ron Briggs District IV Supervisor Chairman, County of El Dorado Board of Supervisors January 1, 2014

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  • 1036-FrankJanuary 01, 2014 - 8:58 pm

    Most people support this 100% and not only did the BOS take the right action in regards to Department Head pay, as supported and requested by a large majority, this is a fact and undisputable. It will also save millions of scarce tax dollars in a small county over time. The current on-going action to enforce M-Y and implement slow growth and re-set and re-vote large re-zones and proposed re-zones and apply M-Y to them is not only proactive, it is supported by a majority, and was already confirmed by voters twice. This should be continued by the BOS. This also makes sense as what appears to be a major drought is here, last seen in 1976, and it is going to be significant and this will curtail new water allocations. This, from the BOS, is sound policy and has the support of the people.

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  • Full DisclosureJanuary 02, 2014 - 5:25 am

    It should be noted that this un-signed Editorial was presumptively written by the paper's Editor whom is the Husband of Cheri Rafferty, one of the Elected Department Heads that just had their pay cut. Coincidence?

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  • Ken SteersJanuary 02, 2014 - 5:44 am

    Thank you Ron for your clarification of the situation.

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  • SparkyJanuary 02, 2014 - 6:10 am

    Each year as chairperson of the BoS should not be a one year autocracy of my agenda, my way, and my political paybacks. Any individual board member, without the consent of the board, directing an entire department s participation in a public hearing regardless of the subject is an abuse of power, unethical and maybe even illegal. The fact that this past year unfolded the way it did is a clear example of the weakness of this current board. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, sounds like a duck then.....

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  • Ken SneersJanuary 02, 2014 - 6:15 am

    Hey Ken Steers, how is that Drunk Driving diversion class going?

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  • community standardsJanuary 02, 2014 - 8:59 am

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  • Phil VeerkampJanuary 02, 2014 - 9:30 am

    LINK - Do El Dorado County Leaders Reflect the Community's Standards? ~~~ ". . . Meanwhile, back at the "Celebrity Bartender Fundraiser" things were going swimmingly until Mr. Steers left and was subsequently arrested for Drunk Driving by the CHP. This is when Mr. Pierson's potential conflict of interest was realized. It is Mr. Pierson's job to prosecute his friend and campaign contributor, Ken Steers. Additionally it is the DA's job to investigate if a bartender or server had served him drinks when he was in a state apparent drunkenness, as it is criminal to continue to serve someone that is drunk already. And who served drinks at the event? According to Vern's own invitation, it was He and his buddies Harn and McGinnis. Who actually served Mr Steers the drinks and was it too much? Well that has to be investigated by the DA, the same man that may be a prime suspect! Will he be aggressive at prosecuting the man that is a key player in his political campaigns? This is a clear conflict of interest. One that caused our Sheriff to decline the invitation to be a "Celebrity Bartender." One that Mr. Person should have learned for his prior boss's experience. Now we are left wondering if our DA will do his job, even if that means . . . "

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  • cookie65January 02, 2014 - 9:58 am

    "Oh! what a tangled web we weave: When first we practice to deceive!" -- Sir Walter Scott

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  • Oh BrotherJanuary 02, 2014 - 4:32 pm

    wow...pretty sad stuff. setting a horrible example.

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  • Phil VeerkampJanuary 03, 2014 - 12:43 pm

    LINK - El Dorado Confidential: What Connection does Psycho DA Vern Pierson Have to a Registered Sex Offender? (CONTENT WARNING) ~~~ " . . . Alarcon and Dellinger have an air-tight case. It appears that Vern Pierson knows this, but is using the “Grand Jury Made me do it” defense. ~~~ And Pierson’s rampage is based on a Grand Jury that could easily have been influenced by the young boyfriend of a publicly outed pedophile? ~~~ Here is the last Irony – Auditor-Controller disbursed $10,000 after reviewing everything related to the local ballot measure campaign! Does that mean Vern Pierson should be prosecuting him too?

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  • what?January 02, 2014 - 9:48 am

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  • Justice InsiderJanuary 02, 2014 - 9:51 am

    Aint Misbehaven

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  • Phil VeerkampJanuary 02, 2014 - 9:52 am

    " . . . According to Vern's own invitation, it was He and his buddies Harn and McGinnis. Who actually served Mr Steers . . . ~~~ Recall also how preceding Nutting's Indictment Harn appeared on KFBK with his buddy McGinnis and prepped the potential jury pool?

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  • cookie65January 02, 2014 - 10:01 am

    l'etat c'est moi

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  • cookie65January 02, 2014 - 10:15 am

    Phil, I guess we will have a front row seat to the inner workings of the GOB.

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  • Phil VeerkampJanuary 02, 2014 - 1:27 pm

    Cookie, do you recall the circumstances surrounding the "suicide" of EDC DA, Ron Tepper? . . . back around . . . what was it? . . . 1988?

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  • Phil VeerkampJanuary 02, 2014 - 1:41 pm

    LINK LATimes - March 10, 1989 - El Dorado County District Attorney in Apparent Suicide ~~~ ". . . In recent months, Tepper had been embroiled in controversy over his prosecution of El Dorado County Supervisor Michael Visman for growing marijuana. . . ."

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  • SliderJanuary 02, 2014 - 10:53 am

    Maybe Harn, Peirsen, Briggs and numerous other bottom feeding career EDC politicians should realize that the only people that think they are "celebrity's" are themselves. It would be nice if this county (state, Federal Gov) had hard working, honest people that we HIRE (elect) to do a job instead of the I am so important, you cant live without me crowd we currently have running the system (Scam) for us all. I would not drink a cocktail that was held in the hand of these slimy "Celebrity Bartenders". I trust my local bartender way more than any El Corruption County Politician. At least I know she washes her hands after visiting the restroom....

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  • Harley RyanJanuary 02, 2014 - 1:32 pm

    Briggs has always been incompetent and driven only by his ego. And he's from a family of narrow minds. His father John Briggs was the bigot state senator featured in the movie "Milk," who tried to fire all gay teachers. The only reason Ronnie got elected was that the rednecks in the Divide remembered daddy's name, and didn't like the way "Krizl" sounded. Attend one of the EDC board meetings and it's easy to mistake Ron for a character on Sat. Night Live. BUT, I also think it's a little shady how the editor/wife of the treasurer, can stray so far from journalistic ethics and not recuse him from the issue regarding elected pay cuts. This county has become so dysfunctional and it's time to clean house across the board.

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  • Peter MelnicoeJanuary 02, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    What's goofy here is the MD editorial. If you are worried that county executive staff is underpaid or that county staff hasn't gotten their say on the General Plan revision, not to worry. Neither is true.

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  • EvelynJanuary 02, 2014 - 3:08 pm

    (1.) CHAIN-SAWED salaries, elected heads: BRAVO!!! (2.) IT'S A NEW YEAR: The M.Dem managed to mention Supervisor Nutting without sneering. Pass the smelling salts.

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  • Fran DuchampJanuary 02, 2014 - 3:15 pm

    Happy New Year Miss Evelyn...and thank you for the laughter...lololol...2014 is going to be if I could just shake this "icky" flu. I have had lots of fun watching the posts for the new year....but yours was great !!!!!!!!!!!! Lots of hugs and smiles to all. Nod of the head to the trolls...and all the people who do not use their own names--be brave--it is a new year. Ill be around...election year in El Dorado where did I put those names and emails....lolololol

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  • Fran DuchampJanuary 02, 2014 - 3:20 pm

    By the way love this series...The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy <---where the quote came from...just sharing a really fun read. "“Having not said anything the first time, it was somehow even more difficult to broach the subject the second time around.” ― Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish <---"So long, and thanks for all the fish What the dolphins said (or tried to say) to us humans as they left right before the Earth was destroyed..." something to think about.

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  • Oh BrotherJanuary 02, 2014 - 4:50 pm

    So 1036 Frank, a couple of questions for you. You have a very strong opinion of Ray Nutting's legal issues but not much to say about the District Attorney and his dealings with drunk drivers. How about the woman that hit and killed the bicyclist in Pollock Pines quite a while back...never see her picture splashed all over the paper...oh that's right, she's not being held accountable for the DUI or the death of the bicyclist...very selective on the part of the District Attorney and extremely selective on your part who you bash to death with your do you feel that drunk drivers should get away with it? I would think, based on your name that you as a law enforcement individual would be REALLY PISSED OFF AT THE DRUNKS AND HAVE MORE TO SAY ABOUT THAT. So, my opinion is, that you are more about politics than truth, integrity and the judicial system being fair and honest. All DUI'S should be prosecuted. Mr.Tepper was a very nice person and should be left to rest in peace...bring up the current DA and the previous DA...that should give you all more than enough to blog about.

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  • 1036-FrankJanuary 02, 2014 - 4:31 pm

    Somehow after this, I don't think this "bartending" fundraising event will be repeated. The question I have is where was the money going that was raised? As to the case of former DA Tepper taking his life, I was convinced then as I am now it was due to the impending divorce he was facing after he had separated from his wife and had nothing to do with anything else.

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  • Oh BrotherJanuary 02, 2014 - 5:23 pm

    1036 Frank - I asked you a couple of questions...or are you one that drinks and drives also with no regard to driving under the influence causing injury or death? I've been to a few political and "cop" parties and wow do they ever drink and drive with no designated driver...even the correctional officers and the nursing staff from the jail...certainly would think they would know is this issue as important to you as the rest of the stuff you blog about???

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  • Oh BrotherJanuary 02, 2014 - 6:57 pm

    1036 Frank, I did know Mr. Tepper. You are avoiding my questions regarding drunk driving and prosecution of drunk drivers...I hold everyone accountable for that, not just one person from a "bartending" what I wrote.

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  • 1036-FrankJanuary 02, 2014 - 6:14 pm

    Oh Brother. I doubt you ever knew Ron Tepper and most certainly never knew what he was going through and the shock and grief and pain it was at the courthouse and in the county that terrible day. As to this "bartending" fundraiser, I wasn't there, don't know what happened, and if a well known local was arrested for DUI from it I have no doubt the rule of law will be applied. The event doesn't look like it was well thought out and I doubt it will be repeated. As to Nutting I have strong opinions about the law being followed by politicians and candidates and people in general and he will face a jury after indictment as is his right if he doesn't take a plea deal, and all should accept the verdict whatever it is.

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  • Oh BrotherJanuary 02, 2014 - 6:59 pm

    1036 Frank-I posted in wrong spot but please read my response to your avoidance of the questions and statements.

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  • Compass2TruthJanuary 02, 2014 - 6:43 pm

    My opening statement during the 10/22/13 BOS Open Forum: "In a government of the people, by the people and for the people, the citizens own the public lands, the roads, and their freedom. The government has been entrusted with stewardship of those citizen-owned assets and the protection of them, but we see our rights abused regularly by government representatives... Freedom of speech has become governed by political correctness. Our elected representatives refuse to respond to constituents. The government has no right to punish its citizens because the representatives of the people are trying to hold government accountable...I’d like to provide you a little feedback about recent CPRAs submitted to the BOS demonstrating El Dorado County’s government BS (that’s Bureaucratic Shenanigans): WATCH HOW BRIGGS RESPONDS when his feet are held to the fire...

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  • Compass2TruthJanuary 02, 2014 - 7:11 pm

    Over 15 years of experience as an HR professional in both the corporate and government arenas have equipped me to speak with authority on bully tactics, discrimination, conflict of interest, ethics and other employee misconduct… I wish to draw your attention to my reply to Chris Daley this morning regarding an inappropriate email he sent from his business address. Chris isn’t a county employee, but he is the press agent for the BOS… ...Unprofessional conduct & journalistic ethics was the purpose of our 2010 meeting with Publisher Richard Esposito and the Cal Aware consultant who accompanied me. My response to Chris differentiates between whistle blower organizations such as Compass2Truth versus his own distorted perception of harassing bully tactics particularly against women…Whether in the government or private sector, Mr. Daley’s conduct is unacceptable by any standards… A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video is even better - BOS OPEN FORUM 4/9/13:

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  • 57 ChevyJanuary 02, 2014 - 7:22 pm

    If figures lie, and liars figure, then it stands to reason that Briggs and Bill Center are at the CENTER of this BS!

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  • Melody LaneJanuary 02, 2014 - 7:25 pm

    The actions of these GOBs are unlawful and can’t be ignored. They have an obligation to comply with ethical guidelines and to conform to standards of professionalism. In order to instill public confidence in the legal profession and our judicial system, an attorney especially must set an example of lawfulness. As a legislative body the BOS has a legal obligation to act upon that knowledge in a timely manner... You’ll recall the 2010 Grand Jury report regarding SLT dysfunction & misconduct. A similar situation was raised concerning the City Council’s ethics and the conflict of interest issues with the FPPC. We have the same situation transpiring here on the West Slope. However we no longer have a county Grand Jury to investigate malfeasance. On October 7, 2005, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 1234. This bill requires that if a local agency provides any type of compensation, salary, or stipend to, or reimburses the expenses of a member of its 'legislative body' that local agency's officials must receive training in ethics... Bullying and Ethics training go hand in hand. It is recommended that the BOS direct the CAO & HR Director to take necessary disciplinary action of the aforementioned county employees. It is further requested they review the mandated Ethics Training requirements as defined in California Government Code Section 54952... The quality of local government is largely dependent upon the quality of elected leadership. It is up to this BOS to make sound policy decisions to ensure ethical standards are adhered to, enforce appropriate disciplinary measures and thus avoid the threat of costly litigation at the expense of TAXPAYERS.

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  • Oh BrotherJanuary 03, 2014 - 9:30 am

    Ok 1036 Frank, I am waiting for your answer regarding the importance of DUI's and how they are handled in this county. Why would you NOT blog about that more than ridiculous political garbage. Hmm maybe this link will help you forget politics and start demanding the DA prosecute DUI's...all of them.

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