Public Comment time at the Board last week focused on the ongoing political and legal battle between the Anselmo Vineyard near Shingletown and the County. A group of Anselmo employees and members of the Integrity Project staged a rally in front of the County Administration building in the morning, and then lined up to speak in a series of 3-minute presentations during the public comment period. The Board cannot discuss or take action on matters that are raised at that time, as any matter for discussion or action must be placed on the agenda for a specified period before the meeting. The Board could refer any public comment subject matter to a department for follow-up or schedule the issue for a future meeting. The Board did not do this on the Anselmo Vineyard matter.
Comments from employees focused on the jobs that the Vineyard provides. One speaker claimed that the Vineyard employs 40 people full time and up to 100 part-time. Speakers from the Integrity Project focused on the money the county is spending on legal struggles with the Vineyard and asked the Board to find a way to negotiate peace. There was, of course, no presentation on the specifics of the debate. According to news sources, lawsuits and counter-lawsuits focus on whether the county’s permitting process is fair and whether the county has abridged the Vineyard owner, Reverge Anselmo’s, religious freedom to build a chapel and whether the county has unnecessarily delayed the development of the business. On the other side, the county appears to be alleging that Anselmo has built without seeking or receiving appropriate permits. Board discussions on this issue have been held in the past in closed session to discuss the lawsuits.
The Board had little else on the agenda last week. The Board approved a letter in support of legislation in Sacramento that would increase the amount of State assistance for County Veterans Services Officers. The bill is SB 296, Correa. It is important to the Board because there are 18,500 veterans in the county, not including dependents or surviving family members. The Services Officer assists these veterans to receive benefits that they are entitled to because of their service. Statewide, Services Officers have helped veterans obtain $3.6 billion in federal benefits in the period 1995 – 2011. This is a $91 return in federal funds for every dollar the state provides to support local Services Officers. More important, the service will assure that veterans and their dependents or surviving family members receive the support, housing assistance, educational benefits and health care they have earned.
Catherine Camp is currently retired. She served as a Consultant to the California Senate Budget Committee in 2001-02, reviewing Social Services, Employment Development, Aging, Community Services, Alcohol and Drug Programs, Rehabilitation and Child Support budgets. From 1989-2000, Catherine was Executive Director for the California Mental Health Directors Association. During that period, Catherine staffed the county mental health system's restructuring of public mental health through Realignment of community and long term care programs from the state to the county, transfer of the management of specialty mental health Medi-Cal services to those counties that agreed to provide them, development of risk mechanisms for consortia of small counties, and advocacy and policy analysis for the operation of public mental health programs throughout the state. Her prior experience includes Executive Director to the California-Nevada Community Action Association, Principal Consultant to the Assembly Human Services Policy Committee, and Director of Community Action and Head Start programs in Shasta County.