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Mountains, Apples, and Tehama Public Shushed

I hope your week was as good as mine. Mr. Standish and I finally hiked Brokeoff Mountain in Lassen Park last Tuesday.

It’s the Big Kahuna. The Beast.  We nixed it the week before because it was cold, windy, and crowded. This week we were greeted with perfect weather and there wasn’t even any wind at the top. That never happens.

Challenging hike but you can rest and admire incredible views all the way up. 7.4 miles round trip with a 2,600 elevation gain. My calves were mooing the next day. Thank you, CBD lotion.

If you haven’t been to the top, you might be surprised by the size of the summit view area. It’s maybe twice the size of our living room, so you are obligated to say hello to anyone else on top. The tops of Lassen and Prospect Peaks are huge. You could explore for hours. And you should if you can.

 

The Manton Apple Festival was Saturday the 1st, and I got to spend time with old friends and new, including both the Republican and Democratic Congressional candidates – Doug LaMalfa and Max Steiner. Steiner has been running a tv ad where he claims LaMalfa is afraid to debate him. I don’t know if that’s the reason, but there are no debates scheduled. If I had seen the ad before I saw Doug, I would have asked him about it. It doesn’t look good to refuse, does it?

Photo courtesy Max Steiner for Congress Facebook page

 

Photo courtesy Republican Accountability Project – accountability.gop

It’s almost as if Doug is ignoring the fact that he has an opponent at all. Steiner is not mentioned anywhere on LaMalfa’s campaign website, while Max’s site has an entire page where there is a side-by-side comparison on where each candidate stands on important issues. I read it and Steiner is about as right-leaning as they allow in the Democratic party. Check it out so you can be an informed voter, no matter whom you ultimately choose. 

 

Partisan politics is not my jam, so back to the usual suspects. During the Board Matters portion of last Tuesday’s Tehama Board of Supervisors meeting, D1’s Bill Moule requested an agenda item to discuss moving public comments to the end of each meeting, rather than at the beginning, where they have always been and are in every other county we could find. 

Bill Moule – Photo courtesy appeal-democrat.com

Back in 2017 and 2018, at the height of “Reefer Madness – Tehama Edition”, the Chambers were filled with irate cannabis patients and recreational users who had been abated, fined, or liened and were using their three minutes to express their opposition to the bunker ordinance. That ordinance is still on the books but not enforced with the vigor it was before they realized what a giant money suck it was. Anyhoo, back then public comments often went on for an hour or more.

 

Steve Chamblin and Burt Bundy occupied the seats now held by Moule and John Leach. That board voted to keep public comments to 20 minutes total at the beginning of the meeting, and any leftover speakers were allowed to speak at the end – usually many hours later. That went over like a lead balloon, of course, but it worked. They shut us up. Nobody stayed to the end of the meetings, which usually have an afternoon session as well. And that’s the way it stands today. Shasta County’s public comments often go on for hours at the beginning of their meetings and the supes sit there and listen. It’s their job.

Photo by Andrey Popov – pixabay.com

The purpose of this new proposal to hear all public comments after the meeting is a blatant attempt to get people not to speak. There is no way to determine when the end of a meeting will come. Some agenda items are quick, others take forever. 

 

If Moule says the reason is to create efficiency, because staff has to sit at the meetings for so long, that is some serious BS. Shortening meetings by cutting out the most important part is not okay. And pushing public comments to the end would indeed make them disappear. Deter people from speaking by making it as inconvenient as possible. 

 

Staff exists to serve the public. Departments exist to serve the public. The board is paid a ridiculously small salary to serve us, too. It is not their personal fiefdom. If you don’t like the set-up, don’t run for the job. 

 

Additionally, pushing public comments to the end of the meeting would only save 20 minutes, the pre-meeting time allotted now. There is almost never 20 minutes worth of public comments prior to the meeting these days. One hopes Moule will rescind his request when he thinks better of it. It wouldn’t hurt if he started using email, either.
 
For an elected official to refuse to embrace even the simplest technology is a childish display of entitlement. “I don’t wanna and you can’t make me!” The county prints out every bit of information for him, including the agenda packet for every meeting – which run hundreds of pages. I’m sure he has a 5 year old grandchild who could help him learn. They’ll do anything for candy.

 

If you appreciate journalist Liz Merry’s reporting and commentary, please consider contributing to A News Cafe. Thank you!

Liz Merry

Liz Merry was born in Brooklyn, raised in the Bronx, then transplanted to the Jersey Shore. She moved to Chico in 1984 and married her comedy partner, Aaron Standish, in 1990. They have lived in Manton since 1994.

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