Supervisors Set New Ejection Record Tuesday; Hear 3 Hours of Public Comments Then End Meeting With Plenty of Verbal Fireworks

Private security guards escort Steven King from the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers Tues. Sept. 12, 2023. Photo source: Nathan Pinkney video screengrab

Shasta County’s Board of Supervisors set a new record Tuesday by ejecting an audience member and clearing the board chambers within the first 10 minutes of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at 9 a.m.

Steven King is asked to leave the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers following his outburst against Chair Patrick Jones and Kevin Crye. Photo source: Nathan Pinkney video screen grab.

This was the fourth such ejection since May and the third time Chair Patrick Jones ordered the chambers vacated in an attempt to restore order.

At the May 30 board meeting, Nathan Pinkney was ordered out of the meeting when he reacted with disgust at race baiting by Alex Bielecki who used the N-word while at the podium and looking directly at Pinkney, the only person of color in the audience.

Bielecki also thrust out his left arm with his middle finger extended in a vulgar gesture directed toward Pinkney who yelled at Bielecki to “shut up!”

Instead of chastening Bielecki, a supporter, Jones ejected Pinkney, a frequent critic of Jones.

The second ejection on Aug. 15 also featured Pinkney, whom Jones singled out despite an overflow crowd with many people simultaneously acting out or shouting comments when displeased with something the board members were saying or doing.

However, this time Pinkney refused to leave the board chambers and was instantly surrounded by friends who refused to allow private security personnel to escort Pinkney from the room.

This caused Jones to storm off the dais and attempt to take matters into his own hands, actions halted only by the quick thinking of Shasta County CEO David Rickert who called Jones back to the dais for a quick consultation.

Jones then banged his gavel repeatedly and ordered the entire chamber vacated.

The third ejection occurred during the Aug. 29 meeting when Christian Gardinier was ordered to be escorted out after verbally complaining when chair Jones allowed yet another of his supporters to exceed the three-minute speaking time allotted to audience members for public comment.

Jones strictly enforces the time limit when criticism flows, yet often allows supporters to speak well beyond the mark.

When Gardinier refused to voluntarily leave the room, Jones again ordered the board chambers vacated for a 10-minute recess.

This week, Jones announced immediately after the invocation and flag salute his newly revised rules of audience decorum, including a reduction of warnings for improper behavior from three warnings to one prior to ejection.

Jones typically allows public comments on general topics to take place before any official business is conducted and then allows comments on each specific business item as the agenda progresses.

Robert, the first speaker, “strongly objected” to using Shasta County resources to file a lawsuit against the California legislature in an attempt to block the enactment of Assembly Bill 969, which modifies state Election Codes to prohibit any voting jurisdiction in the state to hand count ballots when there are more than 1,000 registered voters eligible to cast ballots for a regularly scheduled election or more than 5,000 registered votes eligible to participate in a special election.

The bill, marked urgent since election season is rapidly approaching, recently passed both the state Assembly and Senate and only awaits the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom before it becomes law.

Next up, Steve Woodrum thanked Jones for allowing public comment since “we can talk back to government.”

Woodrum then cautioned the public, “Don’t use this podium to blow up this meeting.”

He finished by admonishing the board chair. “Rules need to be applied fairly. The disruptions during the last few board meetings were caused by your unequal enforcement of those rules.”

No sooner had Jones announced the next several names of people who submitted comment cards for permission to speak when Steven King began shouting from his seat.

“Which Steven King are you referring to?”

Jones attempted to clarify as he scanned through a pile of yellow speaker request forms, but King continued to shout, eventually resorting to several F-bombs directed at Jones.

In less than 10 minutes from opening the meeting, Jones ordered King out of the chamber and announced a 10-minute recess once the room was vacated.

A point of order here.

Usually, according to Rosenberg’s Rules of Order, the supervisors’ meeting guideline, a recess requires a motion, second, and vote before it can take effect. Jones did none of those things.

Once the meeting resumed, there were a few single warnings issued by Jones. However, no one else was ejected and the public continued to comment on a wide variety of topics until 11:22 a.m. when the first item of actual board business began.

Kate Tully, 80, an obviously proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution decked out in red, white, and blue and displaying a wide ribbon decorated with various pins of office and genealogy including the names of 17 family members who fought for American independence, was presented with a board proclamation declaring Sept. 17-23, 2023, as Constitution Week.

“It is so important to pay attention . . . to the dreams our founding fathers had for this great country,” Tully said as she accepted the audience’s applause and board’s accolades.

The annual proclamation ceremony drew its own round of public comments including a woman named Janet who cautioned the board.

“Words are merely words unless there is action. Be a good example and show your constituents how you intend to follow and know the US Constitution.”

Janet then suggested a fun way to educate young people, board members, and the general public about the Constitution might include a Constitution Bowl pitting the five county supervisors against a similar number of staffers from the District Attorney’s office in a battle of memory and wits.

“I would love to be able to moderate that contest,” Janet offered.

Richard Gallardo praised the “ceremonious occasion” and declared it “perhaps the first time in many years when such a proclamation was signed by a majority of board members who actually meant it.”

By 11:53 a.m., the board unanimously passed a motion to award the proclamation and then spent another 10 minutes setting up a group photo to mark the first item of business successfully completed.

The next item of business — creating a Citizens Election Advisory Committee — in which each supervisor would appoint one citizen to serve, launched another half hour of public comment until Jones called a recess for lunch and 90 minutes of closed session discussion on a personnel matter — appointment of a Public Works Director — and labor negotiations with United Public Employees of California, Local 792, General Unit.

After resuming shortly before 2 p.m., the board voted 3-1 to establish the Citizens Election Advisory Committee with District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman abstaining and District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert voting against.

Patrick Jones, District 4, joined with Kevin Crye, District 1 and Chris Kelstrom, District 5 voted in favor of establishing the committee.


The board then heard a presentation of the county’s annual crop and livestock report for 2022 from Rick Gurrola, Agricultural Commissioner and Sealer of Weights & Measures for Shasta County.

The 18-page report compared 2022 livestock and crop production, prices, and gross revenues for field crops ($46,575,000), livestock ($24,368,000), fruit and nuts ($2,096,000), plant nursery stock ($5,269,000) and apiary products ($10,839,000) with similar categories from 2021, 2020 and 2019.

Legally grown cannabis, although not allowed outside of the incorporated areas of Redding and the City of Shasta Lake, added another $22,533,000 to the gross revenues during 2022.

No figures were available for illegal cannabis grows, Gurrola noted.

Overall, non-cannabis agriculture yielded $89,147,000 in gross revenues for Shasta County growers and ranchers while timber harvests yielded another $13,999,777. Gurrola noted the revenues in each category were generally the highest they have been in the last 10 years.

“International trade is a vital component of Shasta County’s agricultural economy with exported commodities from the region going to 20 countries” including Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jordan, Republic of (South) Korea, Kuwait, Mexico, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Tunisia and Uruguay, the report states.

Bleak jail staffing news

The county board then heard an update from Undersheriff Brian Jackson on staffing in the county jail.

“We currently have 73 full-time Correctional Deputy positions allocated for in our Custody Division budget, but currently we have 52 working, so we are down 21 positions, which is the lowest number I’ve seen in many years,” Jackson stated.

“In our Public Safety Officer (PSO) category, we have allocated for 10 full-time positions, but we currently have four working, so we are down six employees,” he added.

“We lost 5 deputies and one PSO in August. One moved out of the state, one laterally transferred to another county, one left for the private sector due to the low pay we offer, and two were on leaves of absence and decided to move on and vacate their positions,” Jackson noted.

Since December, we have cut the hiring cycle from application submission to the start of training in half, from four weeks down to two, he noted.

“When I applied in 1966, it took me nine months to get hired and I had no problems in my background, so we have made a lot of progress,” Jackson said.

“Since June, we received 212 applications and we completed background checks on 28 people we deemed as good prospects,” he added. “The sad thing is, we started training 12 of those who completed background checks successfully, and we lost six during the training and have six coming on board shortly,” Jackson said.

“Some people use the scatter gun approach and apply many places all around and then they don’t show up at various stages of the hiring process,” he explained.

“The hiring practices we are using are working very well. The big problem we face is in the retention of those employees. We just can’t seem to get over the hurdle of keeping people,” Jackson noted.

The biggest issues identified in a series of staff meetings conducted by Jackson and other administrative staff members include the overall salary levels the county is able to pay, as well as the large difference in pay between correctional officers and sheriff’s deputies out on patrol, he said.

“Eighteen months ago, we came to the board (of supervisors) with a proposal that would have addressed those two issues and it would have cost the county between $6 million and $7 million” in additional costs, Jackson said.

More recently, a short-term proposal to borrow police one or two police officers or sworn law enforcement personnel from the cities of Anderson and Redding garnered stiff opposition from police chiefs in both cities, he noted.

“There’s a pretty big skills and knowledge difference between going out on patrol and working in a county jail. And there is also a problem of taking calls and patrolling across jurisdictional boundaries,” Jackson said.

Another update on hiring enough additional correctional officers to staff the now-vacant third floor of the county jail will be made in October, he noted.

Weaponized, politicized mosquitoes

The last hour of the board’s nearly five-hour meeting devolved into verbal fireworks regarding the possible appointment of a former county employee, now retired, to fill a vacancy on the Shasta County Mosquito and Vector Control District board of directors.

The special district board has five members, two of whom are appointed by the county, and one each appointed by the cities of Anderson, Redding, and the City of Shasta Lake.

Donnell P. Ewert, an epidemiologist who previously led the county’s Health and Human Services department until he retired in February of 2022, was the only applicant for the open board seat when the position was advertised, noted Stefany Blankenship, Chief Deputy Clerk of the Board.

Former Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency director Donnell Ewert.

Due to Ewert’s support of state-mandated face masking and vaccinations during the COVID pandemic, several members of the public, as well as chair Patrick Jones commented they would not support the appointment of Ewert to the position.

Richard Gallardo of the Red, White, and Blueprint coalition suggested several laboratories are working to genetically modify mosquitoes so they do not carry transmissible diseases from animals or birds to humans.

“Mr. Ewert is not to be trusted with the genetically modified (GMO) mosquito,” Gallardo noted.

Rising to Ewart’s defense was Steven Kohn.

“Donnell Ewert is so overqualified for this position that I highly recommend him,” Kohn said.

When all the public comments ceased, Mary Rickert motioned to appoint Ewert to serve on the district board, a motion quickly seconded by Tim Garman.

Chris Kelstrom, who earlier had chastised the board for taking too much time to make a decision on another agenda matter, then made an alternate motion to postpone the appointment until the county could re-advertise the position to obtain more applicants, a motion Jones seconded.

Kevin Crye spoke in favor of supporting Kelstrom’s alternate motion.

Rickert, who was a board member when Ewert was still head of the county’s public health services, came to Ewert’s defense.

“Chair Jones, this sounds like a personal vendetta against Donnell Ewert. You are using this as a political football as a way to appeal to your base,” commented Mary Rickert.

Jones then claimed Ewert approached the Redding City Council when he was on the council and misrepresented two programs — Project Room Key and Project Home Key — programs designed to provide transitional housing for the homeless that cost the county almost $5 million.

A roll call vote resulted in Rickert and Garman voting no, while Jones, Crye, and Kelstrom voted yes on the amended motion to reopen the position in hopes others might apply.

The verbal fireworks continued to soar high and loud during reports from each supervisor on their official activities since the last board meeting.

When county CEO David Rickert noted AB 969 was passed by both the state Assembly and Senate and was “heading to Gov. Newsom’s mansion,” Jones, who earlier vowed Shasta County would sue the state “before the governor’s signature was dry” on AB 969, quickly made a motion to sue the State of California on unspecified grounds.

Point of Order, this item was never placed on the agenda either for discussion or action.

That is exactly what County Counsel Matthew McOmber noted immediately after Jones’ motion.

Jones then attempted to schedule a special meeting for Thursday, until Deputy Clerk Blankenship reminded the chair of a 24-hour prior notice requirement for special meetings under the Ralph M. Brown Act, California’s open meetings law.

Jones then tried to schedule a special meeting for Friday, until McOmber announced he would not be available all day Friday to serve as County Counsel.

Crye then piped up saying he was attempting to coordinate with supervisors in 25 to 30 other counties and “create a rallying around us in fighting the state’s overreach” on how individual counties handle elections.

Noting that Huntington Beach supervisors recently passed a no mask, no vaccination ordinance, Crye opined that he wanted Shasta County to be a leader on the state overreach issue.

Faced with roadblocks on acting sooner, Jones then announced he would take responsibility as chair to place the state lawsuit item regarding AB 969 on the Sept. 26 agenda “because surely the governor will have signed it by then,” Jones noted.

With that decision made, Jones banged his gavel to adjourn the meeting.

Point of Order. Isn’t there supposed to be a vote to adjourn?


If you appreciate journalist George Winship’s accurate reporting, please consider a contribution to A News Cafe. Thank you.

George Winship

George Winship is a long-time Shasta County resident with a wide range of professional and community experience. After earning a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon, he joined the Redding Record Searchlight as an award-winning reporter, and was the paper’s first business editor. He worked as a district field representative for Senator Maurice Johannessen, and later became editor of the Anderson Valley Post. Winship is a former Shasta County Grand Jury member. He owns and operates The Village Wordsmith, where he edits and rewrites clients’ book manuscripts, and works as a researcher and freelance feature writer. He can be reached at gwinship@shasta.com.

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