Mendocino County Today: October 12, 2013
by AVA News Service, October 11, 2013
IT'S HOME INVASION SEASON. 37-year-old Keo Oudone Vannarath was shot to death early Thursday morning west of Red Bluff (across the mountains from Covelo) when three pot thieves appeared at the medical grow Vannarath was apparently tending. According to police reports, Roger Bounnhaseng, Alan Doulphus, Jr and Chase Doulphus drove up to rob the growers of their plants when Vannarath was shot trying to escape. The robbers fled. Police say they were alerted to something going on when a red pickup stopped at a neighbor near the grow site and asked them to call 911. Police eventually found the truck with Vannarath inside it 12 miles from Red Bluff. Meanwhile, someone at the grow must have contacted police because an APB was put out for the silver Honda containing the alleged robbers.
Bounnhaseng, A.Doulphus, Jr., & C. Doulphus
The vehicle was located by California Highway Patrol helicopter in Shasta County. Deputies on the ground tried to stop the car, but it sped off. A chase ensued, ending when the Honda crashed. One of the occupants was sent to the hospital with minor injuries. Cops say they found a loaded gun magazine and pot in the car. The three have been charged with second-degree robbery, possession of marijuana for sale, selling marijuana and disregard for safety (for the car chase). All three were held on a $2,050,000 bail.
A READER sent us a copy of the Coast Hospital Foundation’s 2011 tax return, which includes a summary of the finances for the Foundation’s 2011 Winesong! fundraisier held annually to benefit Coast Hospital. According to the tax return, the event had gross receipts of $602,870 (i.e., donations, sales of donated wine and gifts, etc.) and $362,907 in expenses. The $362,907 included $67,593 for rent/facilities, $22,295 for food and beverages, $1,980 for “entertainment,” and a whopping $271,039 in “other direct expenses,” yielding a net donation to the financially struggling hospital of $238,857.
$271,039 IN “OTHER DIRECT EXPENSE”? What’s that? Presumably it does not include purchases of raffle prizes since that would be listed on a separate line item, and it’s not. It’s also hard to believe that facility rental would cost almost $68k. The 990 form does not say who got the $271,039, but it sure looks suspicious.
TWO SONOMA COUNTY public figures of the blandly uninspiring type SoCo politics seems to manufacture have added their names to the list of candidates to replace retiring Second District State Senator Noreen Evans, hardly a heavy hitter herself. Mike McGuire, 34, is considered the “front runner”; he was mayor of haute bourgeoisie Healdsburg before being elected to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. McGuire has yet to officially file but, claims the Press Democrat, is discussing his candidacy with “a cross-section of political camps” — the dozen or so Democrats who decide all the candidates — and because he has “support among substantial campaign coffers” (sic).
THE OTHER NEW CANDIDATE is 30-year old Erin Carlstrom, a first-term Santa Rosa city councilperson. Ms. Carlstrom describes herself as a “business lawyer.” On her personal website http://www.erincarlstrom.com/ she touts her prowess as a swimmer as if it's a qualification for office. “Erin is a swimmer with the Santa Rosa Masters swim team. As a four time NCAA All-American athlete, Erin understands the importance of community facilities and recreation programs.” Who doesn't? And “Erin knows that support for recreational programs does more than give youth something to do — it develops healthy and prosperous adults.” It does?
MOVING INTO HIGH FEEB-THINK, Splash's Oakland-based campaign manager said the timing of her announcement was to give Carlstrom “some quiet time with her baby.” The candidate is currently on maternity leave from the Santa Rosa Council. No mention of hubbykins.
McGUIRE AND CARLSTROM join two previously declared candidates: Senate Staffer Chris Lehman, 36, of Arcata, and Eric Lucan, 32, a Novato City Councilman.
McGuire, Carlstrom, Lucan, Lehman, Wiesner
THERE’S ALSO a sacrificial 70-year old “Republican” named Lawrence Wiesner in the race. Grandpap should be good for some comic relief, the other for humor of the unintentional type.
GOV. JERRY BROWN VETOED A BILL Friday that would have imposed the nation's toughest gun ownership restrictions on Californians, saying it was too far-reaching. The legislation would have banned future sales of most semi-automatic rifles that accept detachable magazines, part of a firearms package approved by state lawmakers in response to mass shootings in other states. It was lawmakers' latest attempt to close loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to work around previous assault weapon bans. Gun rights groups had threatened to sue if the semi-automatic weapons ban became law. “I don't believe that this bill's blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners' rights,” the Democratic governor wrote in his veto message. He also noted that California already has some of the nation's strictest gun and ammunition laws. The legislation was among 18 gun bills considered by the governor as he works toward a Sunday deadline to act on bills sent to his desk last month. He signed 11 firearms bills into law and vetoed seven.
BAN FRACKING IN MENDO
I just took action to demand that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors ban fracking in the county.
I just signed this petition -- will you? I think you should too!
Ed Oberweiser, Fort Bragg
COMMENT OF THE DAY: I tell you, I don't envy anybody trying to run an independent bookstore these days, especially not in a pricey venue like Sonoma County where store rents are so high. I mean, were it not for Mr. Harry Potter most of them would have been steamrollered by leveraged-debt creeps like Borders et. al; plenty of them were anyway. Sebastopol is such a money pit that only those shops selling the trendiest of stuff seem to get by, and typically they don't for very long since trends, by their nature, change. The big noise right now is “The Barlow,” a kind of industrial chic mega-mall built in the ruins of the last apple processing plant, and while it's certainly better than a derelict factory, it says a lot about the general collapse of America that economic revival will only come in the form of providing more places for people to spend money, not make money. It's like everybody has forgotten how a community's wealth is actually created — that you take raw materials and apply talent and ingenuity to create something of value from them that benefits as many people as possible in the process. Now it seems to be about luring rich folks north from Marin and San Francisco to buy wine, a pricey commodity produced largely on the backs of expendable and minimally paid Mexicans. “Jobs,” the magic word endlessly touted by politicians, now means benefit-free careers in minimum wage clerking. “Economic recovery” is framed as the need to reduce taxes for the ruling class, already stashing their millions offshore in order to patriotically shirk their tax responsibilities.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CEO ANGELO.
October 11 was Carmel Angelo's birthday.
Carmel is Mendocino County's CEO.
Carmel is also one of the best things about Mendocino County. Three or four years ago, we had to downsize County government. It was a cruel fact of life. We were going broke. We were on the bubble for bankruptcy. And we had a junk bond credit rating.
In short, we had too many liabilities.
We had too many County employees. Salaries that were too high. We had too much real estate. Too many wasting or depreciating assets. We had an unrecognized Teeter debt. We had too many unnecessary or duplicate programs. We had soaring healthcare costs. Soaring pension costs. We had improper "diversions" off county contributions intended for the retirement system.
Tax revenues were declining.
We did TRANS borrowing just to make ends meet.
Now, under Carmel's leadership, and with the best Board of Supervisors that we've had in many years, the budget has been balanced.
On the liabilities side of the County's balance sheet, we have 30 per cent fewer County employees, and those remaining employees took a 10 per cent pay cut. Excess real estate has been sold or expensive leases closed out. The Teeter debt was recognized, amortized, and is being paid off. Unnecessary programs were eliminated. Other programs have been outsourced or privatized. Healthcare costs are being contained. Pension costs remain a problem but are under control with a new actuary, accountant, auditor, legal counsel, and an investment consultant at the County's retirement system (MCERA). Improper diversions of County contributions intended for the retirement system were stopped, as was the absurd pension accounting fiction known as "excess earnings".
TRANS borrowing stopped.
The County's S&P bond rating was recently upgraded.
On the revenues side of the County's balance sheet, tax revenues have reversed their decline. Tax revenues are flat, and they may even be slightly rising.
Let's wish Carmel Angelo a Happy Birthday at her County email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or wish Carmel at Happy Birthday at her FB page https://www.facebook.com/carmel.angelo?fref=ts
And let's thank her, too, for helping to turn around our great county. It's our home and the best place on earth.
— John Sakowicz, Ukiah
CHIEF WILSON RETIRES
Falling Burning Trees & Other Tales
by Terry Ryder
“It was June of 2008 and we were standing on the borderline of a two-mile fire line watching a BIG FIRE advance toward Rancho Navarro when suddenly the ‘The Chainsaw Crusader’ appeared out of the black night. He approached a very large burning tree that was threatening to fall and breach the fire line. It was a BIG tree and it was on FIRE. With his chainsaw he cut it down neatly falling it back into the fire and thereby saving Rancho Navarro. He disappeared back into the night without a word. It was awesome.”
These are the words (more or less) of a Navarro volunteer firefighter Holly Newstead describing the actions of Anderson Valley’s retiring Fire Chief Colin Wilson who helped to save her home and those nearby during the Lightning Strike Fires in 2008. Sheriff Allman was also on hand, noting that Colin did not go home once during the first four days of those fires June 21, 22, 23 and 24th. Everybody loves a hero and we’ve got ours.
To hear Colin tell it is a whole different story. Like any person who has achieved the overwhelming respect of his peers, he is a study in humility. His advice to his successor Andres Avila with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek: “Take credit for what other people have done.”
Andrea LaCampagne served as M.C. for the evening and she was not fooled as she thanked him for creating our entire first rate AVFD infrastructure with four new Anderson Valley fire stations in just 13 years. She said, “You brought us there, you organized it, it’s a wonderful legacy.” Someone mentioned that there were many who thought just getting an old van and painting it red was the way to go in Colin’s early days and that there was plenty of controversy he had to contend with. Far from being a spendthrift however Colin knows ways to get things done for the best price in the best time. Someone mentioned that being a Fire Chief for an all-volunteer department requires a chief who is confidant, competent, a leader, teacher, diplomat and therapist! As the night rolled on and the plaques piled up (I lost track after the first four) Colin told us that his wife Patti thought that they might need to build a new room to get more wall space.
Valerie Hanelt of the CSD Board compared the difficulty of Colin dealing with disasters that included an overturned fuel tanker, a missing kayaker on a swollen Navarro River, invisible helicopter blades threatening to chop an unaware man to bits and getting building permits for four buildings in Mendocino County to the rigors of defending his budgets to the various CSD budget committees over, and over and over and over again. She had him unwrap a plaque that will go on the outside of the Boonville Station. Colin said, “This looks suspiciously like a memorial plaque and I’m not quite there yet.”
Chief Wilson’s son Luke Wilson talked about how his dad had worked hard to build cooperation between agencies starting with volleyball games together and culminating with Cal Fire moving into the Boonville station for a couple of years while their new station was under construction. You can’t get much closer than that. He told us how strongly his dad championed live fire trainings to get volunteers over the first shock of facing fire so that when the real thing came along they would be able to respond effectively. In the end Luke choked up a bit as he appreciated his dad’s accomplishments and we all heard Colin tell him, “Come on, you can do it” as he has told so many others so many times before. Karen Ottoboni mentioned that she knew the Chief “when he didn’t have a stomach and did have hair.” adding, “Colin taught us to take care of ourselves and his vision and dedication made us step up.” Rusty Pronsolino who went to school with Luke Wilson started volunteering when he was only 16 years old. He told Colin, “I was hooked from the start, and you have influenced me so much in my life.” Rusty’s mom Sandy told how Rusty would skip parties on the nights before fire trainings.
Fellow Fire Chief Larry Tunzi said that the best Chiefs come from and love their communities. His humorous aside was “You have been a burr under my saddle for 16 years and I’m glad to see you go!” Chief Tunzi added an inside joke among firefighters: “CHAOS stands for Chief Has Arrived On Scene.” There were several who commented that meeting times would now be cut in half without Colin there as, “He has an opinion on everything.” As far as leadership goes small details can tell you a lot. Andrea told us that Colin always drank milk at any get together because with that white liquid in his glass there would be no thought that he was drinking on the job.
As Colin looked around the packed Apple Hall he remarked that he attends many events where he is surprised how many people he doesn’t know “But I know almost all of you. You are the people who made me a success.” There were many standing ovations during the evening and calls for speech, speech went unheeded. Always a master of timing, at the end of the evening Colin began to respond to things people were saying about him often adding thank yous. When he told us that Judy Long was “the heart and soul of the department” he shed a few sweet tears. Finally he started asking people to stand up to be acknowledged. The room was filled with firefighters and supporters, that’s for sure. What a bunch of doers.
Colin’s party would have been the perfect place to be if a disaster had hit. He even had the families of the firefighters stand up to be thanked. Herein lies the genius of Colin. He may have been “harsh” to a hapless recruit on occasion but his goal was always to keep everyone safe. Occasionally it is a good idea to wake somebody up especially when it could be a matter of life and death. We have to admit that Colin like other real leaders in our community does not suffer fools gladly and aren’t we glad that he does not?
So some of us plaqued him, some thanked him, hugged him, played music, picked flowers, presented funny presents, teased him and danced with him and even cried a few tears with him. His crews went in together to give him and wife Patti a $2,000 gift card along with a road atlas and a guide of the National Parks (wish they were open…) If only everyone could retire with such a sense of a job well done what a grand world this would be. Why do some step up to assume so much responsibility for so long for the welfare of others as Colin has done and Andres is now doing? We will never know, but we can be grateful that they do. Thank you Colin for all you have done.
NORTH COAST RAILROAD DIRECTOR BERNIE MEYERS’ BRILLIANT FAQ ON NCRA MATTERS
By Hank Sims
[Ed. note — Bernie Meyers — a lawyer, antitrust prosecutor, former Novato City Council member, and occasional Lost Coast Outpost Op-Ed columnist — is stepping down from the board of directors of the North Coast Railroad Authority, where he has served as one of Marin County’s appointees for the last six years.
As a parting gift to the public, Meyers has penned this incredible FAQ that lays out the authority and its 1,000 troubles in great gaudy detail. This will forever more be the URL to which you send your friends when they ask: “NCRA? What’s that? What’s the controversy?
Mr. Meyers: We thank you for your service.]
* * *
Questions & Answers About the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA)
What is the NCRA?
It is an Executive Director and a Legal Counsel who direct activities in connection with a freight rail right-of-way.
What do they do?
They mainly oversee a lease with a freight line operator, “NWP.” NWP is headed by a former NCRA Executive Director and a General Counsel who was a member of the California Legislature and the US House of Representatives.
Are there others at the NCRA?
Yes. There is an Executive Assistant and an on-call engineer. Of late, there is also a part-time real estate assistant.
What is the term of the lease?
With potential extensions, about a century.
How much money does the Lease require NWP pay to the NCRA?
Nothing, until NWP has a year in which it makes $5 million in net profits.
When might that happen?
It depends, but it is very possible to not occur this century.
Well, once the $5 million threshold has been achieved, will NWP be required to pay lots of money to NCRA?
No. Any money NWP pays is placed in a fund, and there is a cap on the fund. Once the cap is reached, no further fees need be paid, except that if the fund balance falls below the cap, fees to bring the fund back up to the cap are to be paid. Also, NWP has to OK all the fund’s expenditures. And when the lease expires, all of the money then in the fund is given to NWP.
How can that be?
Ask who negotiated the Lease.
Who negotiated the Lease?
For the NCRA, the Executive Director and the Legal Counsel. For NWP, the former Executive Director and the General Counsel.
Was there a connection between NCRA’s Executive Director and the NWP?
No, except that the NCRA Executive Director was the Chief-of-Staff for the NWP General Counsel while the General Counsel was in the Legislature and in Congress.
How do the lease terms compare with similar leases between state railroad entities and private operators?
Not favorably. Generally, others are for terms of between 5 and 20 years, with possible renewals if conditions are met. For example, a 2007 Ohio lease provides for 5-year renewals if various conditions are met, including a review of shipper satisfaction, safety, car loadings, track maintenance and financials. Then there are best practice provisions, energy efficiency provisions, and conflict-of-interest provisions.
Did the NCRA staff publically compare the NCRA-NWP lease terms with the terms of similar leases from other state owned rail lines and explain why it chose the differences?
Might there be other reasons why the lease has these terms?
Yes. The line was not functioning for five years before the lease was negotiated. The northern part of the line runs through a very active geological area and is very expensive to maintain. Some of the line’s old customers were no longer in business and the others had switched to other means of shipment. Timber production had fallen from its heyday and was unlikely to reach its prior levels. There were public funds available for repairs, but were only sufficient to repair part of the line. The major potential source of freight revenue was from aggregate in the Eel River Canyon (Island Mountain) where the repairs would far exceed available public funds.
So NWP was the only operator willing to give operations a try?
Was there a request for rail operators sent out for public bidding?
Was NWP the only responder?
No. There were five responders. Three were apparently viable contenders. Two of the others promised to pay NCRA a portion of their revenues and a monthly stipend. But NWP was deemed the winner. The lease negotiations then commenced and ended three months later.
Did NWP make some payments to NCRA besides those required by the lease?
Yes. In a side agreement to the lease, NWP agreed to pay $20,000/month until such time as it would have to pay trackage fees under the lease, and NWP would get credit for these side agreement payments when it later was to make trackage payments. But NWP changed the agreement to end the monthly payments earlier. Later it turned the side agreement payments it had previously made into a receivable owed to it by NCRA. So over the last six years, NWP has paid about $30,000 in trackage fees to NCRA and is not paying anything now.
When the lease was signed in September 2006 did NWP think that there was enough public funds to rehabilitate the line to Willits?
No. Prior cost estimates were known to no longer be applicable. The funding was thought sufficient to get the line repaired to Windsor and perhaps a bit further.
Does NCRA have a mandate requiring it to get the line up and running over its entire right-of-way, no matter what?
No. The NCRA is based on the California Government Code (Section 93000 et seq). It was to prepare a plan for the acquisition and operation of the railroad line at no expense to the state. In evaluating the plan NCRA is not required to forgo common sense. It is not required to expend public funds to no avail. It should determine whether its operations are fiscally prudent.
Tell me about the right-of-way.
It is about 310 miles long, running from near Lombard (near Napa), west to Novato, in Marin County, and then northward through Sonoma County, Mendocino County, a small bit of Trinity County and then up around Humboldt Bay (Samoa) in Humboldt County. It started operations a century ago when SP and Santa Fe ran timber and passengers along the line. In 1929, SP took it over. Over time, the amount of freight diminished and some of the operations were sold to an entity that soon went bankrupt. In 1989 the California Legislature formed the NCRA, which then bought part of the line. The southern end of the line (from Healdsburg south) is owned by what is now known as SMART and NCRA has a freight (and excursion) easement over SMART’s line, while SMART has a passenger easement over a portion of NCRA’s line. The line was SP’s most expensive line to maintain. It suffered devastating flooding in 1964. SP rebuilt it. Again in the 90’s it suffered flooding and eventually, in 1998, the feds shut the line down (EO-21) until repairs could be affected.
Was the line recently repaired?
Partially. It was rehabilitated from Lombard to Windsor, just north of Santa Rosa, about 62 miles. The work started in 2007 and was completed in 2010 (per NCRA) or 2011 (per NWP).
How much was paid for the rehab?
NCRA says it cost $68 million taxpayer dollars. Another $3 million was spent by NWP but most of that has been reimbursed with taxpayer funds.
Was the NWP money spent to cover work done after a public bidding process?
No. NWP was given a no-bid contract.
Was the NWP work completed in accordance with the initial contract price and timeframe?
No. The final cost was about 3 times the initial amount and instead of three months it took over a year.
Did the Board audit the billing?
No. It is a sorry story. Don’t get me started.
Was that the last no-bid contract awarded to NWP?
No. NWP has been awarded a no-bid contract for the cleanup of toxics at the Ukiah Depot.
Does NWP have experience in cleaning up toxics?
No. It has hired a contractor to do so. NWP adds 7% to the contractor’s bills for itself.
Who directs NCRA’s Executive Director and Legal Counsel?
Under California law, the NCRA has a nine member Board of Directors. Two each are appointed for two-year terms by the Boards of Supervisors of each of the four counties, and one is chosen from among the cities along the right-of-way.
Who oversees the Board?
Does the Board give periodic reports to anyone?
Not really. It does have an outside auditor review its books from time-to-time. Its most recent audit covers the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2011.
2011? This is 2013!
How about reports to the California Transportation Commission, or the Cal Legislature, or Caltrans, or the feds, or any of the Boards of Supervisors?
For the most part, no. Generally there are no reporting requirements. Because the NCRA misspent some taxpayer funds over a decade ago, Caltrans listed the NCRA as a High Risk Agency. This meant that if NCRA spent taxpayer grant funds administered by Caltrans, before Caltrans reimbursed NCRA, Caltrans required that the contract be bid out and that NCRA pay the contractor bills. If NCRA did not have sufficient funds to pay the contractor, NCRA had to borrow funds and then pay off the loan when Caltrans reimbursed NCRA. NCRA had over a decade to remove itself from the High Risk designation, but it chose not to. This cost NCRA over half-a-million extra taxpayer dollars – so far. So there have been reports of a sort to Caltrans.
There were other reports to the CTC on those occasions when NCRA sought to obtain state funds to do the rehabilitation work and as the funds were spent down.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors twice invited NCRA to appear (2010, 2013). The first time, the NCRA Chairman said NCRA would do so, but then it did not. The second time it declined to appear. While there might have been NCRA reports to other Boards, none are known. The Marin representatives have periodically made individual agendized public reports to the Marin Board. Other representatives may have acted similarly, but none are known.
NCRA also reports yearly to the California Comptroller. But the numbers shown in the Comptroller’s reports are clearly erroneous. The erroneous numbers were repeatedly brought to the Executive Director’s attention. Apparently, NCRA has not taken any action to correct the numbers.
Is NCRA financially stable?
Looking at its finances, it appears to be near bankruptcy. The current budget can only be balanced by assuming that significant obligations will not be paid. Prior years’ budgets showed expenses well in excess of revenues. It has a long list of creditors with claims well in excess of NCRA’s yearly revenues.
How will NCRA repay its creditors and continue to exist?
NCRA has assets. Perhaps it most easily liquidated asset is the 10 or so acres it owns in Ukiah (the Ukiah Depot property). The property needs to be cleansed of toxics, but after that, 3 to 4 acres are to be sold to the California Courts for a new courthouse. The remaining acreage can then be sold to one or more developers. The millions of dollars expected from these sales should pay off most, if not all, of the creditors.
NCRA also owns property in the Eel River Canyon. The value of these properties is unknown, but substantial enough that NWP insisted that NCRA not grant any security interest in them or sell them without NWP’s OK.
Is there a list of creditors, showing who is owed what and the order of repayment, and is it regularly updated?
No. No list and no updates.
Are staff members creditors?
Yes. Legal Counsel is owed several hundred thousand dollars. The on-call engineer is also owed a substantial amount.
Who audits the amounts due staff members?
No one has audited Counsel’s billings.
NCRA covers a large area – four California Counties. Does it hold public meetings?
Yes. It generally meets monthly, on the second Wednesday of the month, rotating through each of the four counties. It has a small office in Ukiah.
How does NCRA keep the public informed about its activities?
On Friday it posts in its Ukiah office the agenda for the succeeding Wednesday. Generally it also has a packet of material available there which covers the agenda items.
But the line stretches 150 miles north and 150 miles south of Ukiah. How does the public get the information about the upcoming meetings?
The agenda is posted on the NCRA website. Sometimes it is posted on Friday. Often it is not posted until later, including Monday and even Tuesday. Likewise, the packet is generally posted on Monday or even Tuesday. Copies of the agenda and packet are also mailed to interested parties, on the preceding Friday or the next day or so.
Are the meetings broadcast in real time?
Are all of the proceedings available on the website soon after the meetings are concluded, including final versions of the action items and all of the public’s submissions?
No. Minutes are approved at a succeeding meeting, but they are action item minutes, not verbatim minutes. There is a recording made of each regular Board meeting and often posted on the website, but the quality lacks something. Public submissions at meetings are not put on the website.
What independent study is there of the line’s future prospects for hauling freight and carrying excursion and commute passengers?
In 2002 a study was done for the Humboldt Bay Harbor District.
What did it conclude?
That the line would be very expensive to maintain, and under all but exceptional circumstances the line would not be able to make money for the 25 years of the study.
Has there been a more recent study?
No. In about 2010 NWP supposedly did a market analysis of at least a part of the line, and used it to support a joint (with NCRA) loan application to the feds. But NWP did not allow the NCRA Board to see the analysis.
In its requests for grants does NCRA include any independent market analyses showing what benefits would inure from the grant funds?
No. The most recent application (TIGER V) only used NWP’s estimate of new freight it would haul.
Can the Board members be replaced at the next election?
No. As noted above, Board members are appointed for two-year terms, and they may seek reappointment for additional terms. They are not elected by a vote of the people.
Are Directors free to voice their opinions about actions taken by NCRA?
Not according to the NCRA. In December 2012 the Board adopted a “Code of Ethics” which requires all Directors to uphold all Board decisions once the Board has voted. If followed, this would inhibit, if not prohibit, full, fair reports to the appointing Boards of Supervisors and others.
Isn’t that a violation of each Director’s rights under the First Amendment?
Can the NCRA be changed?
Yes. It could go to the California Legislature and explain what it has accomplished in its existence, what its problems are, how it got to where it is, what its potential for success is, and what the Legislature might do to authorize NCRA to operate differently. Then the public could weigh in as well. There would be a full and frank discussion about what is needed to revamp NCRA and the governing statute would be changed to encompass the conclusions.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. No, really. How might the NCRA be changed?
A member of the Legislature could ask for the Joint Legislative Committee to review NCRA’s operations, audit its finances, and then give a recommendation as to how NCRA could be changed so as to provide benefit to the State. Then the public could weigh in as well. There would be a full and frank discussion about what is needed to revamp NCRA and the governing statute would be changed to encompass the conclusions.
An alternative would be for NCRA to declare bankruptcy as soon as possible. That way it would still have some assets to cover its legitimate debts and put an end to its ongoing financial debacle. It would probably also prompt the Legislature to proceed as noted above.