Supervisor Colfax: Shut The Hell Up!

by Mark Scaramella, December 18, 2009


At the Tuesday, December 8, Board of Supervisors meeting, after about three hours of the usual rambling discussion about the first quarter status of the County budget (which three months were being reported was never explained), Supervisor J. David Colfax launched into another of his patented, absolutely pointless, irrelevant and substance-free tirades which should not require any comment, other than to say that nobody else in the room would tell him to just shut up.

The following is a verbatim transcript of Colfax’s eight minute long tedious, painful diatribe for which the taxpayers pay about $3,000 a week.

"The question of whether it's a policy issue that needs to be resolved, uh, does not truly address, the issue. I think the policy issue has been put out there, we put it out there in August when we put in place a balanced budget. We now know that the balanced budget, the balanced budget is not balanced. We're already tipping in the wrong direction. The policy is, uh, to maintain a balanced budget, achieve a balanced budget, by June 30. That's the policy! The question now are [sic] what tactics do we use to achieve that particular goal? So for all what Supervisor Smith has said, and I agree very much with what she said, we… our problem is not very complicated, and quite honestly, I am uncomfortable with the concept that keeps bringing back and has been brought back every year for every, for eleven years for me, every year it comes back that somehow or other the Supervisors sit up here and nick around the edges, as if, as if we're sitting around here talking about what handgun is the best gun to use in combat, uhhhh, that's not our job. The question is whether we go to war or whatever, and I think that's the kind of thing that, uh, we then find ourselves getting into the, th— uh, day to day operations of departments… what is necessary, but once again we have our priorities, we know what the priorities, the priorities, we know what our priorities are at the beginning of the fiscal year, or thereabouts, our August decision, uh, point, right now it's show time. Guess what? The show is going badly! [shakes head] We're projecting inadequate revenues to achieve our policy goal and again by having meetings with department heads and by having discussions, uh, with different levels and the CEO and so forth, from my perspective here, whether we're talking about, whether a trapper is a good choice or not, quite frankly, I don't think we should be sitting up here making those kinds of decisions. What we need to be doing is looking and saying We allocated a certain amount of funds this year for the different departments. What's gone wrong? Well, we take a look at the two, three, four departments that are out of kilter, over, and that's where you cut! It's as simple as that. I don't. I think. We over, we, we, dis-analyze, or we, uh, analyze to paralysis, uh, on so many of these things, but repeatedly we do not take seriously the budgeting process. Either the budgeting process is wrong, which is a policy, uh, question, and it's up to the, uh, our executive department to figure out ways in which we can achieve these goals without bringing it back so the supervisors have to cut off a head or a neck here or a finger, and this is the level of which we've operated traditionally here and unfortunately we've muddled through year after year after year but the muddle is not working now, the muddle is now beginning to turn into a puddle, and the puddles turn into a stream, and that into an ocean, and I think that's where now it becomes much different than it was years past where we could pull something out from here and pull something out from there, and policy be damned, whatever we started with, things evolve over the course of the year, so I, I appreciate, and again, I'm addressing this to you but I'm addressing it to our CEO in particular, uh, that we, really, up here, should not be discussing the nickels and dimes of the organization, we should be saying look, what are you doing to enforce certain decisions that were made in August because that's where it is and we should not be coming up here now in my opinion and, week after week, month after month, saying, yeah, we got a problem out there, we gotta deal with it, and then we hit June and we'll say, OK, it's all over, let's start again, but then what happens is we get all the residue for free from the previous year's failure and by August we're up to it again and we try to create a budget that makes sense and it's another slippage that kicks in so I've, I'm just, well, I agree completely with what Supervisor Smith has just said in terms of needing to look and see what's happening here, I really think we should not be doing this in the middle of the, uh, year, we know right now, we got a snapshot, and a good one, of where we are. OK. Discussion over. OK? You're half time. But we're first quarter. OK? It's going badly. What do you do? You go where your weaknesses are, and the weaknesses are in those departments where people are not, as they say on Monday Night Football, they're not performing! So you make adjustments. You don't make adjustments, you don't pull out your quarterback because he's throwing so well, or tell him to throw it a little lower or throw it a little higher! You go to the players that aren't playing well. And you come back and you hope by half-time that you're doing better and you hope by half-time that you'll win the game, I mean, that's, that's so, so elementary that I don't think we need to be turning this into some sort of, uh, macro analysis of the Pentagon's budget that's, nothing of the ord… that, uh, that kind of complexity, but we have got our budget in place, and we have got to talk to our players and say you're not performing and I can think of some terms that are a little bit… but you better get your, uh, act together, that's the nicest way I can put it and that's it, thank you, but you don't sit there and argue with somebody that's underperforming and that's the authority that I think, I think we have to give our, we have to give that to you, and I think we have given it to you by virtue of paying you to think about the kind of things that we don't have to think about because we are busy taking care of our districts and dealing with day to day nickel and dime issues perhaps that in the larger sense, in the larger frame of, uh, things, uh, you do your jobs, we'll do our jobs, but right now I feel here that the CEO's office is really not taking that authority that we have given it to make these decisions with terms, terms of the shortfalls that we have in place right now and again we can talk endlessly about what would be nice to do or not do, but I don't want to be part of it and that's why I'm talking so much right now at the beginning.”

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