- Mendocino County
- Anderson Valley
by Rex Gressett, July 6, 2016
Monday night, June 27, 2016 — I believe that it is more than ok to say it like it is in politics. It is essential to an interesting public dialogue that viewpoints be precise and probing even when precision hurts. People have said things about me that I thought to be rather unkind and therefore probably untrue. But we must all of us speak our minds candidly on those issues that are political and common to the community, even if feathers are occasional ruffled. But it is hard to speak strongly about the departed. To accost a politician that has left the political arena is kicking a deadhorse, unnecessary and generally unuseful, but in the case of Scott Dietz I think that one final (short) observation is in order.
Mr Dietz served his one term of office with considerable distinction but of an unfortunate kind. His tale can be told succinctly. He was usable, they used him and they disposed of him. Fini.
Monday night he announced that he would not be running again. In departing the city council he removes with him the most palpable reminder of the dirty behind-the-scenes deal making that subsequently embroiled city management in a mayoral recall, a ballot initiative and the formation of an organized (slightly, but formally) opposition to what was heretofore an unopposed city hall political machine. True, the machine got its business done anyway in spite of any hasty and bitter opposition. The money was got, and faithfully passed to the right people. Cash got safely to the appointed anointed. Payday came for the people who expected it and in fair consequence did what they do to earn it. It was business as usual but this time, unusually, there was considerable public notice. Deals like this that had been conducted nicely in the dark up to now, somehow were the subject of contentious, indeed packed, indeed super-packed city council meetings. And worse it became apparent to everybody that town hall could be packed, by means of the strange power of that strange giant social media. Worse yet subsequent events demonstrated that a packed city hall could awe and intimidate and stimulate to substantive morality a city council that had previously conducted affairs with swaggering disdain for public opinion. As I write this now after many battles the city of Fort Bragg awaits an election result to see if the city has been solidly and perhaps fatally rebuked. Mr. Dietz was the victim of all of that attention.
Of course, it is not fair. Mr Dietz came to office as a virgin lamb of unexceptional pretensions and has only done as he was directed. He was just a trifle venal when it came to who he felt comfortable working for. Decidedly it turned out not to be the people who elected him. When the still unnamed whistleblower released the secret emails (about how the Coast Hotel deal went down) the public saw for the first time the nature of the participation of councilman Dietz in complex negotiations to secure for a pet agency a sleazy real estate agreement on a property smack in the middle of town. Up to that point he had been, in his avuncular fondness for the powerful, just potentially useful. But in his new position as councilman he saw his duty and joined with vigor in the hustle to put a scheme to a vote through the narrowest possible window of public notice (four days). Then bravely to stop dead any rude public discussion of the project. The goal was to stick to the quicky decision, and push it forward over the top of any public opposition. He helped the city manager in every way to limit discussion, hide even the fact of public opposition and certainly hide its extent and nature and most of all to to get the money to the people who expected it in spite of public comment or opposition. Mr. Dietz worked at all of it quietly but conscientiously. He ignored his constituents, insulted his community, led the charge to a larcenous and obscene misapplication of civic funds conducted in the face of massive public opposition for the convenient enrichment of a faction. Like most factions that get that kind of money they were not too savory but Deitz loyally did not demur. He did his job for those to whom he felt he owed loyalty.
Monday night he got his reward. He would not be running he announced and no one said a damn thing.