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County Notes: Efficiency, Mendo Style

Tuesday’s first Supervisors meeting of 2023 was back to no-business as usual. Nobody questioned the outrageous new $750k consent calendar threshold proposed by staff in their new Board rules, so that was rubberstamped along with everything else on the consent calendar. 

Supervisor Haschak thought they should do a better job of reporting on their ad hoc committee activity since their Board rules happen to require monthly reporting. Supervisor Maureen Mulheren said she’d already been doing a great job of that herself with her monthly reports, even though her Supervisor’s facebook “update” page hasn’t had an update since last September. (Her updates hardly constitute “updates” anyway since their mostly just a list of meetings attended.)

Supervisor Williams whined again about having to “clean up messes” left by prior boards, as if all their problems are “legacies” left to them by prior Board negligence. Newly elected Board Chair Glenn McGourty agreed that they all have been doing a great job dealing with difficult situations facing them, never mind that they haven’t dealt with any besides occasionally whining about them. McGourty was honest enough to say that the board was actually just “trying” to address some issues.

The Board boldly voted to “accept” the report about the latest jail expansion overrun increase. (A bolder move would have been to simply reject it, because none of them seemed to be happy about the situation.) Supervisor Gjerde thought part of the problem was the “questionable ethics” of pricy Sacto consultant Nacht & Lewis who he said did a lousy job estimating the cost initially which gave the County the impression that they could build the new gold-plated facility for about $26 mil ($25 mil state grant, $1 mil local match). The current estimate has ballooned to over $37 million and everyone assumes that it will go up further. The Nacht & Lewis rep, of course, denied any such thing, saying the $25 mil was the max that state would allow and that the cost overruns had to do with state agency delays and high inflation, not them and their champagne style design concepts. There was a general feeling, including from Sheriff Kendall, that the state should cover most of the overrun, but nobody volunteered to initiate any action in that regard other than maybe mentioning it with our moribund state reps, a non-strategy that has no chance of success. When McGourty asked CEO Darcie Antle where the County money would come from to cover the latest $1.4 million overrun increase — they had already borrowed $10 million which turned out to be insufficient — Antle replied she’s still waiting for the books to close. (Never mind that the previous estimate of any possible carry over from last fiscal year, maybe $500k, has already been committed to other deficits.) McGourty called the situation “a real horror show” since the County seems helpless to stop the barrage of cost increases and is on the hook for them anyway. Williams said that the jail expansion is just “deferred maintenance” dumped on this poor Board by previous boards, failing to note that the expansion project has nothing to do with the poor condition of the existing aging jail.

They adjourned at little after 11am after congratulating themselves for their “efficiency,” i.e., doing nothing in less time than usual.

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