Supes rescind conservation district appointments
Nov. 27, 2012 — In a decision that may be unprecedented in the history of the Lassen County Board of Supervisors, the board set aside the appointment of two members to the Honey Lake Valley Resources Conservation District (RCD).
The board rescinded the appointments it had made at its Nov. 13 meeting Nov. 20 after an outcry from the public and other candidates seeking office.
District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson, who chaired the Nov. 20 meeting due to the absence of District 4 Supervisor and chairman Brian Dahle, said he had lost enough friends over the appointments the board had made the week before. He said he didn’t intend to lose any more.
The board set aside the appointments and assured all the candidates they would be considered when the board plans to revisit the matter at its Jan. 15 meeting.
On Nov. 13 the board appointed Jesse Claypool and David Schroeder to the board, and John Richards and Fredric Evans tied for the third seat on the board. District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman was expected to cast the deciding vote at the Nov. 20 meeting.
The board discussed the appointments and their ramifications for nearly two hours.
Several candidates said they attended the Nov. 13 meeting after the board had already made the appointments because they thought the matter would be discussed after a time-certain item listed on the agenda. The board does not follow the agenda in the order it’s listed.
The manner in which the board publicly noticed the appointments also drew criticism, and in the end the board decided to reset the process and begin again.
Lassen County Administrative Officer Martin Nichols recommended the board rescind the appointments and allow all the candidates to remain under consideration, direct county counsel to research all pertinent codes and advise the board and then reagendize the matter for its Jan. 15 meeting. The board voted 4-0 to accept Nichols’ recommendation.
Hanson apologized to Claypool and Schroeder and said, “I’m sorry we’re having to go this route.”
Many of those who spoke to the board said the RCD has been forced to move away from its traditional responsibilities as a conservation district to shouldering the responsibility for administering the activities of the water master.
They acknowledged by including the water master duties under the RCD’s direction, the budget increased from about $10,000 per year to about $1 million per year, but the district needed to be involved in more issues that just water distribution.
Some feared many of the potential candidates might have conflicts of interest regarding the water issue that would further jeopardize the RCD’s ability to function.
District 1 Supervisor Bob Pyle said the district board has proven it can’t function.
When the supervisors drew fire for making the appointments, a task it assumed after the RCD delegated that authority to the board of supervisors in an effort to save the costs of electing the board members, Chapman suggested the board could simply hand the responsibility back to the RCD.
“We don’t have to be doing this,” Chapman said. He also added despite what was published in the newspaper, he was not going to cast any tie-breaking vote.
The matter was further complicated by the resignation of RCD board member Jeff Pudlucki. According to his letter of resignation, Pudlucki said he resigned to pursue other interests, but several candidates said he resigned to protest the appointments made by the supervisors. Nichols said the board should allow Pudlucki to continue to serve if he so desired.
Jay Dow addressed the board and said, “This is about water master services. That’s why everyone’s here.”
He added he was concerned because “all the applicants have a dog in this fight.”
Candidate Barbara White suggested the board could rescind the appointments, “and you’ll put this fire out.”
Hanson and District 3 Supervisor Larry Wosick both noted the board now has a larger understanding of the issues involved, but Pyle said he heard nothing new today.
Chapman suggested it might be time to “restart the engines and reinvigorate the process.”
He noted if Claypool and Schroeder were “strong candidates” in the beginning of the process he expects they will be strong candidates again.
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