Paolo Maffei made the motion yesterday to appoint fellow Tuolumne County Supervisor Dick Pland as the group's 2004 chairman, "even though I've been told he occasionally rolls his eyes at my comments."

Pland will fill the seat former Chairman Mark Thornton has held for the last year.

"This board and the county as a whole owes you a real debt of gratitude," Pland said to Thornton. "You've led this county through some real choppy waters."

The new chairman said it's likely those waters will turn into a tidal wave this year, considering the financial difficulty the board has faced recently because of a reduction in state vehicle license fees.

Supervisors voted recently to create two "furlough" days mandatory unpaid days off for all non-emergency county employees in an effort to save money. One of the days has already been taken and the other is Jan. 16.

"This is going to be the real capper, financially," Pland said. "And, as such, we're really going to have to pull together. The beauty of this board, from my perspective, is we debate things in a very professional manner."

He went on to say that when he served as chairman four years ago, he made a list of goals and admitted, "virtually none of them were accomplished, but I'm going to try again."

Pland is finishing his second four-year term on the board, and is running for a third term on the March 2 ballot.

Some of this year's goals include resolving budget shortfall issues and county fire protection funding and organizational issues as well as supporting the expansion of youth recreational facilities.

Supervisor Jim Peterson moved the board appoint Supervisor Larry Rotelli as its vice chairman and joked, "I've sat here next to Delbert, er, Larry, for a year and I'm very impressed with his parliamentary abilities."

Peterson was referring to an edition of The Union Democrat in which a photo of Rotelli ran with a caption that identified him as his brother, Delbert.

Both Pland and Rotelli were elected unanimously.