County realignment makes sense
County and municipal
governments throughout California and nationwide are consolidating
services and departments following staff reductions. How best to
re-organize and right-size government is always a challenge. Tuolumne
County's latest attempt in this arena is to combine the Community
Development Department with Public Works. On Tuesday, the county's
Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to create a new Community Resources
Agency to encompass both departments. The new agency will be led by
former CDD Director Bev Shane.
CAO Craig Pedro estimates this will result in $300,000 in annual savings to the county budget.
Some of the discussion leading up to the vote questioned whether this new mega-agency
could adapt and be responsive to the needs of a struggling business
community during this troubling and protracted recession. Mark Banks,
representing the Tuolumne County Building Industry Association, said:
"We have to keep our eye on the ball here. We need job creation and we
need to get our county back to work."
Supervisor Randy Hanvelt also expressed concerns about the new
agency's direction and accountability to the board, the public and the
business community. Both Hanvelt and Supervisor Evan Royce questioned
how the agency's success could be measured. They also opposed any
initial salary increase for Shane. Both voted against approval of the
Supervisor Dick Pland commented that there is a natural resistance
to change, yet it's important to make county government more efficient.
He also said "Economic development is key to the success of the county"
but it is the supervisors that must drive that effort and be
responsible for it.
This newspaper supports the re-alignment. Bev Shane has a proven
record of leadership, competence and ability. As an attorney and expert
on land planning issues, she has demonstrated professionalism,
integrity and fairness in her dealings with all who come before the
county. She has already shown an ability to manage a large group of
employees, with CDD having been the county's largest department. Public
Works adds 60 employees to the newly formed CRA.
Shane says she welcomes "taking on another challenge." That time has arrived.
Wildlife specialist back to full-time
There are quiet
heroes in every community. Individuals who possess a great work ethic;
who exhibit skills, knowledge and experience that few others can match.
These are people upon whom others depend upon to assist them in a time
Ron Anderson is one of our local heroes. In a hearing at the
Tuolumne Board of Supervisors, the ag and ranching community spoke of
his importance to their livelihood.
Anderson is a predator control specialist who works for the USDA.
Yet two-thirds of his salary is paid for by Tuolumne County. In the
most recent county budget cutting - his hours were reduced by half.
Brandishing a petition signed by 418 residents, a dozen supporters
of Anderson spoke eloquently about his skills as a first responder to
nuisance animal complaints. They shared stories and gave examples of
his ability to track and trap major predators like mountain lions,
bears and coyotes. They noted his 24/7 mentality - his willingness to
drive out to a ranch in the middle of the night during calving season -
when Coyotes are stalking the newborn calves. Clearly a reduction in
Anderson's hours would mean more livestock taken by predators - with
substantial economic consequences to their enterprises.
As the session came to a close, the accolades for Anderson rivaled
those of wilderness legends Kit Carson and Davey Crockett. The
supervisors wisely agreed to find the funds to fully restore this
important position. The power of the people - and common sense -
prevailed once again.