Sac Bee: Do we have an “overabundance of Democracy”?

16 Sep

I enjoy a copy of an out-of-town newspaper once in a while.  I hadn’t seen the Sac Bee in a few years, grabbed a copy at The Store when my husband drove me up to the hills to get out of the pea soup hovering over the valley.

The leading editorial was right out of my mouth – “Overabundance of Democracy: Elected bodies often avoid Scrutiny.”  The editors opine that while choice is wonderful, sometimes too many choices lead to nobody really doing any choosing. Voters in Sacramento County are faced with “32 special districts elections with one, two or even three open seats apiece…” California has “roughly 2300. They include mosquito and vector control districts that decide when to spray your neighborhood with pesticides and water districts that decide how much you have to pay when you turn on the tap. Others manage sewers, parks and cemeteries.” 

In our upcoming election we have a school district election and Chico Area Recreation District board positions. Unfortunately, we don’t get to elect our Mosquito and Vector Control Board, they are spoils appointments made by the county supes and the city councils in the district.

I agree with the editor – there’s nothing wrong with having these boards, but they need to be monitored. The Bee points out some districts they feel should not even exist – I’d say we need to lose Vectors and turn the operation over to the County Health Department – but ideally, these boards are a way for us to have more control over agencies that can put bonds or assessments on our homes.  As you may know, BCMVCD did just that earlier this year, in a process that I think we should all be questioning more seriously.

The Bee feels, “People are so busy and disconnected…”, cites low voter turnout, and complains “local governments rarely get the kind of oversight they deserve when making decisions about how to spend our money.”

Hear hear! How many times have I said this, well, you know, in my own way: “If we’re not paying attention, they may do things we don’t want. They may even line their own pockets, as the leaders in the Southern California city of Bell did for years before getting caught.”

Matt Ball, the guy who runs Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control, makes about $110,000 a year, and pays less than four percent of his own benefits. The new CARD director is making about same, and while I don’t know what his benefits package looks like, his predecessor, now retired, Steve Visconti paid nothing toward his own benefits and pension.

I have attended CARD board meetings, this is really easy.  They are monthly, start at 6:30 or 7:00 pm, and are usually over by 8:30. Right now they are talking about putting an assessment on our property taxes to pay for a grand new aquatic center. You can find information about all this at the CARD website – the “resources” page has budget and agenda information.

http://www.chicorec.com/CARD-Resources/index.html

I have never been to a BCMVCD meeting. I think they’re monthly, in the evening.  They seem to be held mostly at the little office in Oroville, but are sometimes held at the “Taj Majal” out on Otterson  Drive. You can find out a lot about this agency via their website:

http://www.bcmvcd.com/about.php

The editor sums up “Citizens have to get involved. Just think, if every adult picked just one local elected body to pay attention to just once a year, it would go a long way to keeping just the right amount of democracy.”

Well, I’d  say, get out there more than once a year. I myself have tried to keep up the blab on this stuff, but frankly, I haven’t been able to get to the meetings like I used to, I been busy in my personal life. But I don’t have to be disconnected.  I go to the websites and read the agendas, the documents, I do some research, I talk to people.  Try to get out there and find a commission to follow. If you want to send a report about a meeting, please send it to the “Contact Us Here” button at the upper right corner of the front page. 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: