May 2012 - Sierra Scoop Column

What a month this has been. I’ll start off with a Board of Supervisors meeting in late March that was held in Mammoth. The afternoon session dealt with the “Aggregation” of At-Will contracts. This is where the County decided to deal with all At-Will contracts for the year in one session versus dealing with them as they would normally come up for renewal. Renewal dates ranged from April all the way out to November! According to Supervisor Hansen as to why the Board was dealing with aggregation, “You’re trying to put a lid on [Supervisor] Larry’s opinion. While listening to him might get annoying, I agree [with him].”

What I noticed was that the room was packed full of At-will employees, many of them with no direct involvement with the contracts at hand. Missing from the room were the Public at large, and non At-Will employees (MCPE). While there were several hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of taxpayer money sitting in the chairs, the MCPE employees could not easily attend this meeting in Mammoth because they would have had to take time off without pay to attend and be involved.

Even with the objections of Johnson and Hansen, the Board moved forward with the renewal of five contracts. While I believe that we have many great and dedicated At-will employees, the issue here is one of smart business practices. Why renew a contract months ahead of schedule when we really do not know what financial condition the County will be in? Why box yourself in advance of doing next year’s budget? No smart business person would ever do this!

At another meeting, the last item on the agenda was brought forward by Supervisor Hazard to “Freeze the Supervisor’s Salaries”. In my opinion this was brought forward just for political gain. I say this as the only way that Supervisor’s salaries can be increased is by an Ordinance passed by the Supervisors themselves. Thus “freezing salaries” may sound like a noble gesture, it is meaningless as they control their own destiny!

As I have said in previous columns, I believe that the top (Board) should show a good faith gesture by taking a pay cut themselves, before asking the employees to do so. In fact at this very same meeting, Supervisor Johnson, back by Supervisor Hansen, made a motion to rollback Supervisor salaries to the 2008 level (~5% cut).

While this may have been shot down by County Counsel citing State Law, the other three board members were not in favor at all. County Counsel stated that any Board member is free to voluntarily reduce their own salaries (as Supervisor Johnson has in regards to his car allowance since taking office). The other three Supervisors were not in favor of reductions.

While I believe that there are severe gaps between reality of those on top and those on the bottom of the pay scales, I believe that it is time for the Supervisors to show true leadership and deal with the real problems at hand. They speak about At-Will employees being demoralized, and while some may be, the other 300+ employees are severely demoralized as they are being asked (told) to do more for less with little to no acknowledgement of their efforts by this Board.

If you have any question or comments for me, feel free to contact me at tim@monocounty.info.

To see topics that are being debated in our County, visit www.monocounty.ca.gov and click on “Board of Supervisors Agenda”. Contact your Supervisor, they work for you! District 1, Larry Johnson, ljohnston@mono.ca.gov. District 2, Hap Hazard, hap04@msn.com. District 3, Vikki Bauer, vbauer@mono.ca.gov. District 4, Tim Hansen, thansen@mono.ca.gov. District 5, Bing Hunt, bhunt@mono.ca.gov.