District staff deserves much credit for their actions at tonight’s ECCFPD Board Meeting as they saved the day and possibly the parcel tax by staying alert and sharp when responding to questions and requests by board member Eric Stonebarger.
If they had not been alert during the December 5 meeting, as well as informed on the Brown Act, the ECCFPD would have suffered an embarrassing blow that would have killed any chance of a parcel tax passing in a matter of a few simple requests that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.
Imagine the irony of trying to be honest about a parcel tax with accusations of the Brown Act in the minds of voters. Thankfully for Mr. Stonebarger, district staff saved the day and nothing was violated.
It was actually quite stunning with some on the board having facial expressions showcasing their shock with the conversation. I actually felt quite bad for the board as their faces showed they knew where the conversation was headed.
The conversation started when Stonebarger requested a timeline of how much time they had for final approval—Chief Henderson informed him that the ballot measure must be submitted 88-days prior to an election. The Chief explained they had two meetings to wrap it up.
In a somewhat of an odd move, Mr. Stonebarger then announced his lack of experience by stating he had never been through this (parcel tax) process before and wanted as much time as possible for review and discussion. He asked staff if they can forward him the draft ahead of time so he and others can discuss it.
That is when the staff jumped in and said it would be a Brown Act Violation because the entire board would have discussion without the public. They provided two options to the board which was a Special Meeting or subcommittees could be created.
Stunningly, Mr. Stonebarger apparently didn’t hear a word from staff or simply wanted to listen to himself speak some more as he then asked if an email with the draft be sent to the entire board and reply directly to staff. Again, staff jumped in an informed him of the “would be” Brown Act violation. Staff recommended if this was to occur the board decide on a subcommittee.
This time it must have sunk in as he then spent a few minutes backpedaling of how “he meant for discussion with staff”. This is when the Cheryl Morgan stepped in to support Mr. Stonebarger with the comments of how the board does need time to absorb the language and discuss it as a board for more than 10-minutes to process it.
The lack of experience by a select few is going to hurt our firefighters who need all the support they can get right now. Going forward, I hope two on the board learn from this nonsense and just start listening rather than trying to outsmart everyone with clever questions or comments.
Major kudos goes towards the staff for their actions tonight by paying attention and saving the day for our firefighters.
Public Outreach Schedule
The following is the Public Outreach Schedule which seems like a lot of opportunity for citizens of East County to attend. They are obviously going all-out in an education blitz to show people how and why they are requesting the $197 parcel tax.
12/08/2011 – Byron MAC
12/12/2011 – Town Hall Meeting – Discovery Bay Elementary, 6:30 PM
12/13/2011 – Town Hall Meeting – Knightsen School, 6:30 PM
12/15/2011 – Town Hall Meeting – Farm Bureau Building, Clayton, 6:30 PM
01/15/2012 – Town Hall Meeting – Oakley Sunday Seniors, 1:00 PM
01/16/2012 – Town Hall Meeting – Oakley City Hall, 6:30 PM
01/19/2012 – Town Hall Meeting – Bethel Island Scout Hall, 6:30 PM
01/20/2012 – Brentwood Kiwanis, 7:30 AM
01/28/2012 – Town Hall Meeting – Brentwood Senior Center, 10:30 AM
• Draft mailer piece #2 to Ad-Hoc Committee
02/07/2012 Delta Soroptomist, Brentwood, 6:00 PM
TBA Town Hall Meeting – Discovery Bay
TBA Town Hall Meeting – Brentwood
TBA Town Hall Meeting – Oakley
• Draft mail piece #3 completed and review by Ad-Hoc Committee
In other meeting news:
- Kevin Romick was named 2012 Board President while Joel Bryant was named vice president.
- Chief Henderson presented the November Service Calls. For the month of November, the Fire District had 601 calls (33-more than last year). In the future, it may be beneficial to the community by further breaking down those calls into type of call that was serviced and how many that is per day—601 really doesn’t mean much unless it made in reference to something.
Editor’s Note: No Brown Act Violation occurred at this meeting. It was an open discussion where requests were made, but no action taken and staff advised corrective action. Again, I want to be clear, no Brown Act Violation occurred