Supervisors blast Congress over government shutdown

Debra Moore
Staff Writer


Supervisors Lori Simpson and Jon Kennedy shared their sentiments regarding the federal government shutdown during the Plumas Board of Supervisors meeting Oct. 1.

“I want to go on record as saying I’m ashamed of our Congress,” Supervisor Simpson said of the shutdown. “They’re paid to solve problems. That’s b.s.”

Supervisor Kennedy read a statement that he had made during a radio interview earlier that morning: “Both parties should be ashamed. They should be ashamed to look into the mirror.

“Instead of worrying so much about press conferences, dressing to the ‘nines’ and talk about how the ‘other party’ should have done better … they should shed their Armani suits, don a Pendleton and work boots, and get to work.

“Actually, even better … keep their pajamas on, stay home and let their staff work it out. These knuckleheads really have no clue anyway.”

Both supervisors’ remarks came following an update provided by Plumas National Forest spokeswoman Lee Anne Schramel.

“I’m going to be essential for another hour and 45 minutes,” Schramel said, before, she too, who is classified as “nonessential,” would be on furlough.

She assured the board that the shutdown would not affect essential services within the Forest Service such as firefighting and salvage timber sales that were the result of an emergency declaration.

Schramel said that people can still recreate in the forests, but campgrounds operated by concessionaires will be closed.

People can still cut firewood with a permit, but those who had not yet obtained a permit will be unable to do so. And, she reminded the board, law enforcement is considered an essential service, so a permit will be needed.

Out and about

Supervisors Kevin Goss, Jon Kennedy and Terry Swofford discussed their attendance at the Rural County Representatives of California conference in South Lake Tahoe on Sept. 25 – 27.

Goss said that for him as a new supervisor the meeting proved to be a good learning experience in a number of topic areas.

Kennedy said that while the content of the meetings is fine, what’s most important is “the relationships that you build.”

Supervisors Simpson and Goss attended the Defend Rural America meeting held in Quincy on Sept. 28. Simpson estimated that 200 to 300 people attended the meeting, which dealt with topics from gun control to the yellow-legged frog to closing Forest Service roads.


Board wants proof

Indian Valley resident Heather Kingdon’s bill for watermaster services levied by the state’s Department of Water Resources jumped from $1,100 to $6,100. When she and others cried foul, rates were reduced by about a third, but there’s a problem.

“How did they arrive at either of those two numbers?” County Counsel Craig Settlemire asked during the supervisors’ Oct. 1 meeting.

Settlemire presented the supervisors with a letter drafted by his counterpart in Sierra County that asked the Department of Water Resources to provide the methodology for the assessment.

“The fact that DWR has lowered the fees (which we understand is approximately two-thirds of the prior amount) is of course beneficial to the property owners being assessed for these services,” the letter reads. “However, the reduction certainly raises the question as to how both the original fees were apparently erroneously calculated and whether the revised fees are in fact appropriate and accurate.”

Pursuant to the Public Records Act, both counties are requesting documentation pertaining to the fee assessment.

The latest fees are included on property tax bills sent to affected property owners in Sierra and Plumas counties, but Settlemire said that the fees could be adjusted at a later date.


At the state level

The supervisors reappointed Jon Kennedy to represent Plumas County at the California State Association of Counties and serve on its board of directors.

Supervisor Lori Simpson will serve as the alternate.


Follow the rules

Frustrated with receiving backup materials on the day of their board meetings, the supervisors approved revised agenda preparation guidelines, designed to stop late submissions.

“As a result of the fit that I pitched at the last meeting …” Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said, referring to her frustration regarding the topic.

Backup materials are supposed to be submitted with agenda requests, but in recent months there has been an increasing number of late documents.

In the new amended policy, if backup materials are not submitted properly, the agenda item will be delayed until a later date.

The deadline to place an item on the agenda for the following week’s board meeting is Monday at noon.


Two vacant positions

Social Services Director Elliott Smart received authorization to fill two vacant positions in his department: a benefits assistance counselor and a vacant social worker position.

Both positions are already funded in the 2013-14 budget.


Skunks beware

The supervisors approved a contract with USDA Wildlife Services for the protection of livestock in Plumas and Sierra counties.

Agricultural Commissioner Tim Gibson said the agreement also provides a way to eliminate problem animals in the two counties including skunks, raccoons, beavers, bears and mountain lions.

The contract is for $56,646. Though the contract amount s the same as the prior year, Gibson said that due to higher administrative costs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wildlife Services agent would be available for less time than in the prior year and would be placed on furlough.

When asked if he could choose when the furlough would take place, Gibson said it was up to the USDA, but it would occur when the money ran out toward the end of the fiscal year, so probably in May or June.

“That’s when all the skunks are born,” said Supervisor Simpson.

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