Letter to the Editor: Public needs access to Board of Supervisors

Our county is currently under a regional stay at home order. Hundreds of our neighbors have been sickened and and some have died. Many—perhaps most—people in our community are understandably not comfortable spending hours with others in a closed room. Yet, appearing in-person in the board chambers is currently the only option provided by the Board of Supervisors for people’s comments to be heard publicly during meetings.

The Brown and Bagley-Keene Acts, among other laws, require reasonable public access to meetings. Given the pandemic, this is currently not being provided to our community. To avoid encouraging the transmission of the virus, and to meet basic requirements for public involvement when people are being asked to stay at home, the county must provide a teleconference solution such as a toll-free dial-in line or zoom access for people to listen to meetings and make public comments online and by phone. This is basic common sense.
While you can remotely send an email or letter to the Board of Supervisors, it is not read into the record at meetings—even upon request—denying those listening remotely (and safely) at home the ability to both weigh in and hear what their fellow community members care about.

The Board’s current position of refusing to provide remote participation options during a pandemic is unreasonable, illegal, and is putting the health of the community at risk as well as risking the health of board members and county staff. A refusal to adequately incorporate public comment into board meetings reveals a disinterest in public opinion and an inflexibility to change practice in response to an evolving health crisis. This lack of remote public commenting is not only silencing Plumas County’s public, but increasingly isolating Plumas County from the vast majority of other California counties who have made public access a priority.
If you agree, contact the board of supervisors today at [email protected] and let them know you demand the option to make public comments remotely.

Josh Hart
Portola, CA