A quick look at the policy and politics that have made recent headlines in California’s rural counties.
* * *
CALAVERAS: Scientists from Rhode Island have been making the trek to the Calaveras County Fair since 2009 to witness the Jumping Frog Jubilee and study how the fabled frogs have amassed such physical prowess. So far, they’re stumped as to why Calaveras frogs in particular have such a spring in their step. Mark Twain’s legendary story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” has helped keep the tradition alive since it was published in 1867.
HUMBOLDT: Yesterday the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors discussed the almost $1.4 million in unanticipated costs that have come to light in the first quarter budget update for this fiscal year. According to Supervisors, rising health insurance costs for workers are to blame.
FRESNO: The Fresno County Board of Supervisors has made it clear after months of deliberations that while they oppose a new $15 million downtown First 5 headquarters, they have officially come out in opposition to the project.
Yesterday, the board also voted to consider explore combining the county coroner-public administrator position with that of the sheriff. David Hadden, the current coroner, is dead set against the idea and stated to the Fresno Bee that “in the end, it would probably cost [the County] more.”
The Parlier City Council has named retired administrator Anthony B. Lopez as its new interim city manager. Lopez has previously served as the city manager for Orange Cove, McFarland and Hawaiian Gardens.
The Fresno Bee editorial staff recently criticized the county court system for failing to adequately report the status of its mentally ill population. The failure has resulted in gun ownership by those who are legally barred from possessing firearms. Fresno isn’t the only culprit: a majority of CA’s 58 county courts have failed on this front as well.
LAKE: Residents of a Lake County subdivision where homes are sinking into a hilltop have filed suit in court against the county, alleging that a leaking public water system is the cause of the damage.
MERCED: After a tense discussion and a round of name calling between a board member and a member of the public, an independent investigation was called to review the Merced Irrigation District’s Tuesday board meeting.
MODOC: A group of Modoc County residents have collected enough signatures to force a recall election of Supervisor Jim Wills. Petitioners are concerned that Wills is acting in a “personal capacity” in his county position which translates to a “gross misuse of political office.” Given that Modoc County has less than 10,000 residents, the petition only needs 259 valid signatures. Petitioners have collected 354. The county clerk will have until December 17 to certify the signatures, which will prompt a special election next April.
NAPA: The county has taken its first public step towards exploring the idea of using a cleaner electricity service in the future. They are primarily considering a Marin County-based public power agency which delivers renewable energy and would allow Napa County’s unincorporated areas to utilize an alternate utility.
After the tragic shooting of a 13-year-old boy carrying a fake toy gun in Santa Rosa, officers in neighboring Napa County are worried about realistic-looking gun toys. They are working to increase public awareness of the issue.
SAN JOAQUIN: Stockton residents approved a sales tax increase yesterday, aimed at lowering its bankruptcy debt and increasing the budget for public safety. Previously set at 8.25%, the new tax rate will rise to 9%. City leaders have promised to use 65 percent of the money to hire 120 additional police officers; the rest will be used to “pave Stockton’s way out of bankruptcy.”
YOLO: The Yolo County Courthouse is scheduled to be abandoned when the new Courthouse is completed in 2015. Supervisors are asking the public for creative and innovative ideas for its use, particularly since the Courthouse is on the national register of historic places and serves as the heart of Historic Downtown Woodland.
The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office was recently awarded over $230,000 from the CA State Office of Traffic Safety in order to allocate more resources towards the prosecution of DUI cases.
Yolo County Supervisor Mike McGowan will be stepping down from his position next month as he has been appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to be deputy director of strategic planning and policy at CA DMV. His resignation will end his 21-year tenure as the supervisor representing District 1.