Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dam Project not a Done Deal

by Joe McGarity

Photo by Joe McGarity
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Shasta Dam has been on people’s minds lately.  There has been much talk of and no small amount of opposition to a proposed construction project that would enlarge the dam.  The person in charge of Shasta Dam is Brian Person of the United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation.  The Fantom Penguin asked him about Shasta Dam’s role in the Central Valley Project.

“Shasta Dam is generally considered as the keystone of the Central Valley Project.  It serves as the head-works.  It’s the upstream-most storage facility and it’s also by far the largest water storage facility on the Central Valley Project.  Central Valley Project runs from near the north end of the state and it navigates its way through the center of the state to near the southern end and it addresses the water disparity, if you want to call it that, in California.  The vast majority of the precipitation occurs in the north end of the state and the greater demand is in the central and southern part of the state.  So it’s a complex assemblage of storage, dams, conveyance features and power generation facilities that make a linkage between where the water naturally occurs, where it naturally falls in the north end of the state and the demand, as I indicated, at the southern end of the state.  Shasta stores 4.55 million acre feet. It was constructed from 1938 – 1945, primarily for the purpose of flood control and water storage.  We also generate power through the five hydroelectric generating units at the dam that have a total nameplate capacity of 710 megawatts.  It’s been uprated three times over the years.  The last uprate occurred from about 1999 – 2006 or so.  So, it’s a significant facility.  It makes possible, really, the Central Valley Project by virtue of its location and the volume of water that it stores.”

So, as we record this, the dam is celebrating its 75th anniversary.  Now, that’s the anniversary of the beginning of construction.  You said earlier the construction lasted until 1945.  It makes me wonder if World War II was a factor in the construction.  It must have been.

“It very much was.  In terms of providing manpower and materials, World War II was a factor.  There was an emphasis of course for resources to fight the war effort and so the materials that were made available for Shasta Dam, the World War II demand was a consideration and also in terms of manpower – and then hydroelectric generation.  Two of the units that are installed at Shasta first spent time at Grand Coulee, because Grand Coulee was constructed earlier, so that electrical power generation could be used to fulfill the demand for manufacturing associated with the war effort.”

And can you tell me about how many communities or about how many people are served by the electricity generated by the dam?

Photo by Joe McGarity
“Generally speaking -- and it depends on demand and it depends on if all air conditioners are running, but a megawatt provides power, generally speaking, for about a thousand homes if you look at average demand.  So our 710 megawatts of generating capacity, under normal demand circumstances, could provide electrical power to about 710,000 homes at any given time.  It really doesn’t work that way.  We are so interconnected now on the western part of the United States on the grid so that it isn’t a geographic limitation as much as it once was.  So it isn’t accurate to say necessarily that the electrical energy produced at Shasta Dam provides power to the nearest 710,000 homes.  We are interconnected and the power goes onto the grid for broad distribution.”

And it’s routed wherever it needs to be routed?

“Where the demand is, yes.”

“So this week is really about, obviously celebrating the anniversary of the beginning of construction and focusing on the significance that Shasta Dam and Reservoir and Power Plant have played in our water-supply portfolio and meeting our power-generation needs.  But more than that, it’s about celebrating the accomplishment of the men and women who worked so hard in some pretty challenging conditions and at a challenging time to construct the dam.  There are just a few of the original construction workers still among us and this is an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishment and to honor them and that’s really the significance of this week for us at Reclamation.”

It was a dangerous time to be a dam builder.  Some . . . well, you may even know the number.  Some people lost their lives in the effort.  Did they not?

“Yes.  There were a number who lost their lives.  I think the number is nineteen.  I’m not certain.  As compared to other large dam-building efforts of the time, on a relative scale it was safe.  Each one of those lives lost was a tragedy, but it’s an order of magnitude (almost) less than the number of lives lost at Hoover.  Safety concerns and safety equipment, while still primitive, were making advances at the time.  Some have said that some of the lives lost were buried in the concrete.  That’s simply false.  That’s folklore.  There’s no one buried in the concrete.  The concrete was placed in eight cubic yard buckets and each lift was no more than five feet.  So if a worker were in the concrete they were able to be removed.  If they were injured in the concrete, they were able to be removed.  So there’s no one buried in the dam.  That’s folklore.”

Well, that’s very disappointing to a newspaper man, but probably good for anyone that’s superstitious about taking the tour.  And speaking of tours . . .

Photo by Joe McGarity
“Yes, we offer guided tours seven days a week and in significance of the anniversary celebration this week there were night tours conducted two nights this week.  They were very, very well attended.  We did those Tuesday and Wednesday and I think nearly a hundred people went through the dam.  They’ll be tours conducted through the weekend and they’ll be some more celebration activities occurring here.  But I guess as you indicated, by the time people see this, that will have been passed.”

Over the decades, more than once, the prospect of adding to the dam or building it higher has come up.  Can we start on this subject by maybe discussing when this has been brought up in the past and what happened?

“At least as far back as the Eighties, the prospect of enlarging the dam and reservoir has been raised.  The ‘raise’ has been raised.  I’m not certain . . .  I’m less certain at least of initiatives earlier than that.  But there were raise increments discussed initially of 100 feet and 200 feet and there have been other discussions and even studies started, all driven by the notion that despite our efforts for programs such as water conservation and dual water systems, that is water recycling, that the demand for water is continually growing in California and there’s a finite supply.  So the question was asked, ‘Does it make sense to enlarge the dam and reservoir?’  So you start looking at some numbers.  The average annual inflow to the basin over the eighty-five or so years of hydrologic record that we have is 5.7 million acre feet a year flows into the basin.  And as we indicated, the reservoir at full capacity is 4.55 million acre feet.  So more water flows into the basin, simply put, in a given year than what we can store.  So, with those numbers in mind, it makes sense to take a look at increasing storage.  So this most recent effort was authorized by the CALFED Authorization and it directs Reclamation to take a look at increasing storage capacity at several locations and Shasta is one of those.  So the work began in earnest a few years ago.  There was a preliminary draft feasibility study and environmental impact statement released last year and earlier this year a draft feasibility study and draft environmental impact statement were released.  We’ve had several public workshops.  We’ve had a public hearing, gathering comment and we’ve met with a variety of affected publics.  What the study results tell us thus far is that is feasible from a hydrologic, economic and physical perspective and an engineering perspective to raise the dam by eighteen and a half feet.  Raising the dam by 18 ½ feet, because freeboard would be operated differently, would allow us to increase the operating elevation by 20 ½ feet.  In terms of numbers, that additional space, when full, would store an additional 634,000 acre feet and that represents about a 14% increase in storage above the 4.55 million acre foot current capacity.  Obviously that water wouldn’t have space in it every year.  If you look at the 85 years of hydrologic record and you do hydrologic routing, you’d see water in that space every 4 – 6 years.  Recent hydrologic history has really bourn that out.  So it makes sense to examine the enlargement potential.  On a preliminary basis, it has been found to be feasible.  Reclamation will complete the process, head toward a final EIS and presumably a record of decision that will end up ultimately being submitted to the Congress and that’s where the decision would be made.  Important to note that the authorization from the Congress directs us to perform a feasibility study and that it would literally require another act of Congress directing us to take action to raise the dam, literally another act of Congress.”

So, it isn’t a done deal at this point?

“It is not.  No, it is not a done deal.  Reclamation will fulfill its directives to prepare and submit the feasibility study in combination with a final environmental impact statement and then it goes to the decision makers.  So no, not a done deal.”


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Local Government – Shasta County Board of Supervisors – October 22, 2013

by Joe McGarity

Photo by Joe McGarity

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors met at 9:00 am on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at the County Administration Center on Court Street in Redding.  All five supervisors were in attendance.

R1 on the meeting agenda was a vote to receive the nomination of Patrick J. Wallner to fill a vacancy on the Shasta County Planning Commission.  Wallner was nominated by District 5 Supervisor, Les Baugh.  County Counsel, Rubin Cruse noted for the record that this vote only accepts the nomination.  The Board will vote November 5 on the actual appointment of Mr. Wallner, who owns a local plumbing business.  The nomination passed unanimously.

Photo by Joe McGarity
R2 – The Board received a presentation from Kim Chamberlain of the Northern California Veterans Cemetery regarding fundraising efforts for the annual wreath-laying program.  Supervisor Baugh pledged a donation on the spot with Supervisor Pam Giacomini, District 3, vowing to match it.  To find out more or to make a donation visit or call (530) 396-2429.

Public Comment Period Open Time

Dolores Lucero said that Supervisors Baugh and Leonard Moty, District 2 routinely defend the Shasta County Sheriff, whom Lucero accused of wrong-doing at the previous Board meeting, noting that public officials are obligated to report crimes they observe; not to do so is itself a crime.  She asked if it was legal for an Assistant Public Defender to simultaneously practice privately, naming local attorney, Tim Pappas specifically.

Supervisor Baugh said, “We want to see justice accomplished.”  He urged her to submit her evidence to the District Attorney or the Grand Jury.  “Put up or shut up,” he told her.

County Counsel Cruse, said that he is not aware of any laws broken by Mr. Pappas and that it was not illegal to hold a position at the county and practice law privately, so long as there is no conflict of interest involved.

Next on the agenda was the Consent Calendar.  The Consent Calendar is intended for items that are thought to be routine and non-controversial.  Any Board Member or member of the public may request an item be moved to the Regular Calendar allowing for discussion.

C5 was moved to the Regular Calendar by Chairman David Kehoe, Supervisor District 1.  C5 would authorize $48,000 for Victor Treatment Centers, Inc. to provide one-on-one supervision of a youth placed in a level 13-14 group home.  The Board received a report from Maxine Wayda of the Health and Human Services Agency.  Although not entirely clear from the agenda, this appears to be specifically for one individual within the program.

C8 was removed from the Consent Calendar by Dolores Lucero.  C8 concerned the signing of a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the City of Redding regarding the distribution of funds for “AB 109 Realignment Compliance Observations”, in which a team of law enforcement officers from various local agencies check in on parolees in Shasta County placed here by the requirements of Assembly Bill 109.

Dolores Lucero commented that it seems like the County is getting grant money based on the severity of local crime statistics.

Shasta County Sheriff, Tom Bosenko responded that the money is not a grant and not based on crime statistics, but rather apportioned by the State of California to help offset the costs involved with absorbing offenders into the community.  He said that the compliance team does random checks on individuals in the program sometimes resulting in arrests for non-compliance but also encouraging those in compliance to remain so.

This passed 5 – 0.

R3 on the agenda was the travel reports by Supervisors, wherein they report the various meetings they’ve attended for which they have been reimbursed for expenses.

R4 concerned another “Memorandum of Understanding”, this one between the County and the Mid-Management Bargaining Unit adopting a salary adjustment for all County employees represented by the MMBU which will result in a 3% raise in June of 2014 and a 2% raise in June 2015.  The Board received a report from Angela Davis, Director of Support Services.

Dolores Lucero asked if this would include public defenders, noting that Mr. Pappas also serves as a Pro Tem Judge.  Davis responded that this particular agreement would only involve the top two managers in the Public Defenders Office.

This also passed 5 – 0.

R5 would authorize the Treasurer/Tax Collector to sign an agreement with Elavon, Inc. which would allow property owners in Shasta County to pay their property taxes, fees and permits using a credit card.  Shasta County Treasurer/Tax Collector Lori Scott presented a report to the Board of Supervisors.  She said that the new system could save people’s homes during difficult economic times, allowing them to prevent the seizure of their homes by the County for non-payment of property taxes by buying them a little more time.  She said that it may cost the county a little money in that they would be collecting fewer penalties for late payments, but that it would save the citizens money in the long run.

Supervisor Moty asked if taxpayers would be informed of the 2.38% fee involved before the payment went though.  Davis replied that when paying online they certainly would be, she believed the same was true when paying by telephone but promised to double-check.

Supervisor Bill Schappell, representing District 4, said it would be nice for people to know how much they were paying.

Supervisor Baugh asked if the fee for using the credit card would be less than the late payment fees.  Davis indicated that it would.  Late fees on a $500 payment would be $50, whereas the fee for paying by credit card would amount to only $11.90.

Supervisor Giacomini asked if it would be possible to add a line to the tax bills sent out each year indicating credit cards were accepted and disclosing the fees.  Davis replied that it was too late for this year, because the bills have been printed and will be going out shortly.  She indicated that the bills were a bit late this year because the County did not want to over-charge victims of the Clover Fire on their property taxes.  Such a line could be added to next year’s tax bills.

Supervisor Schappell wanted to know how long a property has to be behind in its taxes to be seized.  Davis replied, “Five years.”

Chairman Kehoe asked for a report in one year analyzing the success of the credit card program to which Treasurer Davis agreed.

The item was passed 5 – 0.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Local Government – Redding City Council – October 15, 2013

by Joe McGarity

Photo by Joe McGarity
The Redding City Council met at 6:00 pm, October 15, 2013 at Redding City Hall on Cypress Avenue in Redding.  In attendance were Mayor Rick Bosetti, Councilman Gary Cadd, Councilman Patrick Jones and Councilwoman Francie Sullivan.  Councilwoman Missy McArthur was absent.

A brief report on each agenda item follows:

Agenda items 1A and 1B were the Pledge of Allegiance and a public prayer

Photo by Joe McGarity
2A – City of Redding Employee Service Recognition Awards for city employees reaching 15, 20 or 25 years of service to the city were distributed.  Each employee was publicly recognized by the mayor and his or her supervisor.

Photo by Joe McGarity
2B – Mayor Proclaims November 2, 2013 as CASA Superhero Run Day in the City of Redding.  A fundraising event for the Court Appointed Special Advocate program, benefitting abused children in Shasta County will take place on this date at 8:30 am at the Sundial Bridge in Redding.

Public Comment Period Open Time

Don Kirk is disappointed in the Council’s decision made at the previous City Council meeting to reject a declaration in favor of the State of Jefferson movement.

Dick Fyten asked how the Council can continue to give raises to employees when Social Security has not awarded a cost of living increase to its recipients in the last two years due to a lack of economic growth.

Dolores Lucero suggested that the Council usually votes against the wishes of the people, citing drones, the library flagpole, selling land to McConnell Foundation, raising utility rates and the State of Jefferson as examples.

Randal Faulkner said the RCAC issue reminds him of the incompetency of City Attorney Rick Duvernay and the corruption on the Council which he characterized as much worse than Bell, California, saying that politicians protect each other.

Item 4 was the Consent Calendar, which is supposed to be for routine items that are expected to pass without controversy or discussion.  Any member of the Council or of the public may request an item be removed and placed on the regular calendar opening that item for discussion.

Photo by Joe McGarity
Dolores Lucero suggested that item 4.06(a) which would authorize an $80,000 grant for the annual fireworks display from the McConnell Foundation should not be on the Consent Calendar because it was a conflict of interest for the city to accept such a grant while it was negotiating a real estate transaction with the Foundation.  McConnell hopes to buy land near Turtle Bay Museum on which to build a hotel.  She also commented that item 4.11(a) is a conflict for the same reason.  4.11(a) would authorize McConnell Foundation to pay for the transportation of water to the Lake Redding Golf Course which it owns.

Councilman Cadd recused himself on item 4.11(b) which would authorize a $55,000 increase to construction contingency funds for the North Market Street Bridge Water Main Rehabilitation Project, explaining that it would affect a business owned by a family member.

Councilman Jones voted no on item 4.11(a).  Council members are allowed to vote no on individual Consent Calendar items.  The remainder of the calendar passed 4 – 0.

Photo by Joe McGarity
6.1 was a Public Hearing concerning the city’s Renewable Energy Portfolio.  33% of the City’s energy is required to be from renewable sources by the year 2020.  Assistant City Manager Barry Tippin presented a report to the Council in which he explained that because of changes to the definition of what is considered “renewable”, the city can no longer sell excess “credits”.  In the past “Large Hydro”, hydroelectric power from large dams was on the list of what was considered “renewable” energy, but now only “Small Hydro” can be counted.  The City of Redding was able to make over $4 million annually from 2009 – 2011 selling extra “credits” where it exceeded the minimum requirements, but will no longer be able to do so.  Tippin said the city is on course to meet the 2020 deadline even under the new rules, but will have to seek “additional procurement” possibly as soon as the following year.

Councilman Cadd noted that the bill which changed the rules was passed in an “extraordinary session” of the State Legislature with no regular committee processes usually reserved for extreme emergencies.  Cadd said, “A backroom deal is what it boils down to.” 

Councilwoman Sullivan said big utility companies are lobbying for these rule changes and “we get caught in the middle”.

Mayor Bosetti made the comment that there is a war going on between PG&E, San Diego Water and Power and other large utilities and that is creating a difficult environment for all.  He noted that PG&E actually discourages small hydro operations and “makes life miserable” for those providing it.

The measure passes 4 – 0.

Item 9A concerned the Mayor’s efforts to “invoke coordination” with CARB, the California Air Resources Board.  “To invoke coordination” means to essentially force a government agency to include another government agency in their planning and policy-making process.  In the State of California, any government entity which is affected by the policies of any other may “invoke” coordination with that other agency.  New regulations for diesel trucks would require the installation of expensive equipment which it is thought would harm small local businesses.

Greg Mann commented that Redding could have a significant impact, setting the lead that could inspire other communities to follow.

Sylvia Milligan said that any government body has the right to request coordination.

Dick Fyten said that coordination is a powerful tool that the City should use.

Mayor Bosetti noted that his initial negotiations were going well and it looked like the City’s issues were being taken seriously.  He indicated that he wanted to attend his next scheduled meetings with CARB on the 24th and 25th of October and see how that went first, noting that he would rather take the vote on coordination when all five council members were present.  Invoking coordination while the agency is cooperating may seem like “a poke in the eye”.

Councilwoman Sullivan said that it seems like Secretary Nichols is considering our issues.

Councilman Jones said, “It’s not a poke in the eye.”

Councilman Cadd added, “You should always negotiate from a position of strength.”

The measure failed 2 – 2.

9.2(a) is the first part of what will be an on-going process to update and modernize City Council Policies and procedures.  The first batch of changes rewrites some of the following policies:  Council Policy Manual, Recruitment of Department Head Personnel, Risk Management Policy, Pulling Items from the Council Meeting Agenda and Legislative Position.  This passed 4 – 0.

9.2(b) was a resolution approving an agreement to re-enter into a repayment agreement with the successor agency to the Redding Redevelopment Agency regarding the agreement to repay 1999 loan for the Clover Creek Storm Drainage Detention Facility.  This passes 4 – 0.

Item 9.3(a) directs the city to refer the Redding Community Access Corporation to the Charitable Trusts Section of the California Attorney General’s Office for investigation.  It is alleged that over $350,000 of Public, Education and Government Access (PEG) Fees are unaccounted for.

Dolores Lucero commented that voting no on this item would involve the City in criminal activity, since the money passed through the city on its way to RCAC, making them responsible for its proper use.

John Dickenson said that the history of RCAC with PEG fees was reprehensible and that our right to use the facility as members of the public has been damaged.  He suggested the matter be referred to the Shasta County DA and to the Grand Jury.

Greg Mann told the Council that the City has a fiduciary responsibility because the funds pass through the city.  He asked how the culture developed that allowed this to happen.

This also passed 4 – 0.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Soapbox

Photo by Joe McGarity

When I first started going to Redding City Council and Shasta County Board of Supervisors meetings, I was taking a lot of notes but not generating any news content.  I didn’t know how to process all of the information and package it in a way that would be interesting to the readers.  I went for several weeks without writing any stories.  Eventually I decided that the best way to function as a government watchdog, one of the duties of the Fourth Estate, was simply to use the Meeting Agenda as a framework and to go down the list one by one and let the public know to the best of my ability what went down.

Jumping in midstream and being somewhat unfamiliar with the territory, I don’t always have the back-story on many of the subplots, let alone the major dramatic plotlines, which continue to develop and change with each new episode.  Therefore, I have chosen the rather easy approach of being extremely vague when I don’t fully understand what is going on, which is much of the time.  The Fantom Penguin strives never to be too big for its britches.  I want to let you folks know just how it is.  If I print some people’s names and refer to others only by their titles it’s because I didn’t get the name, or possibly the spelling, not because I’m playing favorites.  If I’m a little vague, it’s because I’m a little confused.  An awful lot of complex information goes through a council chamber in a couple of hours.  Much of it is very technical in nature.  Still, I think it’s important to report on each agenda item because all of it affects somebody, and that somebody (if he or she is really cool) is probably a Fantom Penguin reader.  And even if Joe is being really vague because he has no clue what heck they’re talking about, at least somebody knows something’s up and can get involved, especially when the other guys, euphemistically referred to as “mainstream” like to pick the juiciest bit and write about only the marijuana regulations or the angry crowd that packed the Public Comment Period.  We’ll tell you about that too, friends, but you’ll be getting every plaque and proclamation between, at least to the best of my very human ability

Let me be very straightforward about this at the beginning.  I don’t think it’s possible to keep up the fast pace, deal with all of the complex information and make zero errors.  I was always very careful in the past, doing only interviews, to shield myself from making any statements of my own.  The subjects of my interviews did all the talking.  I never made any assertions or allegations or proclamations or statements.  I just got them talking again when they slowed down.  Now it’s different.  Now I’m presenting dozens of facts in each government article.  I’m bound to mess something up.  So please don’t be shy about correcting my mistakes.  Let me know what stands out to you as most important.  So far, I haven’t seemed to have offended anyone in the government and the Fantom Penguin is getting access at many levels.  Let me know what you want me to ask these folks and I’ll try to get the answers for you.

Local Government – Shasta County Board of Supervisors – October 15, 2013

by Joe McGarity

Photo by Joe McGarity

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors met at 9:00 am, October 15, 2013 at the Shasta County Administration Building on Court Street in Redding.  All five supervisors were in attendance.

A brief report on each agenda item follows:

Photo by Joe McGarity
R1 – The Board adopted a resolution recognizing Toni Wieland, Community Mental Health Worker, Health and Human Services Agency – Adult Services, as Shasta County Employee of the Month for the Month of October 2013.

R2 – The Board of Supervisors proclaimed October 2013 as “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and October 17, 2013 as “Think Pink Day” in Shasta County.

Public Comment Period – Open Time

Cathy Grindstaff of A Sobering Choice Coalition addressed the Board, commenting that she was frustrated with the number of marijuana grows in Shasta County and frustrated by the County’s efforts to prevent marijuana cultivation.  She urged the Board to “do whatever you have to do”.

Joanne Owen described marijuana use as a “degenerative process” that she does not want to see Shasta County youth experiencing.  She mentioned that she works with exchange students and has concerns about the impressions of Shasta County they may take with them upon their return to their own countries.

Rick Fauss of the Igo/Ono Platina School District spoke of the school board passing a resolution requesting the County more vigorously enforce the one thousand foot marijuana cultivation restriction near public schools.  The letter the board sent to the County asks for “expedited and consistent enforcement”.  He thanked the Sheriff’s department for their response to the school board’s concerns noting “quite a bit has been done and we thank you”.

Photo by Joe McGarity
Dolores Lucero spoke of her continuing fight against corruption in Shasta County, qualifying her remarks stating, “This does not apply to you, Mr. Schappell,” referring to District 4 Supervisor, Bill Schappell.  “The longer we ignore corruption, the worse it will get.”  She accused Shasta County Sheriff, Tom Bosenko of refusing to investigate criminal activity that she reported to the Sheriff in the City of Shasta Lake on June 10.  She displayed a sign reading, “Shasta County CORRUPTION  Sheriff Tom Bosenko  District Attorney Stephen Carlton  Allows Cities to Break LAWS”

Cathy Emerson of CSU Chico told the board that the California Public Utilities Commissioner would be in Redding on Thursday.  She mentioned that a Chico State survey of broadband capabilities in California had concluded that schools have adequate access to high-speed internet but many students in rural areas do not have sufficient access at home.

A concerned citizen whose name did not make it into this reporter’s notes spoke of his belief that one Mr. Russell was treated unfairly by not being provided a permanent position on the LAFCO board.  Mr. Russell missed an important meeting because he was busy helping to fight the Clover Fire.  This reporter apologizes for missing this speaker’s name.

Tracy J. Costello of Trinity County addressed the Shasta County Board of Supervisors stating his opinion that he was glad the City of Redding rejected the idea of joining the proposed State of Jefferson, encouraging the County to do the same.  “Let’s not waste our time,” he said.

Supervisor Leonard Moty, District 2 spoke briefly to rebut Dolores Lucero’s comments.  He expressed his support for Sheriff Bosenko and said that Ms. Lucero has no evidence with which to back her claims of corruption.

After the public comment period, the Board considered the Consent Calendar.  Consent Calendar items are considered routine and non-controversial, nevertheless any board member or member of the public can have an item moved to the regular calendar so that it can be discussed.  No one did so and the Consent Calendar was passed with no changes by a unanimous vote.

Item R3 was the routine travel report wherein Supervisors report any public meetings they attend in which they have been reimbursed travel expenses. 

R4 made some changes to some county jobs, altering salaries and changing the number and nature of particular positions in several county departments including Corrections, Mental Health and the Agriculture Extension Service budget.  The exact nature of the changes is available on the County’s Website.  This item passed unanimously.

Photo by Joe McGarity
Item R5 was a little more controversial.  A public hearing, this item concerned the building of a 64-bed Adult Rehabilitation Center.  Specifically, it authorizes the Board to apply for the grant which would pay for a large portion of the proposed facility.  The facility would be classified as “Medium Security, Type 3”.  Sheriff Bosenko presented his report to the Board on the project.  Pam Giacomini, Supervisor District 3, asked the Sheriff if the County has the matching funds required by the grant to maintain the facility for 30 years with a 3% increase in costs each year and is the county stuck with that 3% figure required by the grant.  The Sheriff answered, yes that the county has the money and no the county is not required to spend 3% more each year on maintaining the facility. 

County Administrative Officer Larry Lees added that the grant would require the city to have that long-term plan in place, but if actual costs can be kept lower, that figure would not apply and that the needed money for the project has already been set aside.

Supervisor Schappell wanted to know if the State of California would own the new facility.

Lees explained that the State would be the lean-holder and that ownership of the property would revert back to the county at the end of thirty years.

Supervisor Moty wanted to know if the possibility of expanding the facility in the future had been addressed.  The Sheriff indicated that it had.  While the architects have not drawn up any actual blueprints for possible future expansions, the building was designed with that possibility in mind.

Supervisor Les Baugh, District 5 wanted to know what other action the Board could take, if any, to help secure this grant, noting that there would be fierce competition with other counties for this grant money.  The Sheriff suggested a letter of support from the Board might be helpful to submit along with the application. 

Baugh also asked CAO Lees if the project had his full support.  Lees indicated that it does, noting that the goal is not to house inmates, but rather to turn people around.  He remarked that the facility would be co-located with other services including mental health services. 

Sheriff Bosenko added that there would be classrooms in the new facility intended for life skills like Anger Management and Parenting Skills.  Additionally inmates could pursue vocational certifications in the types of jobs they would be performing on the premises like laundry services and work in the kitchen.  They could even work toward a G.E.D.

Supervisor Schappell asked if inmates could be allowed to attend Shasta College, “or is that impossible?”  The Sheriff responded that it was not only possible, but about 15 inmates are participating in such a program already.  The department has been working hand in hand with Shasta College and has received reports that student-inmates are doing well in classes and even participating in school clubs and student government.

Chairman David Kehoe, Supervisor District 1, asked the Sheriff what the benefits would be for local residents.  The Sheriff’s answer was “lower recidivism rates”.  Asked if the project has the full support of the bench, the Sheriff answered that the bench does not ordinarily express opinions of this nature in any sort of official way, but that judges he had spoken with individually had expressed a concern over the lack of facilities of this nature.

Public Comment was then opened on this subject.

Sally Riley urged the Board of Supervisors to support this project, saying that construction was good for the local economy.

Andrew Meredith, representing a construction union, said he supports the project “whether it goes union or not”.  He thanked the Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff and CAO Lees for their efforts to find ways of solving problems.

Dolores Lucero commented that this would be putting a lot on the citizens of the county.  “What happens,” she asked, “if you can’t pay and default?”  She further suggested that a facility of this nature rewards criminals for committing crimes.  She stated her opinion that if any of these inmates commit a crime while housed in this facility that the Sheriff would be liable.

Charles Adamo said that the thought this was a great opportunity for the County of Shasta, stating the he had at one time had the opportunity for rehabilitation and that it had positively affected his life.  A union carpenter now, he said the project would bring needed jobs and be good for the community.

Charles W. Alexander referred to the Staff Report of February 5, 2013, noting that information presented to the public at that time indicated the facility would be “minimum security” rather than “medium security”.  The reason given at that time being that a medium security facility would not be affordable.  He suggested that a medium security facility would not be appropriate at the proposed location on Breslaur Way near an elementary school.

Mark Mulliner, also associated with a construction union, stated that he thought the Board of Supervisors was “right on track” and said, “hats off to ya”.

Photo by Joe McGarity
Supervisor Moty asked if the County would be on the hook for paying the bond as Ms. Lucero had suggested.  CAO Lees said no.  Moty also noted that the county spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on programs that benefit non-inmates in Shasta County.  Lees corrected him saying, “Millions”.  Moty expressed his disappointment in that citizens often ask for more services from the County, but commonly vote down projects that would bring money to the County, citing the Knighton Road Expansion Project as an example.  “Folks, you can’t have it both ways,” he said.  Supervisor Baugh noted that the proposal enjoys a high degree of support from the community and he thanked the community for that.

The item passed 5 – 0.

R6 was also a public hearing, this one concerning the Skylark Lane Emergency Fire Escape Road Permanent Road Division in the Palo Cedro area.  A parcel fee, split between the three parcels nearby had been proposed to pay for the roadwork.  Only one property owner, the developer, would be affected and no opposition was expected.  The public hearing was opened and closed without any input from the public and the item was passed unanimously.

R7 was another public hearing.  The matter concerned the appeal of one Mr. Casey Duggan against Use Permit Amendment 11-011A.  Shasta Wine Village would be a kind of a retail center promoting locally produced wines and would boarder Mr. Duggan’s residence.  The proposed complex would include an outdoor gathering area for weddings, shows, concerts et cetera.  Mr. Duggan said he is not opposed to the idea of a Wine Village, but he objects to the light and the noise from such events.  Redding Reserve One, the company proposing the Wine Village showed the Board a map of the site which would include walls and landscaping which, in theory, would mitigate the sound and light pollution from the outdoor concert area.  Mr. Duggan says that because his house sits higher on a hill, he can see 80% of the proposed concert area and doesn’t believe the planned mitigation will be enough.

Supervisor Schappell had several questions about noise levels and parking issues.  He asked why the noise levels anticipated seemed to be above the current county standards.  A representative of Redding Reserve One told the Supervisor that noise levels would be in compliance at the property line, but would be higher on the property itself.  Schappell also discovered an apparent discrepancy in the number of parking spaces needed, but was assured that large events would not take place while the tasting rooms were open, therefore making parking less of an issue.

In public hearings the Board hears comments in support of the issue first.  No one stepped up to comment in favor of the project.

In opposition, Cheri Beck expressed her concerns that a Wine Village near I-5 would promote drinking and driving, making the nearby roads more dangerous.  Mr. Duggan suggested that the property owners should have to measure the sound levels constantly to prove that they were in compliance with sound-level regulations, not “periodically” as the current use permit reads.

Supervisor Baugh stated his belief that Mr. Duggan will have some challenges with sound and light, but that the location was perfect for this sort of development.

Supervisor Moty noted that as a former police officer, he too was concerned about drinking and driving, but placed the responsibility on drivers, saying that projects of this nature do not make drunk drivers, but rather the poor choices of individuals.

Supervisor Giacomini asked about the lighting plan required in the use permit and why it was not on file.  A representative of Redding Reserve One, one Mr. Diaz, told the Board that the plans for lighting mitigation were very standardized and that they would be following the industry standards for lighting.

Chairman Kehoe remarked that he supports the project but is mindful of the observations of Mr. Duggan that there will be an impact to his property.  He said he was encouraged by Mr. Diaz’ comments about wanting to be a good neighbor to Mr. Duggan.  He indicated that he would be voting in favor of Redding Reserve One, but suggested that the county would be “ever vigilant” in enforcing the terms of the use permit and that it would be good for the company to strive to be a good neighbor to Mr. Duggan.

Supervisor Schappell noted that the project had merit and that he was not against the project, thought it may have seemed so with all of his questions.

The Board voted in favor of the project, denying Mr. Duggan’s appeal, 5 – 0.

R8 on the agenda was another public hearing concerning the same project, this hearing specifically regarding changing the zoning at the site to commercial.  The parties involved seemed to feel that they had already expressed themselves on this issue with the prior agenda item.  Casey Duggan spoke very briefly stating on record that he is in opposition for all of the same reasons as on the previous item.  The Board again voted unanimously in favor of Redding Reserve One’s proposed Shasta Wine Village.

R9 was yet another public hearing, but with no controversy attached to it.  Mayers Memorial Hospital in Fall River Mills sought to rezone the parcel adjacent to the property from Rural Residential to Public Facilities, in advance of a planned expansion of the hospital.  This passed 5 – 0 with little discussion.

Photo by Joe McGarity
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Shasta County Government – October 8, 2013

by Joe McGarity

Photo by Joe McGarity

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors met at 9:00 am on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 in the Shasta County Administration Building on Court Street in Redding.  All five supervisors were in attendance.

The meeting began with two rather routine agenda items:

Nancy Petersen and Chairman Kehoe

Photo by Joe McGarity
R1-The Board presented a certificate to Nancy Petersen, Eligibility Worker II, retiring after thirty years of service to the county. 

R2-October 14, 2013 was proclaimed “Lights On Afterschool Day” in Shasta County.

Next up was Public Comment Period Open Time.  One member of the public spoke of her concerns regarding the “Cobblestone Community”, the small community of neighbors living on Cobblestone Lane off of Cloverdale in Happy Valley.  She began by personally thanking County Administrative Officer Larry Lees for his involvement in relief efforts after the recent Clover Fire devastated their neighborhood, but that was not the subject of her comments.  She complained that she and her neighbors receive no county services.  911 will not respond to calls from her neighborhood, she told the Board, nor will the Sheriff.  Waste Management will not provide garbage collection services to the neighborhood, she told them.  She complained of a particular resident, whom she did not name, whose property is dirty and trashy with no sewer, water or electrical services and upon whose property a marijuana grow exists.  She asked for help in dealing with other marijuana growers in the neighborhood.  Chairman Kehoe asked Administrative Officer Lees to coordinate with her to see what the county could do to help her and her neighbors.

After the public comment period the Consent Calendar was up.  The Consent Calendar is for routine items that are considered non-controversial and expected to pass.  Any board member or member of the public can have a Consent Calendar item moved to the regular agenda, making it available for discussion and comment.  Chairman Kehoe moved item C3 to the regular agenda.  Item C3 concerned the Health and Human Services Agency’s relationship with California Mental Health Services Authority and the process for submitting mental health claims to MediCal.  The board heard a report on the process in which the State of California and the Counties within the state have been negotiating a new system, each county chipping in a portion of the cost of the study.  Shasta County’s cost came to $1456.40.  This passed 5 - 0.

Supervisor Moty commented on Consent Calendar item C7, regarding SHASCOM, the company which provides 911 services in Shasta County.  A new sub-lease agreement concerning certain public safety communications equipment is proposed that Moty says should save the county money.  He praised those responsible for making it happen.

R3 on the agenda primarily concerned two letters the Board intends to send to Governor Brown requesting that he sign two particular pieces of legislation, specifically SB 740 a bill regarding infrastructure for broadband internet access and SB 744 a bill which would allow certain exemptions to the Timber Harvesting Plan.  Since SB 740 has already been signed, the Board agreed unanimously to change the letter from a request to a “thank you” letter.

Photo by Joe McGarity
R4 concerned the filling of vacancies on the Shasta County Board of Building Appeals.  The Board of Building Appeals is required to have five members, each of whom is supposed to represent a specific type of experience within the industry.  Donald Cohen was nominated as the “financial” member and James Berg as the “citizen-at-large” member of the board.  Administrative Officer Lees provided a brief summary of the selection process, which to avoid a conflict of interest did not include input from County Counsel Rubin Cruse or his department.  According to Lees, the Cities of Anderson and Redding were asked to provide personnel from their building departments to review all applications for the open positions that the county had received.  Cohen and Berg were selected by these individuals.  Lees stressed that all applicants were sent the same application and that all were asked the same questions.  Supervisor Schappell asked for more information regarding the selection process.  Chairman Kehoe said that such information could be provided “ex post facto”, but that the Board was ready to act today.  One member of the public, Charles Alexander, spoke on this issue as he had the previous week saying he had “nothing against the two nominees” but rather the “quasi-clandestine” nature of the selection process.  Supervisor Moty commented that he was glad there would be training for the board, both new members and existing members, to educate them on what is expected of the Board of Building Appeals.  Supervisor Baugh said he felt the selection process was independent and fair.  The Board of Building Appeals is responsible for determining suitability of materials for construction, recommendations to the Board of Supervisors concerning the health of the local construction industry and perhaps most importantly, decisions regarding whether to uphold or reverse the judgments of the Chief Building Inspector.   This item passed unanimously.  This reporter spoke briefly with Supervisor Schappell after the meeting who said he had hoped to get property owners the right to insist on being heard by the full five-member panel but his idea was “shot down”.  Currently three members of the board are considered a quorum and can take action.

R5 – Would authorize the County Auditor/Controller to issue Shasta County credit cards to county employees.  Auditor/Controller Muir reported to the board that this would save time and money in the processing of the reimbursement of mainly travel expenses for county employees.  He said it will take 6 – 8 weeks to set up and would first be tested by one or two county departments and then, with the bugs worked out, rolled out to the rest of the county agencies.  Supervisor Moty thanked him for “brining us into the 21st Century”.  County employees would no longer have to pay for travel expenses out of pocket and then submit a reimbursement claim.  Supervisor Baugh asked Administrative Officer Lees if he would comment on record whether he supports the idea.  “I do support it,” he answered.  Lees said there are two possible types of misuse, by mistake or with criminal intent.  Honest mistakes can be handled on a case by case basis, taking a card away from an employee who makes too many mistakes if necessary.  Criminal misuse, he said he doesn’t expect to happen and if it does, it could be easily tracked and caught.  Supervisor Moty asked Controller Muir if all county employees would be issued cards.  He replied, no it would be up to the department heads who would or would not receive a county credit card.  If his office received multiple requests for reimbursement for travel expenses he would recommend that that employee be issued a card.  Asked if employees could refuse to accept the card if they so chose, the answer was yes.  Asked if the Supervisors would be issued county credit cards, the answer was yes, if they want them.  Supervisors Kehoe and Baugh stated publicly that they will not be accepting a county credit card.  The item passed 5 – 0.