First, a compliment to the Travis School District governing board for responding to common sense and public reaction against a proposed $47,900 contract that was intended to tell children how to play at recess time.
We’ve previously discussed in this column the unresponsiveness of elected representatives. Beyond that subtle failure of public servants to serve is the surprisingly visible attitude of officials to ignore public opinion.
How did the politicians at state level react when recent scandal arose? With three senators, identified in serious crime and exposed to the public, legislative leaders announced shock, identified that as a crisis and pledged serious reform.
Sure. Talk a little, suspend the offenders with pay (paid vacation), take no immediate action, delay decisions until the scandal is forgotten by the media and public, and then pass toothless Senate rules. Do they deserve voter trust?
The Solano County grand jury several years ago delivered a report of investigation that was critical of the Board of Supervisors. At a subsequent meeting, two supervisors charged the grand jury system with incompetence, which only proved they had little knowledge of grand jury procedures. They got even by delaying publication of the grand jury reports and since have reduced the budget to prevent publication of the annual final report by newspaper.
The grand jury has very strong investigative power, but its only enforcement power is to inform the public and hope for public response against the offenders. The reports are published on the Internet, but concerned residents are much more likely to read and react to a daily newspaper report than spend time finding the reports on the Internet.
When Supervisor Skip Thomson two years ago proposed to the Board of Supervisors that, as an act of positive leadership, they reduce their compensation significantly, he received polite, unanimous applause from the audience. The chair responded by pounding the gavel and announcing with anger that she would call the police to expel anyone who repeated that action. When other supervisors spoke to express opposition (acceptable), two of them primarily attacked Thomson personally (not acceptable). The latter is a specific violation of parliamentary procedure, but the chair never acted to protect order yet chastised a citizen who called her on her failure.
The Solano Community College governing board, which previously voted to require project labor agreements on construction financed by the Measure Q bond issue, was joined in that arrogance Tuesday by the Fairfield City Council. The council views the project labor agreement, which prohibits bidding by a merit (nonunion) contractor, as not discriminatory. City staff presentations demonstrated zero consideration of open bidding.
Most studies indicate competitive bidding produces a reduction in overall building cost of between 15 percent and 25 percent ($12 million of this $80 million project), but without offering proof, staff denied that would be true for this project. How can they determine that without allowing merit contractors to bid? Staff inaccurately defined local labor as Napa and Solano counties, but the project labor agreement includes Yolo and Contra Costa counties. The next question was, “Why not allow competitive bidding with a provision for local hires?” The unbelievable answer was that the union would check the residence of laborers under the project labor agreement and the city could not afford to check residency for nonunion contractors.
Wow! How many minutes and what cost to obtain a contractor’s ledger listing each employee name and address?
Sorry you elected these boards? Remember this contempt for taxpayers at the next elections.
Earl Heal is a Vacaville resident and member of The Right Stuff Committee, a committee of the Solano County Republican Party. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.