Supervisors play dumb, PDH board waffles

Feather Publishing

This week, county supervisors found themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to lie in order to do the right thing.

A year ago they suspended the process for raising rates for Intermountain Disposal's service area. At the time they said they wanted to see a management audit of both of the county's waste haulers, IMD and Feather River Disposal/Waste Management, before they made their decision. The audit has been completed and found both operators do a good job. The supervisors were set to proceed with the rate increase.

But county counsel (a different county counsel from a year ago) told them if they were basing their rate decision on the audit, they would have to re-start the ratepayer notification and hearing process. If the supervisors were using this new information for their decision, then ratepayers had a right to comment on that material.

If the board ignored the report, the process could resume where it had left off last year.

Counsel also expressed nervousness about going too long after a public hearing before making a decision.

Counsel also reminded the supervisors they had an obligation under their existing contract with IMD to act on the company's rate request - a request now more than 15 months old. During that time, the company has jumped through every hoop set before it.

So the supervisors squeezed their eyes shut, put their fingers in their ears and collectively said, "Audit? We don't see no stinking audit!" so they could move ahead with IMD's long-overdue and completely justified rate increase.

The only supervisor who seemed not to be dissembling was Terry Swofford, whose district is in IMD's service area. But he was engaged in his own brand of denial - refusing to believe the audit findings and continuing to rail against the rate increase - an increase that will amount to 32 cents a week for residential customers.

No one seemed to realize there is a sizeable public record, including this newspaper's reports, which gives the lie to their pantomime.

Meanwhile down the street, the Plumas District Hospital board continued its own pantomime. They met yet again to discuss their review of and contract with Chief Executive Officer Richard Hathaway - and took no action.

Speculation abounds whether he wants to stay or go, whether the board will let him stay or make him go.

The ongoing indecision is bad for the community, bad for PDH and bad even for Hathaway, who has effectively been rendered a lame duck.

It's hard to see how the community can heal and move on from the acrimonious Measure B campaign if the board continues to dither about the future of the man most responsible for the hospital expansion and Measure A campaign.

At an earlier meeting, Hathaway's contract was extended to the end of September. Board members, don't extend it again. Either give him a new contract or his walking papers. You were elected to govern, not waffle. Decide.

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