Laura Wiens, The Triplicate

Certain privileges come with being the president of the California State Association of Counties, such as getting access to the governor.

So there was Del Norte County Supervisor David Finigan recently, sitting next to Gov. Jerry Brown as he lunched with leaders of the association from throughout California.

The main topic was the governor's proposed budget, but Finigan said that kind of proximity also allowed him to "make subtle negotiations over lunch." Del Norte's supervisor said he is always looking for "a good opportunity to pass the agenda on that affects our county."

Also at the event was Del Norte Supervisor Roger Gitlin, who provided the photo of the lunch gathering. It happened at the Sheraton Hotel, a block from the Capitol in Sacramento during the CSAC Legislative Conference in late May.

Finigan is no stranger to Sacramento, and when we spoke about his most recent opportunity to "make inroads" with Brown, the supervisor also compared the current governor with his predecessor.

While Brown is nationally well known - he ran for president in 1976, 1980 and 1992 - Arnold Schwarzenegger is downright famous. Finigan recalled meeting the Hollywood icon-turned politician in the Ronald Reagan Room at the Capitol.

At the time, the meeting room was set up with a big conference table with nameplates, doilies to set your coffee cup on, high-back leather chairs and fresh-baked cookies, Finigan said. People took their seats and then Schwarzenegger would come in "with his make-up on."

"Everything was staged with him," Finigan said.

Fast-forward to the same room in present times. Brown has given the place a makeover. Instead of the conference table, there's a big heavy picnic table that seats about 10.

Alas, it's made of pine, not redwood. "We might have to see if we can get him one" made out of the latter, Finigan laughs.

"A lot of good family stuff happens at the picnic table," Finigan says. "Your butt gets sore, so no one really wants to be at that table for very long." The "let's go to work mentality" keeps everyone on task.

"It's very different" since Brown took over, Finigan says. "He loosens his tie, rolls up his sleeves and comes out and gets you. I personally find it comforting. There's a certain closeness. That's what I like."

"We've been very fortunate to have access to this governor, he's very engaging."

Dr. Greg Duncan, patriot

Consider this the public affairs edition of Around Del Norte. We turn next to an award given recently by the Del Norte Tea Party Patriots to Dr. Greg Duncan, who has led the charge against possible "regionalization" and downsizing of Sutter Coast Hospital.

The good doctor was proclaimed "Patriot of the Year 2012" for his devotion and unselfish efforts on behalf of this community and his fellow citizens.

Here's the rest of the proclamation:

"A Patriot is:

"A person who takes it upon themselves to devote time and money unselfishly to further a cause for their fellow citizens;

"A citizen who puts themselves at risk socially and economically along with family and friends to further a cause for their fellow man;

"A member of a community who openly shares of themselves for the overall benefit of their community;

"Therefore, in the opinion of the Del Norte Tea Party Patriots, Dr. Gregory Duncan has exhibited all of these Patriot qualities and deserves this special recognition for his efforts and devotion to his community.

"The community of Del Norte County will be a better place to live and raise children if we have more people that follow Dr. Duncan's example."

Scouts to the rescue

Good news on the beachfront.

As recently reported in this column, the annual Fifth of July cleanup of South Beach after the big fireworks show was in jeopardy because the Surfriders group that traditionally organized it has lost its leaders.

Enter the Boy Scouts. When Thomas Strickland, senior district director of the Crater Lake Council of Boy Scouts of America, read about the need, "I contacted the troop leaders and they were very excited about the prospect of doing it."

He anticipates that 10-20 Boy Scouts will spearhead the effort, but more help is still needed.

The cleanup will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, July 5. Meet at South Beach next to the harbor. There will be giveaways. Volunteers should bring lunch and water. Garbage bags, courtesy of Safeway, and disposable gloves will be provided. Other helpers include the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority, Recology Del Norte and Hambro.

For more information, call Thomas Strickland at (707) 832-9178.