I write this piece in response to the arrogant behavior by Board of Supervisors Chairman David Finigan. At a Board of Supervisors meeting, Chairman Finigan spoke and acted like he was the emperor of Del Norte County. I urge all residents of this County to watch the video of the Board meeting for May 27 (31:30-01:08:00).
The issue at hand was that several members of our county, including myself, addressed the Board of Supervisors to request that the Board open their normal public meeting with a short non-denominational prayer.
I am not attempting to discuss that issue here. I wish to address the arrogant behavior of the chairman. After these speakers addressed the Board during public comments, Chairman Finigan took the time to express his personal opinion on this matter. He clearly announced that he had no intention to begin allowing prayer at the beginning of Board public meetings. He supported this decision by stating that he had "the feelings" of the other Board members regarding this issue and he can apparently speak as to their opinions. As far as he was concerned: end of subject!
At that point, Supervisor Roger Gitlin demanded to be heard and requested that this issue be placed on the next meeting agenda. Supervisor Gitlin cited Board rules that allow that any supervisor, after consultation with the chairman, may request an item to be placed on a public Board meeting agenda. Emperor Finigan clearly denied this request.
What gives Chairman Finigan the right or authority to deny this request? I'm curious about his certainty on how other supervisors think regarding this issue. All supervisors were present and listened to these public comments. Is it not possible that one of them had a change of heart or a desire to have further conversation on this matter?
I wish to ask each supervisor the following questions: Have you been approached by Chairman Finigan on this subject? Why did you allow the Chairman to speak for you? Clearly Chairman Finigan is opposed to having prayer before public meetings, but does that give him the authority to block open discussion at a public board meeting? Will it bother you on an issue important to you to be denied the opportunity to place an item on an upcoming board meeting agenda?
In this arrogant abuse of power, Emperor Finigan is quashing the voice of the citizens of District 1 who spoke up and elected Supervisor Gitlin. How do the citizens of District 1 feel about this?
In Chairman Finigan's attempt to explain his arrogant decision of no further discussion, he warned that this would open public prayer to all types of religions, including Muslims, Satanists, Native Americans, Latter-day Saints, Buddhists and atheists, as if this was a bad thing. His poor attempt to throw out a distracting "red herring" only proved that he missed the point of many speakers. Religious freedom, protected by the First Amendment, is open to all and discrimination should not be tolerated. Are you as offended as I over these discriminatory remarks?
Finally, I have a few questions for the residents of District 5 who have continually re-elected Supervisor Finigan. Are you pleased with his behavior? Are you comfortable that he is denying another supervisor the right to have an item placed on the agenda? Are you supportive of him so arrogantly speaking on behalf of his fellow supervisors? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then I encourage all of you to express your concerns in every forum available to you.
Bruce R. Barber is a resident of Gasquet.