"I don't give up."
If anything sums up the entire philosophy of Supervisor Roger Gitlin, that's it. Elected just two years ago as county supervisor of District 1, he has been a lightning rod for a number of controversial issues. As a new supervisor, he says, he was expected to keep his mouth shut, get along and not make waves.
Well, not only has Gitlin made waves, it could be said he has created a tsunami. It all started, he says, when he wanted the Board of Supervisors to support the cleanup of the blighted area behind Walmart. To him it seemed a logical thing for them to support, but when they shot down the idea, it seemed to him that they were saying, "Just shut your mouth and learn how we do things." Not one for giving up, he partnered with the Daily Bread Ministries, Walmart, the Boy Scouts and interested citizens and took on the project of removing 4andfrac12; tons of garbage, hypodermic needles and old mattresses.
As he says, "I don't give up."
Regarding the issue around the Critical Care designation that Sutter Coast Hospital wants to implement, Gitlin says that the hospital has been a bad health care partner: "They have been less than forthright in the case for Critical Access."
He wants to see the records that justify their case for a change. As long as they refuse, he will oppose the change.
"We are becoming an expanded emergency room."
He supports the efforts of several local doctors to shine a light in all the dark places where Sutter is hiding the true figures.
Gitlin supports the latest attempt to split California into six states. He believes that California needs to be broken up because one size does not fit all, and now California is totally controlled by one political party that couldn't care less about Del Norte County. After all, how does a $50 billion bullet train in Southern California benefit us? It doesn't, he says, but we will all end up paying for it.
Even though he is against most new taxes, there is one he supports. That's Measure F on the ballot this November.
"It's part of the glue that binds this community. I just can't imagine what would happen to the fairgrounds without community support. The buildings would deteriorate, homeless would turn it into an illegal encampment and the community would be that much poorer," says Gitlin. "One quarter of 1 percent on the sales tax for seven years is a very small price to pay for all the good that the fair and fairgrounds does for this county."
In the latest controversy over the handling of his attempts to get his items placed on the Board of Supervisors' agenda, Gitlin believes that Chairman Finigan is just plain wrong in denying him the opportunity to present items for the agenda.
"Finigan can't intimidate or bully me," he says. "I just believe that he does not have any core values, and if he does, I haven't seen them."
Finigan isn't the only one he has tangled with. Supervisor McClure, he says, is a total liberal ideologue.
"Whatever the issue, it has to fit her extreme liberal philosophy or it's not worthy of consideration."
Gitlin felt personally offended when he says Lisa McKeown crossed the line, saying of Gitlin in an open meeting, "I hope God pricks your heart."
That, he says, could be considered a terrorist threat.
Is there any public official Gitlin thinks is doing a good job? One he admires is City Councilman Rich Enea.
"He is one of the hardest working public officials in this entire county," says Roger. "Not only does he do his homework on city issues but he is also knowledgeable on county issues as well."
When it comes to what people think of Roger Gitlin, people like him or hate him. There is no middle ground; but one thing is for sure, Board of Supervisors' meetings have become a more interesting place to be. Wherever there is controversy, Roger Gitlin will likely be in the middle of it.
Bob Berkowitz, a Crescent City resident and president of LifeStyles Research Company, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .