Coastal Voices: Awkward proceedings enlightening to observe

By Dale Bohling August 28, 2013 02:37 pm

When all is said and done there is little we as community members whose health care needs are serviced by Sutter Coast Hospital can do to prevent the total takeover of the hospital we rely on and its ultimate evisceration.

The story line is old by now and most who care and follow it know the theme well. While it is true that the Board of Supervisors cannot, by itself, change the outcome of this situation, it is the voice of the people and if all members will put aside all personal and political mind sets in this singular and extremely important aspect of our lives for the good of all we can make the difference.

Unfortunately, such is not the case it appears.

Fast-forward to a 10-minute special meeting of the Board  of Supervisors on Aug. 15 (on USTREAM, Board of Supervisors) on your computer, as they attempt to appoint a member to a steering committee studying the hospital’s future.

What you will observe more closely resembles an old-fashioned three-legged sack race featuring Team  Sullivan and Hemmingsen as they try to hobble toward the finish line on three legs between them.

They  nominate  and second a replacement (David Finigan) for the discredited Martha McClure. Meanwhile, a third member of the board (Roger Gitlin) sits sidelined twiddling his thumbs as the Hemming and hawing between the two “in-charge” members moves slipshod toward a vote and a confirmation of Supervisor Finigan as the board’s newest offering to the so-called steering committee.

In this case the steering will  be coming from the rear as the study moves to a climax and the county is still trying to participate in the committee decision that will affect the well-being of many of us!

It can definitely be said that the real drama entered the pathetic pseudo-meeting when Supervisor Gitlin stated that he would not go along with the appointment of  an absent  member but, instead, wanted said appointee to be physically present to accept or decline the nomination/appointment; thus his nay vote spelled doom for the controlled outcome of the bedraggled meeting with two members being  absent.

We could be way down the road  had that nomination taken place weeks ago after Supervisor McClure withdrew herself from the committee position. It falls to the chairman of the Board of Supervisors to explain in clear and unambiguous language to the citizens of the hospital area why the Board of Supervisors fell flat on their face on this critical issue.

A life and breath member of the Board sat present at Supervisor Hemmingsen’s elbow, but he was apparently cloaked in invisibility as the thrashing duo sputtered and flailed arms to keep the issue from going under completely. Thus Supervisor Gitlin’s name never came up as a viable substitute for the vacant position.

As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and the 10 minute fiasco presented on USTREAM clearly illustrates the extreme bias, if not outright animus, projected onto the 1st District representative. First District voters, take note how your choice of an elected official is treated. It’s a thumb in your collective eyes.

Just when the duet finished their swan song, county counsel Elizabeth Cable injected stark reality into the situation with her obvious command of proper code procedure and informed the group that a 2-1 vote did not constitute a quorum.

Ice water splashed onto the back of a sunbather is the closest metaphor for the shock that descended upon the self-satisfied pair. As the numbing effect wore off, defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory and Chairman Sullivan put the entire procedure off into yet another league down the road as the clock continues to tick, and the study will possibly enter its closing phase without the imprimatur of the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors.

Thanks to the blessings of technology, those citizens who are not able to attend public meetings because they have to provide for their families by working (if they are fortunate enough to have a job in these times) can see some of the puffery that passes for efficiency in the public agencies that represent them.

Those without a computer will have to rely on the reporting by their friends who do have one. A tiny glint of satisfaction may surface in the minds of the disenfranchised as they recall that election time is coming up soon.

Dale L. Bohling is a Crescent City resident.