In a move that created some confusion at Tuesday’s regular meeting, Del Norte County Supervisor Roger Gitlin stepped down from the dais to the podium under public comment to demand an apology from Chair Chris Howard.
“Supervisor Howard, in your capacity as Chairman of the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors, you have defamed and falsely accused me of being unethical. Sir, you owe me and the constituents of District 1, a public apology,” Gitlin said.
Gitlin said Howard previously accused him of being in violation of AB1234.
“You were and are wrong and at the time you uttered such falsehoods, you knew such statements were categorically untrue,” Gitlin said. “For the benefit of all present today and viewing now or later, AB1234 is State-mandated ethics training.”
The rest of Gitlin’s statement read as follows:
“I am and remain in full compliance with AB1234. When I attempted to correct your misrepresentations, you cut off my microphone, a common practice you have engaged in over your past 19 months of disappointing and dishonorable service as Chairperson.
“Your defamatory statements further stated that I was unethical in my public opposition against the legalization of recreational marijuana, such opposition rooted in my Oath to uphold the Constitution. Marijuana aka cannabis is and remains federally illegal.
“You continued down your path of libelous statements per your response to my letter to Managing Director John Costa of Western Communications, owner of The Triplicate, where I, and I alone, called for the resignation and removal of its editor, Robin Fornoff, for what I termed... ‘unfair, biased, and prejudiced practices.’ Your letter of disassociation was not based on any written communications from Mr. Costa or Western Communications. You, as the Chair, instructed Chief Administration Officer Jay Sarina to compose a letter that violated Administrative policy as outlined in Rule 5, Paragraph E2, 100.050 of the Administrative Manual which states all supervisors must be addressed by the word Supervisor before their last name.
“And in the letter to Mr. Costa, you intentionally deleted my earned and elected title SUPERVISOR... TWICE.
“You displayed this irresponsible and malicious rhetoric during the open 60 day recall effort against me...an effort that never even got out of the “gate” for lack of the required signatures; but your malicious intent was clear.
“By your actions, you have deliberately exposed this county to risk and possible litigation. Engage in a thoughtful process for the benefit of our county by mustering up some character and publicly acknowledge the required retraction and apology...a protocol of which I am advised I must request as a predicate to any legal redress I may seek and recover for my damages.
“I demand you place on the August 28 Agenda the public apology to Del Norte County District 1 constituents and Supervisor Roger Gitlin for your culpable slander and libel.”
Since Gitlin’s statement was made under public comment, the board did not discuss or act upon it. However, a single public comment followed from Felice Pace.
“When you’re a public figure, slander and libel is awfully hard to get,” Pace said. “So, let’s not be intimidated by this display.”
Also under public comment, a letter was read by Paulette Eneim from Del Norte Republican Central Committee President Karen Sanders. The letter said the committee reviewed information regarding the efforts to recall supervisors Gitlin, Bob Berkowitz and Lori Cowan.
“The Del Norte County Republican Central Committee does not support the recall efforts against Supervisors ... and the use of precious Del Norte County taxpayer funds for a frivolous election,” Sanders’ letter read.