Supervisor Kirk Recaps County Issues
Thank you again for voting for me as your District 3 Supervisor during the primary! I look forward to serving this community another 4 years. With that said, I will not be on your ballot as I won during the primary. Regarding the 2022 General election, please click on the link below for my recommendations.
In September, Roger and Judy Haughton received the Irving J. Symons Award, given annually to a person or couple who displays exemplary service to the community and makes it a better place to live. In a nutshell, they are good people. They love God, they love their family and they love this community and want the best for everyone they come in contact with. Over the course of the last few years, I have come to understand just how lucky our community is to have them. Whether it’s their work with Habitat for Humanity, raising funds for health centers or countless other causes, the Haughton’s are a clear example to me of love in action, not just words. Congratulations and thank you.
In August, our board passed a resolution celebrating and supporting local home-grown skier and Olympian Keely Cashman. During the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, she finished 27th in the women’s Super G and 17th in the downhill, making her the top American finisher. Dodge Ridge Ski Resort is renaming its racing center the “Keely Cashman Race Center.”
Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Budget
On September 20, 2022, our board approved the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Budget. Over the last 4 years in office, I have come to appreciate this as one of our primary purposes as elected officials. There are things in this budget I adamantly oppose. Like a marriage, you will never agree on everything, but you work through it and come to a place where you can agree to disagree, be heard, listen to the others, make a decision and move forward. We have a balanced budget and put monies aside for rainy days as well as to fund some of our priorities.
Some highlights of this year’s budget include adding one million dollars to the reserve, bringing our total reserves up to $5M. Our goal is to get to $8-10M (or about 10% of the General Fund). Our board policy is to put $250K aside a year, however this year we increased that amount by 300%. We also beefed up our general fund contingencies to over $3M.
Additional highlights of the budget funding our communities’ highest priorities:
· Set aside $125K for support staff to address water issues within Tuolumne County. Water has always been viewed as an important factor in our community, but with longer droughts and the state not taking action on building more water capacity, the County is positioning itself to be “at the table” more when it comes to the issue.
· Purchased a Type 2 Fire engine and equipment ($740K) to be placed at the Columbia Fire station.
· Set aside $75K for emergency operations plan including but not limited to evacuation planning.
· Set aside $1M to contract with CAL FIRE for a Groveland fire station which will begin to address the Hwy 120 corridor fire safety concerns, as well as provide full-time fire service to the Groveland community.
· Purchased a masticator for roadside brushing ($320K) as 90% of fires start along roadways.
Example of masticator doing roadside brushing
· Funded county capital improvement plan for the Historic Courthouse in order to get out of rented buildings and move into county owned property ($2.35M)
To view the budget presentation: https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/1566580/September_20_Adopted_Budget_Presentation.pdf
Opioid and Fentanyl Crisis in Tuolumne County – Parents TALK TO YOUR KIDS
Parents, please educate yourself on Fentanyl and the drugs currently being used by kids. I don’t care how good you think your kids are, you need to sit down and talk to them about the dangers of Fentanyl, If you suspect your kids are messing with drugs, you need to talk with them and you need to go get some Narcan and a brief training at any pharmacy or at the Red Feather Clinic in Jamestown. No prescription necessary. Even just touching the drug can be fatal! Taking other drugs laced with Fentanyl can also be fatal! Narcan can and will save your child if they are exposed to Fentanyl and it is administered in time. Staff memo: https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/1474002/Signed_Final_Opioid_Safety_Coalition_Staff_Report.pdf
See page one in the flyer: https://tuolumneco.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=666&meta_id=97161
Climate Action Plan
On October 3, 2022 I authored a blog regarding this topic. Click the link below to review. https://www.mymotherlode.com/community/blogs/climate-action-plan-concerns
Homeless Pallet Shelter in Jamestown
Our community is tired of the homeless issues they see in our streets. Filth, drug addiction, loitering and the overall vibe of our community has been degraded. To move homeless individuals out of a location, the county must first offer them a temporary alternative place to stay (per federal law Martin v. City of Boise – a landmark decision handed down by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which significantly impacts what can be done). Where do we offer them to stay? The Jamestown site has become the focal point for developing a plan.
The problem is, what is the plan? The state’s Housing First model does not work. I am not willing to spend taxpayer dollars long term to simply house homeless people. I will use taxpayers’ dollars if a plan is developed with strict rules, individual accountability, wrap around services to address mental and behavioral health and which pulls in community partnerships, with the expectation of people moving out of homelessness.
I have found everyone I have spoken to in this community to be reasonable. We all could get behind helping someone who wants help, who is willing to be held accountable to a program in return for community support as they transition through a program. But what I, and so many others are not willing to support, is spending time and resources on those who have chosen this lifestyle, who will not take responsibility and who are living out the consequences of their choices and actions, and in many cases, actually do not want to live in a shelter or house.
Moving forward, the pallet shelter and the operating plan will continue to be discussed as to whether it is a viable and operationally sustainable option.
Discussion continues regarding the proposed vegetation ordinance which will come back to the board at a later date. Earlier this summer, I approved the vegetation ordinance draft which would have required vacant lots of half-acre size or less maintain their property for fire protection. However, in August, the board changed their proposal from half-acre to any size vacant lot which I could not support for various reasons including realities such as 99.9% of folks will not be able to afford to clear larger lots of several acres. And why would we require a 40-acre lot with a home to only have 100ft defensible space clearance yet we would require a vacant 40-acre lot next door be completely cleared? For more of my thoughts click on the link below and watch the video dated August 2, 2022. https://anaiahkirk.com/videos/
Our Roads Suck
The Pavement Condition Index (PCI) grades roads from 0 (worst) to 100 (best condition). Tuolumne County’s average PCI is 28 as of 2020 (poor condition and worst in the state), down from 33 in 2018. We spend $1.2M annually for preventative maintenance (ditching, culvert pipes, overlays, etc.)
As promised, we continue to advocate for our roads. On July 13th, our team met with Department of Finance to present them the “Tuolumne County State of the Roads Presentation” Please take a moment to read the full report on the PCI index of our roads here: https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/1233371/2020-LSR-Report-Tuolumne_County-ppt.pdf News story on roads here: https://www.mymotherlode.com/news/local/2323145/displeasure-voiced-about-tuolumne-county-having-worst-roads-in-california.html
Fire Insurance and the FAIR Plan
On July 5, 2022 our board sent a letter to Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to provide input to a hearing he convened to listen to the concerns of Californians regarding the FAIR Plan.
In September, the insurance commissioner submitted proposed regulations which would “offer discounts for people with FAIR Plan policies if it’s approved by the California Office of Administrative
Law. If approved, “insurance companies will have 180 days to submit their new rate plans that incorporate the mandated discounts to Lara’s office.
Just this week, news from Lara’s office indicated the proposed regulations were approved. Under the new rules, insurance companies will have 180 days to submit rate filings that incorporate the wildfire safety standards and establish a process for releasing wildfire risk determinations to residents and businesses.
To review the full news story by the Union Democrat in September, click here: https://www.uniondemocrat.com/news/article_9e708a34-3090-11ed-a0ea-4b0452df0e97.html
An earlier letter authored by Assessor Recorder Whitman and myself on October 20, 2021: https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/1434272/Insurance_Commissioner_Letter_10.20.2021.pdf
For a review of all documents associated with Lara’s hearing, click the link below and review item #19. https://granicus_production_attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/tuolumneco/bbe200afc60eb65c9fc9668e0305b61d0.pdf
On September 20, 2022 our board approved a 10-year contract extension with Waste Management. I appreciate there was some movement towards better communication about service interruptions during winter storms. However, I voted no on the contract for one simple reason. They need to be held contractually accountable for gaps in service which at times have run two weeks or more. I specifically requested smaller garbage trucks to access consumers during the winter season, as well as additional storage for you to store waste should they not be able to provide service in a timely manner. Neither were provided, so I voted no.
Moving forward, they have committed to better communication such as:
· Prior to November 1st each year, Waste Management will meet with County staff to identify which customers may experience impacts to their waste collection services in the event of sustained snow falling at or below the 3500-foot elevation level so that targeted information can be quickly disseminated to the identified customers.
· Waste Management will answer all customers’ telephone calls by means of local, in county, customer service staff or customer service staff at other locations, provided they have been trained on the requirements of this agreement.
· Waste Management will accommodate all reasonable requests from customers with the goal of leaving all customers satisfied to the greatest extend possible.
· Waste Management will make the local customer service office available during normal office hours (currently 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday – Friday, except holidays), and will provide customer service directly person-to-person.
· Customer credit for missed service will equal actual number of weeks of missed service with no cap on maximum number of weeks credited.
· Waste Management representatives will appear before the Board of Supervisors within one week when requested by the County.
To view the documents presented to the board, click here and review the 2:00PM public hearing. https://granicus_production_attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/tuolumneco/de3f796602d87a7c1ede12c0adf5cb220.pdf
In September, with the help of CAL FIRE, Tuolumne County Fire was granted the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. The SAFER grant will fund 19 positions for three years. On August 1st, 2022, the County funded another fire engine and staff (6 staff total) therefore an additional 13 staff for other county fire stations with 3-0 staffing, meaning one additional staff on duty each shift, for 36 months.
News article on Safer grant: https://www.mymotherlode.com/news/local/2760129/tuolumne-county-receives-9-million-federal-fire-grant.html
News article on Groveland Fire: https://www.mymotherlode.com/news/local/2696283/tuolumne-county-fire-boosts-groveland-resources.html
McClintock Speaks at the 2022 Lake Tahoe Summit
Our congressman gave an excellent summary speech of issues within our forest stating “either we will carry it (forests) out or nature will burn it out. That is the choice. That is the only choice.”
“Among other things, we need to aggressively attack fires when they are first spotted. And when these fires are first spotted, aggressive initial attack is absolutely critical. Last year, the Forest Service allowed the Tamarack Fire to smolder for ten days until it exploded out of control and destroyed 70,000 acres.”
For a full recap of his speech please click here: https://www.mymotherlode.com/news/local/2722469/mcclintock-speaks-at-the-2022-lake-tahoe-summit.html
And speaking of putting fires out when they start. The National Association of Counties (NACo) approved a resolution which started here regarding the process the US Forest Service uses to create policy (called Rulemaking) and how they follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NACo resolution clarifies the need for local county involvement in the process, especially as it related to Firefighting and Interdisciplinary Resource Management. To view the NACo document, click on the link below and see page 184 for a synopsis of the resolution. https://naco.sharefile.com/share/view/sb7ba417a08c04060ab053e725c891f03
Many complaints have been surfacing regarding Airbnb’s in Twain Harte and Mi Wuk Village. I have met with some groups to get feedback over the last year or two and have received several calls and emails. In order for our board to have a conversation regarding Airbnb’s, the item needs to make the priority list which is adopted by the board bi-annually. In the meantime, here are just a few of my thoughts on the issue.
Thanks to some research by Supervisor Brandon, Tax Collector Justin Birtwhistle and Assessor Recorder Kaenan Whitman, there are approximately 27,432 residential units in Tuolumne County with approximately 1,112 short term rentals which represents 4%.
Some say we have a housing crisis; I believe we have a housing-cost crisis. Some say we need to stop short-term rentals when data shows only 4% of units are short-term rentals. 4% is not a crisis. Should we also restrict long-term rentals? I do believe in some cases we have a quality-of-life issue for neighbors who live next to short-term rentals. Instead of banning short-term rentals, I would rather put teeth into a process or ordinance which addresses the quality-of-life issues. When the time for priority setting comes to the board, our board looks forward to hearing from you on this important item and if it should be taken up as a priority with county time and resources to address.
On July 21, 2021 PG&E announced a major new electric infrastructure safety initiative to protect communities from wildfire threat. The new initiative, announced in Butte County by PG&E CEO Patti Poppe, is a multi-year effort to underground approximately 10,000 miles of power lines. Tuolumne County sent letters of support for these efforts. In August, PG&E announced they will start with 3 miles of work in Tuolumne County in 2023. See page 38 in the link below for more information and a map of the work. https://www.rcrcnet.org/sites/default/files/useruploads/Documents/Barbed_Wire/2022-09-02/PGE_10K%20UG%20Program_Local%20Work%20Plan%20Maps_20220825.pdf
Anthem Blue Cross Letter
On July 19th the County of Tuolumne, along with our Superintendent of Schools, individual School Districts, Tuolumne Utilities District, and the City of Sonora sent a letter to Anthem Blue Cross to encourage a positive resolution to the health care contract negotiations between Anthem Blue Cross and Adventist Health. In August, an agreement was reached.
Response to Grand Jury on COVID-19
On June 24, 2022, the Grand Jury Published an Employee and Public Safety report. Part of the report covered the county’s response to COVID-19 and implied Supervisor Haff and myself did not conform to and agree with the science promoting COVID-19 vaccines and for not promoting vaccinations as a condition of employment on our employees. Simply put, our policy decisions on COVID-19 were rejected by the Grand Jury. While I respect the role of the Grand Jury, this was my first time being interviewed by them and it was disheartening. I found the confidential interview to be politicized and close-minded regarding science and the scientific method. Their written public response was a watered-down version of the debated confidential interview. Moreover, I found them attempting to influence my policy decisions into the future which is my role as an elected official.
At the July 5, 2022 board meeting, Hector Gonzalez, CEO of the Superior Court discussed the purpose of the Grand Jury. Mr. Gonzales clearly stated that Process is subject to Grand Jury review, but Policy is not. Policy is the purview of elected officials.
If members of the Grand Jury would like to attempt to suppress opposing views on COVID-19 vaccines and potentially any future medical policy issues, they should run for Supervisor. I would be glad to publicly debate them on this issue.
The grand Jury’s response can be found here: https://www.tuolumne.courts.ca.gov/system/files/general/2020-2022-grand-jury-employee-public-safety-report.pdf
In June I voted no on the pride (LGBTQ) resolution. To see my comments and full reasoning, click on the video tab below and click on the June 22, 2022 video. Video here: https://anaiahkirk.com/videos/ News story here: https://www.mymotherlode.com/news/local/2636219/tuolumne-county-proclaims-lgbtq-pride-month.html
Where I Stand on Abortion
Abortion continues to be a hot topic nationally and within the state. In 2019, after being questioned where I stood on abortion, I authored a blog, a blog which I feel is worth reminding those who are asking me again now based on current events. Please consider carefully how you vote on Proposition 1 which would amend California’s Constitution to allow abortions at any and all phases of pregnancy. https://anaiahkirk.com/where-i-stand-on-abortion/
To get biweekly video updates, please visit my website: https://anaiahkirk.com/videos/
Thank you and God bless!