San Andreas, CA — Thursday afternoon, county officials released the Calaveras supervisors’ formal response to a recent incident perceived by many as a slur against Mexicans.
According to Calaveras County government spokesperson Sharon Torrence, this morning, during a special closed session to discuss a generically termed disciplinary personnel matter, the board discussed its approach and drafted a proclamation of move forward actions it plans to enact directly addressing a racism-tinged crack made in early March by District 4 Planning Commissioner Kelly Wooster. The board plans to ratify the proclamation at its meeting next Tuesday morning at 9. Torrence says the action will likely be placed at the top of the agenda. (The proclamation text is shared below in its entirety.)
In a nutshell, the supervisors’ proclamation condemned Wooster’s remark, also noting the commissioner’s March 10 apology, past performance and service, and his promise to not repeat his mistake. The board also proclaimed its promise to take additional steps, including to swiftly enact sensitivity training for all elected and appointed officials aimed at ensuring “that all members of the public feel welcome engaging in the public discourse and to help all County leaders and officials promote and model civility in government.”
As previously reported here, Wooster was given the floor and apologized for causing offense at the onset of the planning commission’s session last week. He also attempted to qualify how he came to make the crack that “people from Mexico” might be included as “invasive species,” as the commission considered shortening a definitive phrase in one of the draft general plan elements from “invasive plant and animal species” to simply read “invasive species.”
However by then, Sacramento and other metropolitan tv media outlets had already widely reported on Wooster’s comment, fanning flames spread through social media. Two days before Wooster’s apology a Valley Springs resident created a change.org petition requesting the county supervisors to remove the commissioner, which continued to gather steam up to three days ago. At the time of this report it listed a total of 750 supporters. Ahead of the supervisors closed session the State Assembly’s California Latino Legislative Caucus additionally called for Wooster’s dismissal, expressing in a communication to the board that such “openly racist remarks” have no place in public discourse, should not be tolerated — and reflect badly on the county. The caucus further signaled its disappointment in a statement issued Thursday after learning of the board’s intention to retain the commissioner.
PROCLAMATION OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
WHEREAS, Calaveras County was one of California’s original counties and has long been settled by individuals of all races, creeds, and cultures from all over the world; and
WHEREAS, Calaveras County welcomes all of its residents, public servants, staff, and visitors regardless of their ethnicity, country of origin, culture, religion, or beliefs; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors of Calaveras County endeavors to maintain an atmosphere of civility and tolerance in public discussions and expects its own members, its appointees, its public servants, and its staff to consistently demonstrate these characteristics; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors of Calaveras County recognizes that Commissioner Wooster’s comment at the March 3rd Planning Commission meeting was inappropriate and should not have been said; and
WHEREAS, Commissioner Wooster acknowledges that he made a mistake, publicly apologized for his mistake at the following Planning Commission meeting, promised that a similar mistake would not happen again, and has no history of having ever made a similar mistake that would suggest a pattern of misconduct; and
WHEREAS, Commissioner Wooster has habitually contributed extraordinary thought and effort to his work on the Calaveras County Planning Commission and has, prior to this one mistake, consistently conducted himself with dignity and civility; and
WHEREAS, Calaveras County is committed to fostering a public forum where everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or what they believe, can safely engage in passionate discourse without fear of harassment or bullying; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT PROCLAIMED that the Board of Supervisors of Calaveras County, this 22nd day of March 2016, will retain Commissioner Wooster on the Planning Commission, given his apology, his spotless prior history as a Planning Commissioner, and his promise to not repeat this mistake; and
LET IT BE FURTHER PROCLAIMED that the Board of Supervisors of Calaveras County does hereby commit itself to taking additional steps, which shall include but not be limited to the provision of sensitivity training for all elected and appointed officials, to ensure that all members of the public feel welcome engaging in the public discourse and to help all County leaders and officials promote and model civility in government.