Tuesday, June 04, 2013
It was as clear as the nose on Nathan Miller's face that the three Republicans had met in private and that they had a "plan," such as it was, to suddenly take away $50,000 from mental health funding and give $13,300 of that amount to a small handful of their favored non-profits ("We're picking winners and losers," said Nathan Miller later on, in perhaps the truest words spoken all morning) and some $36,700 more to the Sheriff's department.
Commissioner David Blust was the designated front man for the budget changes. He read through his suggested changes to non-profit funding ... Foscoe Community Center, $5,000; Western Youth Network, $1,500; Mountain Alliance, $10,000; the Hunger Coalition, $8,500; Green Valley Community Park, $8,000....
When Blust reached Green Valley Community Park, the meeting took a purely bizarre turn, as the three Republican commissioners voted to open up a "limited" public hearing for just the Green Valley Park board and Wahoo Adventures to air their blood match against each other (don't ask. Suffice it to say that the procedure was not "regular order"). Others were not allowed to speak, even though big sections of the budget were being rewritten before the public's disbelieving eyes. The two Democratic commissioners kept objecting to the process, to no avail. Commissioner Welch in particular kept urging that another public work session on the budget was clearly needed. The Republicans weren't listening to that. They had a plan.
The five non-profits that Blust named (above) got additional crumbs. Nothing for Hospitality House. Nothing for a host of other non-profits, though Commissioner Welch made a motion to restore the original $17,000 that the County Manager had designated for non-profits. Motion failed 3-2, naturally.
Once the Republicans had voted their "winners and losers" among the non-profits, Commissioner Yates, who is like a wind-sock that takes a breeze without warning from any direction, suddenly began yammering that he had gotten calls from citizens who objected to taxpayer money going to non-profits, and Commissioner Yates thought he agreed with that sentiment, not noticing that he had just five minutes earlier voted to reward five non-profits with additional money while denying it to a bunch of others.
Commissioner Billy Kennedy offered the only summation that was possible on the morning's charade: "We're not doing right."
Final vote on the much-amended budget ... three Republicans in favor, two Democrats opposed.
If this is good government, not to mention good money management, I have a hat that's beginning to look mighty delicious.