Politics in cemetery board decision questioned
I’d like to talk about the Times article about the Los Alamos Cemetery. First, and not horribly important, the article says “Inscriptions tell of … spouses who died just weeks apart.” That is true but more interesting is Carl and Shirley English who died just hours apart.
More important is the termination of Mr. Gill and Mr. Kopcrak. Make no mistake, letting their jobs expire after five and four successive appointments, and without explanation, is termination. Changing the cemetery board just two weeks before the March primary election, with Joan Hartmann on the ballot, seems strange … one can only wonder.
“The district’s secretary and certified public accountant said she would not discuss the cemetery’s financial matters.” The cemetery’s financial matters are public information. Another interesting point, however, is as one looks into it, you find more and more county involvement where, “According to Hartmann’s office, the only thing that’s really in the county’s hands is appointing the board members.”
For instance, the county performs annual audits of the cemetery board. We have a highly technical term for something like this spoken by a politician. We call it a lie.
I am amazed that Jefferson Litton, the head of Hartmann’s staff, can say that Gill and Kopcrak are technically still on the cemetery board after Hartmann sent them a letter saying “With the expiration of your term on Jan. 1, 2020, I hope that you will enjoy having a little more free time, and thank you again for your service.”
I wonder what Litton thinks constitutes termination. He also says “… the county does not have the authority to remove board members.“ Oh, except by letting their terms expire; caught in another lie. Politicians, what can I say? If this is the best Hartmann can do for her staff, I can’t re-elect her: if she can’t do the simple things (like appointing competent staff), how can we expect her to do the tough ones?
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Commentary facts call for answers
In a recent commentary Richard Nagler stated that 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann had cost the Santa Ynez Valley School District millions of dollars in funding through two decisions she had made - one was an oblique reference to "the Santa Ynez Unit" and the other to the agreement made between the County and the Chumash Tribe regarding Camp 4.
Both assertions are patently false and so easily disproved as to suggest that the writer was not interested in educating voters, only in misleading them. First, we must assume that his reference to "the Santa Ynez Unit" was regarding the denial of an emergency permit to Exxon Mobil to truck oil dozens of times a day up and down the Gaviota Coast.
The truth is Supervisor Hartmann did not participate in making that decision as it occurred in 2015 before she was even elected to the Board of Supervisors. Second, Supervisor Hartmann was never legally in a position to negotiate with the Tribe for funding for the Santa Ynez School District. She could only negotiate on behalf of the County.
The school district has their own duly elected board to negotiate for the betterment of their district of which Bruce Porter has been a member. If Nagler thought that that the school district should get more money from the Tribe, why didn't he ask Porter to do so? Indeed, why didn't Porter think to do it himself?
Was it because he was quite satisfied by the funds the Tribe had already gifted to the district? Or was he too intimidated by the Tribe to ask for more funds for the students he purportedly represents? We may never know the truth.
However, whether complicit or cowardly, the responsibility for negotiating with the Tribe on behalf of the school district fell squarely on Porter's shoulders and not on Hartmann's. In contrast, throughout her term in office Hartmann has consistently been honest, transparent, courageous and successful in always asking for more resources for all her constituents. On March 3, vote to reelect Joan Hartmann.
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