Resident scolds supervisors at start of new board term

By Chris Daley, Mountain Democrat
From page A12 | January 11, 2013 | 9 Comments

Shingle Springs resident Valerie Chelseth, a regular attendee at county board of supervisors meetings, threw down a verbal gauntlet at the board’s first meeting of 2013 on Tuesday. She scolded supervisors for “rudeness toward citizens” and chastised the past board for showing “your anger toward our opinions.”

Chelseth specifically named Sue Taylor of Camino as someone “who has been consistently treated badly.” Taylor is a frequent critic of board policy particularly related to development that could negatively impact  the county’s rural nature.

“We lose money (by leaving work) to be here,” Chelseth said. “We’re here to witness your proceedings… and we deserve to be listened to and responded to with respect. You lose your tempers (at us), but we’re all here working for the good of our county.”

Valerie and Pattie Chelseth are co-owners of My Sister’s Farm in Shingle Springs and were deeply involved in the more than year-long preparation of the “Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance” enacted by the county last month.

Pattie brought a gift basket to the ceremony Monday which saw new supervisors Ron Mikulaco and Brian Veerkamp and re-elected supervisor Ray Nutting take the oath of office. After the formal part of the event, she handed out pocket copies of the United States Constitution to all five supervisors, a CD called “The Creature from Jekyl Island,” the booklet titled, “The County Sheriff, America’s Last Hope” and the book “Behind the Green Mask,” by Rosa Koire.

“I hope it keeps them focused on their Oath of Office  and aware of the Big Picture. I did not include the California Constitution as it is the 2nd largest in the world. (no kidding),” Chelseth wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.
After Tuesday’s meeting, new board chairman Ron Briggs, District 4 responded to the Mountain Democrat via e-mail:

“In my opinion Open Forum is an opportunity for the public to use three minutes to convey their individual message not only to the board but through the meetings broadcast, to all of the County of El Dorado in a cogent and civil fashion,” Briggs stated.
Typically, the board chair introduces the Open Forum portion of the agenda by clarifying that the element is intended to bring up issues that are not on the agenda but that are matters over which the board might reasonably have some authority. In general, speakers stick to those guidelines. However, in the past year, board chair John Knight abruptly adjourned a meeting in order to prevent one resident from continuing to speak beyond the 3 to 5 minute time limit. And on rare occasions other chairmen have threatened to have speakers removed from the room by sheriff’s deputies.
“Open Forum IS NOT a back and forth question and answer forum. It’s receive only,” Briggs wrote. “In the past some chairs and individual board members have chosen to engage in a back and forth fashion with Open Forum speakers. It’s the chair’s duty to ensure the meeting runs within the agenda and to determine what represents cogent and civil discussion with every speaker.
“I understand people are people. At the podium, some get nervous; some speak very frank; some are more than frank; and then, there are a handful who simply want to slander and/or be mean spirited. In the past six years I have experienced the public to be on point and sincere in their speaking and this morning was no different.”
District 2 Supervisor Ray Nutting, re-elected in November, began a fourth term this week. He served as a supervisor from 1993 to 2001 and 2008 to the present. Nutting wrote:
“Each Chair runs meetings and many times they have their own style. I believe that the Chair should give the public every opportunity to speak and be treated equally. The prior Supervisor (Knight) always tried to keep the speaker on subject and within the time limit and at times it was difficult,” he said. ”My hope with all boards and this new board is that the public always feels comfortable to speak before their representatives. There is always room for improvement and we should always try to be better listeners.”

Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or Follow @CDaleyMtDemo

Discussion | 9 comments
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John Q PublicJanuary 11, 2013 - 7:13 am
There is more than one way to communicate with the BoS on agenda or non-agenda items besides the public forum. The problems arise when both sides of the argument are adamant in believing they are correct leaving no room for compromise. Thus, any decision against their position is a transgression and now personal. Self regulating and self awareness of one's speaking time is a chronic fault of regular BoS speakers with their heals dug firmly into the ground on an issue. Civil discourse and respect for the process is and must be a two way street.

EvelynJanuary 11, 2013 - 7:37 am
JQP: I couldn't agree with you more about the two way street bit!

SHJanuary 11, 2013 - 2:08 pm
Well if that is not the place for it, then maybe they should create "a back and forth question and answer forum". It wouldn't be a bad thing..

Melody LaneJanuary 13, 2013 - 6:01 pm
Kudos to Valerie & Pattie for finding their voices and asserting them!!! What is not mentioned in this grossly biased article is the fact that the BOS has remained unaccountable to the people who've elected them to office, primarily under the direction of County Counsel. Sue Taylor and I are two of many citizens, women especially, who've been disrespected, slandered and censored by the despotism of Knight, Nutting, Briggs & Sweeney whose only interest is their personal agendas are surreptitiously arranged behind closed doors. Fact in point is the entirety of the Open Forum and relevant to Item #17 Public Comment of the 10/23/12 BOS meeting: For those who have ears to hear and eyes to see the handwriting on the wall, NOW is the time to sound the alarm and depose the GOB.

Phil VeerkampJanuary 13, 2013 - 6:20 pm
Melody Lane, in one breath you demand respect while disrespecting the new board by pronouncing guilt before a decent trial period. This leads one to suspect that to the extent you were disrespected in the past there may have been cause. Good luck in your quest.

Phil VeerkampJanuary 13, 2013 - 6:21 pm
Melody LaneJanuary 13, 2013 - 7:57 pm
Phil, this has nothing to do with the NEW Board. It is obvious you cast stones without viewing the videos nor having been present at any of the BOS that I am aware. Therefore you're not privy to the FACTS that substantiate how the PAST GOB BOS have acted VERY inappropriately and out of order--including Briggs "petulant" behavior towards Sheriff D'Agostini & a retired Marine. Remember that one??? Valerie, Sue and I--as well as many others--have prepared our statements, presented the facts and properly challenged the BOS over the past several years in accordance with the Brown Act other legal protocols. It is a rare occasion they have responded at all under the advice of County Counsel. It's all part of the GOB GAME that is Grinding America Down. Melody Lane - Founder, Compass2Truth - Conservatives Serving God, Truth & Liberty

Dave in KelseyJanuary 13, 2013 - 9:16 pm
Both Riggs and Nutting have acted like they are above everyone else. Smug, elitest, and disrespectful not only to regular people, but to other county workers and elected officials. It seems Mr. Riggs doesn't want to be held accountable for anything if the 3 minutes isn't a question and answer period. If someone does bark at them, then it's disrespectful. THEY ARE OUR ELECTED OFFICALS. THEY ANSWER TO US. I guess we should all bow down to our great leaders and burn copies of Animal Farm.

John Q PublicJanuary 14, 2013 - 8:35 am
The unaccountable claims are typically tired rhetoric for did not do what I believe that they should do on any given subject. Slanderous statements of discrimination is just icing on the cake. Which makes my point that "any decision against their position is a transgression and now personal". Now add to this "Self regulating and self awareness of one's speaking time is a chronic fault of regular BoS speakers" and the same could be said for Mt Democrat commentators. Local politics requires participation in a group format and results are achieved through collaboration. Rogue positions from individuals seldom lead to their desired outcomes.....