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Letter To The Editor: Don’t Dog The DOG Report

To the Editor:

The following will address Supervisor Tom Wheeler’s criticism of Dale Drozen and his DOG Report:

Many feel that Supervisor Wheeler’s comments regarding Dale Drozen’s retirement income are inappropriate, irrelavant, suggestive of pension-envy and unbecoming of a representative of the people.

However, many would agree with the Supervisor’s statement that most cities and counties, throughout our Country, are struggling with costs of supporting government employee pensions, as retirees are living longer, and the army of retirees are beginning to outnumber the taxpayers who are working to support them. All the more reason for our County Supervisors and staff to be frugal and fiscally responsible with the people’s money.

Supervisor Farinelli reminded us, in his Christmas letter dated December 19, 2016, that our County “faced bankruptcy” a short time ago, and that should raise more concern for County Supervisors and Staff to be fiscally responsible with the people’s money.

On December 21, 2016, the Sierra Star reported that Supervisor Frazier cautioned County staff to remain vigilant on fiscal conservatism in relation to the OHV Park project.

In his recent email to his constituents, Supervisor Wheeler disputed what Mr. Drozen reported in regards to a proposed land lease by the County for an OHV Park project.

On December 21, 2016 the Sierra Star quoted County CEO Eric Flemming as follows: “The County will lease the Jameson property (proposed property for the operation of the OHV Park) for $1 – $25,000/mo, but the County won’t pay those amounts. The County will ask the owner to waive the monthly lease amount.”

One can plainly see how confusing this is to constitutents. Why would the owner of the property execute a lease with no teeth and one that would allow the County to easily wiggle out of?

Mr. Drozen’s report indicates that the County must prove possession of the property in order to apply for a grant. So perhaps the purpose of the lease is to prove to the granting agency that the County has possession of the property by virtue of a lease document and nothing more. Maybe that can be clarified by the County.

For taxpayers, the biggest issue regarding this project is the lack of planning and information available. As Mr. Drozen points out :

“When asked where profits would go, we were told, into the general fund, when asked how much, it was clear they had no idea, no business plan, or any idea when they would have one, nor an idea when they would have one.”

Is this true? Or if a plan exists, why wouldn’t the Supervisor make it available to the taxpayers? Don’t taxpayers have the right to demand this information since they are footing the bill for this project?

Another constituent asks for information on:
Basic layout of the facility

As a businessman and Supervisor of our County, I’m sure the Supervisor will agree that these are valid concerns on the part of his constituents.

Another confusing aspect to this project is that Supervisor Rogers was quoted as saying, “We have no intention of the County running this as a business. We plan, as a County………..to allow people in the private industry, who want to run this to do so” (Sierra Star, December 21, 2016).

If that is the case, the Supervisors can tell the people how many prospects have come forward, to date, who are willing to take on this project. A responsible Board and staff would require these prospects to submit background information, business history, financials, an operating plan and projections. Where are these documents?

There is a consensus that there is no OHV park in existence, in California, that is NOT subsidized by the taxpayers. Can the Supervisors confirm or deny this with documented proof?

Supervisor Wheeler states: “and we did do a study a few years ago asking you citizens what Madera needed and wanted. Recreating was at the top!” Constituents report that they have asked repeatedly to see this “study,” but no “study” has been provided to the taxpayers.

Perhaps this “study” exists, but it does seem a little disjointed to constituents since Madera County is surrounded by one of the greatest recreational sites in the world, in addition to many parks, lakes, hiking trails and other recreational facilites within the County.

The Supervisor states: “Since my 10 years of being a Supervisor, I’ve been asked more times for an OHV park than any other thing……”

This may be true, however constituents may not see this as a need to sacrifice and risk so much to satisfy a special interest group.

Many of us would love to have a world class shopping facility, a few big box stores,cultural center and opera house a half mile away, so we won’t have to travel long distances to get to these facilities, but that is not realistic. This can’t be done without giving up the peace, tranquility, small town ambiance, low crime rate and other benefits. So we must make compromises.

Perhaps those who have a genuine, burning desire to drive fast on dirt, create excruciating noise, pollute the air with the stench of gasoline and hot engines, kick up huge amounts of dust and dirt, and scare the wildlife out of existence will consider living in an area where all this is compatible with the community. Hopefully  their new community won’t have an issue with the cost of liability protection required for their entertainment.

Regarding Mr. Drozen’s comment: “For some reason elected officials get all starry eyed imagining their dream pet project is what we need,” certainly, everyone understands the need for our elected officials to fulfill some kind of legacy. But what our elected officials should understand is that the real heroes are those who will strive to take care of our most needed and necessary services, like fire protection; and rather than devoting time, taxpayer dollars and valuable county resources for a special interest project, constituents would like to see this effort toward necessary services without an increase in their taxes.

Lastly, I would respectfully ask the Supervisor not berate or chastise citizen Drozen for his active participation in our community. There are too few citizens  participating in and reporting on our County issues; and Mr. Drozen needs to be commended for doing so.

Considering that our County Board of Supervisors and staff are diligently fulfilling their duties in service to our County, they should never be disgruntled over correcting misinformation or the fact that a citizen is participating and reporting, but they should welcome any and all opportunites to clarify issues and work in harmony with constitutents who care most about our community.


Terre Sparkman

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