Hi, I am Marc Sobel, candidate for Madera County Supervisor in the 5th district that covers the mountain and foothill communities.
My story starts with 42 years of community service. This stands outside creating and running my own businesses. I work as a leader in stressful dynamic environments and sometimes lives and millions of dollars in assets are on the line. For a complete list of the organizations and activities I have been involved with please visit my website www.ElectMSobel.com. You can also read about other aspects of my life and family.
I never thought of running for public office until about 4 years ago when some friends suggested I would do a great job. They said that because I already was involved in local issues and I had good ideas. I decided not to challenge the incumbent then, but things have changed a lot in the last 4 years.
My agenda or platform was created by you and the community and in part by watching our local county government flounder by losing money due to mismanagement, corruption and lack of leadership.
On two occasions the County has ventured beyond its duty to govern, rather to become involved in business ventures. Guaranteeing a profit to a vendor for a Coffee kiosk and building an off highway Vehicle facility without a plan was simply wrong. When you drill down into the details of these projects you discover special interest money and conflicts of interests were driving forces. There is still a question as to who gave $26,000 to a non-profit, then they gave the money to the county, all in favor of the Off Highway Vehicle Park, the pet project of the incumbent. This is called money laundering in my book.
Legalized bribery seems to rule County government. Big money is routinely donated to County Supervisors by all sorts of special interests. Specifically the incumbent has received over $200,000 in special interest money and at least $80,000 in developer money. This is all on the record which makes it legal but is it right? Thirty Thousand homes are slated in the Highway 41 corridor near Ave 12 and between the river and Hwy 41 in the flat lands. What types of backroom deals were made? I know one deal puts development cost on the new home buyer. They will be burdened with thousands of dollars of extra property tax costs for decades. What will the impact be to traffic, will road upgrades happen before the new homes or after, I fear the later. Is there really water?
The Board of Supervisors has broken State law over and over again. Let’s go back about 4 years when the Board tried to mandate trash service for selective parts of the County. The state constitution forbids mandated service without a vote of the residents. They passed the ordinance in spite clear legal objections and then later rescinded it when they figured out I was right. They also put a 6% tax on trash service without due process. The Board of Supervisors tried to pass a raise in closed session without public hearing. This was a violation of the Brown Act that requires public meetings. They dropped the agenda item when this was exposed. They held a meeting regarding Sanctuary State in closed session and got caught as this has to happen in public. They were sued by the ACLU and settled for $32,500 plus the cost of County counsel. Just within the last couple weeks they again violated the Brown Act by holding a meeting at a facility that did not comply with ADA access requirements even though they were told before the meeting this was a problem.
The County District Attorney has alleged wrong doing by Supervisors but this is under investigation by the State Attorney General. I have no clue if there is merit to this but it hangs as a cloud over the Supervisors.
The County had made a mess of Special Districts. These are micro government entities the County manages on behalf of the residents in specific areas. Most are Water Districts. Lack of audits and sloppy accounting has led to the County general fund subsidizing some districts. Drinking water violations are numerous. Recently fraud has been alleged for a State funding grant that would have left homeowners on the hook for reimbursement for millions of dollars. A $12 Million dollar sewer upgrade project is years behind and now way over budget. Residents in one district had to sue twice to cause county compliance. Now resident in three districts are being told they have to spend millions to fix water problems when a less than $1000 per house cure is available.
The County tried to spend over a million dollars on a welcome to Madera County sign. It would have happened if citizens did not object.
Did you know the County pays for just 13 firefighter positions Countywide? We have 17 fire stations. Just one person mans the Oakhurst station. Most stations have no one on duty. This has not changed in decades but the lack of volunteers dates back at least 10 years. The County has done nothing to expand the number of on duty firefighters. That new ladder truck was paid for by the tribe to aid in a high rise fire.
We need a full time fire department that staffs each fire station with 4 people. This is not cheap but it can be done if the County makes public safety a priority. I have a plan that does not raise taxes. We use new revenue, $5 Million dollars a year to increase the budget from about $6.5 Million to about $20 Million dollars in three years. This money will hire staff and help build fire stations and replace equipment. The results can be spectacular. Reduced response time may save lives and property. Insurance rates may go down. The incumbent’s plan was to raise the sales tax. That plan had no money for buildings and fell short to fund the positions needed. That’s no plan.
Transparency is a problem. The County posts an agenda on Friday afternoon for a Tuesday meeting. This is just 1.5 business days before the meeting. This short notice does not allow for community involvement. Sometimes there are 400 pages of documentation for the meeting. There is no option to publish anything in the local newspaper beforehand. I propose the agenda be published 10 days out. I would write a column about issues so you know what is happening before the meeting.
I would change the way town hall meetings are done. They would be issue driven, not a show and tell.
We lack a vision in our communities because there is no real community involvement. I would invite people to be involved in a steering committee in each area. There are all sorts of needs out there from roads to zoning. County staff needs to get out of the box and engage the public, after all they work for us.
There are other issues people care about and I want to open a discussion as to how they can be solved. Here is a short list; need a department store, more medical service including an urgent care facility, road repair, water quality, building fee reduction, housing cost and better paying jobs.
A recent Audit report by the County Auditor on the franchisee Caglia Environmental, AKA Redrock Disposal that collects and manages trash has overcharged the people and county more than 2.5 Million dollars. You can read the audit report, a link and an opinion article is on my website under wasting money.
We have a representation problem. The incumbent refused to forward a petition with 300 signatures to the rest of the Board of Supervisors in opposition to his pet project to spend $1.8 Million dollars on a roundabout in North Fork. He voted for a rock quarry over the objections of the community that was worried about water noise and traffic. He ignored community concerns about an Off Highway Vehicle park.
Let’s talk about some other political issues.
1. I favor the right to carry to protect yourself.
2. I am opposed to letting criminals walk free, Jerry Brown’s Sanctuary State. If you lock up a criminal in our jail we need to cooperate with ICE to remove them from our community. My opponent is supporting sanctuary state by inaction, not voting to oppose it.
3. I oppose the Gas tax
4. I voted against the High Speed Rail bond.
A word about endorsements – Four years ago I endorsed the incumbent because it was the politically correct thing to do. I represented the Bass Lake homeowners as association president. The association from time to time needs the support of the County so I asked Tom for a yard sign and gathered his smile and a handshake. This is politics pure and simple. It never had anything to do with whether or not I thought he was a good guy or whether or not I liked the job he was doing. I needed him to think I was on his side so the next time I needed something from him, at least I would get a favorable hearing. So you may have seen his endorsements, just know it is politically correct to endorse a sitting Supervisor. Same goes for all the organizations too.
I am running against a 3 term incumbent that has been in office for 11 ½ years. This is his record, he owns it.
WE HAVE A SWAMP
IT’S TIME TO DRAIN OUR LOCAL SWAMP
For more information about Marc Sobel visit www.ElectMSobel.com
VOTE FOR MARCH SOBEL FOR SUPERVISOR ON JUNE 5TH.