SLO County reform and community resurgence

December 8, 2016

Mike Brown

Mike Brown

OPINION by MIKE BROWN

Editor’s note: A column by Republican Mike Brown will run in CalCoastNews every other Thursday, rotating with a column by Democrat Stew Jenkins.

In 2017, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will have an opportunity to reform and reinvigorate county polices by replacing the current underlying self-serving and self-absorbed government incrementalism. A fresh and liberating approach to unleashing creativity, energy, and productivity of citizens could drive public policy.

Currently, the county is mired in the general malaise of California state and local government organizational culture, which is focused on expanding both services and itself as its overarching purpose.

The problem is that this prevailing culture is ultimately self-destructive and unsustainable because it undermines the productive capacity of society to generate the very resources necessary to feed its ever-growing demands. Simultaneously it also constrains the standard of living of its citizens. In doing this it undermines the ability of the most vulnerable members of society (the poor, immigrants, minorities, aging), to earn a living, to obtain decent housing, and to advance educationally. This results in expanded dependency and anti-social behavior, which fuels further expansion and cost of government.

The fundamental failure of this government culture is that it has collectively forgotten the ultimate and most important guiding purpose for its existence. The unique and animating historic genius of the American constitutional system was and is that its key purpose is to protect the people from their government. The Constitution and its derivative state and local constitutions and charters recognize that on both ethical and practical levels, government exists to insure freedom, safety of persons and property, legal stability, public order, and the general welfare in society. It’s very distinctive character is that it recognizes that governments themselves have always been and always will be the greatest threats to those very purposes.

Accordingly, the new board can reorient the county government (and perhaps some of the derivative agencies, such as the Air Pollution Control District and the San Luis Obispo County Council of Governments) to adopt new criteria by which to judge public policy. The county’s current overarching mission statement is emblematic of its contemporary redistributive   paternalistic culture.”

“The county’s elected representatives and employees are committed to serve the community with pride to enhance the economic, environmental, and social quality of life in San Luis Obispo County,” the statement says.

This, of course, displays the government culture’s inherent arrogance which misses the point entirely that the resources to enhance society ultimately come from the productivity of a free people, not prideful public officials.

Instead it should be replaced with an affirmative and living philosophy such as: Protect liberty, personal security, private property, and freedom while promoting individual responsibility, strong families, and economic opportunity.

As a corollary matter, the new board needs to recognize that county and agency staffs have, on the one hand, been co-opted by private interest groups with which they are often allied. These combinations are likely to resist a paradigm shift.

On the other hand, and reciprocally, staff has co-opted various citizen advisory boards such as the Water Resources Advisory Commission. In both cases it will be asserted, that the boards of the county and other agencies must conform policy to staff professional recommendations.

Actually, during the last two Board of Supervisors elections, 2012 and 2016, the voters accumulatively sent a strong message that the process should be exactly the opposite. The supervisors and other boards should require that staff provide rigorous problem definition, clear analysis, and alternative recommendations from which the boards may choose or entirely reject and assert a very different direction.

At this point there is an emerging three-member board majority (supervisors Debbie Arnold, Lynn Compton with Supervisor Elect John Peschong) who have made it pretty clear that they seek this new direction or something like it. It is not known how the remaining two (supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson) will collaborate on or resist the vital changes.

As Supervisor elect Peschong stated after the election and relative to the new board majority: “Hold us accountable.”

Mike Brown is the Government Affairs Director of the Coalition of Labor Agriculture and Business (COLAB) of San Luis Obispo County. He had a 42 year career as a city manager and county executive officer in four states including California. He can be reached at mike@colabslo.org.





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12 Comments

  1. ODX says:

    Is this the best Cal Coast News can do? Mr. Brown’s arguments are weak and lack conviction. His piece is just more of the same rhino political correctness. Even though I am a republican and can get behind his general premise I do NOT agree with Mr. Brown’s wishy washy double talk about what is wrong with SLO county government. The reality is far more insidious and destructive than he describes or I can described in this short post. Let me just touch on the bigger holes in his opinion piece.

    They Lie: County staff (i.e. The Bureaucrats) will say in their defense that they are just doing their job. Unfortunately, what they do goes way beyond just doing their job. Staff has an agenda and it is not the agenda of the Board of Supervisors or the people. Staff has been out of step with the Board on a number of issues like the water moratorium and the Phillips 66. They should be supporting the Board not undermining the authority of the Board by taking sides with groups that are in bed with the liberal media that goes out of its way to smear conservative board members.

    They Steal: There was a time when counties made do with property taxes to run operations. Now they require “FEEs” for everything. It has gotten to the point that if you want to build something you even have to pay a consulting fee to staff to find out how much all your fees are going to be. And after you pay all those fees, well good luck. And who gets all those fee? You guessed it those who collect them.

    Why do republicans think they need to play nice when the other side plays so dirty. Just look at how the Board members supported by the Democrats behave. Wake up! The game is rigged against Republicans and having a government responsible to the people.

    (5) 15 Total Votes - 10 up - 5 down
    • phoenix.rising says:

      ODX

      I like your paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 but paragraph 1 is off base.

      Here is a passage from Mike Brown’s write-up (next 2 paragraphs:

      “The county’s elected representatives and employees are committed to serve the community with pride to enhance the economic, environmental, and social quality of life in San Luis Obispo County,” the statement says.

      This, of course, displays the government culture’s inherent arrogance which misses the point entirely that the resources to enhance society ultimately come from the productivity of a free people, not prideful public officials.

      If you have read Mike Brown’s weekly newsletter and/or watched his 3minute comments to not only the BoS but SLOCOG and APCD you would see him as a champion of the forgotten taxpayer and the people in general.

      Sounds like you are with Mike Brown in our fight against over regulations, taxes and fees. I know I am and we are better because he goes out there and tells it like it is even when he is polite.

      Thank you Mike Brown for all the countless times you defend liberty!!!!

      (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
      • ODX says:

        We agree on the fundamentals and objectives.

        Unfortunately politics is all about the message. To be effective your message must be clear and to the point. That is why Reagan was so successful as the great communicator.

        My critique was and is directed to Mike’s message. He needs to be more focused on conveying the points that motivate agreement and action. The fact he is talking politics, he is going to offend some people. He is never going to sooth the savage beast that resides in the souls of the liberal left so I am not sure why he spends so much time trying to do so.

        (0) 8 Total Votes - 4 up - 4 down
    • rukidding says:

      What is really interesting is how Mr. Brown and COLAB continually argue against additional taxes and fees but at the same time will support the politicians who continually vote for these higher and or additional fees and taxes.

      (-5) 9 Total Votes - 2 up - 7 down
    • snooky156 says:

      “The game is rigged against Republicans and having a government responsible to the people.”

      Only some of the people in this county are “Republicans”. And, apparently you aren’t happy with the RINO’s. So, for those who satisfy your ideological criteria, why should the rest of the county work to appease your interests?

      And… what is “The game” anyway?

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  2. snooky156 says:

    “The county’s elected representatives and employees are committed to serve the community with pride to enhance the economic, environmental, and social quality of life in San Luis Obispo County,” the statement says.

    I don’t see this statement as over-reaching. One of the key words here is “enhance”, while the rest of the criteria are somewhat measureable and names the reasons why people want to live in this county.

    (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  3. Josey Wales says:

    Folks,

    While I generally agree with Mike Brown’s comments about the need to contain nanny government, I question why COLAB very often makes excuses for RINO Republicans.

    For example, i NEVER see Mike Brown or Andy Caldwell question the Santa Barbara North County politicians about their support for sanctuary city policies. Supervisor Steve Lavignino and SM Mayor Alice Patino both oppose ICE and fought to keep the farmer’s illegal alien workforce from being deported. Why? Is it because both of these career politicians take money from Big Ag?

    Worse, North County politician Peter Adam was found to be employing over 300 illegal workers on his Adam Family Farm, and ICE raided his property. Adam apparently thinks it is OK to hoist the true cost of his workforce onto the taxpayers.

    I wish COLAB and Brown/Caldwell would play it straight and call corruption for what it is, no matter the party affiliation.

    Just saying,

    Josey Wales

    (10) 16 Total Votes - 13 up - 3 down
  4. RonHolt says:

    While I agree with many of Brown’s comments here, that is mostly because California has gone too far in that direction. For a look at what happens when things go to far in the other direction, check on states like Kansas and their economic condition.

    What is needed is a balance. Mike Brown makes a case for less regulation and reliance on government (although mostly in areas of economic concern). Too little regulation can result in different and equally serious problems as those with economic power are not always inclined to use that power ethically. That is how we get “Superfund” toxic waste sites, special deals with corrupt legislators that sell government favors to the highest bidders (unfair trade agreements, special treatment for developers) and other similar headaches.

    There seems to be a constant swing back and forth from one extreme to the other in politics. It would be nice if our new BoS majority, could dampen the degree of that swing. A lot of conservatives have felt betrayed by Mr. Meacham on occasion but I think that he did just that during the past year. It is too bad that he retired instead of Mr. Hill.

    (0) 24 Total Votes - 12 up - 12 down
  5. fhill123 says:

    The other two Hill and Gibson will bully, whine and cry foul!!!!

    (18) 32 Total Votes - 25 up - 7 down
  6. scoopone says:

    Very well stated…this board desperately needs a new direction. I’m sorry that Dan Carpenter is not onboard..

    (34) 50 Total Votes - 42 up - 8 down
  7. rukidding says:

    Hmmmm! A new word in government-ACCOUNTABILITY. Thank you John Peschong I hope that you can do it as it has never happened before.

    (36) 52 Total Votes - 44 up - 8 down

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