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Dear Sonoma County Board of Supervisors

Author: Dan Galvin
March, 2014 Issue

I write this to you as a lifelong county resident, taxpayer and voter, and a member of the board of directors at the North Coast Builders Exchange (NCBE) and chairman of NCBE’s governmental affairs committee. I’ve had occasion to meet each of you over the years. I was present at the hearing when project labor agreements (PLAs) were first proposed and narrowly defeated.
Defeated, I might say, because common sense ultimately prevailed on the majority of that board. I can’t say the same for the current board and its decision last week [January 2014].
Although I wasn’t at the meeting, I read all the articles, editorials and some of the emails leading up to and after it. I’ve since talked to several people who were present, including several people who were involved in the negotiations that led, in part, to the recommendations made to the full board by the ad hoc committee. It seems clear to me that the supervisors who voted in favor of gutting the recommended policy did so at the behest of the unions to whom they’re beholden—and, dare I say, afraid of and unwilling to cross.
You were each elected to serve the needs of your constituents and the county as a whole. Your focus is supposed to be on what’s in the best interests of the county as a whole, not special interest groups from whom you’ve taken thousands of dollars in political contributions, not to mention the manpower and in kind contributions that benefitted your campaigns. How many of you signed “pledge agreements” with the unions? How many of you were pressured by the unions to vote for a PLA policy that the unions wanted? How many of you look to the unions to help finance your future campaigns, whether for reelection or higher office?
One of you, I’m sure, hopes to avoid a union-led recall effort. Perhaps the Grand Jury should look into the basis for your votes, because the smoke and mirrors rationale you each gave for your votes was not based in reality.
The inaccuracy of the statistics used at the hearing has been pointed out, particularly to Supervisor Zane. Yet you each voted not in favor of the proposal recommended by the ad hoc committee, but rather for a policy totally in line with the demands of the unions.
Supervisor Carrillo, you were on the committee that approved the draft policy, a policy that, although still objectionable, was one that the opponents of PLAs might have been able to live with. A key component of that proposal was the alternative bid process. The taxpayers deserve to know whether or not, as the unions claim, PLAs will save the county money. How better to make that determination than to have a project bid with and without a PLA? Supervisor McGuire, how can you decide to throw out a low bid if you have nothing but PLA-generated bids to compare it with?
So when it came time for a vote, I understand that you, Supervisor Carrillo, voted to remove the alternative bid provision that was part of your initial recommendation. Shame on you!
You have all turned your backs on the need to protect the county by ensuring that a project is built for the lowest cost possible. You will be spending taxpayer money unnecessarily. You have effectively eliminated the ability of a nonunion shop to bid or work on PLA-governed projects.
Like many citizens, I’m thoroughly disgusted with how our government operates, from the federal right down to the local level. You’ve done a disservice to the majority of the people who elected you. You’ve compromised your values and ignored your common sense for purely political and selfish reasons. When you look in the mirror, whom do you see? A public servant? Or just a servant beholden to a special interest group?
You still have time to right this terrible wrong. You still have time to stand on your own two feet and do what’s right for the citizens of this county. You still have time to vote with your conscience and common sense. We all face consequences daily as a result of the choices we make.
At the end of the day, we each have to evaluate how we performed. Were we honorable, honest, forthright and community-oriented? Did we cast our vote after considering all “facts” and discounting those assertions that could not or cannot be proven? Did we uphold our responsibilities as elected officials?
I daresay you each have some soul searching to do before you finalize this PLA policy. I hope you each will reconsider your position and vote appropriately for the good of this county.
Dan Galvin
Sonoma County
Editor’s note: This letter to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors was sent on January 22, 2014, the week before the board voted on the PLA issue.


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