George Boardman: A failure to communicate, Disneyland bridge, and danger in your coffee | TheUnion.com

George Boardman: A failure to communicate, Disneyland bridge, and danger in your coffee

George Boardman
Columnist

That was quite a scene last week in the august chambers of the county Board of Supervisors, reminiscent of the recent White House meeting on immigration in which the leader of the free world allegedly referred to certain nations as "shi#holes."

The "s" word wasn't uttered at the supervisors' meeting — at least, not loud enough for anybody to hear — when County Clerk Recorder Gregory Diaz asked the supes for $300,000 to test drive the state's new Voter's Choice Act in the June primary.

The new law calls for mailing a ballot to every registered voter in the county, who can then mail them back or drop them off at one of several voter centers around the county. Supporters say the change will get more people to vote and cut costs, and Diaz wants Nevada County to be one of the pioneers in the state.

To help make his case — and possibly bulldoze the supes into allocating the money — Diaz brought along the state's top election officer, Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Some people refer to this as "big timing."

It was among Padilla's first visits to Nevada County in his official capacity, and maybe his last. It is safe to say the majority of supervisors were not impressed. Taking a page from our nation's leader, the supes were blunt, rude and almost bellicose with Diaz, a departure from their usual decorum.

The three conservatives on the board — that would be supervisors Ed Scofield, Hank Weston and Dan Miller — seemed particularly upset that Diaz was making the request just five months before the June primary and a week after the $300,000 price tag surfaced.

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Diaz was taken aback, pointing out that staff presentations were made to each supervisor regarding implementation of the act and that supervisors were asked for any questions and concerns.

"We have had multiple meetings that have been publicly noticed in the paper," he said. "I'm not quite sure how to answer your concerns, supervisors, because we have been very transparent, very open."

Weston said he has asked in the past what the program will cost and didn't get an answer until a county staff report was released last week. When asked by Scofield, Diaz said he didn't have the initial budgeted cost for the 2018 election.

There appears to be a breakdown in communications here. The supervisors should have made it clear during the briefings that the sooner Diaz could come up with budget numbers, the better. Diaz should have provided a cost estimate during the briefings, and should have been ready to discuss election costs in detail last week.

Neither side acquitted itself well in this matter. The residents of this county expect good government, not drama from their elected officials. We're already getting plenty of the latter from Washington.

Disneyland bridge

Work to restore the historic Bridgeport Covered Bridge may begin as early as August, more than 7.5 years after it was closed to the public. Now it turns out the $3.9 million project — more than three times the original estimate — will give us a replica of the beloved 155-year-old tourist attraction.

According to a press release from the county CEO's office, "reconstruction will include raising the bridge 18 inches to allow for higher river levels, and hidden new structural elements to ensure the future integrity of the bridge." The project also includes replacement of some of the existing interior support structures, roof, wall and other failing structural elements — in other words, just about all of the bridge.

But don't worry — the bridge will retain its historic appearance because the contractor on the job will have to follow the Secretary of the Interior's historic replacement standards, creating a structure that will fit right in at Disneyland. That should work well here, where a lot of people like to dress up in old timey clothes and pretend the good old days were better than they really were.

August may also be an optimistic start date. Before construction can begin, approvals are required from the Office of Historic Preservation and the Federal Highway Administration, and a qualified contractor will have to be selected, who will then have 12 months to finish the job.

Still, that's progress. It's only taken us seven years to get to the point where we can almost see the start of construction.

You've been warned

If you're drinking coffee while you read this, you might want to put it down. That morning jolt of java might be increasing your risk of getting cancer.

But don't worry, the state of California will sound the alarm if a judge in Los Angeles decides that acrylamide, a flavorless chemical produced during the roasting process, is sufficiently harmful to be listed under Proposition 65, the state law that requires businesses to warn consumers of any cancerous chemicals in their products.

Acrylamide is one of more than 900 chemicals known to the state to cause cancer and falls under the provisions of Proposition 65. In the 30 years the law has been on the books, cancer warnings have been issued for wood furniture, ceramic plates, snow globes, licorice, new cars and several other items.

This is more of the nanny state a lot of people have come to resent. The warnings have become so common, people just ignore them, defeating the purpose of the legislation. Personally, I've ignored all of the other warnings and I'll ignore any warning they slap on coffee. As a heavy consumer of the stuff since my late teens, I would be dead by now if trace amounts of acrylamide were really a threat to my health.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at ag101board@aol.com.

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