Jim Houle: Petty Ambition and Small Claims

Redwood Valley

What seemed like a minor skirmish at the inaugural session of the Board of Supervisors on January 4th proves once again that petty ambition is a major motivation at Low Gap House. While Dan Hamburg, newly elected 5th District Supe, was obviously next in line to be Chairperson of the Board in 2012 by any reading of the Board’s own rules of succession, two Supervisors sided with John McCowen’s whining request to ascend to the Chair out of turn but before his 4 year term is over. “I will have served four years without once being Chairman”, he sobbed. The Chairman’s job is not worth, to paraphrase ‘Cactus Jack’ (Vice President under FDR) Garner, “a bucket of warm spit” but it’s obviously a draught thirsted for by our ‘Jack’ McCowen. Dan Hamburg accepted the defeat and the unfairness of it with equanimity but with a wry smile, realizing that such pettiness will likely persist.

At the same time, a few blocks down State Street in Small Claims Court, authority and responsibility were successfully avoided for the fifth time in the infamous case of ‘Queen Kendall’ Smith’s absconding with $3,086 in illicitly-acquired expense account money. Judge Behnke was sure he didn’t have jurisdiction. After the Grand Jury several years in a row embarrassed our former District Attorney Lintott about this petty theft, she finally pushed it over to Controller Meredith Ford and told her to dock the Queen’s pay check. Good Bureaucrat Ford shuffled it off to County Counsel Jeanine Nadel for an opinion. Nadel decided to kick the can all the way down to Santa Rosa but the Sonoma County Counsel opined that what was really needed was a court order. Small Claims Plaintiff Bruce Anderson (infamous editor of the AVA) can now throw this very rotten fish on the lap of our newly-inducted District Attorney Eyster and see whether he will scoop it up and dispose of it in a suitable manner. If that doesn’t get it off the table, I can only suggest we call upon our Garbage Impresario, ‘King of Trash’ Mike Sweeney. He has dodged smelly issues successfully over a long career.