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The Special Meeting of the Board included one item (with two parts) on the open session agenda – to discuss the possibility of removing Supervisor Cox from her role as Chair of the Board. Supervisor Cox recused herself from this session.
Here are the notes I took regarding the meeting. Please understand that this is not meant to be a comprehensive documentation of discussions and decisions.
Board of Supervisors
1.1 Discuss and/or potentially remove current BOS chair and if needed appoint new
1.2 If needed appoint new Chairman.
- Concerns raised regarding April 24th meeting – asserting that actions were taken that were not legal. Shared that supervisors can seek private council and that she is aware of other supervisors having sought private council. Raised concern that the county should not have a firm as county counsel.
- Concern raised regarding the emails that were released via the PRA request – especially those that appeared to have been from closed session. Shared view that Chair Cox should not be replaced.
- Concern raised about the state of things in Trinity County. Shared support for reviewing of contracts as a good business practice. Referred to 2017 BOS meeting regarding cannabis ordinances… and “the mess” that was created prior to supervisor Cox’s arrival on the board.
- Concern raised that supervisors Cox and Leutwyler are working with TAA illegally. Concern raised regarding supervisor Leutwyler’s efforts against cannabis cultivation.
- Support offered for supervisor Cox… as someone committed to this community. Concern raised regarding the amount of money earned by County Counsel through cannabis-related matters.
- Concerns raised regarding “shady and unethical” actions. Concern raised regarding the move to change the governance manual allowing supervisor Leutwyler to become Vice Chair this year.
- Support raised for “due process”… stating that we should be waiting for results of the independent investigation.
- Concern raised regarding negative economic impact over the last two years. Support offered for removing supervisor Cox as Chair and to not replace with supervisor Leutwyler
- Story shared to encourage the board to work as a team.
- Shared concern regarding the troubled history of the cannabis industry in Trinity County. Shared that she had called for the start of CEQA well before the county took action.
- Shared view that supervisor Cox should step down as Chair based on examples provided from released emails.
- Shared support for supervisor Cox’s efforts to learn in an effort to best serve this county. Noted actions/contributions that have benefitted Trinity County.
- Shared that she believes all sitting supervisors have the county’s best interests in mind. Raised concerns that some of supervisor Cox’s actions are not in the best interest of the county. Shared specific email examples of concern.
- Support shared for supervisor Cox based on a 30 year relationship.
- Stated that if this were a recall… District 2 would vote for supervisor Cox. Offered praise for supervisor Cox’s willingness to stand/stay in the midst of this controversy. Concern raised that the PRA records releases were well beyond what was requested/appropriate.
- Concern raised regarding too strong a connection between supervisor Cox and TAA.
- Cautioned the board not to be part of the “cancel culture”… stated that being “tried in the paper” is inappropriate. Support offered for supervisor Cox and her efforts to ask questions, and make things happen.
- Shared view that the board should decide who is the right person to lead the board. Raised concern that actions taken by the board while Supervisor Cox was in the Chair position could be called into question.
- Shared view that County Counsel is the source of cannabis-related challenges… not supervisor Cox. Feels that focus is on supervisor Cox because she followed through on Grand Jury report calling for review and RFP for County Counsel services. Shared view that decisions should be made based on results of the investigation.
- Support shared for this agenda item. Shared view that supervisor Cox’s intentions and character may be good… but that “good people can still make mistakes…”. Concern raised about collaboration with an attorney who is opposing the county… to remove County Counsel.
- Shared view that there were some missteps represented by recent PRA release. Called for CAO to ensure the investigation moves forward. Shared view that supervisor Cox should remain as Chair
- Called for board to “make truth the goal”… suggested that supervisor Cox remain as Chair… and acknowledged the view of others that it could be better for her to step down until the investigation is complete. Called for the board to listen to all the voices… not just the “loud mouths”
- Shared view that she does not feel “heard” by supervisor Cox… referring to unanswered emails. Suggested that supervisor Cox should not be in the Chair position while the investigation is underway.
- Stated that this is not a cannabis issue… this is about secret communication with an attorney who has “cost the county millions.”
- Concern raised regarding limited response to communications with supervisor Cox.
- Shared view that supervisor Cox’s intentions are good but that she is being influenced in a way that is detrimental to the county. Urged removal of supervisor Cox as Chair.
- Support offered for Grand Jury report calling for removal of County Counsel. Shared that “good people make mistakes and they need to be held accountable.” Shared view that supervisor Leutwyler should step back during the investigation as well… or resign.
- Motion made to retain Jill Cox as Chair.
- Supervisor Frasier
- Doesn’t see a reason to remove her as Chair. Indicated that her actions in running the meetings has been balanced.
- Noted that he is the one who asked for this to be on the agenda so that we could make a decision and move on.
- Indicated that if he found something that was illegal he would vote to have supervisor Cox step down… and noted that he felt she would do so on her own.
- Shared concerns regarding “cancel culture” approach to this matter.
- Called for the board to get back to the business of running the county.
- Noted an example in which attorney Tom Balanco wrote a document that was then used in the Planning Commission. He asked if this meant he was colluding?
- Supervisor Carpenter-Harris
- Referred to the Constitution of the United States. Noted right to freedom of speech. Acknowledged that in the U.S. we are innocent until proven guilty.
- Referenced that an investigation is underway… and noted that if all political leaders who under investigation were removed because they were under investigation… then we would lose a large portion of our leadership – including many of our recent presidents.
- Acknowledged some concerns raised by what has been shared to-date. Suggested that we all would likely have something in our emails that we would struggle with if shared publicly.
- Called for all to let the investigation be completed.
- Noted that we all filter what we observe through our own experiences and mindset. Emphasized that this is why we should rely on established processes… such as the investigation.
- Supervisor Gogan
- Acknowledged that supervisor Cox was very prepared.
- Asked County Counsel to state whether some of the actions were illegal… for procedural perspective… this was not answered.
- Referred to comments in the paper that indicated that County Counsel indicated some actions were illegal.
- Quoted article in the paper that says we should “judge by the fruit of the tree.”
- Shared concerns that someone can not help but be swayed by hundreds of emails with an organization. Shared concern about supervisor Cox going to private counsel instead of County Counsel.
- Mentioned that he was going to be Chair next year… until supervisor Cox changed the process. Offered that he wondered if there was an anterior motive for this?
- `Supervisor Frasier corrected… that the board (not supervisor Cox) changed the process via board discussion and a vote.
- Noted that cannabis is a large component of his district.
- Asked other supervisors if they were concerned that they didn’t know about all the input supervisor Cox received from a TAA attorney?
- Supervisor Frasier indicated that he was not concerned… and doesn’t care who any of us receive input from.
- Supervisor Carpenter-Harris noted that she gets input from a wide variety of sources. She also acknowledged that she has never felt pressured by another supervisor.
- Supervisor Leutwyler shared concern that people are saying interactions with a TAA attorney are bad… and asked people to consider how this would be different if interactions were with an attorney representing the Pride Community, NRA, or a minority group. Posed the question – who gets to say that one attorney’s input is okay and another’s is not?
- Indicated concern that supervisor Cox’s views are skewed by extensive interactions with this one person.
- Supervisor Frasier clarified that we don’t know about her other interactions as we have only seen the emails that were included in the PRA request. Stated that he has interacted with single individuals at least as many times over the last two years.
- Supervisor Leutwyler asked if having “skewed views” meant that someone was not “fit for office?” Also stated that we all have biases.
- Supervisor Leutwyler
- Referenced the committee-related email that was the subject of a full page ad in the newspaper. Shared his experience as part of this process and his view that this was another example of supervisor Cox doing her homework and that her recommendations for committee assignments were shared in open session, open to public comment, discussed by and voted on by the board. He questioned how this represented undue influence by the TAA?
- Shared that he has been in the position of letting many people go from positions as part of his career… including some that were close friends. Stated that he did is job and he would do his job in this role if/when evidence is provided that warrants action.
- Shared concern that unfounded conclusions were being formed based on other emails/situations – just as they had been with the committee assignments-related email.
- Stated that, based on his experience with supervisor Cox on committees, that the county would suffer from removal of supervisor Cox from these committee assignments.
- Stated that he felt that supervisor Cox’s performance as Chair did not reflect undue influence – sharing that he was not aware of her rejecting any request for something to be on the agenda, nor of cutting off any public comment.
- Shared his view that we should wait for results of investigation.
- The board approved this motion. Supervisor Gogan abstained
Item 1.2 was not discussed as it was only relevant if supervisor Cox was removed as Chair via item 1.1
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I hope you find these updates of value. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions.
Sharing Information | Encouraging Engagement