Documenter: Loren Friesen
The zoom link contained a live feed of the Board of Supervisors chambers, with a digital agenda next to the live feed video as reference. The agenda contained links for each item, that when clicked would display the details of each item.
The live feed used a split screen to show the council chambers and for those calling in through zoom. There were 3 board members in the chambers, and two that called in (specified below). All those attending the meeting live were masked. The cameras at the chambers switched between a wide angle view and a speaker view, although the angle switches were not always synced, meaning it was sometimes difficult to tell who was speaking. Although no camera showed the audience, the impression I got was that there were few people in the audience apart from those who attended to speak.
Listed below are the board members (present in bold)
Brett Frazier (zoom)
Robert L Poythress
Tom Wheeler (zoom)
Members who were present live seemed slightly more dressed up than those attending through zoom.
The meeting started at 9 AM and concluded at 11:33 AM. The first hour of the meeting was in closed session, with a screen indicating that the open session would return “shortly”
As described on its website, the Madera County Board of Supervisors “enacts ordinances and rules, determines County policy, supervises the activities of County departments, adopts an annual budget, and fixes salaries”. Covid-19 is, obviously, an important topic these days during board meetings. The board also meets as the Madera County Flood Control and Water Conservation Agency, the Maintenance Districts and Service Areas, the Public Financing Authority, and the Redevelopment Agency.
The Board approved the Consent Calendar, after removing items F and R, with all in favor.
The Board approved a HR resolution to adopt the appointment of Connie Moreno-Peraza as Madera County’s Director of Behavioral Health Services, with all in favor.
The Board approved an Ordinance amending several sections of the Madera County Code, with all in favor. The amendments updated language and sought to ensure fairness when examining and appointing applicants.
The Board authorized a letter of support for a letter that solidifies funding for fire prevention, with all in favor.
Public comments included
a statement from the deputy director of the department of public works that said the utility webpay system is back and operational, and that customers can make payments. The February bill and March bill will be sent as two separate bills.
Board member Frazier publicly thanked his chief of staff for working with him for 5 years. He had flowers given to her live (as he was attending through zoom).
Board member Wheeler said that there is a job fair and a town hall on Thursday to attend through zoom.
Consent calendar discussion included
The board agreed to postpone item R and bring it back to the next board meeting because they are trying to secure one last signature for that item.
Maria Castro, of General Services, asking to take out item F to make sure a subcontractor’s detail is in line with the architect’s vision.
Item 6a discussion included the board motioning to approve the item before anyone could speak (in jest, indicating enthusiasm for the item). Connie Moreno-Peraza, the person being appointed to Director of Behavioral Health Services in this item, said she was thankful and excited for the opportunity, grateful to family for support, and wants to make Madera County the “best in the nation”.
Item 6b discussion included
a lengthy conversation on the details of the ordinance amendments, especially between Elba Gomez, Director of Human Resources, and Board member Wheeler. Gomez summarized that the department is trying to update the ordinance, which is shared with the policy review committee and all unions for feedback, to be more efficient in social service and all more diversity in the recruitment process, and give more privacy back to people.
Board member Wheeler asked to go over pages 261 – 265, 272 – 279, and 282 – 289 of the ordinance amendment packet. Other than asking questions for clarification, Wheeler’s most notable comments in the whole exchange was noting the importance of a written examination (because that is how he distinguished an application from a pool of 48 people).
Board member Frazier also expressed concern for an amendment that changed applicant identifier from individual names to ranks from examinations, and that the top 5 ranks would be shown for a position. Frazier said some positions need to be filled right away and can’t wait for 5 applicants to show up for a position. Gomez clarified that there is a section elsewhere in the ordinance that allows a faster process, to which Frazier wanted mention of that section in this section.
During the exchange, Gomez outlined changes such as updated language in several areas to make terms gender neutral and rules more clear, changing examinations from oral to job-specific, analyzing examinations afterwards to find discriminatory questions, putting in writing that ID’s will be checked, removing unassembled (not fixed) examinations, including waive limits to interviews, eliminating decimal spaces in the rank system (which allows ties among applicants), changing some personal details to not be discussed publicly, and Wheeler: important, some people try to take advantage of that, is civil service hearing open to public
Item 6c discussion included
A Covid 19 update from Dr. Paul, Madera County Health Officer. In sum, he expressed optimism for the vaccination rollout and outlined details for the rollout in Madera County. He noted the systemic switch to MyTurn, and he clarified that waiting for the 2nd shot of a vaccine makes it more, not less, effective. He expects there to be updated guidelines as more and more people get vaccinated in the state and in the county.
Board member Frazier asked how to reach agriculture workers. Paul said a system is being developed that can allow workers without a Work ID to get a letter from their boss as sufficient proof, and that mobile clinics are being deployed to work sites. Frazier also asked about how soon things will be let up for the elderly, with particular concern for their mental health. Paul expects there to be a staggered approach to easing restrictions, even within long term care facilities, and things always depend on covid rates. He said masks will probably be around for a while.
Boardmember Poythress (although difficult to identify due to the lack of camera on the speaker) asked if any of the vaccines stand out. Paul said that “the best one is the one you can get”, and that it’s hard to compare them without a head to head study.
Boardmember Wheeler asked about the 28 day wait, referring to a recent ABC news article highlighting “delayed second doses” in Madera County. Paul analogized the immune response to the virus like painting – it’s actually less effective to do a second coat (a second shot) too early. He emphasized that its better to err on the later, rather than earlier, appointment for a second shot. Wheeler said he wished he could put that response on Facebook.
Board member Gonzalez asked about Covid rates, and if there were details about demographics by industry. Paul said the rate has decreased a little in the county and because the state might adjust their levels the county might be doing better than what is measured right now.
Item 7a discussion included Board member Wheeler highlighting its importance and the board getting clarification on who authored the letter of support.
The board gave reports. Wheeler reiterated his announcements from the public comments portion of the meeting. Frazier noted Valley Voice meeting is tomorrow. Rogers attended the Regional Health Authority meeting, noting that the director is getting ready to retire. Gonzalez said that last week Governor Newsom visited the county; she said she helped out with the site tour and told him that “Madera County needed his attention”. There were no other reports.
This board of supervisors meeting was very procedural and straightforward, with two discussions – clarifications on a Human Resources ordinance amendment and the Dr. Paul, Madera County Public Health Officer’s update on Covid-19 in the county – taking the majority of the time of the meeting. All action items were passed unanimously. Perhaps of interest, Dr. Paul highlighted that it is more effective to wait longer, rather than shorter, to get the second dose of the covid vaccine. This counters what is said in a recent ABC news article that highlights some people questioning why they are waiting the 28 days for the second shot. Also, the Human Resources department is trying to make their recruitment process encourage more diversity and fairness.