My Call to the County Board of Supervisors

helling_libraryInspired by Virginia Brunini’s letter to The Union on 11/19/09, I called the Board of Supervisor’s phone number (265-1480) today and spoke to Eve Diamond, Administrative Analyst for the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, a very knowledgeable, professional and helpful person.

I asked her specifically about what appeared to be  a plan to allow as few as three days between the day on which LSSI’s bid contents become public and the day on which the  Board of Supervisors meets to  consider — and possibly approve — a contract with this company for the management of Nevada County’s library system.

I am particularly interested, I explained, in the legal basis for continuing to keep the bid contents secret until after the deadline for submitting bids, until after the various committees have finished their deliberation, and — finally — until after negotiations may take place with LSSI for the details of a contract.

I don’t understand what seems like an excessive degree of secrecy in the process. Eve Diamond promised to research the legal basis for this process and get back to me, most likely by email.

Subsequently, after I wrote to her and gave her my email address (and mentioned that I had run across on the Internet the interesting story of her literary namesake), we had this email exchange:

“Thanks, Don. You got me! 🙂 But the similarity between the fictional Eve Diamond and me ends with the name.

I sent your inquiry to Supervisor Beason this morning and also checked out your website. BTW, I also spoke with Chair Weston and passed along your comment about the length of time for public review of the contract. Although he concurred with you about it being inappropriate to release a proposal until staff has negotiated all the details, he said that if there are enough unanswered questions the Board has the option of continuing the item to a future meeting.

Either Supervisor Beason or I will get back to you on your question.

Thanks,
Eve”

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“Eve:

By the way, concerning Chair Weston’s sensible remark to you to the effect that …

” … if there are enough unanswered questions the Board has the
option of continuing the item to a future meeting … ”

… I want to point out that if the Board meeting containing, say, an
LSSI contract agenda item, occurs after only a mere 3 days of public review of the bid contents, then a paucity of “unanswered questions” is likely to be an indication that there has been insufficient time for public review, rather than an indication that there is widespread public approval of the idea of outsourcing.

It would be much better to PLAN at the outset to continue the item
from the meeting in which it is first discussed to a future meeting,
allowing at least 30 days, so as to guarantee sufficient time for
public review.

I understand the urgency of the budget issue, but sufficient time for public review — the democratic process after all — is just as compelling.

Thanks again.

Don.”

—————————————————————-

“Thanks, Don.

Small point of clarification, the agenda is normally released by Thursday at 1pm so that would allow five days.

I’m copying Supervisor Beason rather than respond on the timing issue.

Thanks,
Eve”

—————————————————————-

“Eve:

Thanks for the clarification. I thought the agenda was released to the general public on Friday, but to the supervisors on Thursday, so I counted Saturday, Sunday and Monday (essentially, three full days).

In fact the Library FAQ (page 11) says:

“As this is a formal county procurement process and bound by governmental procurement procedures, the proposals and report cannot be made publically available until they are posted with the agenda for the Board meeting. This typically occurs on the Friday before the following Tuesday’s Board meeting.”

But, really, 3 days or 5 days, either seems like insufficient time to review something as important as this.

Thanks for your patience with all my questions today.

Don.”

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