The County Voice

Reflecting on 2017, Anticipating 2018

What a year 2017 has been! It is going to be history soon, and as we approach the holidays and the New Year, I am reflecting a little bit on the year that was.  For CSAC, it was truly an exceptional year—in some very good ways, and also some very difficult ways as more than a dozen California counties suffered devastating losses this year due the unprecedented wildfires.

The loss of life has been horrific, and as we have seen in both Northern and Southern California, “fire season” has truly become a year-round phenomenon. We must work with the Legislature and the Governor to minimize the risk from wildfires and increase our ability to keep our citizens safe. This is surely one of the issues that we will be addressing in the New Year.

As we prepare for the year ahead, we have successes from last year to be thankful for. We were able to mitigate the impacts of a cost shift for In-Home Supportive Services that would have had a massive impact on county budgets. We worked closely with the Governor and a coalition of legislators and other organizations to pass SB 1 that is now providing much-need funding to fix our aging transportation infrastructure. We were able to stop AB 1250—a bill that would have placed significant restrictions on how counties provide critical services to our communities. And, we also stopped SB 649—legislation that would have negated local decision-making about where to place cellular phone equipment. Thank you for your role and leadership to help make these happen.

I am proud of these successes because these issues have real impact. But I am just as proud of how CSAC was able to reach these successes. We did it by sticking together as a county family and through our collective leadership on behalf of our communities. We did it by reaching out to our membership and making sure they understood what was at stake. We did it by building strong coalitions with other organizations and through calm, reasoned argument and demonstrable facts.  And that brings me to another reason to reflect on this past year.

DeAnn Baker, who has served CSAC and California Counties so ably for the past 30 years, is retiring at the end of January. She has been in charge of our legislative team for the past several years and it is largely her depth of knowledge, experience and dedication that has guided our major policy successes this year. Yes, it was a team effort—but DeAnn’s role on this team cannot be overstated and I am grateful to her for her wisdom during my five years at CSAC.

I also want to reflect on the choice I made to replace DeAnn. Darby Kernan has also been an outstanding colleague for many years. She has a deep understanding of the legislative process and the people and politics behind the policy. Her focus has been the administration of justice, but she has the ability to immediately grasp the heart of other issues and see them in context, as she has already done on several issues this past year. She is without a doubt the best choice to lead our legislative team and I am looking forward to working with her in this new role.

So, as the Christmas holiday draws closer and the New Year looms, I hope you can find the time to reflect on this past year and those who are not as fortunate—and give a little bit of your time or your resources to help those in need. That is truly the spirit of this season.

I hope you can also find some time to spend with family and loved ones to recharge your batteries as 2017 winds to a close. We will undoubtedly be back early in the New Year with a new State Budget proposal to fret over, new bills to cheer or oppose, and new issues to consider. I thank you for your partnership in these pursuits, and I look forward to another year of collaboration.

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