The County Voice

While Our Office is Reopening, CSAC was Never Closed

It’s Thursday, June 4, and I am sitting in my office at CSAC for the first time in 79 days. Executive staff has gone above and beyond to ensure the office is clean and safe. Guidelines based on State and CDC recommendations have been developed; physical changes have been made to ensure each staff member has his/her own workspace. Staff on-site are being staggered to reduce the numbers on any given day. Even those on hand are taking the necessary precautions – wearing masks, washing hands repeatedly and social distancing.

It’s a slow reopening for our office; but CSAC was never closed. Far from it. In my 22-plus years at the Association, I’ve never seen a greater need for constant communication with our members and the State, the distribution of ongoing updates and information, as well as critical advocacy on behalf of California Counties.

In times of crisis, the work cannot stop – in fact, it increases — so you learn to adapt on the fly. Our counties have learned that during the past few years through numerous disasters, including wildfires, debris flows and even man-made power shutoffs. But CSAC, along with our counties, derived new forms of communication and work flow. Zoom became the new – or should I say hopefully temporary – meeting platform. The use of webinars has increased. Conference calls became the norm.

While we were forced to cancel our annual Spring Legislative Conference, we were still able to hold our Board of Directors and Policy Committee meetings through virtual platforms. Discussion took place; members were heard – and decisions made. Our legislative team met with numerous legislators to discuss county priorities in the state budget – again, by tele- or video conference.  All of this will never replace in-person meetings, but it works.

Our CSAC Institute has had to adapt as well. With in-person courses at our Sacramento and satellite campuses not a possibility, the Institute has developed a series of free webinars focusing on leadership during these trying times. We’ve also partnered with the Institute for Local Government, of which CSAC is as parent organization, as well as our corporate partners to host informational webinars.

Adaptation as a result of the pandemic has taken place at all levels of government and in the private sector. Adaptation has also taken place in our own individual lives as we have struggled with new living conditions since mid-March.

We all strive to return to normalcy – or at least a version of our lives pre-pandemic. And so in some ways returning to the office does start bring back our lives BC (Before COVID19). The goal of representing and informing California’s 58 Counties has never changed – and we will continue to do so during this budget season and beyond.

I think we all look forward to the day when we can drop the mask, sit down next to a colleague at a meeting, or even get caught up over a cup of coffee. Until then, we must remain diligent and not relax the precautions we have been taken. I would rather work from my office; I kind of like the view and what it represents. 

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