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End the Slush Fund for Supervisors' New Year's Resolution

The Marin County Civil Grand Jury should again address the details and use of these funds.

The Marin Independent Journal has been covering the Marin County Board of Supervisors' "community service" fund, discretionary fund, "slush fund" or whatever it is called now. In his column last Sunday, Dick Spotswood mentioned it again as one way to improve civic culture.

The numbers of fund balances was very interesting. The two supervisors with the highest balance: Susan Adams with $164,252 and Judy Arnold with $140,491 are both up for reelection in 2015. What a war chest. The other three supervisors have the smallest balances with Kate Sears $132,097, Katie Rice $70,274 and Steve Kinsey $25,327.

Is it an coincidence that Kinsey, who had a hotly contested election in 2012, has the smallest balance and in 2012 gave away $61,369?

In essence this fund gives the incumbent supervisors a large sum to be distributed and used for political patronage as cited by the Marin County Civil Grand Jury and "Alliances are created and favors curried by reason of such payments."

This fund needs to be completely eliminated, not just modified to make it look different. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. I will be monitoring use of these funds by Adams and Arnold in the coming two years very carefully if it is not eliminated.

The Marin County Civil Grand Jury should again address the details and use of these funds in detail as the supervisors continue to exhibit hubris in their use of this fund.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mark Schoenbaum January 04, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Time to elect Toni Shroyer.
Bob Ratto January 04, 2013 at 01:38 AM
That would seem to be the way thinking people are leaning!
Al Dugan January 04, 2013 at 02:06 AM
Michael, the Marin Grand Jury needs to complete a detailed analysis of this fund. I suggest you go on their web site and request an investigation to follow up the 2001 Marin Grand Jury report. I think if enough people fill out the request it will be difficult for it to be ignored. The request form is on the Marin County website under the Grand Jury.
Romina L. January 04, 2013 at 02:59 AM
Fine blog, you hit it out of the ball park Dugan. We don't have elected officials who are responsible with our money and then they try to buy votes with it. Why have the Supervisors ignored the Civil Grand Jury Reports? Do they pay attention to any of them?
Tina McMillan January 04, 2013 at 03:59 AM
Great question. They took more than a year to pay attention to the $30 million dollar computer debacle and then their response was to sue the company they hired to implement the costly and useless program they purchased without taking the time to talk to staff. The supervisors spent so much time working on issues like plastic bag bans and the Marin Clean Energy program that there was no time left to look at pension reform or personal spending accounts. They each have two full time assistants and while other budgets are cut there budget seems to continue at full speed. When we needed their due diligence on ABAG issues they attended meetings but did little or nothing to attempt to change the designation of cities in Marin from Metropolitan to Suburban. The result has been Novato taking on the lions share of affordable housing in a county whose southern towns are already built to hilt. Now we have Bob Brown as our full time community development director and his claim to fame is building high density multifamily low income affordable housing throughout San Rafael and adding the only PDA in Marin thus creating more high density development along the freeway where the poor will be relegated according to Agenda 21 and the One Bay Area plan. In last years grand jury report it was suggested that we form a citizens committee to monitor the supervisors spending, they of course refused. No, they don't listen to Grand Jury reports.
Sonia Craig January 04, 2013 at 04:29 AM
Vote the whole lot out of office! Get rid of all the Supervisors and start over.
Al Dugan January 04, 2013 at 05:07 AM
This is not in any way about being hard being a public official. The greatest good has nothing to do with a fund that can be used for political patronage.
Tina McMillan January 04, 2013 at 05:12 AM
Chris The Supervisors, except the one that replaced McGlashan, are responsible for not monitoring spending related to the computer system which was on the radar long before the Marin Grand Jury brought it to light. The need to use office to stretch far beyond the role of the office is part of the hubris that seems to take over. These are the folks that were suppose to represent Marin's interests with the five bay area agencies starting with ABAG. Yes, we need to show respect and consideration for the work they do but when they don't give due diligence to their office then its time for change. In Marin the ties that supervisors have to wealthy supporters make it difficult to run for office. Even the school board costs a minimum of $10,000. The system needs oversight. The grand jury recommendation for a citizens oversight committee was met with offers throughout Marin. These are residents willing to do the work without compensation. I for one would gladly take this on for a year. I think that the people monitoring should change to give as many people as possible a chance to contribute and that none should have ties to Marin Community Foundation or any other agencies that appear to be influencing local politics behind the scenes. What do they have to fear?
M. Calwald January 04, 2013 at 06:20 AM
Chris, Really? You are ok with the Supervisors spending money like it grows on trees when they have an unfunded pension plan up to 1 billion dollars that the taxpayer will be left holding the bag--meaning paying for? Are you ok with The Board of Supervisors not standing up against Regional Government? Are you ok with the double dipping and spiking that they have allowed with the county's employees?
M. Calwald January 04, 2013 at 06:25 AM
Cont Chris are you okay with the six figure consultants the Supervisors constantly hire? You are right Tina, there are enough qualified people in Marin willing to help out and consult for free. Really Chris are you okay with the Sup's spending our money? Do you think it is okay that the Sups got rid of the successful Marin County Health Lab when the could have saved it? As Tina mentioned above about the 30 million dollar computer loss, are you okay with that money being flushed down the drain? Being a Supervisor is much more than attending meetings and making speeches.
M. Calwald January 04, 2013 at 06:28 AM
The public would like to know what Judy Arnold has done. I don't even know what she looks like aside from a very dated picture in The Advance. I have never see that person who looks like the picture shopping or in Novato.
David Randolph January 04, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Chris, wake up and smell the coffee…and Novato Camper, stay in your tent.
Mark Schoenbaum January 04, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Sorry Novato Camper, I cannot support a supervisor who lies to get elected. When Judy ran for Supervisor one of her campaign positions was to oppose development at Silvieri Ranch. Once she was elected she came out in support of it. We do not need county supervisors that lie.
Bob Silvestri January 05, 2013 at 01:34 AM
Thanks, Al, for continuing to work for keeping our Supervisor's feet to the fire. The "slush" fund is a disgrace and that not a single Supervisor has offered to give their funds back to the general fund is an even bigger disgrace. It's not even as much about the money as it is about what it says about their lack of character.
Mark Schoenbaum January 05, 2013 at 01:35 AM
hmm... Supervisors with character. That would be refreshing.
Mark Schoenbaum January 05, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Bud Light - all of your posts are a waste of time
Tina McMillan January 05, 2013 at 02:55 AM
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke While talking on Patch may only be a beginning, doing nothing, is far more odious than trying to make a difference. If you read through Patch you will find the very same people, running for local and county offices, participating in local commissions, attending council and planning commission meetings, joining groups like Balanced Housing and NCA, attending school board meetings, working on projects including Rotary, local School Charters, and other efforts to make a difference. I suspect that your bitterness is either feigned or you genuinely have given up. Either way it wont stop people who care.
Al Dugan January 05, 2013 at 05:36 AM
I count 5 of your posts on this site. As a professional troll you are a complete failure. You must have content and thoughtful discourse. This is my one and only response to you as I don't waste time.
Roger January 05, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Al, thanks for shining light on this ugly political practice. Good luck, Toni, up against Arnold's taxpayer-funded war chest.
Al Dugan January 06, 2013 at 03:16 AM
The $5,000 check to poor needy people in Kent Woodlands Homeowners Association, where I have two friends that live in multimillion dollar houses of several acres of land, was probably presented in person by the supervisor at a meeting.
Al Dugan January 06, 2013 at 07:27 PM
This Suday Editorial by the IJ again addresses this egregious slush fund. The Marin Grand Jury can not ignore the elephant in the room.
Al Dugan January 06, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Yea, but you read it again, and posted to keep it alive. Thanks.
John Parnell January 08, 2013 at 02:17 AM
Al - Don't get me wrong, I agree with you about these slush funds & was glad to see the IJ agree too. However, the even scarier slush funds are those that are largely out of the public eye. I think an even bigger problem lies with the supervisors serving on all these unelected boards. Like the banks, that is where the money is. Whether it is Kinsey on MTC or Arnold on SMART, they have deeper pockets without any accountability. When TAM voted for their bailout of SMART, along with MTC & SCTA, one of the TAM members asked Steve Kinsey a question about MTC's portion of the bailout. Mr. Kinsey was the Chair of TAM, and also on the MTC board, as the head of the Finance Committee. When he answered the town councilman's question, I think I threw up in my mouth a little. He acted like he knew nothing about MTC's portion of the bailout, even though it was totally his baby. His response was to the effect: "Oh, well I don't know, we are going to have to ask MTC about that, because I left that hat at home; so unfortunately you won't have an answer before tonight's vote." I'd love to hear him respond to the $200 million Taj Mahal that MTC bought & see if he recalls his involvement in that one. These slush funds have got to go, but so do these unelected regional boards, which will never be held accountable for anything until we elect the boards directly: ABAG, MTC, SMART et al should stop being appointed boards & made elected.
Al Dugan January 08, 2013 at 02:42 AM
Bravo John, and great job of articulating these alphabet unelected groups that are accountable to no one. They are on my list also and we need to continue to bring to light their workings. Again, great job. The slush fund is so egregious I just can not believe it exists thus my crusade and this will also help eliminate the election of the embedded and entrenched supervisors.
A Voice January 08, 2013 at 06:06 AM
Nice Letter to the Editor in the IJ Al. For once, the IJ Editorial stands up against something the Supervisors do---it has to be that bad for the IJ to do that. Kinsey's modifications are just that, modifications of the slush fund. The Supervisor's have to be that insecure to keep what you have penned " a war chest."
Al Dugan January 08, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Thank you Marin County Grand Jury today for your report. Supervisors, ignoring this report, the second by a grand jury, would give a whole new meaning to the hubris.
Bob Ratto January 08, 2013 at 03:53 PM
The Marin County Civil Grand Jury issued a report Monday calling for significant changes to the county supervisors' practice of dispensing money from a discretionary spending fund. http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_22328448 This is some good news, the grand jury sounds like they were pretty firm in their recommendations...either change it (a lot) or get rid of it.
Al Dugan January 09, 2013 at 05:57 AM
Showtime for the supervisors. Are the superviors going to ignore TWO Marin Grand Jury reports, in 2001 and 2013? The jury is out so to speak......stay tune.
Steve Adams January 09, 2013 at 07:25 AM
Judy Arnold is running scared. She is actually talking about the slush fund, BUT stating how much "good it does." The "good" must be for her political clout. Here's one for you Al: If the Supervisors believe in a charity, they can write a check from their own personal bank account, just like the rest of us! What a novel idea. They can afford it! They make six plus figures! Keep the pressure on Dugan. I am finding the subject very interesting. Commented by: Stephen Adams
Bob Silvestri January 10, 2013 at 02:14 AM
Marin Readers' Forum Marin Independent Journal readers Eliminate 'slush fund' Although I appreciate the IJ urging reform of county supervisors' grant fund, "reform" is unfortunately not a solution. As many of us have been advocating for years, the fund needs to be completely eliminated. There's simply no justification for our supervisors having any personal control of how our taxpayer funds are allocated outside of our normal public legislative process. The county is not a grant making nonprofit institution and should not be in that "business." To waste more time and taxpayer money administrating yet another costly bureaucracy (an advisory committee and public hearing / decision making process) to allocate $325,000 per year makes absolutely no sense at all. And it will not eliminate political patronage. This abuse of power will simply continue in the form of "off the record" lobbying by supervisors for their pet projects that, with a "nod" and a "wink," will never be contested by their fellow supervisors. The supervisors' "slush" fund is a disgrace and that not a single supervisor has offered to give their funds back to the general fund is an even bigger disgrace. It's not even so much about the money as it is about what it says about their lack of character.

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