The Coastal Post - February 2000

4th District Supervisor Race: Marin's Future: Utopia Or Oblivion

By Louis Nuyens

People who run for public office are lately fond of saying, "We are at a crossroads." This resonates with us because it is true. We also know that good solutions do not happen by accident-they require excellent long-term planning.

Buckminster Fuller summed it up in his phrase "utopia or oblivion." While he was referring to the ultimate destiny of humanity, the concept has immediate relevance for the future of Marin County. Either we will conceive of a utopian destination and consciously strive for it, or else our inertial tendencies will leave us mired in undesired outcomes. We are at a point where minor adjustments in approach may be insufficient.

This is not the first time Marin has been at a critical intersection. Thirty years ago, a visionary countywide plan and preservation of key parts of West Marin set us in a direction for which most of us are grateful.

However, we are at the end game of that course: we are now pressing against the boundaries set by the countywide master plan. We must now decide whether the course taken was a success; whether the parameters it established should be reaffirmed or strengthened, or whether they should be compromised.

Government, especially local government, is the natural mechanism for enactment of solutions. Getting to good solutions depends on what I call good government.

Good government is based on honesty, open process, freedom from conflicts of interest, protection of public health and welfare, service-oriented leadership, collaboration with service-oriented organizations, support of community aims, and teamwork with constituents. The needs, desires and well-being of existing residents should be the foremost concern. Good government must not only listen, but also respond to what is expressed by the citizens. Local government must be a functional part of the community.

Setting idealism aside, it is difficult to see good government in the first term of fourth district Supervisor Steve Kinsey. Mr. Kinsey's record is blemished by the misuse of law enforcement personnel when he personally ordered, without proper authorization, vandalism on the property of two residents of Forest Knolls. In the realm of public safety, he has missed the mark by publicly offering to streamline permitting processes in areas affecting public and environmental health. With regard to public process, according to the recently fired former head of Marin Environmental Health Services (EHS), Mr. Kinsey routinely pressured EHS workers to ignore health and safety regulations, in spite of their suggestions that he instead seek to change any regulations he thought inappropriate through open public process. In some areas, he has regularly attended meetings, and he has a few relatively minor positive accomplishments, but these have been overshadowed by the previously mentioned concerns.

Mr. Kinsey has also left many things undone.

In addition to wanting to improve responsiveness to residents' concerns about the quality of life in Marin, there are several needs that I feel should be met, and on which I would work, if elected Supervisor in March. Marin General Hospital should return to community control. Novato's vote for an Urban Growth Boundary should be strengthened by inclusion in the countywide plan. The isolated Canal area of San Rafael should have a drop-in clinic and better library services, perhaps through creation of a bookmobile drop-off spot. County arbitration and mediation services could be enabled to offer assistance to public school administrators and educators to head off charged incidents. State and federal funding should be sought to enhance adult mental health services. While we should seek to make housing affordable, we should not allow Affordable Housing to be used as a gimmick by developers to secure or increase the size of developments. These are just a few of the areas in which county government can take a more positive role.

My personal vision for Marin involves controlling our rapid large-scale growth, and carefully selecting new development only when it serves clearly defined needs. It involves traffic solutions that create long-term reductions in congestion, rather than encouraging growth that leads to even greater congestion. It involves protection of public health and of our natural environment. And it involves strengthening Marin as a community with improved services and common goals endorsed by our citizens.

At our current crossroads, we should be sure we have a government that is responsive and prepared to work energetically toward solutions. We need good government.

To offer feedback, learn more about my positions on specific issues, or help in my campaign, please feel free to contact me by phone (415/ 488-1734 or 415/ 924-0900), mail (P.O. Box 822, Forest Knolls, CA 94933), or e-mail ([email protected]). I look forward to hearing from you.

The 4th Supervisorial District encompasses Corte Madera, Larkspur, much of San Rafael's Canal area, parts of western Novato, and all of West Marin. Louis Nuyens, 35, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and performed graduate studies in Physics at San Francisco State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. He served on the board of the Environmental Forum of Marin, and worked for over five years to preserve the Black Point forest and seasonal wetlands after co-founding the Black Point Forest Rescue Project. He is currently Manager of Information Systems / Consumer Information Coordinator for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, in San Francisco, a nonprofit organization that provides information on nursing homes and consumer advocacy throughout the state.

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