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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

November, 2004

 

Grand Jury Criticizes Supervisors' "Gambling" With Public Health
By Jim Scanlon

   The 2004 Civil Grand Jury criticized the Board of Supervisors for "... rolling the dice when it comes to risk to public health" in not acting to insure that Environmental Health Services enforce County Codes on individual sewage disposal systems (septic systems).
   The "public's watchdog" reported in a summary of it's actions that the adverse impact of failing septic systems on those in the immediate area and those downstream [Point Reyes Station] can present a significant public health threat.
   Septic systems and Environmental Health were a matter of concern several years ago when Ed Stewart, who headed Environmental Health for 28 years was fired after he publicly criticized Supervisor Steve Kinsey for attempting to influence septic system enforcement. Also fired was the most experienced enforcement inspector. Both men were ordered to clear their desks, turn in their keys and were escorted out of their offices by security staff on 20 minutes notice
   At that time Kinsey himself was outed as having an illegal septic system in his West Marin Home. While his personal system was being rebuilt to bring it into compliance, Kinsey made appointments to the committee charged with revising County Codes on septic systems.
   The Coastal Post reported extensively on the vague, sleazy charges brought against Stewart by the County Administrator's Office at Stewart's hearings before the Personnel Commission which dragged on and on for over a year. These hearings were opened to the public only at Stewart's request.
   It is impossible to know why the Administrator's Office suddenly settled the case in the middle of one of the interminable hearings, but it did, and the settlement requires silence. It is also impossible to know how much the County spent on legal fees during the interminable hearings.
   The entire Board of Supervisors can legitimately be criticized by the Grand Jury for allowing each Supervisor to run his or her District as a feudal estate, but if there is criticism of septic system enforcement in West Marin, where most of the septic systems are, it should be specifically directed to the supervisor of that district.
   Environmental Health has suffered enough.

 

 

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