Preschool teacher hands Girard his ass

A quick word of advice to (current) Community Development Disservices Director Kirk Girard: Don’t piss off the smart people.

An example thereof is one Hilary Mosher, a woman whose attempt to open a preschool in McKinleyville reads like something from a Kafka novel. Her story, which she tells in a Times-Standard guest op, goes something like this: She asks planning staff if she needs a permit, the planner doesn’t know, asks two other planners, one says yes, one no, the original planner says she trusts the judgment of the one who said no, so Ms. Mosher begins construction.

Easy enough! So let’s just go to the game film and see how that worked out for her:

When I contacted Girard after a “stop work” order was posted on the school gate, and told him that I was following the direction I’d been given by his staff, he said: “If you were a professional, you would’ve gotten that in writing.” Appalled, I said, “I am a professional educator. I pay taxes and should be able to expect that when I contact my government office for crucial information, it will be correct.” Girard retorted, “You know, I could reverse the decision for your penalty fee [he levied thousands in penalties] if I found that my office was at fault … but I won’t because I don’t believe that’s what happened.” Then he said that he had ordered a training for all his junior staff to “avoid the situation from recurring.” I said, “Wait–you don’t believe that it happened, but conducted a training to prevent it from happening again?” and he laughed. It was obvious that he knew I was telling the truth and was enjoying unfairly exerting power over me.

Girard would subsequently say that there were “zones she could set up her facility in without requiring a permit and she did not choose one of those zones.” Mosher says the only problem with that answer is that there are no zones for preschools in Humboldt County.

After spending thousands of dollars, Mosher finally got her permit–along with a condescending reprimand from the Planning Commission for intentionally building outside a zone that didn’t exist.

Yeah. That story’s likely to leave a mark on the ol’ performance eval. So good luck with that, Kirk.

EMPIRE FALLS: Kirk Girard out at Building and Planning?

Inside sources say longtime Community Development Disservices Director Kirk Girard will no longer run the Building and Planning Divisions. He will retain control of Economic Development and Natural Resources, at least for now.

No specific reasons were given for the change–probably because the list is too damn long. Girard’s recent cock-up over the multifamily housing rezone was likely just the last straw.

So what does this mean for the Community Development Disservices Department? Will Girard continue to draw a full salary for half the job?

And who will run the Building and Planning Divisions? Will those functions be outsourced to the private sector as some have suggested?

Most important–What will become of the General Plan Update? No one’s ever accused us of being very smart, but the answer to this one seems obvious even to us:

It’s game on, bitches.

Update:

The matter might be tied to this item on the Supervisors’ closed session agenda for Tuesday:

“It is the intention of the Board of Supervisors to meet in closed session to consider the Public Employee Performance Evaluation for the position of Director of Community Development Services pursuant to Government Code Sections 54954.5 and 54957.

New and Improved Update:

After hearing two McKinleyville and Cutten residents remind the Supervisors of their personal experiences dealing with a rude Girard and his inability to actually hear the people he is forced to listen to, County Counsel Wendy Chaitin reported in the afternoon meeting that the board met in closed session to discuss Girard and unanimously voted to punt the issue to the Oct. 11 meeting.

 

BREAKING: Lovelace, Girard do their jobs

This headline comes straight from the Will Wonders Never Cease Department:

Lovelace, county help Cypress Grove find new dairy site

That the headline isn’t exactly true diminishes our amazement but little. According to the Times-Standard article, District 3 Supervisor Mark Lovelace and Community Disservices Development Director Kirk Girard are helping Cypress Grove look for a new dairy site. Hopefully their uncharacteristic public support of business will persist all the way through to the finding stage of this endeavor. Fingers crossed!

Also from the Times-Standard is a story yesterday about beginning the search for a new EPD chief. Curiously, even inexplicably, our favorite local daily chose to illustrate the article with a photo of former EPD chief Garr Nielsen.

What, exactly, might that be about? Were they trying to depict the last person on earth who might get hired for the job? Or does someone need to break out the Andrea Bocelli cassettes and tell poor, sad Mr. Greenson over there that it is, in fact, time to say goodbye?

Tan triste, amigos!!

Board of Supes to piss off someone Tuesday

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will either approve a contentious plan to rezone county parcels for more than 1,500 multi-family housing units, or decline to do so and risk delay or forfeiture of some $800,000 in grant funds.

The first option gets the board in trouble with many builders and Community Services Districts,  while the second pisses off the housing advocates.

One way or the other, the decision is like the opposite of Sophie’s Choice–and maybe that’s where the problem here lies: How is it that after all of this time, all of this money, and all of this “community input,” Kirk Girard’s planning team succeeded only in creating another proposal that rends this community in two?

Read the Times-Standard article here.

Possible development permit moratorium shocks residents who thought there already was one

With the Planning Commission’s rejection of the county’s low-income rezoning plan, Humboldt County could face a moratorium on the issuance of new development permits.

Brace yourselves!

Thanks to the use of highly sophisticated photo enhancement technology, we are able to give some sense of the dramatic impact a local permit moratorium could have.

Fieldbrook pot bust is EPIC

Amber Jamieson worked at EPIC with Mirror favorite Natalynne DeLappdance. Kind of makes the imagination run wild, doesn't it?

And we mean E.P.I.C.–as in the Garberville-based Environmental Protection Information Center, whose office manager has given “grassroots organization” a whole new meaning.

EPIC’s Amber Jamieson was arrested yesterday in a multi-agency pot bust in Fieldbrook that yielded a smidge under 500 pounds of processed marijuana, neatly packaged for resale, with a street value estimated at $1.5 million.

Jamieson’s significant other, James Shelton, who was similarly arrested at the Fieldbrook residence, has a less direct connection to the litigious enviro org: Mr. Shelton–shocker alert–is a “glass-blowing artist” whose magical objets d’art are sold at EPIC’s gift shop.

Jamieson graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in–wait for it–Natural Resources Economics. Despite the stupidity on full display now, she won an academic award at HSU and was photographed, possibly just for our amusement, standing next to a fellow award winner by the name of Soran “Rio” Anderson.

Soran "Rio" Anderson, left, stands next to Amber Jamieson. both found to be out standing in their fields.

Does that name ring any bells?

It just might. Anderson was an employee of the Community Development Disservices Department in 2007 when he was arrested for growing more than 3,000 plants up at Tooby Ranch–an incident Hank Sims described as “a heartwarming story about the tenacity of our county’s agrarian heritage.”

Read Hank’s version of Anderson’s arrest on Rose’s blog here. Read the Times-Standard’s account of Jamieson and Shelton’s arrest here.

Photo credits The Environmental Protection Information Center and Humboldt State University.

Community Development has done plenty of communicating about the General Plan Update, thank you, which is why they now have to do a shit-ton more of it

This is the image that greeted web viewers more than an hour before the GPU meeting actually ended.

After months of attributing concerns about inadequate communication regarding the county’s General Plan Update to “special interest groups” spreading “misinformation,” Both Kirk Girard and his snarky senior planner Martha Spencer admitted today that they had failed to incorporate or even solicit input from key stakeholders.

The admissions were made near the start of a six-hour meeting that reportedly ended with a unanimous decision to defer discussion about pausing the GPU process or creating an advisory group that would keep the planning process focused on the will of the people, rather than the will of the Planning Commission.

Community Development Disservices staff were, however, instructed to solicit the input of local cities, Community Services Districts and tribes–something that 12 years into the process Girard’s staff never bothered to do.

A few observations along the way, if we may.

  • If you’re going to hold a meeting to defend against allegations of shoddy communication, your argument is not helped when the speakers for the overflow crowd in the courthouse lobby don’t work, the computer stream cuts out before the end of public comment, and the TV feed goes dead in the middle of boardmember deliberations. Just FYI.
  • When Arcata City Councilboy Shane Brinton stands up and calls those who care about our local economy an “unholy alliance” of “greedy people,” we’re reminded that he is, after all, 12 years old, which is why his was far and away the most arrogant and immature voice in the room. We expect he’ll cultivate a more nuanced grasp of economic issues once his mom cuts off his allowance.
  • Natalynn DeLapp, if you’re going to sit behind the podium, all of your whispering, texting and giggling like a drunken sorority girl end up on TV, and your reputation as irrelevant political eye-candy remains firmly intact. As much as we normally enjoy ogling your rack, even we were relieved when you left, probably to get your nails done.
  • Spoiler alert: Scott Greacen threatened litigation. With a straight face and everything. We’re shocked!!
  • For Community Development Disservices Director Kirk Girard, a quick clarification: Having to make changes to work your staff has already done is not a downside of soliciting additional community input. It’s not an unfortunate side-effect. It’s the fucking point. That’s just something to keep in mind going forward.

And because we hate all the grim, let’s go out with a laugh. You know how we love a laugh. This one’s easy: Just Google “Kirk Girard.” Please. For us. It’s the awesomest thing we’ve seen all day.

Hugs!

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