Kirk Girard’s GPU Monkeyfuck dies with a wimper

What? General Plan shocker!! Who saw this coming?

Other than everyone, of course.

We saw it coming, and we’re not even smart.

Anyone who thought this board was going to blithely accept the Kirk Girard General Plan Update needs to be issued an encephalitic helmet so he or she can walk down that hall without further injury to the brain. Elections have consequences. The progs flogged the dog on the GPU for more than a dozen years in a process that was, most of the time, laughably fucked, and now they’ve lost control of the process. This is commonly referred to as the will of the voters, the way of the world. Sometimes one side wins, sometimes another. And anyone who can’t hack that basic political fact should go back to working for Ken Miller. He’s always just about one idiot shy of a quorum, and it looks like in this case there are two up for grabs.

Lovelace’s GPU assessment just doesn’t measure up

Warning: Objects in The Mirror may appear larger than they actually are.

Third District Supervisor Marky Mark Lovelace was in damage control mode in a recent T-S article and quoted trying to diminish the most recent bungle discovered in the General Plan Update process.

The massive decade-long debacle overseen by the now departed Planning Director Kirk Girard has been mired in delays, controversy, more delays, staff infighting, yet more delays, and a shocking amount of wasted time by the county’s planning commissioners who have been stuck with sorting out the mess before it goes to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

And now community concerns over a paragraph linking unplanned pregnancies to global warming that was cut and pasted into the GPU’s environmental supporting document are “overblown,” according to Lovelace.

He also noted that it’s not surprising there would be “typos” because the EIR’s appendices were 10-inches thick. We’re left seriously doubting whether Mark even knows what 10 inches looks like.

Tears of joy?

The Times-Standard’s Megan Hansen reports that the county staffers who recommended keeping Kirk Girard as director of one small piece of the former Community Development Disservices Department and continuing to pay him the same fat salary for a fraction of the work were in for a bit of a surprise yesterday at the Board of Supervisors meeting. Turns out District 5 Supervisor Ryan Sundberg didn’t see the brilliance of those proposals. Spoilsport!

Anyhoo, for now it looks like Girard will have to apply for a position–or at least pretend to. Because according to CAO Phillip Smith-Hanes, we may have to keep paying the guy whether or not we have anything for him to do. If Girard were not given the position, Smith-Hanes said,

We’d have an interesting quandary of what to do with that person. Just because a position goes away, doesn’t mean the person in that position goes away.

Interesting indeed, and a statement that beautifully captures the essence of government employment.

So here’s a thought: We could make “that person” the county’s first $9,000-a-month dogcatcher, and please understand that I mean no disrespect to dogs.

Any other ideas?

Special interest group urges supes to ignore special interest groups

"Hypocrisy is a fashionable vice, and all fashionable vices pass for virtue.”

Anti-development special interest group Healthy Humboldt sent a guest opinion piece to the Times-Standard exhorting the board of supervisors to disregard input from special interest groups.

Using similar logic, the authors–Dan Ehresman and the ubiquitous Jen Kalt–argued that removal of the man who has bollixed the General Plan Update for the last 12 years could bollix the General Plan Update.

Encouraged by the letter’s publication, the two decided their well developed sense of dramatic irony would be better employed writing French farce, so they departed at once for the 17th Century.

Okay okay, not really.

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.

Geologic Timescale: County finaly agrees to more realistic GPU pace

After an embarrassing public hearing where they had to admit they suck at communicating with even the most obvious and recognizable forms of local government entities, the county’s Community Development Services Dept. head honchos this week quietly issued a more conservative timescale for their General Plan Update process to better inform residents about upcoming public-input opportunities.
Although tensions are running high over the location and amount of growth that should be allowed under the new and controversial General Plan, one thing remains clear:  residents, their children, their children’s children, their children, as well as the next 40 generations of their children, will have a chance to give their 3-minutes worth of input to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors over the next 21 eons while the GPU is finalized.

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!

Headwaters Fund also on BOS agenda today w/ photo update

A pair of items on the Board of Supes agenda may present Kirk Girard challenges he can’t dispense with in snarky letters to the editor.

"Read my lips: I don't care what you think!"

There’s that whole General Plan Update thing, of course. There’s also a request that the board approve the “slate” of projects the Community Development Disservices Director wants to dip into the Headwaters Fund to pay for.

As reported by the North Coast Journal, this year’s first installment of the Humboldt County Grand Jury Report notes some improvements in Girard’s management of the fund, while reiterating that the fund doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do–and, as an aside, Girard shouldn’t be managing it in the first place.

Why? Turns out the Grand Jurors think a fund created to increase the number of above-median jobs in the county should, you know, increase the number of above-median jobs in the county. Girard, on the other hand, seems to think the fund his department manages should be a really good source of funding for that department.

While that might seem like a surprisingly efficient funding mechanism for a public agency, not everyone is impressed. As the Grand Jury notes,

The perceived conflict arises when the Director applies for a grant, screens the grant, prepares a staff report and signs the grant contract as Grantee.

Well, yeah. There’s that.

This time around, Girard appears to be asking to fund other people’s projects. However, it remains to be seen whether he can convince the board that, say, building bathrooms at the Orick Rodeo Grounds and cleaning up toxic waste on Indian Island will result in an increase in above-median employment.

Regardless, the Grand Jury’s argument that Girard should relinquish management of the fund to the County Treasurer is compelling. Maybe that would free up some of his above-median staff time to finish the fricking General Plan Update.

Community development director packs his bags

Kirk Girard, the controversial director of the county’s Community Development Disservices Department, has accepted a similar appointment in Bell, California.

Girard told the Mirror that he will always love Humboldt County, but his beliefs and values were more consistent with those demonstrated by Bell’s leadership.

“We just think alike,” he said. “In many ways, it’s like going home.”

According to the city’s website, Girard’s starting pay will be $785,000 a year plus benefits, bonuses, performance incentives, longevity increases, bribes, payouts, payoffs, a county car and a team of skilled defense attorneys.

Brother can you spare an empty lot (for real this time…)

So when California’s Department of Housing and Community Development politely asks for an accurate inventory of available housing to build on in a particular jurisdiction and you happen to be Humboldt County’s Community Development Director Kirk Girard, you just make shit up. For a long, long time.

When that doesn’t work, you just lie, lie, lie.

And when that shit doesn’t work? Hmmmm.

Housing Elements are like quantum physics. Developable land can both exist and not exist at the same time.

Well, you probably have to proceed with Plan Z, which is to actually provide a real and accurate inventory of available housing to develop in Humboldt County. Go figure. It’s not like the state, several advocacy groups and a bunch of very concerned citizens have been asking for this sort of data for many years. Girard, who you may remember helped squander several million taxpayers dollars on a pile of shit plan for countywide redevelopment that pissed off everyone from Redway to Manila, is also known for his highly questionable “scientific” modeling that pinpoints ravines, swamps, gullies and already occupied homes for future development. Brilliant!

So, “once the [housing] element has been revised to address these requirements, it will comply with State housing element law.” It can’t be much, right? Girard and crew must have been busy doing some of this work over the past decade while they were racing to complete the General Plan Update. Let’s see… What is the state asking for exactly?

“Include an inventory of land suitable for residential development, including vacant sites and sites having the potential for redevelopment, and an analysis of the relationship of zoning and public facilities and services to these sites (Section 65583(a)(3)). Identify adequate sites which will be made available through appropriate zoning and development standards and with public services and facilities needed to facilitate and encourage the development of a variety of types of housing for all income levels, including rental housing, factory-built housing, mobilehomes, and emergency shelters and transitional housing. The housing element shall contain programs which “address, and where appropriate and legally possible, remove governmental constraints to the maintenance, improvement, and development of housing” (Section 65583(c)(3)).”

I’m sure county staff can whip that up over the weekend and get back to the state by Monday.

Just so you know, when you re-elect Bonnie Neely for the 437th term, this is the sort of shoddy shit you get from a department head who has been protected from getting his sorry ass canned for far too long.

Kirk Girard’s ‘most accurate’ housing element rejected due to inaccuracies–with fascinating update!!

Let's see how the two human cinder blocks unfuck their way out of this one.

Alas and to no one’s surprise, the state of California has declined to certify Humboldt County’s housing element because of its inclusion of thousands of supposedly buildable lots the state determined no one would ever be able to build on.

These include lots in environmentally sensitive areas, lots zoned exclusively for agriculture and lots that would be buildable only if we had an infrastructure much better than the one we actually do have. But our favorite has to be the lots that would be buildable if gravity did not exist, such as the 1,088 lots identified as buildable in–wait for it–Shelter Cove.

Typically, news like this might occasion a bit of frivolity at the expense of the Community Disservices Development Director. But here’s what’s totally unfunny: The state’s rejection of the county’s housing element will automatically result in the forfeiture of millions of dollars in Community Development Block Grants the county would otherwise have received as a matter of course.

We’re talking about money for things we actually need–like affordable housing and necessary infrastructure upgrades–things the same supervisors who signed off on this crap plan claim to care so much about. So that’s nice.

On the bright side, at least we know who to thank.

Fascinating Update: We tried to link to the Times-Standard story–but lo, behold, etc., there isn’t one, at least not online. Is it possible they actually missed this story? Ten different people tell us about it yesterday, and not one gets word to them? Maybe they just forgot to put it online or something. Let’s hope for that. But it says something about their organization that stupid is a best-case scenario. And yes, by the way, we know this isn’t at all fascinating.

Quick fun fact: Kirk Girard still sucks

Creepy Little Red Devil

Creepy Little Red Devil

In a General Plan Update nine years in the making, why might it be necessary to rush an item through the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday without allowing time for either staff or public review?

The item in this case is an annual report updating progress (or the lack thereof) on the GPU. And the reason for the rush? It was due April 1.

Fortunately, Larry Glass and Linda Atkins aren’t on the board, or the item would need to be delayed until Christmas for those two to plow through all 28 pages.

But seriously, Kirk. Think about it. You missed a filing deadline on an item that’s being rushed because you missed a filing deadline.

Will we ever reach the point where you become as embarrassed as the rest of us by how badly you perform your job, or are we just wishful thinking?

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