It’s been nearly two years since Anthony Farrington was swept into office by a two-to-one margin, with much of his support based on the hope that this political newcomer was going to bring some real changes to the way the county government functioned. How’s he done? As supervisors go, he’s been about average, which for most people translates into a disappointment. He has shown leadership on a number of occasions, though he’s charged off in some pretty unlikely directions. Take for instance his plan to sue Yolo County to regain control over the water flows from Clearlake, a plan he claimed would prove what a true environmentalist he was. So far not one dime has been budgeted to start that process, in spite of an initial cost figure being thrown around of $30,000 to be set aside for that purpose. Actually,
that $30,000 was just to get a feasibility study done, as supervisor Lewis said the real cost could be as high as $300,000, and supervisor Brown more accurately guessed it would likely be at least ten times that amount. The basic problem with the concept is that if you are going to try to regain water rights that are basically the same as those enjoyed by cities like San Francisco and Los Angles, you better have some pretty deep pockets to play in that league. Suffice to say that Anthony’s plan to redeem himself for his vote against the Wilderness Area expansion has gone absolutely nowhere, and is likely to quietly fade away into oblivion without a whimper or mention made of it’s passing.
But Farrington did have better luck with his attempt to reward himself just after taking office with a hefty pay raise of over 30%, in spite of having given voters assurances that he’d not vote to increase his own salary. Anthony claimed at the time that he had to do, since after all, the Grand Jury HAD recommended it. Actually, the not-so-Grand Jury of 200-01 said all the department heads and supervisors should get a pay boost, with the rationale that some other counties were paying their people more being employed. Never mind the fact that most of our department heads are A: in no danger of departing their comfortable niches, B: already way overpaid for doing what are in some cases part-time jobs, and C: oftentimes are so incompetent that even if they did leave, chances are good that they would be replaced with some one better.
So how’s he done on the little stuff? It’s been a real mixed bag, with lots of little disappointments. Sometimes he finds an issue that he’s interested in enough to do his homework and gets off a few intelligent questions or observations, but more often it’s a contest between him and the rest of the gang to show just how little they know about the subject at hand. But sometimes the know-nothingness isn’t the worst of it, since Anthony also has a habit of using fifteen words to do the work of five, an annoyance which he has just lately been showing some signs of being able to curb. Along with the verbosity there are copious amounts of buzz words and meaningless
jargon, which by the time a listener has endured a few minutes of exposure to, they tend to have forgotten what the hell he was talking about.
One of the more bizarre efforts of the youngest member of the board of supervisors was the plot to oust the ag commissioner that he hatched late last summer, which resulted in Mark Lockhart leaving the post for greener pastures in Trinity county, where he’s doing the same job. While being intelligent and competent, Lockhart had his own way of doing things and was not what you’d call personable, so he didn’t make a good impression with many of his BOS bosses. On top of that he had a habit of verbally abusing his staff, which resulted in a lawsuit being filed by one of the female office workers, a breakdown in judgement which to a degree might be understandable if you’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with a department that employs some of the most clueless paper shufflers in county government. It’s hard to say if the lynch mob came before the lawsuit or if it was the other way around, some minor peeps were made when Lockhart’s job performance review was done in open session by a union rep, but no one publicly made a clear case for the existence of managerial nastiness at that time. After Lockhart began to get the closed-door session performance reviews at three week intervals, he got the message that he wasn’t going to be able to work with this board and tendered his resignation as soon as he got word he’d landed the Trinity County gig. According to Farrington, Lockhart’s hushed-up mis-doings cost the county $100,000 in legal fees and settlement costs, so whatever he did it must have been pretty unpleasant. As many predicted, the replacement ag commissioner has been nothing to get excited about, just another semi-competent department head who generally doesn’t foul things up so bad as to attract the attention of his BOS bosses.
So did the voters do the right thing by choosing Farrington over Peggy Mc Cloud? For the most part there probably isn’t a big difference in the way the two would have voted on most issues, other than the Wilderness Area debate. Farrington has taken so much money from the business community that he can’t do much of anything without pissing off one contributor or another, Peggy had so many friends and is so afraid of offending anyone that it’s likely that she would have been just as ineffective. Several possible contenders for Farrington’s job have already been making noises about running, and it’s likely that he’ll face some stiff competition if he intends to hang onto his job come the fall of 2004.