Alpine County’s government stalls
December 19, 2001
The smallest county in California has a bigger problem keeping its supervisors than attracting them.
Katherine Rakow, who was unavailable for comment Friday, resigned her Alpine County supervisor post last week effective Aug. 1 “for personal reasons,” said Dennis Crabb, Alpine County counsel. Rakow’s district included the Washoe Tribal-Woodfords area.
This leaves two vacancies on the five-member board, as the county has been waiting for a governor’s appointment to fill its Bear Valley ward that was vacated February 2000. Two qualified candidates vie for the Bear Valley seat.
Crabb and Judy Molnar, county assistant to the supervisor’s board, suggested the possibility of filling both seats in a consolidated election in March.
In the meantime, the panel may vote on many items. But about 30 items ranging from declaring a county emergency and conducting budget transfers to adopting zoning ordinances and creating a wildlife preserve require a four-fifths vote.
At the present time, a 2-1 vote is valid but may be challenged judicially.
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Crabb and Molnar explained it’s difficult to maintain supervisors for a number of reasons.
First, there’s a challenging commute – particularly from far-flung Bear Valley to Markleeville. The commute factor becomes more difficult in the winter with snowstorms making the roads treacherous. Eric Jung, a former Alpine County supervisor, even turned up missing in February 1998 on his way from his Bear Valley home to a board meeting. He was unaccounted for over a period of two days. He was later spotted in a diner, Molnar said.
Secondly, it’s fairly common for a supervisor with a business to operate in a small, rural area to run into conflicts of interest, Crabb added.
Then there’s the money. The salary amounts to $1,500 a month, Molnar pointed out.
“They should be commended for what they have to do,” she said, empathizing. “It’s hard because the salary is typically lower and the hours are typically longer.”