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EDITORIAL: Las Gallinas sanitary district board needs to pick a new member
[January 04, 2013]

EDITORIAL: Las Gallinas sanitary district board needs to pick a new member

Jan 04, 2013 (The Marin Independent Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- NINE PEOPLE have applied for a vacant seat on the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District board.

That was good news. We were encouraged that so many residents are interested in serving on what is not generally considered a high-profile board.

The bad news is that the four sitting board members could not decide who to pick and voted on Wednesday to ask the Marin County Board of Supervisors to make the decision instead.

Talk about passing the buck.

This is their district. Voters elected them to lead and to represent them.

Punting this important responsibility to the Board of Supervisors does neither.

The four sanitary district board members know more about the applicants and what the job entails than county supervisors.

Asking supervisors to familarize themselves with nine applicants is not the best use of their time -- time they should be spending on the long list of pressing issues facing Marin County.

Having supervisors make the decision also undermines the democratic process. Sanitary district residents do not vote for four of the five supervisors, which means four supervisors elected by voters outside the district will be deciding who represents Las Gallinas ratepayers. Or those four supervisors could defer to Susan Adams, whose district includes the Las Gallinas Valley. That also would be the wrong way to fill the board seat.

Outsourcing this vital task to the supervisors also means a decision on who will fill the open seat will be further delayed. The term for the open seat created when Larry Loder resigned ends in November.

It also means supervisors will be selecting someone who essentially will be an incumbent when voters select board members in November 2013.

Serving on the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District board is an important job, one that involves crucial public health issues.

The district provides wastewater collection, treatment and recycling for more than 30,000 people in the Las Gallinas Valley between Novato and San Rafael. Directors oversee sewage treatment and recycling facilities on 400 acres on San Pablo Bay.

In 2011, the Novato Sanitary District board struggled mightily to select a new member to fill a vacant seat. The four members failed repeatedly over several meetings to agree on a replacement. They were on the verge of asking supervisors to settle the dispute.

Finally, after two months, Novato Sanitary District board members broke their stalemate and did their job -- and selected a fifth member. It wasn't pretty but they made a good choice.

Las Gallinas Valley District board members have nine applicants to choose from. They face a difficult decision, but they gave up too quickly.

District ratepayers deserve better. Their board members need to do what they were elected to do.

___ (c)2013 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) Visit The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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