Taxpayer money down the drain
It’s not every day the public can sway elected officials. The Madera County Board of Supervisors was poised to fund a coffee kiosk at the County Government Center building in Madera. Money would come from the tobacco tax. On May 17, 2016 the board approved the project.
There was just one problem, cost to the taxpayer. It was sold by the board as a great service to the public visiting the facility and for its staff. Potentially they could make money from it.
The terms of the contract provided the taxpayers pay if sales did not reach certain amounts, and require a $201,000 reimbursement to the vendor.
Taxpayers would have to insure the kiosk would be profitable. Taxpayers would also have to pay $188,000 for plans and modifications to the building to provide internet, phone, water, electricity and sewer. This was a no-bid deal, guaranteed profit for the vendor.
Finally the board, a year later, from public pressure killed the project. But it will still cost taxpayers about $100,000 to $150,000 to reimburse the vendor for the preinstallation cost for the design and fabrication of fixtures in a clause of cancellation. What a waste of time and taxpayer money.
The real mistake made by the board was trying to be a business, which is none of their business. This idea required a sizable taxpayer investment with a chance of making a profit and definitely potentially losing money. The taxpayer was to become the business partner.
There is a reason why the county does not play in the stock market. If a coffee kiosk was so important, the board could have offered the space for rent. Allow bids where a vendor fronts all the construction cost. If this is likely to be profitable then let the vendor take the risk and reap the rewards. We just bought the fixtures and plans with the cancellation of the project. There could be an opportunity to get our money back by taking bids for a new reworked project.
Marc Sobel, Oakhurst
Note: Marc Sobel is challenging Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler in the June, 2018 primary election.
Be a driver for cancer patients
One of the toughest challenges cancer patients face is getting to and from treatment. Many patients don’t own a vehicle, can’t afford gas, or don’t have access to public transportation.
Some may be too ill to drive, or have no family members who can help with all their transportation needs. Without access to reliable transportation, cancer patients are unable to receive regular treatment, and even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there.
The American Cancer Society is seeking volunteer drivers, especially in the rural areas, willing to donate their passenger seat to transport cancer patients to and from their treatment through the Road To Recovery program.
All you need is a valid driver’s license, a safe and reliable vehicle, and proof of insurance. Drivers must be 18 to 84 years old and have a good driving record. The society conducts background checks on all drivers and provides free online training.
As a volunteer driver, I can attest that the patients aren’t the only ones to benefit from this program. It’s a great feeling to know that I’m literally giving someone a ride that is helping to save their life.
If interested, call 800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org/volunteer/.
Mickey Jones, ACS volunteer driver
Bill, Bill, Bill
Fact checking Bill Atwood can be a full-time job. But I’m retired, so I’ll skip past the half-truths and exaggerations in his tiresome June 15 diatribe about how awful the Obama years were, and focus on the whoppers Bill planted in his final paragraphs.
Apparently gifted with knowledge not available to the independent counsel and two congressional committees investigating a possible link between the Trump campaign and the Russians, Bill blithely proclaims there is “zero evidence” of collusion between the Trump gang and the Putin gang.
Here in America, where I come from, we let the facts speak for themselves. It’s just good manners to allow the investigators to finish their work before announcing what they are going to find.
And then, displaying a truly breathtaking ignorance of the law, Bill informs us James Comey committed a felony by leaking non-classified details of his meeting with Trump, and calls for his arrest.
We simply need to ignore the dozens of legal scholars - Democrat, Republican and non-partisan - who have researched the issue and reported that Comey’s leak did not, in fact, violate federal law.
Heavens to Betsy, never mind what those folks say. Bill has spoken. He’s wrong, of course, but he has spoken.
These are turbulent, unsettling times. The sheer volume of false information generated on social sites and politically biased media - on both sides - is beyond belief. It is more important than ever that members of the legitimate media should do their homework and tell the truth.
Bill Atwood is entitled to his opinions, but stating them as fact is irresponsible.
Charles Bednar, Oakhurst