County Planning Department demotions aim to fix a broken department, but Director John Ford needs to go further

While taking our customary cruise  through the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting agendas a couple of Fridays ago (yes, we lead exciting lives!), we saw quite a few of the same useless agenda items as we’re all accustomed to in Humboldt County.

But one item made our hearts swell with joy – recently hired Planning Director John Ford is taking the first steps towards cleaning up a department that is as ineffective as they come.

Ford put forward an action for the Board to consider which effectively demoted two worthless and troublesome employees and also potentially lowered their salaries.

Steve Santos and Paula Mushrush, formerly the Development Assistance Manager and the Economic Development Coordinator, respectively, have been knocked down a peg or two, both in job title and pay. Now, aside from how ridiculous the fact that Humboldt County even had an Economic Development Director when there’s no real economic development to speak of, this is great news for everyone in Humboldt County.

But making a small example of just two employees won’t right the ship, and the fix has been a long time coming. What needs to happen is a full-on house cleaning – Ford needs to get rid of his problem employees, whether they are incompetent, willfully insert their own agendas into their County work, or are just plain lazy.

See, a slap on the wrist is a move in the right direction, but lowering someone’s salary from $5,534.95 – $7,102.58 to $4,984.55 – $6,396.30 per month (depending on what salary step they were at) likely isn’t going to have the effect that Ford – or those of us here at THC – are ultimately hoping for.

That, of course, is revamping the County Planning Department into an outfit that isn’t rampantly ineffective and unwilling to do the work required of them.

To the many Planning employees to which we can attribute this problem, we’d suggest they take a look at the writing on the wall and get out while the getting’s good. It’ll be a lot easier for them to resign and get to work screwing some other county or city up if they aren’t outright fired here.

Sure, it might be a little tough for Ford to see his way to actually axing people, especially considering the amount of work to be done on processing and approving cannabis permits alone. But we’ also point out that the insurmountable back load of permits is a problem that was caused by this very Department’s incompetence.

So, to John Ford, we say good start – just make sure that you keep going. The future of Humboldt County may well hinge on having a Planning Department that isn’t filled to the brim with sycophants and slackers.

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20 Responses to County Planning Department demotions aim to fix a broken department, but Director John Ford needs to go further

  1. Time For A Change says:

    This seems like a long overdue start. What about Steve Lazar? He’s the root cause of the cannabis permitting disaster. When will the people of this County see some action towards getting rid of that douche bag?


    • Oh My! says:

      Yes, Lazzar is indeed a douche. His lies and obstructionist antics are well known and documented. There are a number of well financed and organized business owners who are assembling a legal team to take on the the incompetence and misrepresentations of the Planning Department in the near future if promised improvements do not happen soon. They are also looking into a bigger conspiracy involving promises made by Supervisor Sundberg to a certain group of Willow Creek growers and manufacturers. There are signed affidavits that Sundberg has made promises to crack down on competing groups who have applied for permits but been illegally thwarted and delayed by the Planning Department and now face Code Enforcement raids at Sundbergs direction. It was an ingenious tactic to give market share to friends and political contributors by manipulating public resources except that loose lips sink ships and several persons with facts and documentation have switched sides. Follow the money and watch for indictments.


      • Mac Towner says:

        Sundberg is the douche. This is just more of his unethical shenanigans. Can you spell “pay to play”?


  2. Lynn Mae says:

    And it’s back to what you’ve spoken out about before…the benefits. Ms Paula in 2016 received a salary and then benefits which exceeded 30% of her salary:
    Humboldt County, 2016 Regular Pay $78,017.00 Overtime Pay $0.00 Other Pay $4,942.00
    Total Pay $82,959.00 Total Benefits $29,818.00 Total Pay & Benefits $112,777.00
    In doing a search to see what other Economic Development Co-Or (abbreviated) in the State of California, seems the only other person with that job title works in…yes, Humboldt County:
    Cynthia Ann Harrington ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CO-OR
    Humboldt County, 2016 $54,424.00 $0.00 $1,743.00 $56,167.00 $31,234.00 $87,401.00
    (same breakdown of salary, OT, Other, Total, Benefits & Total Pay & Benefits. In this case
    Ms Cynthia is getting benefits ($31,234) more than 50% of her salary ($54,424).
    That’s insane. The benefits for these two employees are each greater than the income for some people working full time WITHOUT benefits!

    I came across something interesting when I was looking to see if the Planning Department listed their employees (didn’t find it) but on this page:
    under Current Projects you can click on a link and a pdf will open up with a listing of what they’re currently working on (sort of):
    “In the first week of every month, the Department publishes a summary chart of projects opened by the Current Planning Division in the previous month. ”
    But the 30 page pdf that opened up was for May 2017….not June, so we’ll have to wait to see what’s still pending.
    Seems someone wants to put in a big subdivision in Samoa…and you can look at all the current applications for permitted grows. So people really are trying to get permitted legally and the report provides a real good cross-section of who and what, plus the run-of-the-mill lot split (no growing) or
    changing the front of a store in Garberville.
    The document also shows what employee is in charge of which case, so you’ll know who’s being kept busy.
    I shall probably have dreams of parcel maps and lots of legal jargon.


    • sammy says:

      Find out what the other dolts make and you’ll really gag:
      Michael Wheeler, Steve Werner, Michael Richardson, Mary Jane Ashton…..


    • Some yahoo says:

      That Samoa subdivision would be Danco’s idea. They’ve had a master plan for it, including buying up the homes, rehabbing them. Renting them back out for $$ and putting in a golf course. I think the golf part got nixed, but there was a master plan submitted to the city a few years ago and they’ve quietly been working towards things. The PDF of the plan I think can still be found in the county’s webpages. How much dealings in weed does Danco have? Some. To what extent I couldn’t say but it exists.


  3. THC: There is this conservative Humboldt web site you should check out. It’s called The Humboldt Consequential. Just last week they were letting their green colors show by arguing about the primacy of the environmental problems surrounding Weed Inc.

    Yet you go on about those darn “worthless and troublesome” government employees with “agendas”. Are the government employees supposed to rubber-stamp plans for development or else be seen to have an agenda? A: of course. That is the whole point of having a customer friendly “Planning Department” and that is exactly the “agenda” Supervisors Bass and Sundberg ran on.

    That is also exactly why it was so important for all 4 conservative Supervisors had to undo years of hard work done by the people and their government staff by removing any language which tells government employees part of the job we the people would like them to do would be to “protect” our shared natural resources.

    You really need to meet this The Humboldt Consequential guy who sees the dangers of Weed Inc and faults the left for not doing more about it. I think I’d like to share a George’s Hard Whiskey with that guy.


    • Cousin Eddiie says:

      “Are the government employees supposed to rubber-stamp plans for development”….well LMOB, there’s about a million miles between doing a good job and rubber stamping plans. The complaint’s from weed Inc are the same ones as the builders:. For some reason, there are some people working there that are really really bad at processing applications.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Weed Inc., land owners and developers ARE looking for a rubber stamp. They’ve done the hard work, they own the land, why wouldn’t they be doing work that are IMPROVEMENTS to the land. Those damn government workers don’t see that.

        Look Cuz. I get it. I was there for some of the GPU hearings. This isn’t about government worker performance, those evaluations are private. This is about a political preference about who knows what is best for our lands and business would rather not incorporate externalities, the general public would.

        Incorporating externalities takes time, money and you pay for inefficiencies in the short term for benefits and efficacy in the long term.


  4. Just Watchin says:

    Kudos THC. It can be more effective just ignoring a gnat rather than swat it….


  5. Time For A Change says:

    The County is going after farmers who applied for permits but couldn’t finish them because of bullshit letters and misinformation from the planners. The County changes the rules every week and then makes threats against people who are trying to follow the rules. All this while NOTHING is being done about grows who didn’t even try at all. Doesn’t seem fair! They talk us into getting legal and collect all our personal information, then they make it impossible to to comply, and then send in the cops. Humboldt is a nazi state.


  6. Ronerville ron says:

    Jon Jon Jon. Are u a county employee? U sure sound like one. To John ford, great start but speed it up and get it rolling!!


  7. Rusty says:

    Good God! You can get a home mortgage loan with and phone app. All these permits can be done this way also. Buh Bye waiting in line at Planning, DMV, DHHS, SSI. All the rules, regulations and codes already exist. I’m sure any local high schooler can write the code. Planning staff and certain DHHS eligibility workers can move over to County Roads and fill pot holes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nobody Home says:

    want to know the problem with our County government? It’s that no one is in charge.


  9. sammy says:

    Well…. those 2 mentioned are relatively useless employees; an attorney who has failed to pass Calif.’s Bar Exam that thinks he’s an ENFORCER, and a woman who can’t even spell economic, much get a job in the private sector. Then there is the red-headed pot smoker Michael a.k.a. that last Girard RAT in the bottom of the boat. Unless you count MJ I’ll do anyone Ashton. Yep, real professionals over there.

    As for the growers that now GET what the builders and anyone else wanting to follow the law to get a development permit has had to put up with for years knows – cry me a frippin’ river…it’s about time other folks ‘just wanting a permit to be legitimate’ found out that Planners are nothing but Leftist Stalinists, who own their own homes here but will under no circumstances allow anyone else to own one.


  10. I like to read. says:

    If you read the financial impact section of the board item, the current employees will not see a pay cut.


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