A good investment or a junket?

From Jan. 28, 2009 issue

 

By Jack Durham
Press Editor

Dennis Mayo is going to Washington, D.C. to lobby on McKinleyville’s behalf.

But before the McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD) director visits the capital, he wants to hear from residents about their priorities for the town.

The MCSD is inviting residents to attend a special town-hall meeting next week to give input on McKinleyville’

s long- and short-term needs. The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9 at Azalea Hall, 1620 Pickett Road in McKinleyville.

Public input from that meeting will be used to create what the district calls a “needs assessment” that will be used as the basis for lobbying lawmakers.

“What I’m looking for is this community to have a far-reaching discussion about our wish list,” Mayo told his fellow MCSD directors at their Jan. 21 board meeting.

That wish list, Mayo said, could include any number of projects, both within and outside the scope of the MCSD.

The district is concerned with sewer, water, street lights, parks and recreation in the unincorporated community.

MCSD, he explained, might lobby for funds to upgrade sewer and water facilities. Or it might seek grants to build a solar project.

It might even go outside the district’s responsibilities and ask for money for road repair, Mayo said.

$2,000 trip


Those lobbying priorities will ultimately be decided by the MCSD board when it meets in February prior to Mayo’s attendance at the Association of California Water Agencies’

Washington, D.C. Conference Feb. 24 through Feb. 26.

That conference will include educational forums and give attendees an opportunity to hobnob with lawmakers.

At last week’

s meeting, the MCSD board voted unanimously to fund up to $2,000 in travel expenses for Mayo to attend the conference and represent the MCSD.

Mayo told the board that he was optimistic that there will be money available for McKinleyville in the new economic stimulus package and other legislation being considered by Congress.

“I think it’s the right time,”

said an enthusiastic Mayo.

“This is a big deal, and the cost for us to go to D.C. is minimal,”

he said.

Although the vote was unanimously in favor of the trip, some concerns were also expressed.

Director Helen Edwards questioned whether the trip would be effective. She warned that the district would be part of a “feeding frenzy,” and said the district wasn’

t prepared to look at its future needs.

Although it was Director John Corbett who seconded Director Jeff Dunk’

s motion, Corbett too raised some questions about the lobbing effort.

The idea, Corbett said, has lots of potential, but there could also be problems. The trip, he said, could be seen as a junket – a trip funded by the public but used for pleasure –

whether it is or not.

Corbett also made it clear, after Mayo suggested he might lobby to relax environmental review standards, that the board, not just Mayo, would determine the legislative agenda.

Manager Tom Marking also expressed skepticism about the effort, pointing out that the district already belongs to associations that are actively engaged in lobbying efforts.

Marking informed the board that the district already has a legislative agenda –

something which came as a surprise to most directors.

“I’m writing letters all the time,”

Marking said.

“You’re doing a great job,” Mayo responded. “But I see this as a complement, in addition to that.”

Ongoing effort


Mayo acknowledged that there is no guarantee that the lobbying efforts will result in any immediate payback for the district.

It may, he explained, be a long-term investment. As an example, he brought up his successful lobbying to prevent Redwood National and State Parks from phasing out commercial beach fishing.

Mayo began that project in 1999, but it wasn’

t until 2007 that the fishermen were protected in legislation introduced by Congressman Mike Thompson.

The lobbying effort, Mayo said, is also not limited to the Washington, D.C. conference. The wish list that will be created by the board can be used by individual directors as they meet local, state and federal officials.
That effort, Mayo said, should be ongoing.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “A good investment or a junket?

  1. wire tap

    Good stuff. Never can quite figure Mayo out. Is he a conservative or a libertarian? Glad someone at MCSD is asking questions. I for one would like to get the gravel cleaned off our bike paths.

  2. 4-20

    a good investment,broom included

  3. Jake Pickering

    Dear Editor:

    According to the Jan. 28, 2009 edition of The Mckinleyville Press, the Mckinleyville Community Services District (MCSD) approved spending $2000 of our limited public funds on an unnecessary lobbying junket to Washington, D.C. for the recently appointed MCSD Director Dennis Mayo.

    For those who are not already familiar with the anti-environmentalist rancher Mayo, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the MCSD in the three previous elections. But somehow (in a flagrant disrespect for the voting public) Mayo was appointed to a vacant seat on the MCSD last September by his fellow MCSD directors.

    Additionally, Mayo is one of the very few misguided Americans who made a public point out of becoming a partisan Republican DURING the disastrous Bush/Cheney administration.

    A review of Humboldt County Republican Central Committee member Dennis Mayo’s many letters to the local newspapers reveals that his most pressing apparent public concern over recent years has centered on his poorly expressed, selfish fears that environmental regulations might legally prevent him from driving his pickup truck on our local beaches!

    If right-wing rancher Mayo wasn’t enough already, this recently appointed Republican MCSD Director now insists on using $2000 of your money for his own personal junket to Washington, D.C. so that Mayo can “lobby to relax environmental review standards.”

    Excuse me? When did the voters of Mckinleyville ever ask the MCSD (including the recently appointed Mayo) to us our public funds to lobby the federal government for the weakening of our necessary and popular environmental safeguards?

    I would suggest to Dennis Mayo that instead of pillaging the public for the $2000 to fund his personal pleasure trip to Washington, D.C. that he consider one of the following tree options:

    1.) Mayo should give the residents of Mckinleyville their money back and fly to D.C. on his own dime.

    2.) If Mayo wants to use his position on the supposedly nonpartisan MCSD to lobby Washington politicians for his own right-wing partisan republican agenda, then he should be responsible and save Mckinleyville $2000 by simply picking up a phone and calling Washington, D.C. instead.

    3.) Or, perhaps the best option, Mayo should do everyone a favor by resigning from the MCSD immediately.

  4. mckrez

    Jake,you seem to still be suffering from Bush derangement syndrome.

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