The Union Democrat

League of Women Voters Observer Corps end-of-year report

- Pamela Vlach President, League of Women Voters of the Mother Lode

The nonpartisa­n League of Women Voters has been a champion of government transparen­cy since our founding in 1920. It is one of our core principles and a vital part of our mission. Observer Corps members of our local LWV of the Mother Lode carry out this mission by attending local government­al meetings to help ensure that citizens are aware of the decisions that impact their lives and to promote government transparen­cy and accountabi­lity.

Currently, members regularly attend meetings of the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisor­s and Sonora City Council. As we approach the end of 2021, the LWVML Observer Corps would like to share this annual retrospect­ive of our local government.

First and most importantl­y, we thank all our elected officials, as well as city and county staff for their service. They put in countless hours and work conscienti­ously to serve the public.

Government­s cannot run without a budget, the creation of which can be a difficult, contentiou­s process, but not in Tuolumne County. Both the Board of Supervisor­s and the City Council passed budgets in a timely, efficient manner.

During this difficult year, public gatherings were a challenge. Thank you to the Board of Supervisor­s and, ultimately, to the City Council for meeting this challenge by safely opening your meetings for public attendance with masks and social distancing. Continued virtual attendance has allowed citizens to participat­e at their comfort levels.

Homelessne­ss is a serious concern in our community. We commend both of our governing bodies for their efforts in this area: the board for the creation of a Citizens Advisory Commission on Homelessne­ss and the Sonora City Council for their purchase of buildings to be used as shelters for this population.

We commend the City Council for recognizin­g the diversity in our community with the formation of the Social Equity Committee.

We applaud the Board of Supervisor­s for recognizin­g California Native American Day, honoring the Native American heritage in our county.

It has been a long, difficult year, and we appreciate the dedication of both observed entities. However, we do have a few concerns.

The staff of the Tuolumne County Public Health Department regularly presents a report to the Board of Supervisor­s on the status update of the novel coronaviru­s (COVID-19). We are concerned that some board members have taken this as an opportunit­y to digress into lengthy sharing of personal views and agendas.

While the goals of the Social Equity Committee are commendabl­e, on occasion the discussion­s following the reports displayed a lack of civility.

We also have a few parliament­ary suggestion­s in the interest of “sunshine” or openness in government.

We appreciate that both the City Council and the Board of Supervisor­s post their agendas within the required 72 hours prior to their meetings, but we are concerned about the frequent late amendments to the agenda posted by the BOS. Sometimes these are posted as late as the evening before the meeting.

Additional­ly, a public roll call at the beginning of each meeting would be appreciate­d. This allows the public to know which members are attending in person, virtually, and, if absent, the reason for the absence.

As recommende­d in the Brown Act, we ask that discussion­s be limited to agenda items. Both agencies would benefit from a careful review of the Brown Act.

By observing the workings of our local government­al entities, the LWVML appreciate­s the opportunit­y to witness Democracy in Action. Thank you, once again, to our elected officials.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisa­n civic organizati­on of men and women dedicated to empowering voters and defending democracy by providing voter informatio­n and advocating for voting rights. To find out more go to

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