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OPINION: The Board of Supervisors Continues to Operate Without a Workable Staffing Plan

“We don’t have the staff” is not a management strategy, it’s the road to nowhere.

This article was contributed by Hollister resident, Marty Richman. 

When a majority of the San Benito County Board of Supervisors voted themselves a greedy 55 percent pay raise because they were “so busy” and “short staffed”, it triggered a well-deserved uproar and pushback from the public and employees that it forced them to abandon the idea.

One reason was that the Board had been constantly complaining about the lack of financial resources; they even used that argument as justification for maintaining non-competitive salaries with other regional county employers. Another was their standard excuse for problems and/or for being late included that the county “did not have the right people” or “did not have enough staff.”

Given those issues, it was surprising that they could so easily find the substantial funding it would have taken to pay their salary increases and associated retirement benefits; more surprising still is that since then the county has still not adopted a long-term workable strategy to deal with its perpetual staffing issues.

Short staffing and high turnover has a price that is paid for by county residents. The tremendous cost is hidden in delays, missed opportunities, and bad decisions; we pay them even if we can’t readily see them.

Yes, the Board is responsive to complaints; they put on their Fireman’s hats and run to the flaming problem to pour water on it, then off they go to next fire (problem) and so on. However, without adequate staffing they can never put in the protection and prevention and the same problems just come back with a different paint job. How many times have they “fixed” the Community Services Area (CSA) accountability? I’ve stopped counting. Will they ever “fix” their expensive blunder of the landfill contract that’s wrecking our roads or the empty resource recovery park?

The programs they do put in seldom advance, they just await another emergency visit. I believe them when they say they are critically understaffed, but obviously they don’t believe their own rhetoric because they don’t plan to do anything about it.

As a resident you may be flattered if or when they get around to dealing with your problem; however, if the systems do not go in you can be assured the problem will be back for you or someone else at the worst possible time.

Don’t be fooled by the Potemkin village or the Blazing Saddles replica of Rock Ridge, sooner or later it will all catch up with us. If we’re still having serious problems moving ahead when times are good just think about the impact when times are bad.

The Board needs to stop looking backwards and start looking to the future.


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Marty Richman (Marty Richman)

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer.Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects. You can follow Marty Richman on twitter @Marty_Richman. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.


Submitted by (Shari) on

Marty, you are right in a sense. However, in my experience/ the Unions don’t help either. Such as - workstudy and interns. The rules and restrictions by the Union is so stringent- many times you cannot place a workstudy in a County spot that is clerical based and support. I tried to place some of mine within job interests (such as IT or social work)- and couldn’t. And they don’t cost in the budget- but provide valuable experience. A win-win.

There is no question that some of the union rules contribute greatly to the problems and hurt the lowest per capita revenue counties the hardest; however, all the counties have to deal with those or similar rules.  Our transfer rate (one CalPERS agency to another) is much, much higher than other local counties because...?  That's a series of questions we should be asking the people who leave in an anonymous mail-in survey,

Why did you transfer?  "Please put a number next to the reason, 1 indicates the most important, 2 the second most important reason, etc.  if the item had no impact leave it blank:  Higher pay, better benefits, better working conditions, shorter commute, I wanted to be appreciated more, new position had more advancement opportunities, new position offered more training, and so forth.  I checked, we don't even have a mandatory exit interview policy.

We pay less than the other counties for the same jobs, in some cases much less.  We need added revenue, so why doesn't the county INVEST all these one-time payments they receive in things like business recruiting that will generate revenue in the county in the long haul?

Of course we have problems, my whole point is we have understand them and address them not just keep doing the same thing over and over.  We don;t have enough staff to do the work to discover why we don;t have enough staff; that's not a formula for success. 

Marty Richman

Submitted by (Al) on

Though I totally agree that the County Board and other element of the community's approach and attitude towards growth and development is erroneous and hazardous, I do appreciate the courageous ones that are making their views known and defending their perspective. In the current bantering taking place, which is good and healthy, it is how things ultimately get resolved, I am gratified by the mere subjects now being brought forward. I have been in the county for 23 years and up to recently these subjects and discussions were merely talked about in coffee houses, not in official public meetings. The world is growing, look around, you either get in step and grow and contribute or get comfortable with our county and city becoming a ghost town. Keep the discussion going.

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