Shasta County’s Board of Supervisors Meeting More Akin to Political Theater Than Civilized Government

By George Winship,
A News Cafe,
November 1, 2023


Like a mongrel cross of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and Gioachino Rossini’s opera buffa “The Barber of Seville,” Patrick Henry Jones led his merry troupe of political players — better known as the Shasta County Board of Supervisors — on an 8-hour romp through a repertoire of old favorites cleverly coupled with some new agenda items to keep audience members guessing whether “The Gunsmith of Shasta” might be a hit or a miss.

Parts of the meeting were a farce as acts, cleverly designed as agenda items, were moved willy-nilly out of order while others were postponed to another yet-to-be-announced show date.

The performance — er, meeting — started six minutes late to a nearly capacity audience at the supervisors’ chambers. However, as time dragged on toward a 12:30 p.m. intermission, the crowd noticeably diminished, leaving just a handful of rows half-filled on either side of the political aisle.

A popular item, discussion of a possible 64.9 percent salary increase for county supervisors — the first one considered since 2002, according to Monica Fugitt, Director of Support Services for Shasta County — stretched from Act 1 into Act 2 and was interrupted by a show-stopping 11:30 a.m. WWE-style verbal smackdown between board chair Patrick Jones and his arch nemesis Registrar of Votes Cathy Darling Allen.

Allen stood her ground as Jones accused Allen, an elected official, of lying to the board on April 23 as to the tabulation capabilities of a Hart InterCivic ballot preparation, optical scanning, and counting system she ordered to replace a Dominion Voting System after Jones and two other supervisors prematurely canceled Dominion’s lease for supplying and servicing voting equipment nearly three years before the county’s contract was due to expire on Dec. 31, 2025.

“After the Board’s decision to cancel the County’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems, my staff and I took the necessary steps to follow the Board of Supervisors’ April 6 decision to enter into a contract with Hart InterCivic,” Darling Allen responded, amplifying her statement with more detail following the meeting, a copy of which is posted separately on A News Cafe.

“During (the April 6) meeting, the Board authorized me to execute an agreement with Hart InterCivic, not to exceed $950,000 of county funds, for the purchase of equipment, associated hardware, and software to use their certified Verity voting system,” Allen continued.

“Contrary to claims made by certain members of the Board, I and my staff fully disclosed the nature and terms of the Hart InterCivic contract and its system, including the ability of Hart scanners to tabulate voter ballots and the associated budgetary requirements.

“My disclosures of these facts to the board is easily confirmed by reviewing the live stream recording of the April 6 meeting, the accompanying board report, and the legal minutes from the board’s special meeting,” Darling Allen concluded.

“I am deeply disappointed by the chaos and division created by the actions of this board. I will continue to serve our voters in a nonpartisan manner, but I reject efforts by members of this board to berate me and my staff, who work tirelessly to facilitate effective democratic processes in this county,” Darling Allen continued, while visibly fighting back her emotions.

“I have been clear and transparent in all of my communications. At no point in my career as a public servant and elected official can I recall being treated as poorly and unprofessionally as I have been over the last year. It must stop,” she concluded emphatically.

In fact, audience member Steven Kohn pointed out during public comment that the staff report Darling Allen prepared for the April 23 meeting included 11 references to “vote tabulation” capabilities. (Full Story)