“Local control,” a good rallying cry. One that is as old as this nation. I’m for it; I support local control as much as possible, in principle. But what do those who are waving the petitions mean in today’s Idyllwild environment?
Most of the recreation lands surrounding Idyllwild are owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service, California State Parks and Recreation, and Riverside County Parks and Recreation.
Does local control means employees who are residents? First, we don’t know whom the county will hire. What if they live in Idyllwild? Would a Pine Cove resident be satisfactory? What about Garner Valley?
But why are we now only demanding the application of this criterion to recreation managers? Several years ago, the Town Hall director was an off-Hill resident, commuting from the Perris area.
I don’t hear people complaining about how the county manages the Nature Center and the local parks. Does it hire locals to run these or does it prefer commuters from the flatlands? Ask Shelley Kibby her opinion.
Why are the protesters so tolerant of hiring firefighters from afar? Only a couple of the IFPD career staff are local residents. IFPD has even refused the help of several locals.
So, are we planting the flag on the building called Town Hall? Is that what we’re protecting?
Only five years ago, the building’s owner, the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce, claimed that the facility was a health and safety threat. Asbestos might be in the ceiling, there could be poor electrical wiring and perhaps other faulty or lingering conditions.
The then Recreation Director, Bob Lewis, concurred with this evaluation and worked with then Chamber officials to draft a request for proposal in order to bring the building into accord with health and safety codes.
Will the facility be restored and rehabbed under ICRC’s management now?
Which brings one back to the meaning of local control and how that applies to ICRC — a self-appointed board. The only members of the community on the board are the ones the board chooses. The community does not elect the board or a representative.
For years, Pine Cove residents have asked for representation on the ICRC board since residents and their children use the same recreation facilities and participate in the same recreation activities as Idyllwild residents.
For whatever reason that seemed logical to them, the original ICRC board excluded Pine Cove residents. But last August, the board, under John Simpson’s leadership, appointed Kari Arnson. I assumed they had finally decided to accommodate the Pine Cove request and changed their bylaws.
Last month, we learned differently. When Pine Cove resident Norm Cassen volunteered for the board, he was told in the meeting that he was ineligible because of his residency. As a self-selected group, they could have simply said, “We don’t want you, we can’t work with you,” They don’t need any other reason.
Once they relied on his residency, the paper asked about Arnson’s eligibility. Her response was, she hadn’t read the bylaws, apologized and resigned.
Why did the board put her in the position? When Simpson was asked, since he was president at the time, he replied, “Ask the current board.” Not his responsibility was the implication, so what does local control mean?
Local control should mean that the members of the community can speak about the project or issue and be heard. That the purpose of the program is to serve the local community. The Board of Supervisors created an Idyllwild Historic District, but the ordinance will be implemented by an Idyllwild Historic Commission composed of local residents.
CSA 36 is our tool for local control of recreation.