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----- Original Message -----

From: Lew Price
To: Helen Baumann
Sent: Saturday, November 02, 2002 2:02 PM
Subject: Some history of Georgetown Airport difficulties

Dear Supervisor Baumann,

This is an attempt to help you to become better acquainted with the past history of the difficulties Georgetown Airport has faced in dealing with the County. The information may prove to be helpful in preparing you for your coming meeting with the public.

The present proposal to remove Steve and Trish from the airport is like adding insult to injury. In September of 1999, when some embarrassing information was found by one of the Airport Commissioners, Steve should have been presented with the opportunity to become a salaried airport manager. Instead, the Airport Commission was abolished so that it could not further embarrass the County. If justice were done today, Steve should be given the job of airport manager as well as backpay for services rendered since 1999 (if not before). Truly, the County owes him money rather than the reverse.

The letters shown below are from my files at the time some of the problems were presented. There is a lot more to be said, but I am no longer capable of remembering enough of the details to present valid information. You can find out more from those who have their own set of records.

I do not intend to give this information all of the supervisors. However, you are welcome to pass it along to those whom you believe might be interested. As I understand it, only two of you are taking any interest in the airport.


Lew Price


Aug. 24, 1999

Re: Fuel Tank Replacement - Georgetown Airport

Dear [Supervisor]:

For about ten years it has been known that the existing fuel tank at the Georgetown Airport does not meet federal requirements. It has also been known that the tank would be illegal to use after November, 1998.

Anyone who is familiar with fuel tank replacement would be aware that the least expensive way to replace an existing underground tank is by filling the existing tank while leaving it in place, and installing another underground tank.

With this prior knowledge, any reasonable person would have made an effort to make arrangements for the replacement of the existing tank during the summer and/or fall of 1998. Anyone who knows anything about fuel tanks and California winter weather would have thought ahead so that the tank replacement would happen when the weather was still fair. To do otherwise courts disaster with the tank possibly floating, and to cause undue expense due to the contractor being forced to take precautions which would otherwise be unnecessary.

However, no attempt was made to replace the existing tank before it was shut down in compliance with federal law. After the shutdown of the existing tank, it would seem that some honest effort would have been made to replace it in the spring of 1999. This did not happen. In fact, almost every political ploy possible was used to prevent the installation of a new fuel tank.

I do not know what the present manager of General Services has against the Georgetown Airport and the pilots who use it. But I do believe that he either has a political agenda which prevents the installation of a new tank, or he is not able to think ahead or to take proper steps to install a new tank. In either case, it seems a shame that we must pay taxes which, in part, go to his paycheck while he wastes money on repeated insufficient and half-hearted (or deliberately failing) attempts to provide the new tank.

I was told that the supervisors were in favor of having a fuel tank at the Georgetown Airport and am assuming that this meant you. Considering the public relations value as well as the emergency value of an airport with fuel, it is difficult to conceive how anyone could not be in favor of the tank.

It is now just past midsummer of 1999. It seems that our public servant in charge of General Services, once again, is not going to do his job - or perhaps I do not understand what his job is. It appears that an appeal to you supervisors with your busy schedules is the only way to reach him. I would hope that something might be done to have a new tank installed by next winter. Do you think it is possible that you might intervene in such a way as to help this to happen? Otherwise, this sticky situation will drag on and more money and effort will be utterly wasted.

Thank you.



Sept. 22, 1999

Re: Proposal to Eliminate Airport Commission

Dear [Supervisor]:

1. The Board of Supervisors was elected to oversee and direct the running of the County on behalf of the public. This means that each supervisor must have at least a broad idea of what is happening in the County. This includes knowing what is happening within the County bureaucracy, how it is functioning, if it is functioning fairly, and if it is functioning efficiently.

2. No supervisor can comprehend everything that is happening in sufficient detail to effectively do his or her job. So commissions of knowledgeable people are appointed to inquire and observe on behalf of the Board and, ultimately, the public.

3. An appointee who is doing his job properly acts as an inquiring extension to the supervisor who appointed him. This appointee should ask the correct questions and find the correct answers to relay to the supervisor. Without such an appointee, the supervisor is deaf and blind, unable to function properly in his or her role. In this sense, a commission of such appointees exercises a type of necessary power.

4. A bureaucracy which is allowed to run itself will eventually respond only to its own internal needs, will become the private tool of its head, and/or will become the private tool of one who can best influence its head.

5. Besides inquiring into an issue, a good commission will analyze its findings, prepare a report (either verbal or written) for the Board of Supervisors, present courses of action (or inaction), and give a recommendation along with the reasons for this recommendation. In this sense, a commission exercises another type of necessary power.

6. This proposal to eliminate the Airport Commission by creating two virtually powerless committees smacks of something akin to facism or Machiavellian manipulation of the democratic process. It is designed to prevent the supervisors and the public from discovering what is really happening. And, of course, this allows the perpetrator to manipulate everyone else as a means to his own ends.


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