Should we open "satellite offices" for our Board of Supervisors?

At last Tuesday’s afternoon Session of our Board of Supervisors meeting was a request from 1st District Supervisor Janet Nguyen to open a satellite office in the city of Westminster to better serve the Vietnamese community. I thought conservative Republicans believed in smaller government and promoted fiscal responsibility. Just like taxation, once you start the ball rolling it is very difficult to stop it. A one year pilot program opens a door that needs further justification.

The front page of the Local Section of today’s Orange County Register addresses this story.

A Supervisor is not the same as an Assembly person or Congressman whose full time office is located hundreds or thousands of miles away from their constituents.
They do have a valid need for said offices due to the number of constituents they represent and the distance from Washington, DC or Sacramento. Anyone in Orange County should be able to get to the Hall of Administration, using public transportation, in less than an hour.

To the best of my knowledge this would be breaking new ground. As such, are we opening Pandora’s box? I could argue that if you provide this satellite location for one Supervisor than the other four members could almost make the same argument to justify similar consideration. While some may take the position pointing out that there are special considerations, such as a cultural difference, I must remind those in power of the debate on assimilation into our state. This is the same argument that has been made about those entering this country illegally. You cannot argue that people who speak Spanish must learn the English language and not use the same position for those living in the Vietnamese community. We cannot, should not, promote a dual standard.

I happen to live in the Fifth District with Pat Bates being our Representative. Boy it would be nice to drive to an office on Alicia Parkway rather than driving up the 5 freeway to see her in Santa Ana. Perhaps someone in Newport Beach would like to avoid the ride from the 55 freeway which might take longer to get to Santa Ana to see Supervisor Moorlach than my example. Where does this stop? You stop it before it begins and simply say NO.
We still have telephones, fax machines, e-mail, snail mail, UPS and Fed Ex.

As the expression goes, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Or as it says on Google: “Any attempt to improve on a system that already works is pointless and may even be detrimental.”
There is nothing prohibiting a Supervisor or member of their staff from going into the District to meet their constituents who have a request. They already attend numerous functions around the County. There is another concern that must be faced. Does this satellite office give the incumbents a leg up for future campaigns where they can network with residents as they interact on individual requests?

Those of some of my thoughts. What are yours?

Note: This issue will be on tomorrow’s BOS Agenda. Perhaps you might consider attending or simply to sit in on this debate. You can also watch the Board Meeting on their web site.

About Larry Gilbert