This town needs a new discussion.
It’s a beautiful place, and most of us were first drawn here by the inspiration we felt from the ocean and the pines, the beautiful sunsets and the friendly village atmosphere.
But there is something that tarnishes that beauty, and it has been happening more regularly lately in the Vets Hall. And I’m not talking about the American Legion. It’s the CCSD.
For those of you who don’t make it a habit to attend these meetings, things have been going downhill lately. It has little to do with the issues of the time — fire and water — but rather, everything to do with what we value and how we conduct ourselves.
I’ll put last things first. A few weeks ago, Tina Dickason spoke during the meeting’s public comment period attacking Director Jim Bahringer. She said that during a break at a previous meeting, she “became the victim of an incident perpetrated by Director Bahringer,” and that she had filed a “criminal report” with the sheriff and the district attorney.
Accused of a crime. But unable to defend himself.
And then, quite soon thereafter, was the selection of president. It was Director Bahringer’s turn to lead. Director Amanda Rice has been president for a year.
But in this room, the theme was: once accused, deemed guilty. Three board members — Rice, Farmer and Dave Pierson — voted to give Rice another term. Why? Because...well....there was the possibility something unusual might have happened, I suppose.
Rewind to the appointment process for the last seat on the board. This is more personal, of course, because it involved my spouse.
False accusations from the floor by a few people — while Tom Gray was sequestered out of the room (with the other candidates) and unable to respond or defend himself — were allowed by Director Rice, the president.
Then, after he and the others were back in the room, Director Rice singled Tom out for a question: “What year did you build your house?” Was she suggesting something inappropriate happened?
We will never know. Tom answered the question with some detail. And yet, with a long pause from the chair, the hint of impropriety was allowed to just hang in the air.
Let me be clear: I am not writing this to say that Director Bahringer should have been president or that Tom should have been appointed. And I am not criticizing the people who were chosen.
Rather, I believe the president of any public body — and those present — should no longer allow personal accusations to destroy the process.
Innocent until proven guilty. Fair and equal. Let’s do that.
And then the wonderful ocean air that comes through the open window at the Vets Hall will feel lovely again.
Barbara Bronson Gray is vice president of the Cambria Community Healthcare District board. Her viewpoint is special to The Cambrian.