The grumbled buzz about who's in whose pockets got some new names to speculate about in 2012.
Rex Bohn, who won a three-way race in June to succeed retiring Humboldt County Supervisor Jimmy Smith, was sworn in early, in August, so that Smith could step down and focus on his health. Estelle Fennell, who narrowly defeated incumbent Clif Clendenen in June, will take office Jan. 7.
Who's beholden to whom? Well, campaign donations reported in the June 7 Journal ("You Scratch My Back ...") showed plenty of timber, industry, real estate and construction money going to Fennell and Bohn, from big donors including: Barnum Timber Co., David Schneider of Schneider Dock and Industries, Eureka Readymix, George Schmidbauer of Schmidbauer Lumber, Hilfiker Pipe Co. (construction), Hooven & Co. (engineering and contracting), Kramer Investment (apartment building and property management), L&H properties and S&W Properties. That's just a small sampling -- some construction companies and business owners gave to just one of the winning candidates, and the campaigns neglected to collect occupations from other donors.
But campaign donors have been surprised before, and people who seemed firmly in the "grow, baby, grow" camp have been known to protect the environment and balk at handing government dollars over to private businesses.
So far, early indications seem mixed. The new board majority wanted to slow down and strip down the county's general plan update, a reversal that smelled pro-runaway-growth to many at first, but it might not be headed that way now. And it has jumped aboard the idea of an east-west rail line, but so far hasn't given away any tax money to promote it. That last was a 3-2 vote, with departing Clendenen joining Mark Lovelace in dissenting. Are 4-1 votes ahead once Fennell comes on board? And if so, who will benefit? We'll all get to watch and see.