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The Madera Tribune

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Olympics fall in viewers’ choices

August 21, 2016

The television viewership ratings for the summer Olympics broadcast on NBC have tanked — down 17 percent of those of the London games four years ago.

 

Especially among millennials: That age group, 18-to-49-year-olds, has stopped watching 25 percent less than they did the London games, according to Bloomberg.

 

A lot of folks instead are watching the Olympics on apps, apparently, but that raises a question: Why would you want to watch the world’s biggest sporting event on your little tiny cell phone screen instead of your nice 32-inch-or-bigger TV screen?

 

Also, it may be that when Michael Phelps finally got out of the pool, and the U.S. gymnastic team wound up their gold-grabbing, people lost interest.

 

I noticed, too, that after Usain Bolt finished his 9 seconds of glory and held to his title of fastest man on the planet — or is it the universe? — interest in the runners went down.


We are a fickle people. It takes a lot to keep our attention. Even contests between great athletes can become tiring.


Some of the ennui may be due to Rio de Janeiro itself. Except for the beaches and other tourist areas, which can be lovely, according to the images we see on television, Rio is largely a polluted slum.
 

A question has come up from a Tribune reader who also is a frequent reader of the agenda for the Madera County Board of Supervisors meetings. It seems that every regular meeting agenda includes a closed session item for a performance evaluation for the “county administrative officer.”

 

“That must mean the supes don’t have much confidence in Fleming,” said the reader. “Fleming,” of course, is Eric Fleming, who has been CAO for several years, and who has been given raises, praises and additional authority during those years. He must be doing okay on the job. Maybe better than okay, since you never hear County Government Center gossip that says Fleming is about to lose his well-compensated post.

 

You hear some county functionaries complaining about Fleming being a little bossy, but he’s the boss. Part of his job may be to act bossy when it’s necessary.

 

But here’s the other thing: Government Code Section 54957 gives the legislative body, in this case the supes, the right to “exclude from the public or closed meeting, during the examination of a witness, any or all other witnesses in the matter being investigated by the legislative body,” i.e. the performance evaluation of the county administrative officer.

 

Those of us who follow or care about these things know the government code being referred to is called the Ralph M. Brown Act, which makes it illegal for an elected body in California to discuss the public’s business in secret.

 

The exceptions are for real estate negotiations, labor negotiations and employee evaluations.
It also provides that all things discussed in a government meeting shall be agendized at least 72 hours before that meeting. The exception to that is public comment, during which people may speak briefly on items not on the agenda; or items that are truly emergencies.

 

So, if you agendize something as an employee evaluation of a particular person, in this case the CAO, you can get away with holding it in secret. Once. Maybe twice, maybe even three times if the evaluation is complicated — but every meeting? And it better be an employee evaluation and not an employee evaluation sound-alike, because that would be a serious offense and cause for charges against all board members involved in it, particularly if they were using the questionably-secret meeting to negotiate something to their own benefit.

 

But why risk being misunderstood because they may be getting questionable legal advice from their counsel? Or why put themselves into question?

 

Wouldn’t it be safer for them to fire Fleming — who serves at will — and hire somebody they could trust and didn’t have to evaluate every week, which must take up a lot of their secret-meeting time?
One of Fleming’s predecessors, Stell Manfredi, was only evaluated about once a year. And he served more than 20 years. And he hired Fleming and helped train him.


Fleming has a right under the Brown Act to make these evaluations public. Maybe he should exercise that right instead of looking like he’s done something wrong.

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