The Barbed Wire - January 6, 2023

January 6, 2023
Register for RCRC’s 2023 Installation of Officers and Rural Leadership Awards Reception
CPUC Considers Minimum Service Quality Standards for Wireless and Broadband Services
ICYMI: California Judicial Council Releases Proposed CARE Act Rules and Forms for Public Comment
While the 118th Congress Begins Smoothly in the Senate, the House Struggles to Elect a Speaker
Congress Passes $1.7 Trillion Omnibus
Department of the Interior Announces Investment of More Than $84 Million in Drought Resiliency Projects

Register for RCRC’s 2023 Installation of Officers and Rural Leadership Awards Reception

On Wednesday, January 18, 2023, the RCRC Annual Installation of Officers and Rural Leadership Awards Reception will be held at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento at 5:00 p.m. Learn more…

CPUC Considers Minimum Service Quality Standards for Wireless and Broadband Services

RCRC is a formal party to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proceeding that will consider changes to minimum service quality standards of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), wireless, and broadband service, as well as examine enforcement protocols to improve substandard service. Currently, CPUC General Order 133 sets minimum service quality standards for legacy Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) providers, but that does not extend to newer technology such as VoIP. Furthermore, while the CPUC currently permits investments in lieu of penalties to remedy service quality deficiencies, the resulting progress has largely been deemed ineffective and will be called into question as part of the scope of the proceeding.  

Rural counties have experienced a myriad of poor service quality issues that have compounded over time, including a lack of redundancy for VoIP, insufficient wireless coverage, and inadequate broadband speeds that impact educational outcomes, commerce, and telehealth opportunities. RCRC recently submitted comments urging the CPUC to treat and regulate voice service technologies more consistently and implement recommendations, such as disaggregating a company’s service quality data that currently skews enforcement in persistently failing locations. 

For more information, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, Tracy Rhine

ICYMI: California Judicial Council Releases Proposed CARE Act Rules and Forms for Public Comment

The Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act requires the California Judicial Council to develop rules of court, as well as a petition form and any other forms necessary for the court process, to implement the Act’s procedural provisions. The draft, “Rules and Forms: Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act (Proposal W23-10)”, proposed by the Probate and Mental Health Advisory Committee, has been posted on the California Courts “Invitations to Comment” webpage here.  

The proposal consists of 11 Rules of Court and 11 forms to implement the requirements, including “Information for Petitioners-About the CARE Act (Form CARE-050-INFO)”, “Information for Respondents-About the CARE Act (Form CARE-060-INFO)”, and “Petition to Commence CARE Act Proceedings (Form CARE-100)”, among others. 

The public comment period is open until January 27, 2023, at 5:00 PM. Details and materials can be found on the Invitations to Comment page under the "Probate and Mental Health" topic. Comments may be submitted via the online Comment Form or by email to

For additional information or questions, contact RCRC Policy Advocate, Sarah Dukett.

While the 118th Congress Begins Smoothly in the Senate, the House Struggles to Elect a Speaker

On Tuesday, January 3rd, members of Congress assembled to begin the 118th Congress.  In the Senate, the process was smooth, with Leadership elections held in November and December confirming Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as the Senate Majority Leader and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Minority Leader.   The Senate Steering Committees will now begin finalizing Committee assignments, returning to session on Monday, January 23, 2023.  

The House, likewise, convened Tuesday, January 3, 2023, with the first order of business being the election of the Speaker for the 118th Congress. Today marks the fourth day of voting, with 13 votes thus far yielding no resolution on the Speakership. California House Member Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and New York House Member Hakeem Jefferies (D-New York) have been the frontrunning nominees throughout the process, with McCarthy struggling to gain the majority needed to seal the outcome. The thirteenth vote marked the first time this week that no member of McCarthy’s party nominated an alternative candidate for the position, causing speculation that opposition is waning. 

The House of Representatives has adjourned until 10:00 p.m. Friday evening, at which time they will reconvene to continue voting. Until the matter of the Speakership is resolved, the members of the House of Representatives cannot be sworn in, and the rules for the 118th Congress cannot be adopted, leaving one half of the legislative body currently unable to govern.

Congress Passes $1.7 Trillion Omnibus

On December 29th, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (H.R. 2617) or Omnibus Package was signed into law. This bill includes funding to address homelessness, wildfires, drought and environmental concerns, and agricultural pests and diseases. Specifically, the bill appropriates $3.45 billion to agriculture research projects to decrease livestock and crop diseases, improve food safety and water quality, increase production, and combat antimicrobial resistance. An additional investment in energy and water development is included, with the bill providing $3.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Lastly, $224.2 million is being appropriated for climate resilience efforts, Western water issues, and wildfires and drought through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A summary of appropriation provisions can be found here

Department of the Interior Announces Investment of More Than $84 Million in Drought Resiliency Projects

On December 22nd, the Department of the Interior announced an investment of $84.7 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help fight drought in communities in the West. The investment includes 17 projects in California and is intended to bring clean drinking water through creative drought resilience strategies such as groundwater storage, rainwater harvesting, aquifer recharge, water reuse, ion exchange treatment, and other methods to stretch existing water supplies.


Announcements regarding hearings, grants, and public comment notices of importance to California's rural counties.


Reminder: Informational Briefing on Federal EV Infrastructure Funds for Rural Counties

Save the date for an informational briefing from the California Energy Commission and the California Department of Transportation to RCRC counties on the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program. Under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), California will receive $384 million over five years to deploy Electric Vehicle (EV) fast chargers in priority, underserved highway segments. For more information, see here

WHEN:                  Wednesday, January 11, 2023 from 1pm to 2pm
WHERE:                Virtual
RSVP:                  To register, please contact Leigh Kammerich, RCRC Policy Advocate, or Bob Burris, RCRC Deputy Economic Development Officer. 


Virtual Workshop: AG/Livestock Pass Disaster Access Program Development and Success

The Ag/Livestock Pass Workshop aims to provide county officials insight into how to set up a functional Ag/Livestock Pass program, discuss common challenges and workable solutions, and to showcase examples of program success during recent fires. The workshop will also provide details on complying with AB 1103, a 2021 law which facilitates and governs county adoption and execution of these programs. For more information, see the flyer here.

Date: January 18, 2023
Time: 1:30 PM
Register here


Career Opportunities

Calaveras County

  • The County of Calaveras, California is seeking a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who possesses strength of character, chemistry, and proven experience.  The successful candidate must have a solid background working with a five-member Board of Supervisors, elected and non-elected department heads as well as community stakeholders. This is the top management position in the County and provides administrative direction to all County departments.  The Administrative office has direct responsibility for Human Resources & Risk Management, Information Technology and G.I.S. Services, Airport, Office of Emergency Services, Economic Development, Integrated Waste Management, Public Access TV, Facilities and Grounds, Capital Improvement Projects, and Purchasing.  All non-elected department heads are appointed by and reports to the CEO. The application process will close on January 13, 2023 at 5pm. For additional information or to apply, see here.

Sierra County

  • The County of Sierra is seeking a Director of Health and Social Services, responsible for the management and administration of Department of Health and Social Services.  A full description and qualifications are available here. For more information, visit the county website here or call (530) 289-2879.
  • The Sierra County Department of Transportation is recruiting for a Transportation Planner II or III, depending on qualifications. This position is open until filled. For more information, see the county website here or call 530-289-2879

Imperial County

Imperial County is seeking applicants for three open engineering positions. These positions are open until filled.

  • Associate Civil Engineer to perform, supervise, and coordinate professional civil or structural engineering work in the field and office.  View details here

  • Assistant Director of Public Works to plan, organize, and assist in the day to day-to-day operations of the Department; prepare and deliver presentations to a variety of commissions and groups; assist in the oversight of the department’s divisions and special districts; and assume responsibility for Department operations in the absence of the Public Works Director. View details here

  • Principal Engineer to plan, organize and direct complex civil engineering work. operations and activities including the office and field design, preparation, review and analysis of engineering and construction plans and specifications; coordinate and direct communications, information, personnel, projects and resources to meet designated County engineering needs and assure smooth and efficient activities; supervise and evaluate the performance of assigned personnel.  View details here

Tuolumne County

  • Tuolumne County Public Works is seeking an experienced integrated waste professional with extensive knowledge of environmental regulations and compliance to oversee the collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste and hazardous materials, provide public outreach and training, promote recycling programs, maintain two closed landfills, and negotiate and monitor contracts for environmental and landfill services. The Director of Solid Waste, as a key member of the management team, will oversee a staff of four and provide expert advice and support to the Director, Board members, and the community.  Bachelor’s degree and three years’ experience in solid waste management with two years at a supervisory or higher level. Flexible schedule 90/8 or 20%-40% telework considered for right candidate. Position is open until filled. EOE For additional details, see here.

(NEW!) Yolo County

  • The County of Yolo is recruiting to fill one (1) regular, full-time position in the class of Public Information Officer (PIO) at the County Administrator's Office. The role of the Public Information Officer is to manage the County’s communications with the public through press releases, social media, videos, live media and the County website. The PIO informs and engages the community and other stakeholders regarding County activities, services, and strategies.  The PIO also functions as the County Spokesperson which requires knowledge of County programs and policies. As a member of the County Emergency Operations Center personnel, the PIO also acts in a lead capacity in disseminating information during an emergency. The full job announcement can be found here. This position is open until filled.


Institute for Local Government Launches New Digital Planning Commissioner Handbook & Regional Trainings

The Institute for Local Government (ILG) recently released an updated version of their Planning Commissioners Handbook. This handbook is designed to support planning commissioners, their staff, and other officials interested in land use and planning; to help local officials understand the planning process; and provide a glimpse of some potential planning challenges commissioners may experience during their terms. The handbook describes the major terms, plans, and policies that make up the framework of local planning, as well as typical stakeholders in the process and the basics of reviewing applications for development.

In conjunction with this release, ILG is hosting regional training sessions for planning commissioners. These interactive sessions will take place in person at various locations throughout the state and will cover topics such as the role of a planning commission, how to work effectively with staff and the governing board, effective community engagement, CEQA basics, required planning documents, and local and regional planning challenges and opportunities. Each session will give participants the opportunity to engage with experts in the field and fellow planning commissioners to hear best practices, emerging trends, and lessons learned. All sessions are FREE but space is limited and registration is required. Find a full schedule and register here.

Next Training: San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, February 17, 2023


Access the State Grants Portal for a Multitude of Funding Opportunities

Billions of dollars are up for grabs to public agencies and other entities, including tribes and businesses. Grant seekers can access a centralized portal of grant and loan opportunities here, or sign up to receive new grant opportunities delivered straight to your inbox.


Announcements regarding key staffing changes of importance to California's rural counties.


Karen Douglas, of Davis, has been appointed to the California Public Utilities Commission. Douglas has been Senior Advisor for Energy in the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom since 2022. She was a California Energy Commission Member from 2008 to 2022. Douglas was Director of the California Climate Initiative for the Environmental Defense Fund from 2005 to 2008. She held several positions at the Planning and Conservation League from 2001 to 2005, including Acting Executive Director and General Counsel. Douglas earned a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford Law School and a Master of Public Policy degree in Environmental Policy from the University of Colorado Boulder. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $187,936. Douglas is a Democrat.


Grant Parks, of Rocklin, has been appointed State Auditor at the California State Auditor’s Office. Parks has been a Principal Manager of Audit Services at the Judicial Council of California since 2016. He held several positions at the California State Auditor’s Office from 1999 to 2016, including Principal Auditor and Audit Team Leader. Parks earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of California, Davis. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $232,858. Parks is registered without party preference.


Kenneth J. Pogue, of Shingle Springs, has been reappointed Director of the Office of Administrative Law, where he has served in that position since 2019. Pogue was Undersecretary of Administration of Offender Services at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from 2015 to 2019. He was Assistant Secretary at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Office of Legislation from 2013 to 2015. Pogue served as a Deputy Attorney General at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General from 1999 to 2008. He was an Associate at the Law Offices of Porter, Scott, Weiberg and Delehant from 1997 to 1999, a Contract Attorney at the Law Office of Robert Tronvig in 1997 and a Contract District Attorney in the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office in 1996. Pogue earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $199,740. Pogue is a Democrat.


Brent Reden, of El Dorado Hills, has been appointed Deputy Director and Chief Counsel at the California Department of State Hospitals. Reden has been Deputy Chief Counsel at the Department of State Hospitals since 2014. He was a Deputy Attorney General at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General from 2008 to 2014. He was a Partner at Kring & Chung LLP from 2006 to 2007. He was Senior Associate at the Hughes Law Firm from 2001 to 2006. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $211,332. Reden is registered without party preference.


Laura Rodriguez, of El Dorado Hills, has been appointed Senior Policy Director at the State Board of Education. Rodriguez has been Senior Director of Government Relations for the College Board since 2013. She was Director of West Coast Government and External Relations at Educational Testing Service from 2005 to 2013. She was Legislative Director for Office of Assemblymember Barbara Matthews from 2002 to 2005 and a Legislative Assistant at Birdsall, Wasco & Associates from 2000 to 2002. Rodriguez is a member of the Inside California Education Advisory Board. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $155,040. Rodriguez is a Democrat.


Judge Shama Hakim Mesiwala, of Yolo County, has been nominated to serve as an Associate Justice of the Third District Court of Appeal. She has served as a Judge at the Sacramento County Superior Court since 2017 and was a Commissioner there in 2017. Judge Mesiwala has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law since 2013. She was a Judicial Attorney at the Third District Court of Appeal from 2004 to 2017, where she served as a Senior Judicial Attorney for the Honorable Ronald B. Robie from 2006 to 2017 and as a Central Staff Attorney from 2004 to 2006. Judge Mesiwala served as a Staff Attorney at the Central California Appellate Program from 1999 to 2004 and as an Attorney at the Office of the Federal Public Defender, Eastern District of California in 1999. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law. Judge Mesiwala fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Coleman A. Blease. This position requires confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Senior Presiding Justice Ronald Robie. She is a Democrat.


Ashley Williams, of West Sacramento, has been appointed Deputy Director for Legislative and External Affairs at the Emergency Medical Services Authority. Williams has been Office Chief of Maintenance Strategic Planning at the California Department of Transportation since 2020. She was Staff Services Manager I at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services from 2019 to 2020. She was an Associate Governmental Program Analyst at CalPERS from 2016 to 2019. She was a Manager for Safeway from 2005 to 2017. She earned a Master of Science degree in Communications from Syracuse University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $126,000. Williams is registered without party preference. 


RCRC press releases and related news clips about RCRC and our member counties. Please note that a subscription may be required to read some external publications.


Commentary: Success stories in defensible space to guard against wildfire – Gold Country Media

 Some refer to it as vegetation management, others call it defensible space. Several property owners share their experience and offer suggestions to develop defensible space and minimize the impact of wildfire. 


Tulare County passes $95 million measure to build a public university center for its residents – EdSource

In November, voters in Tulare County voted to dramatically increase university-level  offerings in the region by approving a new and expanded university center in Visalia. This expansion provides a pathway to break the cycle of poverty and to help develop a local workforce with the higher education needed to help disadvantaged communities.  


Deadline Approaching for FCC Broadband Map – AG Information Network of the West

On January 13, the Deadline to check the FCC National Broadband Map closes. This map provides key information that guides the FCC’s budget and supports infrastructure projects in high need areas.