House always wins
Only in government can the premise “not knowing the unknowable…is no excuse for not knowing,” be considered a legitimate reason for fining someone, or depriving them of their personal property. I recently witnessed a shameful example of this at the Tulare County Board of Supervisor’s meeting.
I watched in disgust as the 10 top-paid government officials weaved and bobbed their way through a comedy of blunders, intermittently blaming each other, and then themselves, before settling on a controversial strategy that I have only seen used before in cases of rape…basically, “blame the victim.”
First the county blames the city for purchasing property, but then not filing a deed. Then the county admits that the city did file a deed, but then claims that the Tax Collector wasn’t aware of it, because the Tax Assessor didn’t process the transaction correctly. However, at that point, the Tax Collector has to admit that despite what the Tax Assessor failed to do, her office had been informed by their contracted tax sale consultant the subject property had indeed been purchased by the city.
Then, in an apparent attempt to justify her actions, ignoring her own consultant and proceeding with the sale of the property, she blames the city for not responding to a notice informing it that the property was being sold. In turn, the city claims that it didn’t realize that the property in question belonged to it, because the Tax Collector had mistakenly supplied it an incorrect parcel number. A position they subsequently had to retreat from, when they sheepishly admitted they don’t bother to read the majority of the correspondence they receive from outside agencies.
Ultimately, in a “circle the wagons” moment, the board, rather than chastising their own, instead chose to attack the victims of this government boondoggle, claiming that they should have known what apparently the highest-paid county employees didn’t.
In the end, Mr. Beardsley and Mr. Penn will be assessed a fine for believing their government would deal with them honestly.
And what I’ve learned from this episode is: “Dealing with the County of Tulare is like going to Las Vegas…and the house always wins.”