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Michael Haley Joins Park District Board

Former supervisorial candidate and acclaimed Napa Valley Patch blogger Michael Haley was sworn in Monday as the newest member of the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space board of directors.

Some Napa County election races are still too close to call, but other elected positions have been filled without the necessity of public balloting.

There was no competition for the three expiring seats on the board of directors of the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District, so no election was held.

Two of the seats were filled by their unopposed incumbents, Dave Finigan and Tony Norris, while the third went to Yountville grape grower, Napa Valley Patch blogger and 2010 supervisorial candidate Michael Haley, who also was unopposed.

But thanks to state regulations, a vote still had to take place.

After the three were sworn in by Napa County clerk and registrar of voters John Tuteur, the existing board of directors was required to vote to approve the reappointment of two of their number, plus Haley's appointment.

"There is no conflict (of interest) when the statute clearly requires you to take a vote," explained district manager John Woodbury.

District 2 supervisor Mark Luce, who attended the swearing-in at the county administration building, called it a "bloodless coup."

After the board's vote and adjournment, directors, staff, volunteers and well-wishers shared a repast of coffee and some unusual cookies.

One plate of treats was made using flour that was ground at the Bale Grist Mill, while the other held what district director of volunteers (and Napa Valley Patch blogger) Chino Yip described as "cakelets," made with ground acorns gathered in Yountville.

Created by county voters in 2006, the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District is described on its website, napaoutdoors.org:

The District is authorized to plan, improve and operate a system of public parks, trails, outdoor recreational facilities, and outdoor science and conservation education programs, as well as to protect and preserve natural areas, wildlife habitat and other open space resources. Its jurisdiction includes all of Napa County.

The District is governed by a Board of Directors whose members are directly elected by the public in each of five wards. Ward boundaries coincide with the County’s Board of Supervisors’ districts. The first Directors were elected at the same time the District was formed.

Funding and staffing for the District currently comes from the County of Napa, at the level determined by the County Board of Supervisors. The District is also empowered to obtain grants, accept gifts and collect fees for services provided. Subject to voter approval, the District is authorized to raise revenues through some types of property assessments and taxes.

The District has no power to regulate private land use, is subject to all applicable city and county regulations, and may only acquire property from willing sellers.

This year, in response to the state budget crunch that would have closed the Bothe-Napa and Bale Grist Mill state parks in Calistoga, the district assumed responsibility for both properties, which remain open to the public.

"Our ability to step in and take over state parks has to be considered the most important thing we've done so far," said director Harold Kelly.

The district also funds bus trips for schoolchildren to visit the county's open spaces with nature guides. Thank-you letters from kids were displayed at the swearing-in party.

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Louisa Hufstader (Editor) November 20, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Congratulations, Michael! That was a fun little party, acorn cakelets and all.
Belle (Orchid Lady) November 20, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Congratulations! I think you are a great person for this job.
Alex Shantz November 20, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Glad to see you in this position!
vocal-de-local November 21, 2012 at 12:43 AM
This will be great experience for you MH. Sounds fun actually!
Catherine George November 21, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Congratulations!
Jeri Gill November 21, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Congratulations Michael! The District Board and the entire community will benefit from your involvement and experience. Go forth, do good work, and have fun!
Michael Haley November 28, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Thanks everyone, I just today saw this article so sorry about not responding sooner. The acorn cookies were great, no wonder I look so happy in that photo! gggg

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