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June 14, 2021

County board supports fired off-road official

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors added an urgency item to the Dec. 20 agenda after Jeff Gaffney, the district superintendent for Hollister Hills, spoke during the public comment period about the termination of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission’s deputy director.

According to Gaffney and online enthusiasts of off-road vehicles, Gov. Jerry Brown terminated Daphne C. Greene effective Jan. 1. A new appointment has not been announced.

Gaffney asked for the supervisors to support the reappointment of Greene, whom he said has been instrumental in working with the Hollister Hills Recreational Area to plan non-motorized trails. The parks and recreation commissioners have been in talks with Gaffney about the plan.

“I’m worried that some projects may fall to the wayside,” Gaffney said. “Greene is well-respected – her integrity is beyond reproach and any effort you could make to move forward would be great.”

Supervisor Margie Barrios offered her personal support and said she would write a letter to the governor’s office in support of Greene. The supervisors decided to add an urgency item to the agenda to decide if they wanted to submit an official letter from the board. County Counsel Matthew Granger said they could add an item to the agenda if action needed to be taken before the board’s next meeting in January.

The supervisors approved the letter, which will be sent to the governor’s office.

“Greene was a stalwart guardian over the fuel tax,” Gaffney said of the revenue used to fund the off-road vehicle program. “The governor’s January budget may eliminate the off-road vehicle program.”

At the end of the regular agenda, Janelle Cox, a county management analyst, presented the supervisors with a letter in support of reappointing Greene to the OHMVR position.

“We want to make sure someone is making responsible decisions and representing the county,” said Supervisor Margie Barrios said.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho said spaces such as Hollister Hills are important because they keep off-road vehicles away from private properties.

“I feel Miss Greene supported us and I think we would be remiss if we don’t reciprocate that support,” said Supervisor Jerry Muenzer.

Supervisor Robert Rivas was the sole board member to express concern that the supervisors might be jumping ahead of themselves.

“Are we just assuming the new appointment won’t support San Benito County?”

Gaffney said that no one has been scheduled to replace Greene at this time.

“The reality is, it is already starting,” Gaffney said. “If you eliminate the deputy director, you eliminate a lot that is going on. It destroys the continuity it has created. … She has knowledge of the partner relationships. The next person that comes in to get up to speed will take at least a year. There is no one out there that could even rise to that level.”

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