Wednesday, January 23, 2008

She'll Rue (Furch) the day ...

According to today's article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Rue Furch owed a whopping $71,310 in property taxes for the past 7 years & finally forked up a $45,420 chunk (more than many families make in a year around here) to avoid having a lien placed on her house! For those of you who don't know, Ms. Furch is running for Mike Reilly's post as 5th District Supervisor, along with Tom Lynch, Jim Maresca, & Maddy Hirschfield.

But back to Ms. Furch ... Hmmm ... let's do the math: $71,310 divided by 7 years comes to ... Good heavens! that's $10,147 & change per year! Man, Ms. Furch must live in some pretty danged swanky digs! (Reporter Robert Digitale describes it as her "home overlooking Laguna de Santa Rosa north of Sebastopol").

Ms. Furch claims that: "The qualifications I bring to this position don't change because . . . I went through an economic recession," she said. "My qualifications, my experience and my values aren't changed."

Um ... I beg to differ. While I do sympathize with Ms. Furch -- she's a capable person & long-serving planning supervisor who has taken intelligent positions & property taxes ARE so awfully danged high throughout California (obligatory disclosure: My husband & I fell 6 months behind last year & have finally managed to catch up) -- falling 7 years behind is truly ridiculous! We have NOT experienced a 7-year "economic recession." She had plenty of time to realize that her consulting business wasn't making enough money & ample opportunities for selling her place while the market was still hot.

Quite frankly, I'm surprised that Ms. Furch would consider running for a higher-level public office with such a major financial issue hanging over her head. Of course none of us are perfect, but in politics, you at least need to look good on paper. This incident is bound to affect her candidacy & cast doubt upon her ability to handle a supervisory role for the County. Alas, Ms. Furch appears to possess intelligence, a good heart & many other positive qualities, but the poor woman has made some bad choices & seems to be totally lacking in pragmatic business sense. And right now, Sonoma County desperately needs someone with some business sense.

8 comments:

SRPresDemoRdr said...

I was going to blog my opinions of Ms. Furch but your post took the words right out of my mouth. It's a shame that a candidate with a strong background in such positive causes could be so clueless about the importance of setting an example with her personal finances. If the Press Demo article is completely factual, she has no business in our local government.

Russian River Rattina said...

Thanks, srpresdeordr, I think you should blog about it anyway, I'm sure you'll have a different slant on it.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with your completely valid concerns it does seem to me that we shouldn't discount such a strong candidate based on one (however relatively large) mistake but instead view it side by side with her long history of service. While personal life can be a component of a candidate, it shouldn't be the sole determining factor, because there is so much we can never understand about the nuances of a personal life of a public figure.
For instance it seems curious to me that there seems to be only this one bill, she doesn't seem in imminent danger of any other bills, so why that one, why that amount. As you say who would run for public office with a that, knowing that it would be public record and as you also pointed out she could have sold or stopped her work on the planning commission and various other committees to get a 'real job' instead of the low low pay that comes to planning commissioners. But she didn't which leads me to believe that there was more to this than her choosing or not able to pay and that makes me want to give her the benefit of the doubt.
It also reminds me that this is what our government was designed with checks and balances, it was designed for people, knowing that everyone makes mistakes, large and small, known and unknown.
I am not arguing that we dismiss personal responsibility but just that we don't let ourselves be swayed by
It is a shame that someone with such a history of civic responsibility and passionate investment in social and environmental justice is a person just like anyone else and had events or circumstances which spiraled. Its more of a shame that this could keep such a great person with such a great history from doing a lot of good for our county.
I can't argue with your logic or concerns that someone with such a personal financial bill does not inspire your confidence in their fiscal abilities. I can only say that for me it is the combination of all the elements which makes a good political leader and I look for a bit of everything including as you said her experience and her good heart and I take this in stride with that as it does not change her political stands or the time and effort she has put into this county through the years. Thanks for the blog I enjoy reading it.

Russian River Rattina said...

anonymous, you seem to be a highly thoughtful & compassionate person. On the one hand, I do believe that voters should look at the big picture.

On the other hand, Ms. Furch's competitors (Jim Maresca, Tom Lynch, & Maddy Hirshfield) are also highly qualified, caring, & committed people with long histories of public service to Western Sonoma County. I'm having an awfully hard time deciding & must admit that this helps me narrow down the field.

Also, I didn't mean imply that Ms. Furch should "get a real job." But public service (like pursuing one's art, spending more time with one's family, starting a business, or simply not wanting to work for "the man," are CHOICES which often require serious financial & material sacrifices. Hundreds of people in West County make these choices & sacrifice their potential earning power every day.

My personal heroine, Vesta Copestakes of Forestville, makes only an extremely modest living from publishing her wonderful "West County Gazette" & raised her daughter in a teensy hovel which she fixed up herself over the years. Yet I'm quite confident that she pays her property taxes in a reasonably timely fashion.

$10K per year for a home purchased 7 years ago would indicate some pretty fancy digs, even when you figure in fees. Thanks to Prop. 13, our tax assessments are based on what we originally paid for our homes plus a few "special assessments." Which is why I can't understand why she didn't sell the place, rent out rooms, whatever she needed to do to pay the taxes before they got her into this mess.

Anonymous said...

Hirshfield behind "the day":
http://www.sonomawest.com/articles/2008/01/24/sonomawest/news/news1.txt

Anonymous said...

For another perspective:

http://www.northbayist.blogspot.com

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