The first of the Board of Supervisors’ “listening sessions” to gauge the breadth of Riverside County business losses and economic turmoil stemming from the coronavirus public health lockdowns, as well as other issues, will be held on Sept. 29.
On Tuesday, the board approved a tentative schedule for the sessions, which Supervisors Kevin Jeffries and Manuel Perez directed the Executive Office to arrange last month.
“This will be a slow process of listening and trying to get a grip on the challenges we face,” Jeffries said at the time. “There are some who want us to move faster on issues and jump on the bandwagon right away. But … we need to build a consensus and have thoughtful, deep discussions. We will be moving slowly and carefully on this.”
The first session is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 29, with additional sessions on the calendar for Oct. 6, between 5:30 and 8 p.m., Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and at the end of the board’s regular meeting on Nov. 10.
The supervisors and Executive Office staff noted that the schedule may need to be modified, but the public will be notified in advance.
Other than the board meeting on Nov. 10, which will be at the County Administrative Center in Riverside, the locations of the other sessions have yet to be confirmed.
In addition to in-person testimony, the county will be inviting the public to participate via phone. Further details will be provided ahead of each session.
“Unemployment, economic distress, loss of life, business closures, rental and mortgage difficulties, children distance learning with working parents and many other impacts will have a lasting effect for years to come,” according to a board statement. “For these reasons and more, the intent of the board listening sessions is to hear directly from those most affected.”
How to improve county government services in response to prevailing needs will be at the forefront of discussions, according to the supervisors.
Possible racial inequities in policing, health care delivery and education were among Perez’s main concerns when he joined Jeffries in calling for the sessions.
Each one will begin with an overview of the county budget, after which agencies’ responsibilities to the public will be described, and participants will be given allotted times to address the supervisors and staff.
“The path we need now is to listen first, discuss, review, then put items on the agenda,” Jeffries said.