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A squabble over who should have the power of proclamation at the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors led to harsh words between supervisors Tuesday, but the status quo remained in effect following the meeting.

Board chair Chuck Winn had sought to relinquish the power of the chair to approve proclamations, which the board hands out as its highest level of recognition to start every regular meeting and designates a certain day, week or month for noteworthy causes, achievements or events.

But at a Feb. 1 meeting, previous board chair Supervisor Tom Patti and two other supervisors voted to keep that power under the chair’s purview, and an attempt by Winn to revisit the topic at Tuesday’s meeting was scrapped at the advice of the county counsel.

Supervisor Kathy Miller had criticized the board’s proclamation policy, saying she had requested ones for Pride Month and others to give recognition to the county’s LGBT community, but that Patti, a Republican who is running for a seat in Congress this year, had blocked those efforts in his time as chair.

After several speakers during the public comment period at Tuesday’s meeting called on the supervisors to revisit the policy, Patti made the unusual move of giving public comment himself and accused Miller, a Democrat, of “political gamesmanship.”

“You have a divisive political operative that sits right next to me on my right,” Patti said.

San Joaquin County supervisors discuss the process of issuing proclamations during the Feb. 15 board meeting. (Video courtesy of San Joaquin County/YouTube)

Division on display

Patti said that Miller’s request to proclaim the month of June as “Pride Month” was not listed on the agenda last year because it was submitted too late.

Miller responded that Patti was having a “typical temper tantrum.”

She said Patti failed to mention that proclamation requests from July 2021 weren’t answered until late September, making it too late to add items to the agenda.

“He can split hairs however he wants, but the bottom line is the list speaks for itself … those requests were made by my office last year,” Miller said.

Winn at the Feb. 1 meeting said he sought to relinquish the power to decide which proclamations would come before the board because he didn’t think one supervisor should have any more power over another. He proposed an agenda item for Tuesday’s meeting that outlined new guidelines for the process.

The proposal included a list of pre-approved causes and events that have already had proclamations issued by the board and would have required a unanimous vote among the five board members for any new proclamation to be issued, rather than it only needing to get the approval of the board chair. However, the item got scrapped from the agenda at the advice of the county counsel.

Miller’s chief of staff Camille Zapata said once an item is approved by the board, an item can only be brought back for discussion and possible re-vote by a supervisor who voted in favor of said item.

Miller and Winn were the two no votes on the proclamation guidelines at the Feb. 1 meeting, while Patti and Supervisors Robert Rickman and Miguel Villapudua voted in favor of them.

A recording of the board’s Feb. 15 meeting can be viewed online.