COLAB’s Michael Brown Doesn’t Get Democracy

COLAB Government Affairs Director Michael Brown has a lot to say about the political left — at least, what he thinks the left is. After reading comments that he provides on behalf of the organization’s mostly anonymous membership, one could presume that liberals are godless, elitist snobs with no wherewithal to understand good governance.

I read his recent column, “Our awful sacred civic duty,” on CalCoastNews. It was the kind of rhetoric you would see from a manic street preacher with a megaphone, warning citizens of the end times. It’s not a viewpoint you would normally see from a labor organization spokesperson. He warns readers of liberals and the “enviro-socialist” movement, taking aim at the middle class, the “dream of home ownership,” the “cohesive intergenerational family,” and our “heritage.”

“It is instead an epochal struggle for the very survival of America and civilization,” he writes. That’s an actual quote. Referring to the left as the “alt-left,” Brown believes they are “seek[ing] to undermine human progress of the last half of a millennium.” How? By discussing global warming, which a majority of climate scientists agree is real and catastrophic; by embracing “radical” identity politics, a concept that’s existed since the 1970s to describe political positions based on interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify; by placing emphasis on “political correctness,” formerly known as “respect”; by promising things people should have, like “free” healthcare, college and retirement. Why shouldn’t Americans have access to these basic, invaluable services? Brown doesn’t say.

In his column, Brown determined that the threat to America and civilization is the unholy alliance of “leftist tax exempt foundations, unaccountable permanent government bureaucrats, arrogant academics,  a corrupt and ideological media, and oligarchical public employee unions.”

COLAB, the organization Brown represents, is 501(c)(6) non-profit, which is tax-exempt. By his own definition, Brown was a “permanent” government bureaucrat who was able to keep his job as Executive Director for the County of Santa Barbara after a lengthy and legal history of workplace harassment. According to Santa Barbara County, Brown’s involvement in their public employee union allowed him to opt for a “golden handshake” pension plan, which awarded two years of service credit after he retired. Brown’s column is featured on an unabashedly ideological website that his organization is financially backing with advertising. Somehow, America and civilization remains unscathed.

Then, he takes aim at left-leaning organizations, such as 350.org, Indivisible, SLO Sense and SLO Progressives for allegedly “recruiting swarms of followers to show up and disrupt conservative officials’ district town halls, office hours, and other events.” The problem is that none of the organizations he mentioned specifically encourage people to “disrupt” events featuring conservative officials.

Brown should know a thing or two about disrupting events with conservative officials, given he was escorted out of a Board of Supervisors meeting in January for yelling, “Point of order!” Prior to that instance, Brown has interrupted several county meetings by invoking “point of order” because supervisors disagreed with his public comment.

But there is one thing in common between all the organizations that Brown singled out. They all have a resoundingly strong and simple message: show up. They’ve asked their members to show up and speak at important events. That’s called democracy. Brown sees this clear exercise of democracy as a threat to natural order. When he learned that progressives were planning to express support for a liberal county supervisor to be chairman of the board, he placed the following on one of his weekly updates:

One person’s “intimidation” is everyone else’s free speech.

You would be hard-pressed to find any urgent bulletins from progressives, alerting members that “far right partisan hack” Michael Brown will “intimidate” the board. Why is that? In SLO County, opposition to the current configuration of the Board of Supervisors is narrowly tailored to opposition of conservative policies, not personalities — and that should be commended. But Brown does the opposite. To Brown, it’s not about liberal policies or ideas. It’s about putting an end to liberals that crave the destruction of civilization. Who would embrace that school of thought?

On March 30, COLAB and Brown will be hosting their 8th Annual Dinner and Fundraiser with featured speakers District 1 Supervisor John Peschong, District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton and District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold.

According to Californians Aware, a non-profit that educates the public on public forum law, any event featuring a quorum of board members could pose significant Brown Act issues. Three of the five supervisors serving the BOS constitute a quorum. This is problematic, since two of the three supervisors have disclosed — albeit reluctantly — that they’ve had ex-parte communications with Brown on a number of occasions. According to event organizers, the event will not be taped and the press is not allowed to enter. Nothing to see here.

For a seasoned bureaucrat that he is, Michael Brown has a peculiarly dark and incomprensive view of democracy. Now imagine this view encompassing public policy. Worried yet, actvists [sic]?

Author: Aaron Ochs

Aaron Ochs is a local columnist, entrepreneur and founder of SLO Truth. Ochs is also a member of the SLO Progressives club.