Unless you read last week's meeting agenda with a magnifying glass, you likely don't know that the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors abolished the county's Human Relations Commission. Human relations are so good in this county we don't even need to discuss them anymore.

I wouldn't have noticed it either -- it was consent item C.12, in 6-point type on page 3 -- if not for a helpful tip from former Times political columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen, whose new job is representing the Building Industry Association but whose incurable hobby is reading lawmakers' agendas.

Lisa V. wrote about this commission in September 2007, her words dripping with irony, when it was shut down amid "allegations of dysfunction, dissent and discrimination." She found that to be at odds with its mission of fostering "peaceful relations in the interest of preserving the public peace among citizens of different races, religions and national origins." It apparently was more of a do-as-we-say than a do-as-we-do group.

Last week's action, better late than never, made that shutdown permanent. It was hardly earth-shattering news, but it made me wonder how many other such committees are meeting to ensure the world spins properly on its axis.


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"A lot," said County Administrator David Twa, who provided a list. There currently are 77 advisory boards that file reports, offer suggestions and propose solutions on various issues for the Board of Supervisors. That would include everything from the Agricultural Task Force Committee, which provides "input and advice to the county on agricultural issues," to the Hazardous Materials Commission, which weighs in "on issues related to the development, approval and administration of the county hazardous waste management plan."

The Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee meets the second Wednesday of every month to propose "points of historical interest for registration," although it's hard to imagine new historical landmarks keep popping up that often.

The Commission for Women gathers the third Tuesday of each month to "identify major economic, educational and social concerns of women in Contra Costa County." There's no such commission for men, which could be a juicy topic for the Human Relations Commission, if there was one.

The Library Commission convenes the fourth Thursday of every other month to "establish a forum for the community to express its view regarding goals and operations of the County Library," which apparently need updating every eight weeks.

All of these groups can be found in the county's Maddy Book, named for the late Assemblyman Ken Maddy. He authored the Maddy Local Appointive List Act of 1975, which provides citizens access to information regarding local advisory boards, many of which are populated by volunteers.

Committees with deadline goals are created with a sunset date. Those broader in nature may exist indefinitely, or until supervisors decide they no longer are functional. A bickering Human Relations Commission qualifies in the latter category.

Anyone interested in learning about the committees, or applying to fill vacant spots, can do so at http://contra.napanet.net/maddybook. Assistant County Administrator Terry Speiker says the county is always looking for volunteers.

I recommend the Countywide Bicycle Advisory Committee. It meets only once a year.

Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com.