Thursday Jun 23 2011
Community Portrait: Dan Sokol a volunteer watchdog over community government
By: Story and photo Michael Kirby
You might not recognize him on the street because he’s not a flashy guy, but if you are a frequent reader of the Auburn Journal you will recognize his name. Dan Sokol has written hundreds of letters to the editor published in the Auburn Journal since moving to Auburn 34 years ago. “I do admit that I am somewhat limited in my letter writing to the one letter a month policy,” Sokol said. You might not agree with Sokol’s opinion, but you could not deny that his points are well written and well thought out. Sokol has run for city council several times and regularly attends meetings of the Auburn City Council, Placer County Board of Supervisors and the Placer County Water Agency board. In 1977 Dan Sokol made Auburn his home, moving from San Carlos. Before retirement Sokol was a groundwater geologist. “I worked for the federal government, the State of Idaho and for several large corporations in that capacity and I did some consulting,” Sokol said. In the mid-1990s, first the City of Auburn then the Auburn Recreation District each wanted to create landscape and lighting assessment districts, which Sokol opposed. Sokol attended meetings and worked to halt the special districts. “The Landscape and Lighting District fight taught me that you could make a difference,” he said. Sokol then discovered a group that believed as he did about taxation and joined the League of Placer County Taxpayers. The mission statement on their website says that the League of Placer County Taxpayers is dedicated to promote efficiency in government for lower taxes, to lessen regulations of individual and private enterprise and to require all taxes and assessments to be voter-approved, all philosophies Sokol subscribed to. He has been a member ever since, serving as president, board member and currently vice president of the 600-member group. Sokol was also involved in Measure A in the early ’90s to limit Placer County Supervisors’ salaries to $30,000 per year. “I feel a responsibility to represent taxpayers, to be a watchdog, making sure that tax money is not wasted or over-collected,” Sokol said. “It’s a volunteer effort, a satisfaction for me.” One of the strong points in Sokol’s ability in this area comes in part from his career, producing engineering or scientific reports. “In each case, in each report, I had to differentiate and make clear what was fact, what was interpretation and what was opinion,” he explained. The 85-year-old Sokol is a World War II veteran, involved in the VFW Auburn Post 1942 and a past commander, and member of SIRS, Sons in Retirement. Sokol and his wife, Jenny, have just moved to Roseville where Sokol has already looked into joining Friends of Roseville, a grass roots citizen’s action group, where his work will continue with new causes in his new community.