Monday, May 10, 2010

Humboldt County Grand Jury report calls for part-time supervisors, stronger administrator

Donna Tam/The Times-Standard
Posted: 05/08/2010 01:27:10 AM PDT

A recently released grand jury report is saying Humboldt County needs a stronger chief administrator and a part-time Board of Supervisors to be more efficient.

The grand jury of Humboldt County released a report late Wednesday that said the county's current management system is one that “leads to erratic accountability, ineffectual assignment of responsibility and a weak system of checks and balances.” The report goes on to recommend the county change from a County Administrative Officer system to a Chief Executive Officer system, which it said would give the CEO more executive power.

Clif Clendenen, Humboldt County 2nd District supervisor and board chair, said he doesn't think the idea is a suitable one for county operations and would actually be less efficient.

”That's a massive rework of government, and I don't think that will suit the residents of Humboldt County,” Clendenen said. “I don't think that's what we've evolved to, and I don't think that's what people want.”

According to a grand jury press release, testimony was taken from several current and former public officials and business executives. A call to grand jury forewoman Sue Hemmann was not returned by late afternoon Friday.

”Several counties and most cities have a manager system of government, in which department heads report to the manager -- a professional -- who reports to the elected board or council,” Hemmann said in the written release. “Humboldt County, instead, has a chief administrative officer who serves as a coordinator, but department heads report to the Board of Supervisors. This adds considerably to the work load of the board, whose primary mission is to set policy. The grand jury concluded that a CEO system would streamline management, reduce the work load on the board and increase department accountability.”

The grand jury made four recommendations: the Board of Supervisors should establish the position of CEO/manager to oversee day-to-day operations, including the authority to hire and terminate county department heads; the board should confine its efforts to setting county policy and other activities; the position of supervisor should be part-time and limited to the duties statutorily required and the setting of county policies; and all appointed department heads, except for legal counsel and independently elected officials, should report to the CEO/manager.

Currently, the supervisors earn about $72,000 a year, while the CAO earns about $164,000.

According to the office of County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes, Smith-Hanes will be commenting on the report in June through a formal response.

The board must formally respond to the report in 90 days.

Clendenen said Smith-Hanes already has many of the duties outlined in the report, and Smith-Hanes' work allows the supervisors to pay attention to their constituents, instead.

”I think Phil does a fantastic job, and Loretta (Nickolaus) before him, doing the day-to-day,” he said. “I'm not sure an executive officer system would be good for the county -- they won't be answerable in the same way to the electorate.”


To get the report on county government management

Write: Grand jury of Humboldt County

Room G03, County Court House

825 5th Street

Eureka, CA 95501




1 comment:

Sovereign Civilian said...

The Humboldt defense attorney turned District Attorney employs what feeble skills he possesses in protecting the local officials' marijuana and sex trade participation. Reporting rape, extortion, and conspiracy; Gallegos nods, says he believes you, and will meet with you to discuss the same and then he and his secretary artfully avoid contact. Heaven, help the fools.