MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — July 27, 2011

Plenty of items were discussed at yesterday’s Board meeting.  The item below was picked up by the Voice of OC.  The agenda item to appoint Lucille Lyon as the Public Guardian requested that the Board of Supervisors waive the County’s requirement that the department head be a resident of Orange County.  With that waiver, we could appoint Ms. Lyon, who was selected by the CEO after a recruitment process that generated a strong response with many fine candidates.  If waiving the residency requirement was necessary, then it should be for the public good.  A person is not eligible to be a countywide elected official unless he or she is a registered voter in the county.  When the current Public Administrator resigns in January 2012, then what?  After doing a little personal research, I felt more comfortable voting against the proposed candidate (I also would have been fine with continuing the matter).  It’s important to have a strong technician.  Ms. Lyon has a strong resume in that regard.  It’s also important to have a good manager.  Being passed up recently as the most likely internal candidate for Los Angeles County by someone from the outside (formerly from Orange County) gave me some cause for concern.

I want to wish our new Public Guardian well.  Turning this department around is a top priority for the County.  And I’ll be watching (er, Supervising).

Supervisors Appoint New Public Guardian

The Orange County Board of Supervisors Tuesday appointed Lucille Lyon, who most recently served as a higher-up in Los Angeles County government, to the vacant public guardian position.

Lyon replaces John Williams, who held both public guardian and public administrator positions. Earlier this year, Williams was stripped of his public guardian position and resigned as public administrator after long-running allegations (see http://www.voiceofoc.org/countywide/county_government/article_426541a0-45c7-11e0-b4c7-001cc4c002e0.html) that he mismanaged the offices.

Lyon would assume her new role July 29, according to a staff report. The board voted 3-1 to appoint her to the position, with Supervisor John Moorlach dissenting and Supervisor Janet Nguyen absent for the vote.

Most recently, Lyon was a division chief for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and also served as interim deputy director for the department.

However, in a strange twist, Lyon was passed over as the permanent hire for that position for someone who had previously worked under Williams, Moorlach said. This caused Moorlach to vote no on her appointment.

"I don’t want to have one John Williams problem and replace it with another John Williams problem," Moorlach said.

Williams was ensnared in controversy (see http://www.voiceofoc.org/countywide/county_government/article_426541a0-45c7-11e0-b4c7-001cc4c002e0.html) beginning in 2009 when two scathing grand jury reports criticized his management of the county agency, which oversees complex estates of those without heirs as well as those of the indigent.

Later on an appellate court found that Williams mismanaged the estate (see http://www.voiceofoc.org/blogs/article_2d03450a-c011-11df-9367-001cc4c03286.html) of deceased Charles "Mask" Lewis. Williams had inappropriately usurped control of the estate, the court found.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

 

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