The first three stories deal with the salary proposed by Supervisors Bates and Nguyen for our potential new County Executive Officer. Discussions regarding salaries must be done in public by the Board. Consequently, here are three perspectives of the dialogue, found in the OC Register, the San Juan Capistrano Patch, and the Voice of OC, respectively.
The first and fourth articles below address the Latino Health Access reaction to what the Health Care Agency management will be proposing to the Board in the near future. I had a very productive private session with Dr. America Bracho last week. I fully appreciate her nonprofit’s purpose, the communication issues, and her zeal. However, I prefer to let managers manage and I look forward to their rationale when this matter comes before the Board. The topic is covered by the OC Register and the LA Times, respectively.
The fifth and final piece is a continuance by the Voice of OC on the accounting methodology followed by the clerk-recorder. I was advised by Peter Hughes, the County’s Internal Audit Director, during yesterday’s Board meeting, that I should remain calm while he or someone else reconstructs the records.
Supervisors disagree on new-CEO salary
The board also hears from supporters of Latino Health Access, unhappy over a loss of county funding.
By ANDREW GALVIN
Toward the end of a meeting that lasted more than seven hours on Tuesday, Orange County’s Board of Supervisors agreed that they would like to hire Chandra Wallar to be the county’s top manager, but they couldn’t agree on how much to pay her.
Wallar, the chief executive officer for Santa Barbara County, asked for an annual salary of $290,000 to take the same job in Orange County. Three of the five members of the board said they wouldn’t be willing to pay her that much.
Supervisor John Moorlach said he’d be wiling to go as high as $275,000 as long as a $15,000 one-time relocation allowance was removed from the proposed contract with Wallar that was negotiated by supervisors Pat Bates and Janet Nguyen, who acted as an ad hoc committee of the board.
Supervisors Shawn Nelson and Todd Spitzer said they didn’t want to pay more than the $254,000 earned by Orange County’s previous CEO, Tom Mauk, who retired in August.
Bates and Nguyen agreed to talk again with Wallar to see if she would accept an amount that would be agreeable to a majority of the board.
Wallar’s contract with Santa Barbara calls for a salary of $228,000. That county has a population of about 431,000, compared with Orange County’s 3.1 million.
Earlier in the day, a group of more than 100 supporters of Latino Health Access, a Santa Ana-based nonprofit, came to the board meeting to express their displeasure at the loss of county funding.
America Bracho, the group’s CEO, told the board that it had far exceeded goals set in a 2011 contract for mental health outreach work. She questioned why $400,000 in funding was removed from her organization and distributed to other groups by the county’s Health Care Agency.
After supporters of Latino Health Access spoke to the board for 20 minutes, Nguyen asked the Health Care Agency to provide the board with answers to a series of questions, including, "Have we ever reduced funding for a program that is not only meeting the contractual obligations but also exceeding them?"
Some supporters of Latino Health Access said after the meeting that they felt unwelcome, partly because Nelson, the board chairman, initially said the board would go into closed session before taking comment from the public, which would have required the supporters to wait several more hours before speaking.
He relented after Nguyen and Spitzer asked that the supporters be allowed to speak before the closed session.
Still on the minds of Bracho and her supporters were board meetings in 2011, when the contract was approved only after the nonprofit agreed to change the name of its Promotora outreach program to include English words. Promotora is a Spanish word for community health worker.
Moorlach and Nelson had questioned the use of the Spanish word for a program that was to reach out to all segments of the county population with the aim of identifying and treating early signs of mental illness.
The name was changed to Community Outreach Services/Promotora program.
Contact the writer: agalvin
County’s Pick for CEO Plays Hardball in Salary Negotiations
After a departmental sex assault scandal prompted the last county CEO to resign, the supervisors’ pick for a replacement is asking for $290,000, nearly $40,000 more than the county’s last chief officer.
Orange County supervisors took a straw vote today endorsing the hiring of Santa Barbara County’s chief executive officer to do the same job here, but salary may be a sticking point.
The supervisors unanimously endorsed the hiring of Chandra L. Wallar as CEO, a position that has been filled by Chief Financial Officer Robert Franz since Tom Mauk resigned in July, a casualty of the political fallout from the prosecution of former county executive and Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante on sex charges.
Wallar wants about $290,000 in annual salary and has agreed to pay for all of her pension contribution, a key for Orange County officials who want to lead the way on the reform of retirement benefits.
Mauk’s annual salary was about $253,000, but he did not have to pay for all of his pension contributions. The increased salary would compensate for the extra pension costs.
Wallar also wants $15,000 in moving costs. Her current salary is about $232,000.
Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who negotiated with Wallar along with Supervisor Patricia Bates, told the board that the overall compensation for Wallar would be less than Mauk’s.
Supervisor Todd Spitzer said he called Wallar this weekend and she told him she did not want Mauk’s salary.
"She said if you offer me Tom Mauk’s salary I am not interested," Spitzer said. "I don’t want to lose Chandra, but I don’t want to move to $290,000… I just don’t think it’s justifiable to bring her in at a greater salary than the prior CEO."
Complicating the discussion was the $300,000-plus annual salaries for CEOs in San Diego, Riverside and other area counties.
Supervisor John Moorlach said candidates would still find Orange County more attractive even at a lower salary because there aren’t a lot of other issues facing the area.
"Orange County is a fun little runnin’ machine," Moorlach said.
Moorlach suggested offering Wallar $275,000 annual salary while dropping the relocation-cost perk of $15,000. Moorlach also supported Nguyen’s suggestion that instead of an automatic raise of 5 percent after one year that it be a merit-based raise up to 5 percent.
Nguyen and Bates were directed to ask Wallar if she would accept the new terms. It appears there’s an urgency to wrap up the deal quickly.
"Chandra Wallar was adamant that we resolve this today. We can’t wait three weeks (until the next board meeting)," Spitzer said.
Spitzer noted that Wallar was eager to finish negotiations quickly because her name was leaked to local reporters, which caused her problems with her current employer.
"She said, ‘I need to get this resolved," because if we don’t hire her she has to patch up her relationship with her board," Spitzer said.
Before today’s meeting, Moorlach said county officials did not go out seeking a woman to replace Mauk, but it was a nice bonus considering the morale problems that resulted from the allegations about Bustamante, some of which date back to 2003.
Bustamante has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting seven female employees while he was an executive in the county Department of Public Works and awaits trial.
– City News Service
Salary Negotiations With Proposed OC CEO Break Down
By NORBERTO SANTANA JR.Voice of OC | 0 comments
Negotiations between Orange County supervisors and Santa Barbara County CEO Chandra Wallar seemingly went off the track Tuesday after Wallar apparently issued a demand for an up-or-down vote.
After a tense exchange, supervisors gave her that.
They vote unanimously that they wanted her as CEO but were never able to reach agreement on how much to pay her.
Toward the end of Tuesday’s session, even Supervisor Pat Bates, a key negotiators, seemed to publicly walk away from the deal.
“We’re not recommending it. We’re not making a motion,” said Bates, who had come under significant criticism from conservative leaders like the Flash Report’s Jon Fleischman (a member of the Voice of OC Community Editorial Board) for her earlier stated support of a salary of more than $300,000 to match nearby counties like San Bernardino and Riverside.
At one point, supervisors suggested that Supervisor Janet Nguyen, another negotiator, call Wallar on her cell phone to issue a counter offer.
That never happened.
Since Voice of OC broke the story last month that supervisors were quietly courting Wallar, the sticking point has been over her pension.
County supervisors are insisting that all labor groups pay their employee share of annual pension contributions, but negotiations with Wallar became tense when they applied that demand to the county’s top post.
Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson and John Moorlach have been adamant that they do not want to pay more than the $262,000 total compensation they were paying former CEO Tom Mauk.
For the first time since Voice of OC reported on negotiations, supervisors openly confirmed Tuesday that the issue is over Wallar’s pension.
And while Nguyen and Bates argued publicly that Wallar would indeed pay for her full pension obligation, the salary package they proposed for her — $290,000 — far exceeded Mauk’s, and the votes were not there.
At one point, Moorlach said he might agree to $270,000 but only if Wallar gave up the $15,000 moving bonus that was being offered.
Supervisor Todd Spitzer said the message from Wallar, who faces repairing her relations Santa Barbara County supervisors, was clear:
“She made it clear to me that if there isn’t interest in moving up from $254,000 she’s not interested,” Spitzer said. He quoted Wallar as saying, “If you offer me Tom Mauk’s salary, I’m not going to take the job.”
On Tuesday, supervisors said that Mauk’s former salary is the most any future CEO is going to get.
Please contact Norberto Santana Jr. directly at nsantana and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/norbertosanana.
O.C. might slash funding to model healthcare nonprofit
Head of Latino Health Access speculates that proposed cut may stem from an earlier dispute over the organization’s use of Spanish. It serves all ethnic groups.
By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
Orange County officials are considering slashing funding to a Santa Ana nonprofit that has become a community model for its public health outreach efforts in the county’s poorest neighborhoods.
The head of Latino Health Access said she believes questions over the group’s funding have their roots in a dispute two years ago when county supervisors questioned why the nonprofit had to use the word "Latino" in its name and referred to its outreach workers as "promotores."
On Tuesday, supporters of the Santa Ana-based nonprofit made an impassioned plea to supervisors to work with the county’s healthcare agency to leave funding intact when the group’s grant comes up for review later this year. The issue has yet to come before the supervisors.
Funding could decrease from about $500,000 to $100,000, which would severely limit the abilities of the promotora program, in which outreach workers go into the county’s poorest neighborhoods and connect residents with services, supporters said. Though many of those neighborhoods are predominantly Latino, the group works with all ethnic groups.
Under the county proposal, the remaining $400,000 would be split among four agencies, including Western Youth Services and the Child Abuse Prevention Center.
America Bracho, executive director of Latino Health Access and a former physician in Venezuela, said she was told the move was an effort to consolidate programs.
Bracho, who was accompanied by more than 100 supporters Tuesday, called the proposed change a "vague and unusual" way of budgeting the money. She asked supervisors to work with the Orange County Health Care agency to change the decision.
"Here, the county is taking money from a program that works … and giving it to agencies that didn’t ask for the money," she said.
Bracho said she was told in November that the grant would not be renewed and informed of the new allocation in February.
"They are not protecting what works," she said.
In June 2011, when supervisors were considering the nonprofit’s two-year contract, they questioned the use of "Latino" in its name and wondered why the organization uses Spanish in reference to its promotora program.
"Does it have to be called promotora program, and why?" Supervisor John Moorlach said at the time.
Supervisor Shawn Nelson asked why the nonprofit was named Latino Health Access if services were available to all.
"I think it’s extraordinary that we would even allow that to happen," he said at the time.
Bracho said the controversy over the names might have "played a part" in the funding decrease.
"That was the beginning of this nightmare," she said.
Moorlach said the questioning of the use of the word promotores was an "innocent inquiry."
The supervisor said he hasn’t yet discussed the nonprofit’s contract with staff but said the issue will be before the board in coming months. He called the protests an "overreaction."
"Dr. Bracho is kind of using a cannon to shout her message out," he said. "Maybe a little bit of backroom diplomacy would be a better strategy."
Supervisor Janet Nguyen asked county staff to look into the reasoning behind the proposed change. In particular, she asked if it is a general practice to cut funding from an organization that is meeting contractual obligations.
"They’re going beyond," she said.
During the first year of the contract with the county, the organization was obligated to provide outreach services to 8,130 people countywide but instead reached out to 26,435, according to Latino Health Access. The contract is set to expire June 30.
Gina Torres started working with Latino Health Access 11 years ago as a promotora — a community healthcare advocate trained by Latino Health Access. The 48-year-old single mother said the value of such programs is immeasurable in communities such as Santa Ana, a densely packed city of nearly 350,000 where options are limited for low-income households.
Torres said she has held exercise programs in apartment complex courtyards and has knocked on doors to inform people of available programs.
"We go where no social worker goes," she said.
Still More Questions About Restricted Clerk-Recorder Fund
By ADAM ELMAHREK
Basic accounting of a restricted fund for the Orange County clerk-recorder’s office has been so inadequate that county officials have struggled to “reconstruct” the financial paper trail for the multimillion dollar account, Internal Auditor Peter Hughes acknowledged Tuesday at the regular Board of Supervisors meeting.
The revelation came after Supervisor John Moorlach asked Hughes why it had taken so long for auditors to review the special account, known as Fund 12D. Apparently Moorlach had requested a review of the fund a year ago.
But according to Hughes, auditors haven’t been able to finish the accounting because of shoddy record keeping at the clerk-recorder’s office. “We had a great deal of difficulty in accounting for funds, revenues and expenditures for the 12D fund,” Hughes told the board.
The clerk-recorder’s office has fallen under increasing scrutiny lately as Voice of OC revealed in recent days that Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman, a former clerk-recorder staffer, was paid $24,000 for a draft report. It has been heavily criticized for, among other reasons, containing an entire section largely plagiarized from the Wikipedia entry on Orange County, errors included.
If that wasn’t enough for supervisors this week, an internal audit of a building purchase found that officials in the clerk-recorder’s office and other county staff failed to inform supervisors that needed renovations of the property would cost more than the building and that the true source of the money to buy the site was Fund 12D.
Both the building purchase and the contract to pay Brandman happened while Tom Daly headed the department. He was elected clerk-recorder in 2002 and held the office until elected to the Assembly in 2012.
In the meantime, questions have focused on interim Clerk-Recorder Renee Ramirez. Supervisors have said that Ramirez oversaw Brandman’s contract and authorized payments to the councilman, decisions that don’t bode well for her bid to land the permanent position. Ramirez and 10 other candidates are competing for the appointment.
With the questionable payments to Brandman, the audit of the building purchase and the revelation that the clerk-recorder’s office failed to account for spending under a legally restricted fund, Moorlach found it difficult not to become upset during the board meeting.
“This report is extremely disturbing. I am not calm on this at all,” Moorlach said of the audit.
The money in the restricted fund comes from document recording and certified copy fees, about $3 million to $4 million a year. Under state law it can be used only for specific purposes, such as document retention. Yet the clerk-recorder’s office has only had an “informal” approach in justifying the fund’s expenses, Hughes said.
“From an auditor’s perspective, what you look for is a methodology for allocating costs for restricted funds,” Hughes said. The fund was “difficult to actually readily audit. And their documentation of the relationship of the expenditures to the source of revenue was, um, lacking,” he said.
The lack of documentation to justify expenditures under a restricted fund also violates a county auditor-controller policy that mandates each department keep such records, Hughes said.
Although he wouldn’t name the former clerk-recorder, Moorlach made it clear that he blamed Daly for a mess that is just beginning to surface. And he questioned whether Daly had stonewalled auditors so they wouldn’t release their report on the clerk-recorder until after his Assembly election victory.
“One thing I did not expect when I came here as a supervisor was to get half-truths. Someone tells me half the story, not the whole story, and then says in a response, ‘You should have asked me more questions.’ That is just unbelievable,” Moorlach said. His reference was to Daly’s official response to the audit regarding the building purchase.
Hughes said that internal auditors are still coordinating with the clerk-recorder’s office to finish reconstructing the documentation for Fund 12D. He said that a report on the truth about the fund should be ready by spring.
Moorlach noted that candidates for the clerk-recorder slot should know that piecing together the fund’s incomplete financial puzzle will be an important responsibility.
“Yes, that is true; they should have a heads-up on that,” Hughes replied. The next clerk-recorder probably should have “a CPA maybe, to lead the charge on that.”
Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek.
FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS
The OC WEEKLY provided an interesting gesture to a new resident in town with “A Newcomer’s Guide To Orange County For the New Boss At The Old Times – Welcome, Lennie LaGuire.” It covered topics like Ghosts, Art, Surfing, Theater, Fun, Power, Caffeine, Music, Lunch, and Drugs. I guess this is what some members of the journalism industry do to each other. It makes me glad that I rarely show up in the OC WEEKLY. The final topic, written by John Hall, was “The Reg.” Here is how the topic and the piece concluded (with some minor editing):
I see one disconcerting point on your resume: you worked at the Register in 1985. What the [heck] is that? [Editor’s note: hey, Jon – keep it nice.] I mean, welcome back to the county! And wait till you see what they’ve done to the Reg! The paper’s handguns good/minimum wage bad editorials are as goofy as ever, and the Letters page still reminds you of those kidnap letters that aRE CUT & pasTD 2gether. But its serious sections have been repeatedly gagged . . . since you left. The paper stopped publishing its evening edition five years ago, dumbed down its format, and then dumbed it down again. Print size is bigger (next, we figure, is Braille), articles are shorter, and they’re all ain’t-life-a-hoot? stories about fluffy bunnies and chimps with hiccups. “Residents of a Huntington Beach Neighborhood Are at Their Wits’ End Over Wascally Wabbits” is a typical only-in-the-Register headline. A year before the county went bankrupt, a New York Times article said Register editor Tonnie Katz calls her readers “customers” and tries to service those customers with the light and fluffy stories they want. She published lead articles on OC’s jacarandas in bloom and how movie popcorn was loaded with fat. Meanwhile, a Register reporter sat on John Moorlach’s tip that the county was going bankrupt. But a paper can print only so many stories about theater food. And then the paper begins printing stories about itself. An article last year began: “Register reporters are experts at finding stories and telling them. Scott Duncan found Meaghan Edwards and Mandi Harvey with their bunnies during his day at the fair.” My sources at the Register tell me its executives are considering dumbing it down even more and putting Regis the News Bunny on the front page. Consider it a kind of welcome to-Orange-County gift from your friends at the Reg.
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