There’s no real surprise that a resume from an internal candidate has made it to the top of the Tom Mauk-replacement stack per this Register story yesterday from Tony Saavedra: Supervisors name CEO candidate (outside Paywall here).
Why, after the failed negotiations to hire CEO Chandra Wallar away from Santa Barbara County, would any sane professional seeking a bigger job here have left their resume in the pile considering that Wallar subsequently lost her six-figure job? This ineptitude on the BOS’ part failed her, failed us and shrunk the candidate pool to the extent that only a minor OC Department head is now the apparent and only finalist. Considering how long Mauk and his #2 have been gone and that the burn rate‘s about normal, there also seems no reason for any haste in filling this position.
We’ll never know who screwed up (everyone has their suspicions), but the Wallar controversy sent a clear message around the national candidate grapevine that you’d better be damned careful when dealing with formerly bankrupt Orange County and its Supervisors as they might not be trusted, or at least not very discreet, or smart, or financially savvy to have your best interests in mind. And it’s more than a little scary that this or these same Supervisor(s) are relied upon to negotiate really big numbers with their public employee unions.
Norberto Santana at the union-funded Voice of OC has a provocative story today about a report on Mike Giancola that at least Supervisors Nelson and Moorlach are yet to review: Supervisors Haven’t Read Investigative Report on CEO Pick. Santana wrote that Giancola
has been accused of being involved with a salvaging operation at the county landfills and using county workers to do private work for him, according to sources and documents filed in a whistle-blower’s lawsuit against the county.
Giancola has other anomalies to explain. It 2011, even though a County “hard” hiring freeze was
in place, his Waste & Recycling Agency accepted the internal transfer of Matt Harper, Janet Nguyen’s Deputy Chief of Staff onto his Waste & Recycling staff. Harper, an unsuccessful candidate for the 72nd Assembly District in 2012 (he dropped out due to an inability to raise funds when more qualified candidates enter the race) had only a realtor’s license, school board experience and a DUI on his resume, but assumed the unit’s position of Public Affairs Manager with a staff of two. Giancola’s Deputy Director for Government and Community Relations, Chip Monaco, told Santana the “position was needed”. Giancola’s unit seems to have been a clearing house for a number of other County employees needing to stay on the payroll and its generous retirement plans. Said Santana in 2011:
Denis Bilodeau, chief of staff to Supervisor Shawn Nelson, was briefly transferred to OC Waste & Recycling after his former boss, Supervisor Chris Norby, won a special election to the Assembly. And Chip Monaco, former chief of staff to Supervisor Pat Bates, also recently moved from the fifth floor to the trash agency despite the hiring freeze. While Mauk acknowledged Harper’s move has triggered similar questions, he denies politics played a part in the transfer.
Giancola’s Waste & Recycling unit came up in yet another Voice of OC story going back to 2010. Santana nailed them again:
This week, Chip Monaco — chief of staff to County Supervisor Pat Bates — is moving back into the department as a deputy director despite a countywide hiring freeze. OC Waste & Recycling is actually where Monaco came from two years ago when Bates’ last chief of staff left for the private sector. Down the hallway from Bates’ office is the newest county supervisor, Shawn Nelson, who is setting up shop and assembling a staff. So where’s his chief of staff coming from? OC Waste & Recycling. Denis Bilodeau, who actually left the fifth floor a few months ago when his last boss — County Supervisor Chris Norby — was elected to the state Assembly, also hung out for several months at the county’s trash department. He was an engineer working on landfills until coming back to the fifth floor this month to become Nelson’s chief of staff.
It’s not uncommon to see high-level staffers to county supervisors get absorbed into the county machinery when their bosses move on or when personalities don’t mesh. And it keeps happening despite an all-Republican fifth-floor administration that is often passionate about the importance of shrinking government.
Before BOS Chairman Nelson and peers rush into hiring their latest candidate for County CEO, let’s determine if Mike Giancola is just another example of a County regular whose real job is to do the political bidding of electeds. AND if these stories of some pretty nasty baggage trailing him are true, it will be time to really start questioning judgement in more than one Fifth Floor office. Based on the story excerpts above, Giancola is looking more than a little like the CEO the County just unloaded for over a quarter million dollars.
Good ol’ boy Giancola appears to have condoned all this employee shuffling, some of it outside established hiring freezes — his obscure Department (with its four plus? person Flakking operation) seems adept at flushing these people through the system when favors need to be met and some good fella needs to be parked for a period of time for some paper pushing, networking or landfill touring until a more important position opens up. We’d also bet that any number of these positions weren’t properly posted and advertised according to County hiring guidelines.
In the private sector, hiring and employee transfers generally serve a purpose related to ultimately enhancing an organization’s bottom line. Not so here. When an individual’s job disappears, or the funding’s gone or s/he’s proven incompetent to perform their work, their next move is to the door, not Mike Giancola’s cubicle farm.
The BOS broke the CEO hiring process by badly handling, and then seriously damaging the career of their last candidate. Let’s not just settle for this one.
Update (05/02/13): Supervisor Moorlach just wrote of the Voice of OC story:
The Voice of OC weighs in on the next potential CEO for the County and a lawsuit that he has been a
party to. Because Kathleen Tahilramani is a MOORLACH UPDATE subscriber, she has e-mailed me her concerns about her lawsuit with the County. Consequently, I have done as much independent research as I can on the matter to form a conclusion. Once the report from independent counsel is available, our County Counsel will determine whether or not my colleagues and I have the legal right to review it in detail or whether we are only entitled to the summary conclusions.
Update (05/02/13): Santana reports his story on KOCE (PBS SOCal):
Update (05/03/13): Martin Wisckol at the Register has caught up with the story this afternoon: County CEO frontrunner subject of proposed legal settlement (outside Paywall here).
In the piece, Supervisor Todd Spitzer makes an excellent point regarding Giancola’s involvement in the referenced settlement: “A settlement and a finding of no wrongdoing are potentially inconsistent” — that is, if Giancola is guilty of nothing, why is the complainant, Kathleen Tahilramani, a former human resources manager for the waste department and subordinate to Giancola, STILL being offered $350k for whatever wrong she incurred from a County Manager who’s presumed faultless in the incident? If Tahilramani’s issues with Giancola were “exonerated by a neutral third-party review” per Supervisor Bates and four of the five Supervisors believe they were “unfounded”, shouldn’t they have been aired in court in order that the County be saved the six-figure settlement?