Scandal Of The Week

by AVA News Service, April 12, 2017

(Ed Note: This kind of thing happens with enough regularity in public sector Mendocino County, and is just as often kept top secret, that the only way to make the public aware of the more grotesque cases is to publish whatever we get about them. No one in local government will say anything other than the pro forma baloney from the Superior Court printed here. BTW, Mrs. Markham's former husband was David Markham, one of Kenny Rogers’ series of incompetent attorneys, appointed natch, by the Superior Court of Mendocino County.)

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Editor,

On [blank] March, [blank] 2017

[no other letter head, but looks like a All Department Staff email]

“The following e-mail is being sent on behalf of Judge Reimenschneider:

Dear Probation staff:

This notice is to advise you that probation of adult division manager Kevin Kelley has been appointed as acting chief probation officer effective immediately and until further notice. I understand you may have questions; however, we will not be able to provide additional information at this time.

The court and the county appreciate the hard work you do every day at probation and Juvenile Hall. We anticipate that you will continue to do so and that you'll give acting chief Kelley your full cooperation during his appointment.

Please feel free to contact me or Heidi Dunham, County Human Resources Director, if you have questions or concerns.

Sincerely, Judge Reimenschneider”

* * *

Is it bad luck or just bad leadership? The brand new Chief Probation Officer out on paid leave being investigated? Who knows? Of course it's confidential but once again the staff are left hanging, being told nothing as rumors fly of her affair with one of her managers resulting in her third divorce. And the CEO and judges were warned she was a party girl who openly discussed already being fond of the boys "in" the good old boys club at probation. Her own words that she foolishly shared at training with line staff prior to being her being hired but she smoothly turned it all around when confronted and warned by the judges.

She told the entire staff how hurt she was when her new boss told her this "gossip" after she gave up so much to come to Ukiah (better salary) with only good intentions for saving the department.

Like becoming a female chief probation officer at her age with her experience was likely in a larger county. This is what everyone uses as a steppingstone to a better paying county when they can't get promoted in their own county. She was very convincing that she was only here for us, wanting to make things better. We were directed to not discuss the past investigation, everyone gets a clean slate with her. Right.

Well, not quite everyone, she clearly didn't want to include or work with specific managers, supervisors and line staff. She hadn't been here a week before she was changing assignments, shunning and excluding.

It is truly a mystery what she is on leave for right now. It's hush hush, but conveniently thr affair has now come out giving the department staff time to accept the news should she return unscathed and even more empowered.

This woman knows how to "lean in" and "use her womanly ways," which is her phrase. But there must be more than just the sex, divorce and scandal, because following the last year long investigation under the previous chief for sexual discrimination, harassment and favoritism, this department was ordered to attend several mandatory meetings with human resources to "train" on sexual-harassment so everyone was clear per the county it is okay to have sex with coworkers, even married supervisors sleeping with line staff. As long as it isn't connected to promotions or discipline that isn't sexual-harassment and the county only cares about getting sued.

But wait, she just got approval for a new assistant chief and lead supervisor positions and it was obvious to all of us that this boy toy manager is the only one qualified for the big promotion. She completely excludes the other managers from her team, they are openly left out of meetings as she sits in the Superintendent of Juvenile Hall’s office for hours or he sits in her office. It's like being a voyeur on their dates. If you try to discuss work you feel you're interrupting. After all, who wants to talk work?

We staff were told by human resources that it isn't good practice having affairs at work and it could end up badly but as coworkers we just need to accept this in our work environment. But she says she has an open door and we can ask her anything, but because she is so open she also says if she finds anyone "gossiping" about her, it will not be tolerated and they will be written up. She doesn't want to hear negative information about anyone or anything, only solutions if you come to talk to her. Sort of tough to go in and ask her if her affair with the only manager she has leaned on since her arrival seven months ago is going to have any impact on her decision about who should be promoted to that new fat salaried assistant chief position. Perhaps if she was focused on running the department she wouldn't need an assistant since no one has needed one for over 25 years at probation.

This woman got the red carpet rolled out for her when she came here, the CEO basically gave her an open checkbook, a little human resources helper was at her side like a personal assistant, a direct line to give her whatever she needed to get this poor department back on track. But the CEO and judges who hire and supervise her once again underestimated her will and the power of the "boys" club who were clearly in favor the day she started.

Part of the problem is that no one really supervises the chief probation officer. They are an at-will employee but our staff has been told over and over by human resources that the chief can do anything they want. Department staff have risked telling the judges and investigators about improper use of department funds, no accountability or discipline for really bad behavior inside and outside of work by supervisors. But ultimately feedback and directions from the CEO and judges are only suggestions that can be completely ignored by the chief.

They even went so far as to spend lots of money to hire a retired chief to be a "consultant" for the last bad chief but he still wouldn't take a look at what was wrong in the department and fix it. So when that chief "retired" we searched far and wide to get this new out of county chief to ensure no favoritism.

But only one person applied and amazingly it was a woman. How perfect? Of course a woman will protect us from sexual discrimination and favoritism.

Whatever the outcome of this time off for her, we know we won't be told anything. It's confidential. But trust the CEO and human resources and the judges that they have taken steps to ensure it is addressed. Right. For God's sake, what will it take for the probation department staff to get help to heal from years of trauma due to poor leadership?

If Mendocino county would pay competitive salaries perhaps they would get quality department heads and managers. We have become the training ground for everyone to learn and then move on to a better paying county. But the trauma of surviving new leadership to the underpaid lines staff is unreal. Our CEO’s decisions don't seem to be based on getting high performance from happy staff as much as minimizing the fiscal damage of potential lawsuits and wasting lots of money on internal investigations and consultants.

Oh yes, the new chief recently announced we are being sued in federal court by a past female employee, Amanda Carley. Nothing more about why, but we were warned we can't discuss it at work and don't erase your e-mails.

Here we go again.

But I find it amazing as a taxpaying citizen of this county that our CEO is more willing to pay for these investigations and lawsuits, most of which are resolved with a clause that the county will pay lots of money, but the defendant is sworn to secrecy about the outcome and the amount paid. This must have a huge fiscal impact on the budget which ultimately impacts the CEO’s ability to give the working staff raises which would ultimately get us better quality staff and leaders who would stay around and not behave immaturely as they learn how to lead.

Oh my god, and this poor sucker who has to be the interim chief! This should be his opportunity to prove he can lead and fix this new mess but this is quite possibly a setup for the poor guy if she comes back. She already is open about the fact that she doesn't like him, so he is a dead man walking if he doesn't do what she would do. They should have just given the interim position to her boyfriend. He knows what she wants and he won't get punished. If it is already this bad in only seven months, why would they work so hard to keep her there? Everyone knows an employee will do their best during the first year. So if there are problems during that time it won't get better.

Obviously I can't sign this.

I hope you can do some investigating and report on this.

* * *

From the Probation Department’s webpage:

Leadership: Leadership for the Probation Department is provided by the following individuals:

Chief Probation Officer — Pamela R. Markham

Adult Division Manager — Jean Glentzer

Juvenile Division Manager — Kevin Kelley

Juvenile Hall — Brady Bechtol

Business Services — Cathy White

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(Superior Court press release May, 2016)

Pamela Markham appointed as new Chief Probation Officer for Mendocino County

Pamela Markham of Lakeport has been appointed as the next Chief Probation Officer for Mendocino County. Markham will succeed Buck Ganter, who will be retiring in July after serving as CPO since May 2013. She will assume her new duties on July 5.

Carmel J. Angelo, Mendocino County CEO, stated, “We are very excited to have Ms. Markham joining our executive leadership team as the County’s Chief Probation Officer. Her experience and leadership skills will be an asset to the County and will bring a new energy to the Probation Department.”

Markham has a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from Sacramento State University, and is pursuing a master’s degree in justice management from the University of Nevada in Reno. Since February 2014, she has served as probation program manager for the Nevada County Probation Department. Previously, Markham served as a deputy probation officer and as a supervising deputy probation officer in Nevada County. She has also served as adjunct faculty in administration of justice at Yuba Community College. In 2014 she received the Trainer of the Year Award from the Chief Probation Officers of California.

She currently lives in Lakeport with her husband, attorney David Markham, and her four daughters.

Juvenile Court Judge David Riemenschneider, chair of the CPO Search Committee, stated, “We recognize this is a very important appointment and position to fill for Mendocino County; and after a thorough search process involving many people, I concluded that Pamela Markham is the right person for this job. We are fortunate to have hired someone with her experience and qualifications, and we look forward to many years with her as our Chief Probation Officer.”

Markham stated, “I am honored to be chosen as the next Chief Probation Officer; and I am excited to work with the Court, the Board of Supervisors, community justice partners and community based organizations in Mendocino County, as well as the staff members at the Probation Department. I look forward to filling Chief Ganter’s shoes and continuing to implement evidence based practices to promote public safety by reducing recidivism.”

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Pamela Markham receiving "Trainer of the Year" award, 2014, with Nevada County Probation Chief Michael Ertola

11 Responses to Scandal Of The Week

  1. james marmon Reply

    April 13, 2017 at 7:19 am

    I like David Markham, I’ve dealt with him on a couple of occasions here in Lake Co, but he is a lawyer.

  2. Vanessa Reply

    April 13, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    Everyone sleeps with everyone in Mendocino County. HHSA is a cesspool of sexual upheaval including married coworkers shacking up with a third and fourth coworkers, preference given when interviews for promotions come around. It’s disgusting that management continues to turn a blind eye.

  3. POTUS Reply

    April 14, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Thank you for being brave enough to expose the dirty truth.

  4. Joe Hansen Reply

    April 15, 2017 at 9:00 am

    The civil grand jury needs to investigate the county HR dept. To borrow a phrase from Donald Trump, the system is rigged.

  5. Jack Greene Reply

    April 15, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    In response to Joe Hansen’s comment.
    You are 100% correct. The director of HR Heidi D. Is close friends with the adulterous chief Makham. Personally I think she try’s to cover up for her and slowed down the investigation to a snails pace to cover her own errors as well. The favoritism that they all play on a daily basis taints the entire department and county. Heidi D. is just as dirty as the rest of them. If a man would have done this as the Chief he would have been let go the same day they found out. But someone is playing favoritism to cover up for Markham. Shame on you HR. I think that they are equally responsible for the mess she has caused for the county. What consequence did the staff member that she had the affair with get. Or are the playing favoritism with him as well?

    Check out the press release. Seems exaggerated to me. Husband with four daughters and vast experience? Really? Family values at it’s worst. http://www.mendocino.courts.ca.gov/docs/press/2016-0523.pdf

  6. Joe Hansen Reply

    April 16, 2017 at 8:05 am

    She’s formerly known as Pamela LaFountain, with a long history working for the Nevada County Probation Dept and before that the jail. Her previous ex is an investigator for the DA and was also a detective for the S.D. So maybe she can go back to her life up there, particularly if this guy is the father of her kid(s), and put this misadventure behind her. As I recall two of the daughters listed in the ptess release were Markham’s; I think she only has two of her own. She was only married to him for a couple years.

  7. Theresa Reply

    April 19, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Hey…if they can fire Bill O’Reilly with his sexual scandal… Little ole Mendocino county can certainly fire Pamela Markham with her own sex / discrimination scandal with Bechtol. He’s a big cheese and she is just a yokal nobody. Just sayin.

  8. Joe Hansen Reply

    April 23, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Is Bechtol still running Juvenile Hall?

  9. Jack Greene Reply

    April 24, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Does anyone know more about the 5 million dollar law suit regarding Amanda Carly? I heard that it was also regarding a sex scandal regarding the former Cheif Buck Gantor and the same crew of bad boys which are Markham’s boy buds. The common connection with the core issues of trouble is her boyfriend Bechtol. It is his core group that causes most if the issues in probation. And it seems that he is still working although he was having an affair with the Cheif during work hours. Why he wasn’t put on leave baffles my mind….. FYI?.. Bechtol was also married at the time to another person. I feel sorry for his wife which seems to have been forgotten in this mess….. I hate to keep throwing the favoritism card around. But… someone is playing favorites with Bechtol as well as Markham. Buck Gantor palyed favorites with him and it got even worse with Markham… The people I know who are working there are left hanging not knowing if she is coming back. The judges should just let her go , cut their losses and let the good working folk get back to work and move on from this dirty mess. Hey. But this is a county cover that needs to be kept out in the open.

  10. Carmen Reply

    April 25, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    A friend of mine that works at probation and the stories she tells me are very disturbing.

    She is so upset and disgusted, as is most of the department based on her observations with what these two (Markham & Bechtol) have done to the department that she is looking for employment else ware.

    My friend makes a great point. What do you do if she does come back? How do you work under someone that you have lost all respect for? How can she continue to follow a proven liar & cheater? How can you trust her? Well.. I say you can’t. People usually try to prove themselves worthy when they have a new job. It appears that Markham liked the power of her new title. But did not prove to be worthy.

    I have lived Willits my entire life and it stories such as this that puts a stain on our beautiful county. It also is disappointing to have a female behave in the traditional manner that men have done by cheating on their spouses while in power. My friend had high hopes that a female would have done different. Who would have thought that it would be worse?

    According to my friend the department is a joke to other departments. Remember that there are wonderful people living in this county. Too bad she had to embarrass us all.

  11. Katie Reply

    April 29, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    While attending the Mendocino College Plant sale today I over heard two women talking….

    The exact words that I over heard from their passionate conversation was… well…. wait… let’s start from the beginning. I heard her mention Pam Markham and Brady Bechtol to her friend. This caught my attention because of this very article…. so my curiosity was sparked… and I listened to more.’

    She said. ” Come on…. she was the Chief for God sake…. but I don’t understand why they didnt take disciplinary action regarding what they did.”

    The keyword was “they did”. And she mentioned disciplinary action for both. Many people feel that they did not take proper disciplinary action regarding her.
    I thought that this was interesting. It made me wonder how many people in Ukiah are aware of this ugly situation that is on going over in the Ukiah Probation department.

    It seems that people out in the world are still talking about the impact Mrs. Markham has had on the people who work for the county. People still working there lives have been impacted in a negative way. She created a toxic work environment.

    Sorry for eves dropping. But this story is a big deal for this small town.

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