The Sisterhood Circles The Wagons
by Mark Scaramella, November 18, 2010
When last we visited the $3,087 in untraveled travel reimbursements that Supervisor Kendall Smith lifted from the taxpayers of Mendocino County, The Sisterhood had already gone deep to confuse, delay, defend, and perpetually punt Smith's theft to her sympathetic girlfriends in a variety of public agencies.
County Counsel Jeanine Nadel had been informed by the ladies of the Sonoma County Counsel's Office — whence Smith's uncomplicated theft of public funds had been referred by the ladies of Mendocino County for further complication, that “neither the current Mendocino County travel reimbursement policy nor the state law [DA Meredith] Lintott cites as authority to dock Smith's pay allow the unilateral imposition of a penalty through the offsetting of wages that are otherwise due to a board member. As a result, it would be necessary to initiate some type of administrative proceeding or hearing (e.g. court order) prior to taking such action.”
That was September 19, 2010.
Official Mendocino County has been silent on the subject since then except to deny our claim on behalf of the taxpayers. That claim was aimed at compelling the Auditor, Ms. Ford, to withhold the stolen money from Smith's paycheck.
Smith's theft is now five years old. There are people being held in the Mendocino County Jail for stealing less, much less.
Smith’s heist occurred in 2005 when she falsely claimed reimbursement for what the Grand Jury called “fictitious travel miles.”
In 2006 the Grand Jury directed DA Meredith Lintott to take action to recover the $3,087. Lintott refused, saying that she didn’t have enough evidence of Smith’s “intent to defraud.” Lintott said that if the Grand Jury really wanted the money back they should file in small claims court.
It should be noted here that Lintott and Smith are active Democrats, active among the small cadre of Mendocino County's conservative liberals who, lacking discernible broader political interest, promote and defend each other's personal ambitions. They dominate this County's public bureaucracies, including the Superior Court. Get between any of them and their sinecures and you instantly discover how liberal they are, as we've lately discovered with Supervisor Smith as the fey but grasping apparatus helps her elude accountability. Smith herself once functioned as local aide to Congressman Mike Thompson, the male patriarch of The Sisterhood, and from whom all blessings flow.
Every Grand Jury since Smith's theft was first noted has repeated the demand that the County recover the money. No one has.
In 2008, DA Lintott herself wrote to Kendall Smith’s attorney saying that Smith had claimed reimbursement for business trips between her Fort Bragg home and Ukiah during that time “when there was no actual travel, and when her cost of overnight lodging was little or nothing because she either stayed with friends or in a room which she rented for $100 per month in Ukiah."
So, we have several Grand Juries and Mendocino County's “lead law enforcement officer,” which is DA Meredith Lintott, declaring that Smith falsely claimed the money and that she owes the money and had owed it, at that point, for more than four years.
Still, nothing was done to recover the $3,087.
But last year DA Lintott finally decided to order the County Auditor to recover the money.
County Auditor Meredith Ford refused the direct order.
Ms. Ford said that she didn’t think she had the authority to do it, a claim false on its face considering that Ms. Lintott, with authority as District Attorney to charge crimes up to capitol murder, had told Ford to take the money owed from Smith's pay as Supervisor. If the perp were an ordinary county employee, Ms. Ford probably wouldn't be asking about her “authority” to take the money back.
Ford, of course, is a member of The Sisterhood in good standing. She claimed she needed a court order to withhold the $3,087 from Smith’s pay. Ford asked County Counsel Jeanine Nadel, a key enforcer for The Sisterhood, if she needed a court order to act to retrieve the $3,087 from Smith.
Nadel was on vacation and, apparently, the matter was too weighty for Nadel's subordinates to consider and, of course, Nadel, crucial as she is to The Sisterhood, could be depended on to complicate things, drag it out to protect Sister Smith.
Sure 'nuff, when she got back from vacation, Nadel told Ford that Nadel couldn’t decide the matter in-house because Supervisor Smith, as a member of the Board of Supervisors, was her “client.”
The Sisterhood, like their male affiliates of The Brotherhood (Mendocino County's male judges and the few surviving male department heads) is, as you can see, absolutely scrupulous, Talmudic even.
Nadel turned the matter over to The Sisterhood's Sonoma County branch where Sonoma County Counsel Sheryl L. Bratton wrote back saying, Yep, Mendo does indeed need a court order to get the money.
Since most Mendocino County judges are men except for freshly anointed Sister Anne Moorman and Judge Mayfield who can't be a Sister because she's a Republican, Sister Bratton had essentially said, “Girls, you probably need a man to get the money.”
Our claim filed on September 30 simply asked the County to withhold the $3,087 from Smith's pay, basically the same thing DA Lintott had already ordered. After all, successive grand juries and none other than Sister Number One, DA Lintott, had declared that Smith had stolen the money. They hadn't said 'stolen' of course. That pejorative only applies to run of the mill unelected crooks.
In any event, our claim was again denied because, according to County CEO Sister Carmel Angelo, “it was not presented within six months after the event or occurrence as required by law.” Angelo, it should be noted, recently took a tax paid trip to Reno with Smith. A conference, they called it.
Smith to Lintott to Meredith to Jeanine to Sheryl to Carmel.
Will the circle be unbroken?
On October 14, the AVA appealed the denial saying:
“The damages suffered by the taxpayers of Mendocino County are ongoing and accumulating. They did not end six months after an 'event or occurrence’.”
Also noting that the delays were caused by The Sisterhood, not the claimant.
The Sisterhood is hiding behind wrongly invoked processes to avoid collecting the money from their pal, Sister Smith.
Defendants Smith and Ford have never denied that travel funds were wrongly paid to Supervisor Smith, and the defendants have never denied that the travel reimbursement requested by Supervisor Smith was for (as the Grand Jury ruled) “fictitious commute miles.”
Defendant Smith, and we seem to be talking sociopath here, has stated that she interpreted the board’s travel policy to allow fictitious commute miles to be reimbursable in the amount of $3,087 (or more, the Grand Jury took the route of least amount), that other Supervisors had done the same thing.
This claim is unsupported by any evidence, although Supervisor Colfax, a Smith ally, was also cited by the Grand Jury as chiseling. (Smith and Colfax are the only County officials who have refused to take a pay cut while steadily supporting pay cuts and layoffs for everyone else.)
* * *
On November 4, Ms. Angelo’s “Deputy,” name illegible (presumably a Sister-trainee), denied our appeal for a time waiver.
“Dear Mr. Anderson:
“The County received your Application for Leave to Present a Claim Which Has Been Wrongly Declared Late by Mendocino County on October 14, 2010.
“NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Application for Leave to File a Late Claim that you presented to the County of Mendocino on October 14, 2010, was denied on November 9, 2010 [sic, Ms. Angelo’s letter was dated November 4.] The Application for Leave to File a Late Claim was filed more than one year after the accrual of the cause of action in violation of Government Code Section 911.4(b). Furthermore, the Application for Leave to File a Late Claim does not establish any of the criteria required to permit the filing of a late claim as set forth in Government Code Section 911.6b.
“If you wish to file a court action on this matter, you must first petition the appropriate court for an order relieving you from the provisions of Government Code Section 945.4 (claims, presentation requirement). (See Government Code Section 946.6). Such petition must be filed with the court within six (6) months from the date your application for leave to present a late claim was denied.
“You may seek the advice of an attorney of your choice in connection with this matter. If you desire to consult an attorney, you should do so immediately.
“Please also be advised that pursuant to California Code of Procedure Sections 128.5 and 1038, the County will seek to recover all costs of defense in the event an action is filed in the matter and it is determined that the action was not brought in good faith and with reasonable cause.”
* * *
The warning is a standard paragraph affixed to all denials of claims filed against the County. But even so, for the County to imply that our private attempt to force the County to recover the money from Smith “was not brought in good faith and with reasonable cause” is laughable. The County of Mendocino and The Sisterhood running it, is hardly in a position to judge good faith given their lengthy machinations to protect Sister Smith from accountability, and reasonable cause is rather obvious given the declarations of five grand juries and the DA herself that Smith owes the money.
The fact that no one in official Mendocino County has said one word about this incontrovertible theft of public funds is quite obvious to the taxpayers of Mendocino County who just voted down the Supervisors’ proposed half-cent sales tax increase more than two to one — even though every other sales tax measure in northern California on the November 2010 ballot was approved.
Hi, ho, hi, ho it's off to court we go.
Where we will attempt to get an injunction ordering the County to recover the $3,087 from Smith. Maybe the Supervisors will finally adopt a travel reimbursement policy that requires them to itemize their travel claims, as ordinary employees do and as the Grand Jury recommended four years ago.
If newly elected Judge Moorman of The Sisterhood hears our small claims case, well, we'll be forced to appeal the taxpayer's third consecutive loss.