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Backdoor Maneuvers

ON JULY 11 we wrote about a very fishy Consent Calendar Item which had its origins going back to March: 

Item 4ab). “Adoption of Resolution Authorizing a Title Change and Salary Revision of General Services Agency Director, Salary No. D46B to Director General Services Agency, Salary No. 6298; Re-Establishment of the Classification of Director Social Services, Salary No. 6214 and Amending Position Allocation Table as Follows: Budget Unit 5010 - Add 1.0 FTE Director Social Services.”

Check that again: “Title Change and Salary Revision” of the General Services Agency Director. The title is being changed from “General Services Agency Director, Salary No. D46B” to “Director General Services Agency Salary No. 6298…” And no names, no salary change numbers in the item’s title or description.

Back in March, based on credible info from a senior source at Low Gap, we wrote that an agenda item at that time proposed to create a Department Head position for Information Services. Item 5C on that March agenda would create a Director of Information Services (Chief Information Officer) at a mere $278,678 (almost the cost of two deputies with patrol vehicles). The staff report for this item was a masterpiece of double talk including this gem: “The creation of the stand-alone department will not require the addition of any staffing resources at this time. With the Executive Office’s formation of a Fiscal and Administrative unit, this stand-alone department would be utilizing this unit to support the common departmental and administrative tasks, thereby reducing the common administrative overhead required of a stand-alone department.” Adding a highly paid Department Head apparently doesn’t count as additional staff resources. It’s just another unnecessary use of funds to reward a loyal insider. 

This plot is further complicated by the recent sworn court declaration from Sheriff Matt Kendall which was part of the reason he wanted his own lawyer to dispute an apparent insider plot to take over his law enforcement computer system:

Kendall: “In 2019 I was contacted by the Sheriff’s IT Manager who advised me that he had been contacted by a deputy in the County Executive Office, Janelle Rau, in the parking area of the County Administration building. Rau told the Sheriff’s IT manager that she was moving to take over the Sheriff’s IT and it was simply a matter of when.” 

. . .

“[Later] I learned that the item [to hire an IT person for the Sheriff’s dispatch operation] had not gone forward [to the Board Agenda] and that Rau had pulled the item off the agenda and told Human Resources she wanted to go in a different direction. When Undersheriff Brewster confronted Rau and asked her what happened she denied any knowledge of the events which resulted in the matter not being heard by the Board. When Undersheriff Brewster explained that she had pulled the item, she stated she had forgotten, however and gave no further explanation.”

. . .

“On March 23, 2021 there was a Board Agenda Item 5c to be heard on proposed changes to the County’s Information Technology Department. In reviewing the budgeting instructions we received, we discovered that $286,000 was allocated for ‘enterprise IT.’ It appeared as though the effect of these budgeting changes would be the restructuring of County IT, the creation of a new position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the takeover of the Sheriff’s IT by the County IT.” 

* * *

In yesterday’s (Tuesday, August 3) big announcement by CEO Angelo of yet another major re-shuffling of the CEO’s expensive deck chairs we saw the following announcement:

“Appointment of Janelle Rau as Mendocino County’s Director of General Services Agency. Janelle Rau has been appointed as the General Services Agency (GSA) Director effective July 25, 2021. Ms. Rau has been a county employee for 22 years. Ms. Rau has served as Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) for Mendocino County for the past 6 years. During her tenure as DCEO, she had operational oversight and responsibility for: County wide competitive bidding and contract quality control, real property administration (including purchasing and/or surplusing property), Central Services Division/Purchasing Agent, Information Services Division, Facilities and Fleet, Capital Projects, Board of Supervisors/ Clerk of the Board, Executive Office/Administrative Services Division, as well as served as liaison to County departments. Ms. Rau began her employment history with the Board of Supervisors in 1999, where she served until promoted as the Central Services Division Manager for the GSA in 2005 and continued in that role through 2015. As the General Services Agency Director, Rau will oversee the agency and its annual operational and Capital Improvement budget. ‘As a proud long time Mendocino County resident, I appreciate the Board’s and CEO Angelo’s confidence in me and my abilities and am honored to lead such a great team.’ Rau said. ‘I look forward to working with the Board of Supervisors and CEO on their strategic goals and priorities that will allow the County to continue to focus on excellent public service to our community’.” 

Connect the dots however you like, but these kinds of backdoor maneuverings are what probably pushed the Sheriff into filing suit against the County. They are underhanded, designed to enrich the CEO’s top loyal staffers, and probably illegal and all seem to stem from The Executive Office, not the Board of Supervisors, certainly not the Sheriff. 

Since the Supervisors obviously are kept in the dark about all this backdoor activity, it’s no wonder that the Sheriff said he “didn’t put the coin in this jukebox,” doesn’t trust the CEO’s office or staff, and isn’t comfortable with vague assurances from a Board of Supervisors that has no control over their CEO and her staff.

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