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County Notes: Incumbents & Candidates

Buried deep in Monica Huettl’s recent report in about the August Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council is the following statement which the very reliable Ms. Huettl says came from Supervisor McGourty’s “notes” that he submitted to the advisory council because he couldn’t attend the meeting. 

“McGourty is working with Supervisor Ted Williams to develop a plan for the County Finance Department, which would be headed by a hired, rather than elected, manager.”

First, at their last meeting almost a month ago now, McGourty and Williams agreed with the rest of the Board that “staff” was supposed to work on this “plan,” not them. 

Second, the Board explicitly made no decision on how it would be “headed,” because, among other reasons, that would be up to the voters, not the Board.

And third, McGourty said that he and Williams hadn’t had time to do what their budget ad hoc committee had been tasked with, i.e., give specific instructions to the Auditor on what financial reports they want because, McGourty said, they hadn’t had time previously as they were busy working this year’s budget in June (which wasn’t true — they had plenty of time). 

Yet, here they are (apparently) finding time to do the opposite of what the Board decided (the Board directed staff to do it) while wasting their precious four-week “summer recess” ignoring what they were tasked to do. 

Basically, Supervisor McGourty managed to contradict board direction and himself at least three times in just one sentence!

McGourty and Williams get away with this nonsense because very few people follow this stuff closely enough to notice.

* * *

Adam Gaska, a member of the Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council and candidate for First District Supervisor, helpfully sent along the full set of notes that Supervisor Glenn McGourty provided to their recent Council meeting to clarify his remarks about their Finance Department plans.

McGourty: “Plan to create County Finance Department: Both Supervisor Williams and I are developing a long-term plan for how Mendocino County can move from the present model of an elected Treasurer Tax Collector Auditor Controller to a County Finance Department (like Yolo and Marin Counties) as a way of insuring that people handling the county’s finances are qualified for the job, rather than elected. The justification is that presently there are inconsistencies in reporting our accounts, delays in critical reports and difficulties in knowing what our county financial balances are. Any changes will require a county wide vote to create such a department.”

So at least they acknowledge that voters would have to approve this stuff. But McGourty does not point out that the process is expected to take up to four years, or more. As we understand the Yolo County arrangement, they have an appointed (not elected) Chief Financial Officer (CFO) which may be what McGourty has in mind. But it took three tries to get voter approval in Yolo so that could extend the timing to even more than four years, after which lots of things could change. Back in December when the Mendo Board rashly consolidated the Auditor and Tax Collector, a retired Chief Administrative Officer from Yolo County told the Board that their consolidation (into a CFO) succeeded because the incumbent Auditor was “an absolute superstar” who was a full participant in the consolidation. Have the Supes identified Mendo's superstar who would lead Mendo’s conversion? Do McGourty and Williams expect staff (whom they've frequently insulted and snubbed) to add this to their already heavy workload? Or will they just try to get the voters to approve it and then figure it all out later if the voters approve — an unlikely outcome given the public’s distrust of this current Board. Not to mention how much could change in four years or more.

We also noted the irony of McGourty again insulting the current financial staff saying that the new department/position would “insure that people handling the county’s finances are qualified for the job, rather than elected…” That could easily apply to the (elected) Board itself. It would be nice if the people handling the county’s management were qualified for the job rather than elected.

* * *

So far no one has filed to run against Second District Supervisor Maureen ‘Mo’ Mulheren in the 2024 supervisors election. Her first term will be up in late 2024 like Supervisors Dan Gjerde and Glenn McGourty, both of whom have announced that they will not stand for re-election, Gjerde after three terms, McGourty after just one. Mulheren’s facebook page is already entitled “Re-electe Maureen ‘Mo’ Mulheren Mendocino County Second District Supervisor.” 

We’ve heard that some influential people in Ukiah are unhappy with Mo’s job performance and would like to see Mulheren replaced. But so far nobody has popped up. (The filing deadline is around December for the March primary, we think.) If nobody runs against Mulheren, according to a theory of a local commenter recently, that would mean that voters are happy with her performance. Not necessarily. Given the County’s financial and staffing problems, the lack of candidates might mean that nobody wants the hassle, even for the generous pay and perks. 

Typically, candidates for the Ukiah area Board seat have come from either the County Planning Commission, or the Ukiah City Council, occasionally from local citizens with a purpose.

Mo’s appointed rep to the County Planning Commission is political newcomer Cameron Ramos, 23, a young Ukiah Realtor who might seem to be too young to run for local office, but in fact has already been am (unsuccessful candidate) for the Ukiah City Council in 2021. 

Then you have Ukiah City Council members Mari Rodin, Josephina Duenas, Doug Crane, newly seated (attorney) Susan Sher, and former Boonville resident Juan Orozco. In the last Ukiah City Council election incumbent Jim Brown came in fourth and Thao Phi came in fifth, so they might be considering a run for Supervisor as well. 

A woman named Jenny Kimbler got into some trouble in 2021 when as a candidate for an open City Council seat she was quoted as saying, “Breonna Taylor deserved to die because her boyfriend was a ‘piece of shit’.” And, writing about people protesting police violence, Kimbler was quoted saying “Light them up. Shoot them, run them down. I don’t give a damn anymore.” So she probably wouldn’t make a serious candidate for Supervisor.

Previously, Ukiah realtor Joel Soinila ran for the Ukiah seat in 2020 with an emphasis on budgets and finance and he still has an active supervisor candidate facebook page from back then.

A remote possibility might be a tactic occasionally employed by large corporations who want to quietly remove senior execs without controversy is called “confidential executive outplacement.” 

There are executive headhunter firms who, for a nice fee, will secretly arrange to have an unwanted executive to get a very attractive job offer from another firm so that the unwanted executive simply takes a new job, and to the outside world the unwanted exec has simply quit for a better position without anyone (other than the company who hired the outplacement firm) knowing they were “outplaced.” 

In Mulheren’s case, for example, since she’s a very big promoter of the Great Redwood Trail and Ukiah area tourism in general, somebody could secretly arrange for her to get a nice job offer from, say, Senator Mike McGuire (who’s also terming out at the end of 2024 and presumably looking for another political position in the area) or the Coastal Conservancy to become Director of the Great Redwood Trail Agency (if McGuire himself doesn’t get it) or perhaps become Director of Visit Mendocino County. Then Mo could resign for a new, more highly paid and lower-stress position leaving the Board seat open for whoever wants to run. Nobody needs to be the wiser. If Mulheren is uncomfortable with the bad personnel and financial circumstances at the County these days she might well consider such a transfer.

Then we might see candidates like Soinila or Brown or another newcomer come forward.

Of course this is all pure speculation. 

One Comment

  1. Adam Gaska August 24, 2023

    It has been painful to watch the public criticism pf the ACTTC in multiple forums, not just the BOS meetings. I can’t say if she is qualified or not but it seems like it would a difficult transition for anyone to go from being the second in command of one office to being thrust into running 2 office and losing most, if not all, senior management of both offices and the institutional knowledge they held. Since the BOS and ACTTC are both elected offices, they are colleagues. With co-workers like that, who needs enemies. I am surprised that the ACTTC has stuck in there, to be honest.

    The GRTA did just solicit for a General Manager. Applications closed July 14th. Salary is $120-140 with a good benefits package.

    The GRTA board meet last week, August 17th, and held interviews in closed session.

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