From Dave Smith
UDJ Editor K.C. Meadows writes today (excerpts):
Here at the Daily Journal, in an effort to keep the local citizens informed about the changes at the top of county government as we enter a financial crisis locally, we began this week the process of putting together a Who’s Who of the county’s non-elected department heads. We know that there have been some recent changes in the top slots and we figured the best way to let the public get to know these new and existing leaders is to do short profiles on them which we could run twice a week or so until we got through the list…
What we did not expect was that the county’s CEO, Tom Mitchell, would lead the county government in a blanket refusal to answer our questions.
We were told by one county contact that an email went out this week advising department heads that they should not cooperate. Already we have had an email from County Counsel Jeanine Nadel telling us she will not be getting back to us.
We cannot understand why the county’s top officer perceives this simple request for 10 minutes of his or any department head’s time so threatening. We thought of it as not only a public service but a positive one at that. We realize that some of this information is on the county web site but we wanted to give these county staffers a chance to personalize their responses.
Mr. Mitchell, in a snide email to our reporter, said in response to our request for information that he would like to know who our columnists are and how they get paid and why we don’t do more positive stories about the county.
Mr. Mitchell apparently forgets that he heads a public agency…
We can no longer tolerate such undemocratic and uncivil behavior from our lead “civil” servant. Mark Scaramella’s ongoing series in the AVA on the CEO’s lack of open communication only reinforces our view that we need a much more responsive CEO. Does he know what’s going on? If he has to answer “I’ll get back to you” so often to the Supes, and spend so much money on consultants, is it because he doesn’t have any answers, or are the answers being given “off-line” without citizen oversight in public meetings? Maybe he hasn’t heard that we are transitioning into a new era of openness, transparency and accountability. He needs to hop on the ol’ cluetrain.
The recent change in title from Chief Administrative Officer to Chief Executive Officer is a problem. It feeds the arrogance that an administrator is above the citizens and Supes, and takes its cues from corporate CEO behavior and our recently departed Boy King of the United States. This is top down dominance, not service… and not appropriate for a position answerable to the citizenry. Because administrators run the county like a byzantine firewalled fiefdom, switching back to a more respectful title would help redefine the position appropriately and hopefully open the county to healthy scrutiny. Mr. CEO, tear down this wall!
Action: We need an uproar from our citizenry, asking our county’s elected leadership to force compliance to K.C.’s request.
Turn up the heat! Let the sun shine in!
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