A Citizens Panel to Restructure County Government NOW

Redwood Valley

To My Fellow Concerned Citizens:

Now is a the perfect opportunity to seize the initiative.  The CEO system has failed us. The CEO arrangement tends to accumulate too much power in too few hands, leaving the Board of Supervisors disconnected from the mechanics of day to day governance. The costs of the CEO system are exorbitant when the past two CEOs, Ball and Mitchell immediately added additional staff at high salaries. They placed another layer of administration between Department heads and policy makers on the Board of Supervisors and made it more difficult for the Supervisors to determine what were the problems, where were departments under-performing, and finding out from the workers themselves how they felt changes, reforms and economies could best be made.

If the past is any guide to future performance, the BOS is likely to futz around for months before they recruit another CEO or decide to revert to the CAO structure that served the county for a much longer period. We recommend that a Citizens Panel be set up, independent of the Board of Supervisors, and selected by the citizens themselves to study all aspects of the question, hold public meetings to discuss their ideas and receive input, and prepare a report.within a few months recommending changes to the structure, if they determine they are necessary, and  suggesting a procedure  for finding a new  Chief of Government, whether CEO or CAO.

We have many citizens qualified to serve on such a committee:  Here are a few with much to offer:

Dave Smith – owner of Mulligan Books and former CEO of a most successful corporation
Mark Scaramella – a trained management specialist and journalist for the AVA.
K.C. Meadows – Editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal
Dotty Coplen  Attends all BOS meetings and knows where the bodies are buried.
Janie Sheppard – lawyer and local activist
Joe Louis Wildman – local political wonk
Cliff Paulin – attorney, environmentalist

Tasks they might undertake:
1.  CAO versus CEO:  the legal ramifications
2.  CAO vs CEO: the track record in the 58 counties of California
3.  What do management specialists have to say about the two alternative structures?
4.  Which system is likely to encourage out the best performance from employees?
5.  Are our Supervisors capable of taking on the added burdens a CAO might entail?
6.  Will we need smarter and better trained Supervisors under the CAO system?
7.  Should the CAO focus first upon fiscal management?

Lets organize and get this study started.


Alas, a citizens’ panel would be appointed by the Supervisors from the same crowd that fills all the dysfunctional boards with which we contend. Then, the dysfunctional BOS would have to approve. We need some serious dynamite to blast our way to government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Don’t hold your breath.

So here’s how ya do it. With great fanfare, but without consulting the Supes, you create a committee of the most prominent concerned citizens you can find and hold open, public meetings. Everything’s on the table, including moving to a chartered county. When broad agreement emerges, it becomes the basis for a public campaign. Then talk to the Supes, but don’t suppose they have the last word. Suppose we the people do.