From MARK SCARAMELLA
The Jaundiced Eye – TheAVA.com
The Mendocino County Grand Jury gets extra credit for persistence, if not effectiveness.
For the fourth year in a row, the Grand Jury has concluded that Fourth District Supervisor Kendall Smith is a thief, and this time they seem to be saying that she should be removed from office.
I hesitate to bore readers with yet another recitation of the particulars of Ms. Smith’s petty criminality because it’s been hashed out in all its excruciating glory in several previous Grand Jury reports and in several stories the Anderson Valley Advertiser.
Basically, the Grand Jury determined that Ms. Smith claimed travel reimbursement to and from Fort Bragg when she hadn’t traveled, but stayed at friend’s house in Ukiah. There was more, but the Grand Jury, in an overabundance of caution, gave Ms. Smith the benefit of the doubt and only asked her to pay back the most completely documented and clear amount. (There were other amounts that were less obvious due to the County Auditor’s and the Supervisors’ self-serving “interpretations” of the travel reimbursement policy that the Supes themselves wrote for themselves.)
So even after trimming back the amount to the bare minimum that Smith clearly owed, Smith first said she’d repay it, then reneged on that promised and refused. One of her more outrageous reimbursement claims was for “pet care” of her pet while she was at “work” in Ukiah.
The Supes get $68,000 per year plus perks which bring it up to the range of $90-$110k depending on the Supervisor District. One of those perks is a monthly travel stipend which reimburses the Supervisors for commuting to work. The amount of the stipend is tied to the distance the individual Supervisors travel to Ukiah. (One is forced to wonder what will happen when Dan Hamburg or Wendy Roberts is elected Supervisor in January. Hamburg lives very near Ukiah, much closer than Colfax; Roberts lives on the Coast, much farther than Colfax. Will the reimbursement “policy” be revised based on who is Supervisor? Don’t ask.)
When the Grand Jury first looked at the Supervisors’ travel reimbursements back in 2007, they concluded that “some Supervisors have a casual and loosely defined understanding of what is considered to be ‘official County business,’ resulting in substantive travel policy abuse.”
Those Supervisors were John Pinches, David Colfax and Kendall Smith. To his credit, Supervisor Pinches didn’t quibble over what the Grand Jury said were overpayments to him and he quickly paid it back.
But Supervisors Colfax and Smith, instead of paying back the rather small amount given their generous public salaries, angrily denounced the Grand Jury.