Lucille Lyon, a division chief for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, has been named Orange County’s new public guardian. Lyon, who has more than 35 years of experience, will also serve as the county’s assistant public administrator.
The Board of Supervisors must formally approve the appointment. The board is scheduled to vote July 26, and if approved, Lyon’s first day will be July 29, according to a memo county Chief Executive Officer Tom Mauk sent county supervisors.
Orange County Public Administrator John S. Williams was fired by the Board of Supervisors from his appointed job as the county’s public guardian last month after being hounded by accusations of mismanagement, questionable promotions and a claim filed against the county that accuses Williams of negligence in the handling of the multimillion dollar estate of TapouT co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr.
Assistant Public Administrator/Public Guardian Peggi Buff has already been removed from her position as a result of the county’s investigation into the department. [Reportedly, Buff is OC DA Tony Rackaucas’ fiancé.]
Orange County’s Public Administrator/Public Guardian has been a department under so much fire county supervisors voted to split it into two departments; approved a ballot measure that gives voters the option to make the public administrator an appointed, not an elected position; and repealed a county ordinance that makes the elected public administrator the ex-officio appointed public guardian.
Williams has denied any wrongdoing. The county spent months slowly stripping control of the departments from Williams while he refused to step down.
Williams remains the county’s elected public administrator. Williams is paid $153,206.40 a year to head the combined Public Administrator/Public Guardian departments – a paycheck he will keep despite losing half of his job. Longtime county watchdog Shirley Grindle argued that paying Williams for his public guardian role is an illegal gift of taxpayer funds since Williams is not doing the job he is being paid to do.
The public guardian handles the affairs of Orange County’s ill and elderly who have no one else to care for them. The public administrator handles the estates of those who die without legal heirs.
Bill Mahoney, a retired deputy chief executive for the county and an attorney with probate experience, was hired in April as a temporary stopgap to help revamp the struggling Public Guardian and Public Administrator departments.
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But according to a staff report to county supervisors, that arrangement was not working.
“Recent operational challenges that have arisen as a result of continuing to have John S. Williams as the appointed public guardian” prompted staff to recommend firing Williams and hiring Mahoney to replace Williams until a permanent replacement could be hired.
If approved by supervisors, Lyon, a former Orange County supervising deputy public guardian, will replace Mahoney.
Lyon also served as chief deputy public guardian for Riverside County and is past president of the California Association of Public Administrators/Public Guardian, according to her résumé. She holds a master of public administration from California State University, San Bernardino and a bachelor of arts in political science from UCLA, according to her résumé.