Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Williams won't leave?!

     [Note: Voice of OC has since UPDATED this story. Use link above.]
     Last March, Orange County's embattled Public Administrator John Williams staved off a political execution by agreeing with the Board of Supervisors to retire on Jan. 23, 2012, which was Monday.
     But despite that agreement – and an order to change the locks on his office door – Williams showed up for work anyway.
     On Tuesday, he was officially told not to come back.
     "The Board of Supervisors accepted your resignation as Public Administrator of Orange County effective January 23, 2012 up receipt of your letter of March 9, 2011," wrote County Counsel Nicholas Chrisos in a letter to Williams.
     Williams' attorney and spokesman, Phil Greer, couldn't be reached for comment.
     Williams has been a controversial figure in county government since 2009 when two scathing grand jury reports criticized his management of the offices of public administrator and public guardian, which oversee the complex estates of deceased people without heirs and those of indigent people.
     The spotlight on Williams became intense in late 2010 when high-ranking assistant district attorney, Todd Spitzer,was fired by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas after looking into allegations that Williams was mishandling a case involving a domestic violence victim.
Enthusiastic Republican Peggi Buff
     The controversy was fueled by the fact that Rackauckas' fiance′, Peggy Buff, was Williams' second in command.
     The Spitzer affair also drew a heightened focus on how Williams ran his office. An investigation determined that the county faced potential legal liability over mismanaged estates.
     In the wake of the investigation, Buff was quietly moved into a six-figure job at the county despite a hiring freeze because of her relationship with Rackauckas.
     Meanwhile, county supervisors, like John Moorlach, who were one-time political mentors to Williams as a fellow Republican quickly turned on him. They stripped him of his public guardian role. And appointed an executive manager to take over operations for the public administrator post.
     It was the third crisis between county supervisors and a countywide elected official in recent years.
     In 2008, supervisors had to figure out how to get then-Sheriff Mike Carona to step down. By the next year, they had to figure out how to get rid of then-Treasurer Tax Collector Chriss Street. And by 2010, Williams was under pressure to leave.
     County supervisors can't remove an independently elected office holder like Williams.
     So whether it's a federal indictment in Carona's case, or a bankruptcy-related lawsuit for Street or Williams' mismanagement, these countywide elected officials can't be forced to resign. They can only be recalled.
     That was the road that Williams was on back in March until his attorney, Phil Greer, was able to broker his resignation.
     Under the terms of that deal, as described by Chrisos in his Jan. 24 letter to Williams, he was able to stay in office with his full salary of $153, 206 even though all his official duties were handled by others appointed by county officials.
     For example, Lucille Lyon was appointed Public Guardian in July.
     Supervisors also placed an initiative on the June ballot that would transform the Public Adminstrator back into an appointed position.
     On Tuesday, Moorlach said Williams – whom he once supported – had become a poster child for the campaign to turn the post back into an appointed slot.
     Yet Chrisos' letter also noted that county supervisors had previously agreed to keep a lid on Williams' mismanagement of his agency by not releasing the results of their independent investigation to the public.
     They even gave authority to CEO Tom Mauk to retain Williams as a private consultant during the transition, according to Chrisos letter.
     Yesterday, supervisors apparently ran out of patience.
     "The Board has fulfilled its portion of the obligation," Chrisos wrote. "Therefore, the purported oral notice to the CEO and to me via your counsel that you desire to rescind your nine-month old resignation, is not effective."
     "Your final salary check and any leave payout will be mailed to you at your address on file. The CEO will separately determine the need to retain your services as a consultant."


Anonymous said...

Now that's the Williams we know so well! I wonder if Tom Fuentes put him up to it!

Anonymous said...

What a public servant!

Anonymous said...

Go, go, go Johnny go. Johnny be good.

I fear no fish said...

All anyone needs to know about this guy is that his attorney is Phil Greer.

B. von Traven said...

We expected that Williams would not leave. We were given a heads up that he would refuse to leave and that a recall would be started. We'll just see what happens. In the meantime, Williams is making life very difficult for a his Republican cronies on the Board of Supes, who supported him all those years despite his manifest incompetence and stupidity and lack of qualifications. It serves them right.

Anonymous said...

John does a good job. Love his hair!

Anonymous said...

Didn't George Costanza do the same thing?

Anonymous said...

hell, if greer is his attorney then he is going to get a huge payday

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