SANTA ANA — On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors established an ad hoc committee to review and correct the findings made by the Performance Auditor in his report on the County Human Resources Department. The committee members will be Supervisor’s Bates, Nelson, CEO Tom Mauk, Human Resources Director Carl Crown, and Performance Auditor Steve Danley.
The report, released last month, included some damning findings citing serious failures to document salary adjustments and promotions of management personnel. Many of the promotions involved senior managers in the Human Resources Department and the office of the CEO. More than a dozen speakers representing current county workers, including some who had been laid off and myself, addressed the Board of Supervisors to express their disappointment that the same managers who sat across the table from them claiming poverty as the reason for layoffs and furloughs, were secretly giving themselves promotions and multiple raises of up to 33% in as little as 6 months time.
The speakers expressed a common request, that the Board rescind the undocumented and potentially unjustified raises and promotions until an independent third party can review and determine their justification. The Board was not willing to go that far, citing the possibility that taking such action might not be legal. While leaving the door open to hiring outside consultants to assist, they also felt that the ad hoc committee would be able to conduct the review.
Supervisors expressed that the blanket recision of raises and promotions just because they occurred during a time of layoffs and furloughs would not be appropriate since justified raises and legitimate promotions would get swept up in the mix.
Board members were clearly disturbed by the findings of the report. Supervisor Nelson asked Danley directly whether he received full cooperation during his audit and if not who didn’t cooperate. Danley responded that initially cooperation was good but towards the end there were documents released that were not made available to his team initially. Nelson indicated that Danley’s response was less candid than the one he had received in private.
Board Chairman Supervisor Campbell, and his colleagues took exception to the comparisons to the City of Bell made by speakers, citing the fact that unlike Bell, the County initiated their own review to identify performance problems and bring them to their attention.
CEO Tom Mauk tried to divert attention to raises and promotions of OCEA represented non-management that occurred during the same time period covered by the review. The problem with his comparisons is that raises and promotions for non-management employees have extensive review and approval processes that wind through multiple levels of management, which does not seem to occur for management raises. The report identified that management has been playing by a different set of rules for themselves.He also tried to minimize the significance of the management raises and promotions citing that the samples reviewed do not represent all management staff. Mauk was barely willing to admit that any errors were made, focusing instead on his confidence that a detailed review would find that all raises and promotions were justified.
The committee will report back to the full Board on a monthly basis.