On March 7th, the County of Orange posted a recruitment notice for the position of Senior Legislative Analyst in the County CEO’s Office of Legislative Affairs. The recruitment period for this $74,000 to $131,000 per-year job will close on Monday, March 18th. According to the County, the position now in need of such a rapid recruitment period, has been vacant since 2010.
According to the job posting:
The County of Orange, County Executive Office (CEO), Legislative Affairs Unit has a challenging opportunity for a proactive, results-oriented manager with substantial general government, legislative, public affairs or inter-agency coordination experience. As a member of the CEO Legislative Affairs Unit, you will play a vital role in ensuring that the County is proactive and informed of pending legislation; provide comprehensive and timely analysis of pertinent legislation; and interact with and develop internal and external partnerships.
The Senior Legislative Analyst will provide County department coordination by acting as the communication liaison between County departments and Orange County Legislative Advocates. Responsibilities may include:
- Making recommendations based on quality research and analysis to the County Legislative Affairs Manager, CEO and Board of Supervisors on legislative issues
- Conducting State Budget analysis in coordination with various internal stakeholders including, but not limited to, CEO/Finance and Budget Division and County Departments
- Monitoring the Joint Budget Conference Committee and legislative activity during the budget process
- Preparing and communicating/presenting informational reports that provide in-depth analysis on a variety of legislative issues to the CEO and Board of Supervisors
- Maintaining central contracts, internal tracking reports, and meeting coordination
- Building effective partnerships within and outside of the organization
- Performing other services to the CEO and Board of Supervisors as determined by need
The last person to fill this position was Donna Grubaugh, who left the position on December 31, 2010.
For years the County has been struggling with budget cuts and layoffs and one of the places where the CEO chose to trim the fat was with this position. The County Board of Supervisors is currently engaged in contract negotiations with all of its bargaining units. Throughout that process the Board has steadfastly claimed poverty, with the mantra of “We must live within our means.”
Given this reality it seems troubling that this vacancy would suddenly appear on the docket. We think we have figured out why.
Just two weeks ago, at the request of District 3 Supervisor Todd Spitzer, the Board of Supervisors decided to spend an additional $25,000 annually to join the Association of California Cities—Orange County. The cost will be paid by $10,000 in cash and the assignment of $15,000 (in-kind) staff support for the production of the First Annual Community Leaders Summit. This is of course on top of the more than $120,000 paid annually to external legislative lobbyists, membership in the California State Association of Counties, and a staff of three people.
Three months ago, District 3 Supervisor Bill Campbell retired and his former Chief of Staff, Laura Cunningham found herself without a job. Voice of OC has highlighted previously the pattern in county government for the staff of Supervisors, both current and retiring members, to be routinely assigned to previously vacant, or non-existent, positions in the county bureaucracy. In most, if not all cases, these placements result in a significant boost in pay for individuals with seemingly little experience with their new assignments.
Cunningham has until the middle of this year to find a new job at the county if she wants to preserve her 2.7% at 55 pension benefit. After that time, she would have to start over at a much lower benefit available to new hires with the county.
We have been told by sources in the Hall of Administration that the position of Senior Legislative Analyst was opened specifically to provide a position for Laura Cunningham to land. It also appears that the timing of the recruitment, opening just three days after the approval of the membership in the Association of California Cities, provided the county with the “urgency” to fill the position since the existing staff in the Legislative Affairs office cannot absorb, into their current workload, the new responsibilities of producing a conference for the California Association of Cities—Orange County. The short recruitment period seems to imply that the County already hss their candidate in mind.
Maybe we’re just cynical, but it looks to us like the County plans to pay up to $131,000 plus benefits for an additional management position so that a former Supervisor’s Chief of Staff can coordinate a conference for the California Association of Cities—Orange County.
We hope we’re wrong, but let’s see how long after the search closes that Laura Cunningham is hired into the position that the county has not needed for two years.