The Fifth Floor’s Recycling Bin

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It’s not just bottles and cans that are getting recycled through Orange County’s Waste & Recycling Department.

It’s also senior political appointees.

This week, Chip Monaco — chief of staff to County Supervisor Pat Bates — is moving back into the department as a deputy director despite a countywide hiring freeze.

OC Waste & Recycling is actually where Monaco came from two years ago when Bates’ last chief of staff left for the private sector.

Down the hallway from Bates’ office is the newest county supervisor, Shawn Nelson, who is setting up shop and assembling a staff.

So where’s his chief of staff coming from?

OC Waste & Recycling.

Denis Bilodeau, who actually left the fifth floor a few months ago when his last boss — County Supervisor Chris Norby — was elected to the state Assembly, also hung out for several months at the county’s trash department. He was an engineer working on landfills until coming back to the fifth floor this month to become Nelson’s chief of staff.

It’s not uncommon to see high-level staffers to county supervisors get absorbed into the county machinery when their bosses move on or when personalities don’t mesh. And it keeps happening despite an all-Republican fifth-floor administration that is often passionate about the importance of shrinking government.

Take for example the case Patti Gorczyca. She moved from the county finance staff to work with Supervisor Bill Campbell a few years ago but after a short stint was headed back to the finance staff. When Bates was elected in 2006, Gorczyca was her first chief of staff, but when the job didn’t work out, Gorczyca was absorbed back into the county bureaucracy.

When Norby had a personality clash with his brother Eric, who was also his chief of staff, the county’s healthcare agency found a job for Eric. Other Norby staffers, like Doug Cox, also found jobs at the agency.

Jessica O’Hare, Norby’s former deputy chief of staff, left that office for the rough-and-tumble world of lobbying a few years back. She returned to the county public works department last year.

In fact, the new chief of staff to Bates, Don Hughes, also spent time in the county’s planning department after his former boss, Jim Silva, left for the Assembly. He was later added to Bates’ staff.

Another longtime Silva chief of staff, Steve Franks, moved into a senior executive post inside the county’s healthcare agency after his boss moved to Sacramento in 2006.

Mark Denny, a chief of staff to county Supervisor Campbell, left the office in 2008 but came back to county service less than a year later after a short stint in the private sector. Denny now heads the county’s parks department.

County Supervisors Tom Wilson and Chuck Smith also expanded the county bureaucracy by at least three slots when they left office in 2006.

Holly Veale, Wilson’s chief of staff, ended up in a senior management slot at the healthcare agency while his press secretary, Lisa Smith, ended up at the Dana Point Harbor Department. Another Wilson aide, Kay Cotton, was absorbed into the Registrar of Voters office.

Smith left behind his principal aide, James Campbell, who left for the planning department and is now a senior executive with the county.





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