Grand Jury Asked to Examine Removal of OC Public Administrator

While county supervisors are still negotiating privately with Public Administrator John Williams to leave office, other community members have now taken matters into their own hands.

Tuesday, former OC Common Cause President Bill Mitchell sent a letter to the Orange County Grand Jury calling on them to begin removal proceedings for Williams.

"The clear failures of Mr. Williams to provide proper management and make appropriate personnel decisions will continue to plague the office of Public Administrator absent further action," Mitchell wrote.

County supervisors last week were negotiating with Williams -- who was reportedly demanding a year of salary in exchange for his resignation -- when Supervisor Shawn Nelson disclosed that "surprise information" relayed by Williams could end the impasse this week.

However, no announcement has been forthcoming from the supervisors.

Under California law, the grand jury has the right to make an accusation against Williams and deliver it to the district attorney, which is what Mitchell is calling for in his letter.

"This letter asks that the Grand Jury prepare and serve an accusation against Mr. Williams as Public Administrator in order to initiate the process to remove Mr. Williams from office," Mitchell wrote.

The one complication in the process could be the role of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who is potentially conflicted out.

His fiancé, Peggi Buff, is the second-in-command at the Public Administrator's office. Mitchell's letter also implicates Rackauckas' chief of staff Susan Kang Schroeder, accusing her of conspiring with Williams to have former prosecutor Todd Spitzer fired from the district attorney's office last October.

Rackauckas fired Spitzer after he made a phone call to check into an investigation the Public Administrator was conducting last October.

Since then, myriad disclosures have surfaced about Williams' office including inside land deals on probate matters, questionable actions regarding the liquidation of estates and general mismanagement.

A county-hired outside attorney concluded that Williams was triggering large-scale liabilities due to his management of the office.

-- NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.

 

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