Voters Will Decide Future of Public Administrator Post

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The Orange County Supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously put the question of whether the public administrator should be an elected or appointed job on the next countywide ballot.

Voters could make that decision as soon as June if Gov. Jerry Brown is able to schedule a special election to address the extension of certain taxes as part of an overall budget package.

Given all that’s happened in recent months with the current Public Administrator John Williams, supervisors said they collectively realized that the job needs someone with experience.

A private attorney hired by supervisors recently informed them that Williams was incompetent and triggering massive legal liabilities for the county.

That set off a torrent of private negotiations that are aimed at getting Williams to leave office. Last week, Williams offered to retire from office, effective Jan. 23, 2012, if supervisors agreed to turn down the heat.

It’s not clear whether they have agreed to do so.

Supervisors were also expected Thursday to vote on the formal removal of Williams as the public guardian, but that vote was delayed until March 22 without much discussion.

Supervisors’ Chairman Bill Campbell acknowledged from the dais that supervisors like himself and John Moorlach erred when they transferred the post to an elected position in 2007. The job, he said, requires a special set of financial and legal skills.

It was also revealed today that Williams’ second-in-command, Peggi Buff, has landed on her feet.

The Orange County Register today reported that Buff, who is District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ fianc√©, has been offered a new post within the county bureaucracy, bypassing normal hiring procedures as well as a “hard” hiring freeze that was put into effect to deal with the county’s budgetary problems.



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