The Orange County Supervisors stripped Public Administrator/Guardian John Williams of his public guardian role Tuesday, and the board’s chairman stated that Williams should resign from his elected position as public administrator.
“I believe John should resign,” said Supervisors’ Chairman Bill Campbell after the supervisors’ unanimous vote on the issue. He added that Williams is “in over his head.”
“Actions speak louder than words,” said Supervisor Shawn Nelson when asked why supervisors didn’t say a word from the dais before voting on Williams’ future.
Earlier this month, supervisors voted to appoint an executive manager to handle many of the Public Administrator duties. That triggered concerns that Williams would be receiving a gift of public funds because of his more than $150,000 annual salary.
There are also questions about the fate of William’s second-in-command, Peggi Buff – who is also Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ fiancé. Nelson, for one, said political appointees like Buff should not be spared if their boss gets the ax.
“I think that’s any reasonable expectation,” Nelson said. “The professional staff stays, the political appointees go.”
There are also now concerns how all the staffs at the two offices will function, given that their functions are combined but their management staff is not, Cambpell said.
Campbell hinted Tuesday in open session that the county could be facing an impending lawsuit from one of several cases handled by Williams that have drawn challenges.
Williams was in the headlines late last year when Rackauckas fired his then protoge, Todd Spitzer (a former state assemblyman and county supervisor), after Spitzer made inquiries about how Williams’ office was handling a case.
That came after two scathing grand jury reports that criticized Williams’ handling of the office.
On Tuesday, Campbell indicated that the March 11 deadline for putting together a recall campaign of Williams has almost passed. And negotiations to gently move supervisors’ Republican colleague out haven’t gone so smoothly, Campbell added, because Williams doesn’t want to budge.
Campbell said supervisors should have realized that the job required very specialized knowledge before putting Williams in the spot, Campbell said.
“It’s an area that needs an expertise he doesn’t have,” Campbell said. “I’m disappointed in myself for not figuring out sooner that he was in over his head.”
Campbell’s full interview with David Nazar can be seen tomorrow night on Real Orange, on our broadcast partner channel, PBS SoCal.
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.