Embattled Orange County Public Administrator John Williams has proposed to county supervisors that he stay in his post for the rest of this year and then retire on January 23, 2012, according to sources close to the situation.
Williams’ offer is the latest development in the ongoing negotiations for his removal from office. It comes almost simultaneous to a formal call for the county grand jury to examine whether it could remove him from office.
County supervisors are also preparing next week to place an initiative on the ballot to permanently move the Public Administrator back to an appointed position.
Meanwhile, Peggi Buff – Williams’ second-in-command (and fiancé to District Attorney Tony Rackauckas), has already negotiated her exit. Buff is leaving the office on Friday. She has secured a job transfer to the OC Community Resources agency. According to sources, Buff got a demotion with less pay and a lesser job classification.
Williams’ agency has come under intense scrutiny since a private attorney was hired earlier this year to look into how it was handling cases. The attorney’s report — which has been kept confidential — was scathing (much like two grand jury probes in 2009) concluding that Williams was incompetent and creating liability for the county on a variety of levels.
That report landed on the heels of a claim to the county that accused Williams of mismanaging a large probate estate. A lawsuit is expected.
Williams’ agency also landed in the spotlight last October after he complained about questions that then-Assistant District Attorney Todd Spitzer was asking regarding a a case in his office.
Rackauckas abruptly fired Spitzer, setting off an intense political battle between the two. Spitzer himself continued to look into Williams’ agency in an apparent bid to clear his name.
Ironically, Wednesday — the same day that Williams was submitting his retirement and a grand jury was being asked to remove Williams — Spitzer was announcing that he was running for the Third District supervisors’ seat that opens up next year.
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.