Frank Kim is Appointed New County CEO

Nick Gerda/Voice of OC

Frank Kim, Orange County's chief financial officer.

Orange County supervisors on Tuesday appointed Frank Kim, the county’s widely-respected finance official who recently served as acting CEO, as its new permanent chief executive, effective next week.

Kim, who was appointed unanimously in closed session, has worked at the county for nearly 20 years and rose through the ranks to become its chief financial officer. He’s developed a solid reputation among county supervisors, labor leaders and journalists – a somewhat rare feat in the often politically-charged county government.

He served as acting CEO in January when Mike Giancola went on medical leave to recover from back surgery. Then, last month, Giancola abruptly announced that he planned to retire earlier than expected, in September, citing health issues. Tuesday’s announcement bumps up the timeline by four months.

“At a time where Orange County is emerging from bankruptcy [debt], it is important to have a county executive officer who is fiscally sound and strategically minded when it comes to the budget and finances of Orange County,” supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer said in a statement.

“Frank Kim will bring a wealth of knowledge and a deep understanding of Orange County’s fiscal structure and potential.”

A top official with the county’s largest employees union echoed Spitzer, saying Kim has “always been a straight shooter” with employees.

“We’ve appreciated his professionalism and his candor with us, and we are optimistic that he’ll bring a skill-set to the county that will be good for our members as well as the taxpayers,” said Jennifer Muir, assistant general manager of the Orange County Employees Association.

“He’s been respected throughout the county for a really, really long time.”

The deputy sheriff’s union also weighed in with support for Kim.

“Frank Kim has the experience, the knowledge and the character to serve as the county’s chief executive officer,” said Mark Nichols, executive director of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, in a statement.

And Kim received extremely high, and frank, praise from Giancola.

“I think you guys have made a fantastic [decision] and unquestionably a really good choice,” Giancola told supervisors.  “He’s much smarter and better than I am, and I think he’s gonna take the county in a really good direction.”

If supervisors proceed as planned, they would be terminating Giancola’s contract, triggering a severance equal to three months’ pay, or $62,000.

It’s unclear why Giancola’s departure was again cut shorter than planned.

He wasn’t available for comment Tuesday evening, according to county spokeswoman Jean Pasco. And Spitzer didn’t return a message seeking comment.

Kim, meanwhile, won’t be commenting publicly until his appointment is finalized next Tuesday, Pasco said.

Kim attended Cal State Long Beach for both undergraduate and graduate school, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in public administration in 1994, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He worked as a staff accountant at the former accounting giant Arthur Andersen in the early 1990s, before moving over to Cal State Long Beach and the American Restaurant Group.

Kim then joined the county in 1995, working as a senior accountant and management analyst in various county agencies.  He became the county’s budget director in 2007, before his promotion to chief financial officer in May 2013.

The county hasn’t yet announced what Kim’s proposed salary would be after his promotion.  He currently makes about $192,000 per year, while Giancola makes $248,000.

As CEO, Kim will help oversee a massive network of agencies with a combined budget of $5.4 billion that serve the 3.1 million residents of the nation’s sixth largest county.

The county government provides a wide range of services, including law enforcement, public health services, social services, libraries, mental health services, parks, tax collection, restaurant inspections and many others.

It has a largely decentralized structure of department and agency heads, though the CEO’s office oversees many countywide efforts.  That includes preparing board agendas and coordinating information technology projects, budgets, real estate, contracting, human resources and community relations, among other responsibilities.

Among Kim’s top priorities will likely be boosting Orange County’s share of property tax revenues from the state, an effort that county supervisors and labor leaders consider to be of utmost importance.

Orange County receives the lowest property tax share of any California county, according to county officials.  Just 6 cents of every property tax dollar comes back to Orange County, compared to a 17 percent average for the 15 largest counties, officials say.

If Orange County was on par with other large counties, it would receive an extra $606 million per year, according to county consultant Capitol Matrix Consulting.

In replacing Giancola, supervisors opted to not conduct a nationwide search for a new CEO, a departure from the approach taken the last time around.

When Tom Mauk was forced to resign in the wake of the Carlos Bustamante abuse scandal, supervisors looked outside the county for a replacement.

That led them to Santa Barbara County’s then-CEO, Chandra Wallar, who was in talks to take the Orange County job.

But the deal fell apart after her salary request erupted into a public debate over executive salary and pension compensation.

Supervisors then looked to an internal candidate, Giancola, and appointed him to the top job two years ago.

In his statement, Spitzer described Giancola as “a true example of what it means to rise through the ranks, having started his career over 30 years ago as a front line employee.”

“Working his way through the establishment, Mike offered an understanding of our history and dynamics that proved valuable in shaping Orange County into what it is today. His leadership will be missed.”

Giancola’s tenure, meanwhile, was not without controversy.

He received two raises in his first year-and-a-half on the job, which drew criticism from labor leaders as county officials were taking a hard line with employees during contract negotiations.

And a recent employee survey showed low confidence in Giancola’s leadership.

OCEA’s Muir emphasized that it’s critical that the leader of an organization leads by example.

“Frank has been a well-respected leader in the county and has always been a straight shooter with us, so we are optimistic that we’ll be able to work with him,” she said.

You can contact Nick Gerda at, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

  • Therese

    Giancola and my mother, Suzanne McClanahan, were very close. My mother knows all of the County’s dirty little secrets including FRAUD/FALSE JUVENILE DEPENDENCY COURT REPORTS involving my daughter, Courtney McClane, who is now 18. My mother chose her friends, Department Heads, Risk Managers, County Counsel, etc. over her own daughter. How could this happen? Well, since Juvenile Dependency Cases or Child Abuse Referrals, for that matter, that involve County employees, their relatives, or law enforcement officials, etc. are referred to as “Z” cases. They are blocked from most County employees but a few individuals handle these cases. So that’s why they have gotten away with this CORRUPTION and have avoided any accountability for their illegal actions. No one will say anything for fear of the same type of retaliation occurring to them. I lost my daughter…I lost my job…I lost everything – why… because I went straight to the top (along with my mother) and provided documentation about the Workplace Crime (Terrorist Threats and Stalking by a mentally ill client on one of my open child abuse referrals) including the police reports taken by Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Michael Starnes (DR# 10-186499) and a request for Administrative Leave With Pay due to my employer’s failure to provide a safe work environment and failure to follow injury/incident reporting procedures. Risk Manager Vicki Stewert was shocked that this serious Felony Hate Crime had not been reported by Orange County Social Services Agency for over 6 weeks. They placed my life and the lives of my immediate family (child, Courtney McClane), in imminent risk of serious physical bodily harm/and or death. Refer to OCDA Lynda Fernandez Felony Complaint Warrant E-Filed on 10/8/10. No one seems to care that OC HR released my confidential home address to the mentally ill client who threatened to rape and kill me and to his Public Defender, Robert Mueller. Then to ignore the fact that I gave a victim impact statement on 9/2/11 and was issued a CLETS criminal protective order listing me as the protected person and Javidinejad as the person restrained by OC Superior Court Judges Erick Larsh and Craig Robison. It’s not fair to further victimize victims of crime. Well, you name it, it was done to me. Can’t I tell my story? I’m tired of keeping their dirty secrets. Spread the news PLEASE.
    Therese McClane
    (714) 862-4932 cell
    (714) 849-3942 home

    Of course I’ve preserved all documentation just as OCDA Lynda Fernandez did when she asked me to bring in all documents related to the work comp case, the criminal court case, the family law case, the child support case, and the Juvenile Dependency Case. She scanned all documents and I was stupid to think that she would help me in any way, shape, or form. What a fool I was. I didn’t know this kind of evil existed? I guess I was naive. The truth should be told. I don’t want anyone else to ever have to go through anything near the horrendous nightmare I’ve been living over the last five years. Enough is enough!

  • octaxpayer

    Franks seem like a good guy while I was at the County. One thing he need to dig into is not to accept the lies of the PMO office. They never have the correct facts and just make up status reports and in some cases by pass BOS approvals.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Could Giancola’s planned surgery and “shocking” subsequent retirement have anything to do with him qualifying for “Disability” retirement?

    Isn’t retiring “disabled” the gold ring of public sector scams? I believe they don’t have to pay taxes on pension (huge) and also some loophole about lowering property taxes is what makes crossing The band of Brothers so dangerous.

    The band of Brothers would have to have their “operatives” in all key personnel positions throughout County as well as the OCERS Board to rubber stamp scam – right?

    Regarding new CEO. If he came up with the Band of Brothers (@ waste & recycling) then he is an EXPERT at producing County “funny” numbers…that can change with the political winds. I’m sure all his relatives & friends will enjoy their promotions too.

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    ‘If supervisors proceed as planned, they would be terminating Giancola’s contract, triggering a severance equal to three months’ pay, or $62,000.’

    Does this mean that Giancola was fired? Why was this done?
    Why is he getting $62,000 to go away? Are they letting him run his time balances also? According to Spitzer, he will miss Giancola’s “leadership” yet the majority of county staff cast a no confidence vote regarding Giancola as a leader.
    So, which was it? Fired or given special soft landing rights?
    If he was fired and the contract provides for $62,000 pay off – that’s fine. But say he was fired. Don’t call him a leader. Or is this just balance payoff money? Do tell.

    • Trudy White

      Problem is, they call him a “leader”, because they have no idea what a real one looks like. Spitzer wouldn’t know really leadership if it came up and whacked him upside the head with a 2×4.

  • David Zenger

    Heya, Frank, now that you’re the boss you can address the issue of the public visitors subsidizing County employees at the Manchester Complex parking structures. I remember that was a pet peeve of yours.

    Good luck!

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    Frank Kim is an excellent choice for CEO. He is extremely well respected and has a wealth of historical knowledge. All of us CSULB grads are proud! I wish him the best.

  • Trudy White

    I don’t see anything ahead but more of the same.

    • Dartmouth Worried


      • Trudy White

        Because Kim is not a trailblazer or particularly interested in cleaning up the deeply entrenched corruption within the County. He is a “yes man”. Why do you think they chose him?

        • Kathleen Tahilramani

          The reality is that the CEO and every executive reporting to the BOS has a thin balance wire to walk. The CEO reports to the BOS at their pleasure. If the corruption emanates from the BOS or their highly favored cronies then any CEO effort to clean it up will be an automatic termination. And rest assured that is NOT why Giancola was terminated – he was the ultimate yes man and woefully inadequate to even pretend to be a CEO – he was in costume, then the emperor with no clothes and alas the straw man.

          I would not be just a nuffin’
          My head all full of stuffin’
          My heart all full of pain
          I would dance and be merry
          Life would be a ding-a-derry
          If I only had a brain

          • Trudy White

            The corruption in the BoS or even right below is easy. The problem now is in certain agencies where enterprising people have set up little cottage industries and are making money hand over fist. There is a unique niche in some of the agencies that are being exploited for massive profits. The board and higher ups are either clueless or taking a cut. But the profits are huge. Everyone asks about this money donated or that slush fund and then it drops and no one follows up. You have to wonder how high it goes. Kim won’t make a peep and neither will the great crusader Spitzer. And the band plays on

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            It it can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that illegal activity is happening – there are ways to report it but one must be very careful to be sure that what is being alleged is illegal and that allegation must be supported. The VOC does good work in this area. I would be very careful not to turn over confidential information.You can’t put yourself in harms way – the tables can turn fast.

          • Trudy White

            These people are all in bed with each other. The funniest comedy show right now is the Spitzer/ Rakaukus war. Such a joke. Both have been given evidence of real misconduct of the other and they ignore it.

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            They are always on stage. And each and every BOS meeting is pre-planned and pre-staged in advance. And, that is why the BOS members get so agitated when someone goes out of sync it totally disrupts their plan.

          • John Claxton

            I told Spitzer about a group of OC Waste employees who were taking recyclables turned into the center directly to a private recycling center and keeping the cash. He “inquired” but was told nothing found. Weeks later the supervisor and several employees were quietly fired. They were in uniform, driving county trucks, and getting cash from a private company for county property. How brazen is that! Then they tell Spitzer nothing happened. Corruption and cover up. The county way!

          • Trudy White

            And Spitzer parades himself as the great white crusader. What a crock! I have never seen him in my office. Even Zeus left Olympus now and then. He knows nothing.

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            When did this happen?

          • John Claxton

            Less than a year ago.

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            Unreal, how pathetic;

          • John Claxton

            I assure you it did. This same supervisor took a crew to his house to do a bunch of work. One of the employees got hurt pretty badly while on the property and had to report it as workers comp.

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            Interesting. Seems like this was kept very quiet.

          • Trudy White

            All worker’s compensation cases are kept quiet. Want to see something? Check out the wc cases for stress assault and abuse. STAGGERING numbers.

          • OCservant_Leader

            Trudy – I have seen the injuries & abuses bestowed on the “whistleblowers” of the Band of Brothers & BOS Donor scams — where can we find these cases they are trying to keep a lid on??

          • Trudy White

            Look on the state workers compensation website with the County as defendant employer. It is public records.