County’s Human Resources Director Announces Retirement

The top human resources official for the Orange County government’s 17,000 workers announced Monday that he plans to retire.

In an email to his fellow county executives titled “It’s Time,” Human Resources Director Steve Danley said he will be retiring next Friday after 33 years with the county.

“After long consideration, I believe this is the right decision and time to conclude a very full career,” he wrote, without explaining further.

“I want to thank you for participating in the journey with me. Good luck to each of you going forward.”

Danley didn’t return an email late Monday afternoon seeking comment.

As HR director, he has had a major role in the county’s employee relations, including hiring, labor negotiations, discipline, compensation, benefits and training.

Danley was brought in as the HR head in May 2012, after he issued a scathing report as performance auditor about the HR department granting dozens of management salary hikes without proper justification.

The most egregious instances involved some of the county’s highest-ranking executives. Then-assistant CEO Rob Richardson, for example, saw his salary increase by 47 percent between January 2006 and April 2008, a period during which hundreds of rank-and-file employees lost their jobs.

During his time as HR director, Danley presided over a re-centralization of human resources from county departments, following a botched misconduct investigation of county parks executive Carlos Bustamante by a subordinate in his department.  Bustmante would later be charged with multiple sex crimes for alleged acts against women in his agency.

He has also held the line on county policies when it came to a politically-connected employee.

In December, Danley sanctioned influential Republican insider Brian Probolsky for attending weekday meetings as a water board member while also on the clock in his job as a county government manager.

The following month, Danley rejected a request by a newly sworn-in supervisor, Andrew Do, to pay Probolsky $60 per-hour as his chief of staff, a salary range reserved for employees with “outstanding performance.”

Do would later publicly confront Danley about the rejection, and Danley defended his decision as being consistent with the county’s policy.

The intensity of Do’s questions prompted Supervisor Michelle Steel to remark that it felt like she was sitting in court.

Before serving as performance auditor, Danley was director of administration for the county’s Public Works and Waste & Recycling departments, as well as for the District Attorney’s office. He also served as chief of organizational assessment and development for the county CEO and a regional landfill manger.

It’s unclear who will replace Danley. An interim director will likely be named before a permanent replacement is found.

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

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    Danley did try to combat some degree of malfeasance – in the latter part of his career. Prior to that, he was the most entitled, arrogant and childish staffer demanding special treatment and favored consideration. Add a hot temper and a severe tendency to use vulgar and sexist language – well loose cannon comes to mind. He coveted the CEO job and probably was devastated when his buddy cupcake Giancola beat him out for the job. Even Crown lasted longer in the HR Director job than Danley. Danley went up against sitting BOS members and lost big time. Danley was no competition for Frank Kim. So, Danley leaves abruptly and with no comment. I doubt many will miss him due to his manipulative and often unprofessional behavior. Finally, he get’s a taste of his own medicine and he get’s to feel the sting. No sympathy here – what goes around comes around. Karma.

    • David Zenger

      I never saw the side of Danley that you describe

      Oddly enough, it was Danley who called me up at home and told me not to come into work anymore.

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        I don’t doubt your experience. I know for a fact that this behavior happened on a routine basis. In fact, one situation was so horrible and unprofessional that it was reported as a formal complaint – Crown, Mauk and the Department Head covered it up for Danley.
        Danley could be charming when he felt like it – no doubt. But, there was another side to him that was very immature.

      • OCservant_Leader

        Nelson didn’t have the balls to fire you?

        • David Zenger

          Not in person.

          • OCservant_Leader

            That speaks volumes of Nelson’s character.

        • Jacki Livingston

          Nelson doesn’t have sufficient balls to play ping pong. In my case, Representative Calvert from my area called Nelson, his old pal, about the fraud and abuse I reported, and Nelson had his chief of staff call to try and shut me up. He is such a loser.

    • octaxpayer

      Same here. I was just getting to know Danley when I left the County and he was decent with me. Other than that I do not know much. I know he went against the CEO on some decision and I thought that would end his career. Guess the CEO went first. They do seem to be all a band of brothers.

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        When he went against Giancola – it was the end of a 30 year tight as brothers relationship. Guess Giancola, true to form would even run his absolute best buddy into a ditch. So, now Danley knows the harsh sting of betrayal – it’s Karma. Getting back what you dished out. As I said before – Danley could be charming when it served him to be on good behavior. Those of us who knew him for 25 plus years know better. What an ending to the tightest band of brothers relationship at the county ever – Giancola and Danley!

        • OCservant_Leader

          Don’t forget their brother from another mother -Bob Wilson. Thick as thieves these bros.

          I want to know which Agency is cutting consultant checks to the “retired” Brothers and at what rate?

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            Wilson – maybe ( he was at least smart), Giancola – never unless they want to pay him to attempt to walk and chew gum at the same time. Danley- made many enemies at high levels – never gonna happen.

          • OCservant_Leader

            Smartest of that bunch- yes. But that’s not saying much.

            I believe they have enough loyal followers (they made rich) to cut the POs across the County to get their “40 quarters” and their buddy Frank Kim knows that players in the game…whether they win or lose…still get paid.

            He’s counting on this as well- he has 5 years before a scandal brings him down – and payments from the public funds cash Register for him (and family) until death is part of the OC deal.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Danley must have buried the Band of Brother’s last enemy – his work is done.

    He now joins his brothers to the double dipping side–where the real wealth building begins as years of backfilling with his loyal followers quarentees consultant contracts for 40 quarters…at what rate? I can’t wait to see his payout–ka-Ching!

    • John Claxton

      Nah, I think it was all orchestrated that Danley would take over HR just long enough to spike his full pension then walk off into the sunset with pockets full of cash!

  • David Zenger

    As Performance Auditor Danley had to address the serial misfeasance of Tom Mauk and his HR Director stooge – Carl Crown. It took courage to call out all the improper and massive raises and promotions Mauk gave to the comically incompetent Alisa Drakodaidas, Brad Gross, Carlos Bustamante and Richardson, etc. – to buy their loyalty, presumably.

    And that earned Danley the permanent animosity of Nguyen and Bates – two of the worst violators of honest HR practices.

    • Jacki Livingston

      Ah, but riddle me this, David…what about his coverup of one of his minions, who was given press coverage being on a task force for elder abuse and crimes, getting her photo in the paper with then Attorney General Holder, and then quietly slipping her back into her old post in HR after it was found that she was involved in drama regarding elder abuse? No one heard about that little fiasco, but the minion got to keep her promotion salary, which I am sure takes the sting out of demotion.

      • David Zenger

        Which department was that?

        • Jacki Livingston

          Joint venture with DA, SSA, HCA and outside agencies

          • David Zenger

            “…she was involved in drama regarding elder abuse”

            First you’d have to explain what this means.

          • Jacki Livingston

            She was involved in events regarding theft of patient funds for elderly nursing home patients.

  • Jacki Livingston

    Full career? Yes, indeedy! Full of threats, lies, intimidation and corruption. Any county employee who ever dared to speak out about corruption or crime within the agencies got a personal dose of Danley. My favorite was when he forged my signature on a document. Bye, bye, Stevie. I’m so sure that one of your vicious minions, like Coman or Bowman will slither right into your nest.

  • Steve W.

    The Leakmaster sails into the sunset and the VOC loses one of its best sources. Too bad the VOC never reported on how Danley’s vaunted re-centralization has slowed the county HR process to a snail’s pace or other inconsistencies with his rep. That’s the problem with panicked application of system-wide “fixes” in response to one bad apple. He probably got the blind eye because of his leaks. The upside is Danley won’t be creating internal turmoil with his continual attempts to undercut county executives he viewed as a threats or rivals for the CEO job.

    • ocethics

      I agree that there should be some analysis of the re-centralization of HR, because as a county employee, it seems to have fixed a few problems and created a plethora of new ones. For instance, now HR employees are assigned to certain county agencies and who is responsible on reporting and monitoring corruption/fraud regarding them? I know of one instance in particular where a county employee was arrested at work for burglary, fraud and unauthorized use of personal information as she allegedly used a COUNTY credit card she did not have access to to purchase personal merchandise (electronics) from Target. Of course the agency did not want the information to go public and neither did central HR, so no information has been released…not even to employees. From my understanding, felony and misdemeanor charges are filed. County oversight should happen with an ethics commission represented by different individuals.

      • John Claxton

        I informed Chairman Spitzer of an Sanitation crew and their supervisor taking a county vehicle full of recycled cans to a private recycling center and pocketing the cash. This same supervisor took a crew out to his house to do some yard work and minor repairs to the house. One of the employees got hurt in the progress. Spitzer “looked into it” and was told it didn’t happen. Well, guess who happens to run HR in this dept? My good friend Ann Barlow. The gal who promoted herself to admin Mgr III at PAPG and was really a low life HR mgr. Instead of firing these unscrupulous people, the just keep recycling them!

        • Kathleen Tahilramani

          Not surprised. Barlow should have been fired on the spot for giving herself a promotion. That is the epitome of unethical for an HR Manager. She fit’s right in with the corrupt at Waste and Recycling. This is the type of unprofessional actions that the county elite promote, while at the same time quashing anyone who actually tries to report and deal with fraud and illegal actions as an HR manager. I should know. I have no respect for Ms. Barlow she should be ashamed of her conduct.