Sex And The Supervisors

Pool photo by Michael Goulding

Former Santa Ana City Councilman and ex-Orange County executive Carlos Bustamante in court in May 2014.

While sex scandals have rocked Santa Ana and Orange County  government in recent years, both continue to allow managers to date people they supervise and whose promotions they oversee.

Spokespeople for the city and county confirmed last week they do not have rules prohibiting sexual or romantic relationships between managers and subordinates.

But officials at both governments say they’re working on creating such policies.

County human resources officials “will be focusing on working with all departments, including elected departments, to develop a universal policy addressing topics that include the relationships between managers and subordinates,” said Jennifer Nentwig, a spokeswoman for the county.

The instruction to develop such a county policy was made last Tuesday by Supervisor Todd Spitzer, as he and the other supervisors approved their response to a grand jury report about sexual relationships between supervisors and subordinates within the District Attorney’s Office.

Spitzer is running against DA Tony Rackauckas for the top prosecutor position in next June’s election.

In its June report, the grand jury found a widespread perception within the DA’s investigations bureau that promotions and favorable treatment go to employees as a result of sexual relationships they have with superiors.

DA employees told the grand jury about multiple instances of unwelcome sexual behavior and touching between management and subordinates, as well as sexual images sent via text and email.

“In interviews with management in the OCDA office there often did not seem to be recognition of the severity of the alleged behavior but rather a discounting and dismissive “boys-will-be-boys” mentality,” the grand jury wrote.

DA officials say they’ve addressed the issues in the report, but still are developing a policy against supervisor-subordinate relationships. DA officials say they are required to meet with employee union representatives about it and are doing so.

DA Tony Rackauckas’ second-in-command, Jim Tanizaki, is among DA officials who has had a relationship with one of his subordinates, according to a legal claim filed by Rackauckas’ former investigations chief, Craig Hunter. Tanizaki hasn’t publicly responded to the allegation, but the DA’s office has said Hunter’s overall legal claim contains unspecified “falsehoods and inaccuracies.”

Aside from conflicts when it comes to promotions, such relationships can create other problems beyond promotions, according to ethics experts. They are often viewed with suspicion by other employees, and can even open the door to lawsuits.

If the subordinate is promoted, others could see it as blatant favoritism. But if they’re disciplined, the employee could claim it was retaliation for an argument or break-up.

Several public agencies take a stronger stance than Santa Ana and the county.

When Anaheim learns of a manager-subordinate relationship, the city moves one of them to a separate position so there’s no longer a conflict of interest with supervision.

“In general we will always err on the side of caution and good workplace policy, where we would not want to have any question” of a conflict of interest for people who work for the city, said Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster.

The city of Los Angeles has a similar policy among employees in its personnel department.

“Here at the Personnel Department, were a manager and direct subordinate to become romantically involved, the Department, upon learning of the situation, would remove the subordinate from the Manager’s direct supervision by transferring them to another division,” said Bruce Whidden, the department’s spokesman, in an email.

“I would expect there would be some kind of counseling with the Manager and the employee, for such relationships are clearly not in the best interests of the Department, from an HR perspective.”

Los Angeles County’s policy is less clear. Officials there decide on a case-by-case basis how to handle relationships between managers and subordinates, according to Epifanio Peinado, the chief deputy director of human resources. LA County’s focus is preventing sexual harassment, he said.

Five years ago, Orange County was rocked by a scandal in which a public works executive, Carlos Bustamante, was charged with sexually assaulting several women who worked for him. Some of the relationships began as consensual, but later took a darker turn in which Bustamante forced himself upon them, the women testified in court.

He pled guilty to felony counts of stalking, attempted sexual battery by restraint and misdemeanor false imprisonment, assault and attempted sexual battery. Bustmante was also a Santa Ana city councilman at the time of the alleged county assaults, and thus partially in charge of the city’s employee policies.

The county was embroiled in another sex-related controversy 20 years ago, when the Sheriff’s Department’s second-in-command was accused of sexually harassing female employees, including groping and propositioning them.

Dennis LaDucer was an assistant sheriff and close aide to then-Sheriff Brad Gates, and was considered a possible candidate to replace Gates as the county’s top cop.

But after five women came forward with harassment allegations in 1997, the county investigated their claims and fired LaDucer. And it ended up costing taxpayers over $1 million to settle the employees’ lawsuits.

The former assistant sheriff then got a job as the second-in-command of the United Nation’s police force in Bosnia, where he allegedly visited a brothel while the U.N. was supposed to be shutting down human trafficking rings that forced women to perform sex acts at brothels. He denied the claim.

Some of the county’s human resources policies were changed in the wake of the Bustamante scandal, but county supervisors did not establish a policy restricting managers from dating subordinates.

“Colleagues, I was pretty surprised in the post-Bustamante era that we actually allow for intimate relationships between subordinate and supervisor,” Spitzer said at last week’s meeting.

“When you’re a supervisor and you’re in an intimate relationship…it really can affect the workplace.”

Spitzer directed county staff to draft a countywide policy addressing consensual intimate relationships between employees. It’s unclear when county supervisors will be voting on whether to approve it.

He noted county CEO Frank Kim’s wife works for the county, but said Kim doesn’t supervise her and any potential investigations or discipline of her would instead be handled by County Counsel Leon Page, who reports directly to the Board of Supervisors. Kim  met his wife earlier in his county career, when they both worked as accountants.

In Santa Ana, former City Manager David Cavazos started dating a city employee in 2014, and didn’t inform the City Council until a year later. The council allowed Cavazos to continue overseeing the employee while dating her, and awarded him a $17,000 bonus.

The employee was also a member of the general employees union’s negotiating team, which was negotiating a new labor contract with city leaders.

Two other high-ranking Santa Ana officials – in the Police Department and code enforcement – reportedly carried on romantic relationships with subordinate employees in recent years but, unlike Cavazos, faced internal investigations over it.

Cavazos maintained support from most of the council until the end of 2016, when new City Council members took office and he was pushed out.

The city, meanwhile, continues to allow such relationships.

In an email this week, Santa Ana spokeswoman Alma Flores said the city discourages sexual or romantic relationships between managers and subordinates “as part of good management practices,” but does not prohibit it.

City officials are developing an anti-fraternizing policy for approval by the City Council, she said.

“We anticipate it will be going before the Council in October, but the exact meeting date has not been determined.”

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

  • Jacki Livingston

    My personal favorite is the SSA golden boy who was married to a caseworker, while he was getting his…ahem…hard drive polished in the parking lot by a subordinate who later became his wife. The first wife has been ignored for promotion, while the second one fast tracked up to the top, becoming a trainer at TCA while the golden boy continues to “promote from within” based on tight skirts and kneepad thickness. *eyeroll* Puhleeze. The fact that golden boy has been on the take for almost a decade just adds to the delicious irony…not to mention that this lump couldn’t get laid in a women’s prison with a handful of pardons and a case of cigarrettes, otherwise. And the band plays on.

  • Ed Romero

    There is NOTHING recent about these Sex Scandals, they had been around for years but like Racial Discrimination they have been COVERED UP. It makes no difference if its at the Sheriff Department, the Probation Department or the DA, it’s been there for years and years. How do I know that because I was employed by the County of Orange for almost 28 years. There was this Chief Probation Officer who had an Executive Secretary THAT COULD NOT TYPE, she was well know for taking care of 2 Stiff things, one was a Stiff Shot of Whiskey and you know what the other Stiff thing was. There was another Chief Probation Officer that couldn’t keep her hands off her Secretaries and her Lesbian Lover that Asst. Chief Probation Officer was even worse. Then there were all those members of the Bible Study Group at the Probation, 4 of them had to resigned because they were having Sex with the Clients. Then there was that Gay Deputy Probation Officer who couldn’t get enough of all those Young Mexican Boys and Men, I once advised his Supervisor what he was doing and he replied “Yes, we know and we are WATCHING him, about 5 years later he was finally Fired because he took a 15 year old boy to a Hotel and the boy advised his Parents, that Deputy Probation Officer died from AIDS, who knows how many Kids he infected. Then there was the Sheriff Department, remember the Gates and Carona Trials, Sex and Sex and More Sex, including that 15 years old Fire Scout, that other Rapist in the Records Unit, just recently another Rapist Deputy and his Second Rape while on duty, I guess you get the picture, but NO ONE said anything, just like all the Drug Dealing, Marijuana Smoking, Cocaine Snorting GOP Racist Lesbians that ran the Probation Department led by the Dirty Corrupt former Chairperson of the O C GOP with her HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION.

  • Debby Bodkin

    My comments regarding the article:

    1. Will DA Rackauckas file criminal charges for sexual harassment in his workplace, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office? If not, why not?

    2. IMO, there is an important reason why the DA and the County of Orange will not enforce a sexual harassment policy in the workplace: Sexual harassment lawsuits GENERATE income for all attorneys involved and yes, even the County of Orange’s defense attorneys–it is all about MONEY and quid pro quo.

    3. Carlos Bustamante was one of the first persons in history that was CRIMINALLY charged for sexual harassment in the workplace–in the real world, it is a CIVIL matter for the civil courts. DA Rackauckas needed to SILENCE Bustamante for something and it is unfortunate that Bustamante did not sing like a canary. He was silenced just like Joseph Carvallo, Don Haidl and Mike Carona….. oddly, the DA escapes accountability for alleged public corruption crimes.

    4. Sexual harassment in the workplace is nothing new and NOT difficulty to manage for normal and healthy professionals. There is no reason for the County of Orange to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawsuit settlements and judgments for sexual harassment, UNLESS, the County itself profits from the lawsuits. Another example of a money making scheme is the OC jail inmate deaths and violence…..always followed by lawsuits and judgments — a real money maker for the attorneys from all sides.

    Public corruption crimes in Orange County continue and the citizens are deceived daily. The OC Board of Supervisors are in on it all too, so nothing will change unless the feds get involved.

  • RITCHIE VALENS

    Ojete!

  • RITCHIE VALENS

    Why read the article. Este puerko ya lo conozco, we called him MaÑIACS…CAUSE HE WAS A HORN DOG.
    Tambien queria MI CHORIZO..HEY CINderella go find yourself a fella. Serio. NETA!!#!

  • Ed Romero

    How about that Director at Juvenile Hall the impregnated that female on her Coffee Break, she would go into his Office and come out Looking like a Mare heading back to the Barn Soaking Wet. Everyone knew what was going on, but they FOLLOWED COUNTY POLICY, which is “Keep your mouth shut, don’t do anything, don’t say anything and DO THE RIGHT THING as they say at the Sheriff Department. Just to let you know how immoral that Asst. Chief Probation Officer was, she PROMOTED that Director and that female Detention Officer was PROMOTED to a Deputy Probation Officer. Good work Marijuana Nancy your convicted Dirty Criminal.

  • Ed Romero

    I saw the most UNQUALIFIED being Hired and Promoted at the Orange County Probation Department. There was this Lesbian promoted to a position she was NOT qualified to have, she was BEST friends with that Asst. Chief Probation Officer in charge of hiring and promoting at that time. That same Asst. Chief Probation Officer Promoted this Steno Clerk to a Office Manager over some Supervisors that had 30, 25 and 20 years of EXPERIENCE, that Steno Clerk had ZERO years of experience. She was a DISASTER in that position and her REPLACEMENT was even worse. Then there was that Convicted Criminal that stole $40,000’s from a Community Center for the Poor in Los Angeles County, she also had ZERO years of experience but was Hired and Promoted by that other Lesbian Director of Personnel. Then there was that Lesbian FIRED at our Los Pinos Detention Center because the Director caught her Snorting or Freebasing Cocaine while on duty, she REHIRED by that Drug Dealing, Marijuana Smoking Asst. Chief Probation Officer, because according to that former Detention Officer “she could get Marijuana Nancy all the young Girls and Best Drugs that she could handle. They finally FIRED her again because I caught Smoking Marijuana 2 times at our Adult Warehouse in Santa Ana, they only reason they FIRED her was because I threatened to call the Santa Ana Police Department. There was that Lesbian who was the DOORMAN at that Lesbian Bar in Garden Grove, where the Chief Probation Officer and all her Rotten Racist Lesbian Employees hung out. She use to follow the Young Female Employees to the Restroom, get down on her knees and TAKE A PEEK under the locked door. She had so many Sexual Harassment Complaints lodged against her that she was thrown off the 3rd Floor and sent to our Records Unit, where she continued her Filthy Behavior, today she is a Clerical Supervisor. The Heterosexual Top Management wasn’t any better. So you see there is something wrong in County Government and it begins with the Board of Supervisors. How could they SELECT a Convicted Criminal who was caught shoplifting 8 times, who use to Smoke so much Marijuana while on duty that my co-workers gave her the following AKA’s, Marijuana Nancy, Nancy the Shoplifter, Nancy the Wallet Stealer, Nancy the County Money Bag Thief, just to mention a few. I’m I have made my point, now if only the Board of Supervisor’s would do something about this.

  • LFOldTimer

    A ban on supervisor-subordinate relationships should have been implemented soon after the Bustamonte story broke. Spitzer’s only addressing it now because he’s in full-on campaign mode in his run for DA. Same with the homeless problem on the riverbed. Otherwise he’d ignore both.

    Isn’t the county being sued by one of Spitzer’s former legal clients who was hired by Spitzer to work in his office even though the former client owed him money for his services? That practice should be banned too! It’s a train wreck waiting to happen!

    This shows how little respect these dunderheads have for the county taxpayers. If a subordinate sues the county for being wrongfully passed over for promotion because a supervisor’s main squeeze got the promo, or if a former main squeeze sues the county because she’s being retaliated against by the supervisor due to a sour breakup – who’s on the hook? The supervisor or his department’s budget? Hell no. The county taxpayers are on the hook. But since it’s all OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY none of them give a hoot.

    Most private corporations have non-fraternization policies for a reason. They can’t run to the taxpayer and demand a bail-out after they screw up. It comes out of company funds.

    This is just another prime example of how irresponsible and reckless county government is.

    • verifiedsane

      What’s up with OCR and VofOC sneaking Toad Spitter campaign promotions into the their articles..The OC county government and their subordinates are thoroughly corrupt to their very core (this includes one of the worst self serving political animals; Spitzer) …When these clowns start talking about making feckless policy changes; citizens should just shake their heads and walk away laughing…because nothing is going to change for the better with this existing ruling oligarchy…

      • LFOldTimer

        Spitzer has become a one-man show. It’s as if the other 4 supes don’t even exist. Where the hell is Michelle Steel? Isn’t she the chairperson? She should be speaking for the board on all these issues. Not Spitzer! He showed up to the recent Anaheim council meeting and spoke on behalf of the county. He told everyone the county has $100’s of millions of dollars to spend on the homeless! ha. Suddenly he’s the money-man too!

        It’s pretty obvious what’s going on. Todd is jumping out in front of the pack to curry favor with the voters for Nov 2018. He’s using the media as his cheerleaders. This is the same clown who recently withheld public information from the media and forced a lawsuit costing the taxpayers $100’s of thousands of dollars to get it.

        Do you hear Spitzer demanding justice for all the sworn county government hacks who broke the law during the illegal informant scandals per the Dekraai, et al. cases? Nope.! He’ll need their support too if he wants to be the next DA.

    • RITCHIE VALENS

      I worked with this Calenturas