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Put the "Supervise" back in Supervisor!

posted Feb 14, 2009, 7:10 AM by Lois Hamilton   [ updated Aug 11, 2009, 11:53 AM ]

Dear Friends:
The County has an opportunity to change its governance structure, and you can help to make it happen.
The article below explains the matter, as does the cover story of this week's Independent.  But in brief:  the County's chief administrator, Mike Brown, has been running the place like his own personal fiefdom for 4 years, due to a change in county law in 2005 that gave him power over all department heads, to the exclusion of the Supervisors whom we elected, and who are accountable to us in ways that Brown is not.  Now, Supervisors Wolf and Farr have started the process to change the law back to what it was and should be -- where five Supervisors, not one all-powerful unelected autocrat, have supervisory authority over department heads.
If you think this doesn't matter, talk to a county employee sometime.  They live in fear of Brown, and it's affecting their work in meaningful ways.
Here's what you can do to help:
1)  Email your County Supervisor, Salud Carbajal, at, and tell him you want him to support Supervisor Wolf and Farr's move to revise the County code to restore control of County operations to the Supervisors.  Add anything you want from the article below or the Independent piece, but let Salud know that you want elected officials, not an unelected bureaucrat with delusions of authoritarian power, running your county.  Salud is the crucial vote, so he needs to hear from you !
2) If you have time, send a similar email to Supervisors Joni Gray ( and Joe Centeno (  They are very unlikely to vote with us, but it's good for them to hear that people want the change.
3) If you have a bit more time, send a brief "thank you" email to Supervisors Janet Wolf ( and Doreen Farr ( thanking them for this brave and important effort.
Thanks for acting on this.  The vote is on Feb 17th; your email can influence the outcome.
Lee Heller

Smack Down at the County? From the BOS Agenda...
From the County Agenda for February 17, 2009 -- is County Executive Officer Mike Brown being taken down a notch? Read on....

On March 1, 2005 the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance amending Chapter 2, Article X of the County Code which established the duties, responsibilities and authorities of the County Executive Officer. The Board letter premised the recommended action upon the goal to strengthen organizational effectiveness and to establish an organizational culture that would improve operations.

The ordinance that was adopted on March 1, 2005 transferred direct oversight and control of most County Department heads from the Board of Supervisors to the County Executive Officer. Specifically and most pertinent to the current recommendation, Section 2-71 (f) provided the CEO with "full authority of the Board to select, appoint, evaluate, suspend, terminate and retain those department directors except the directors whose appointment or removal is otherwise expressly provided for in statute."

The language adopted by the BOS did not require the CEO to inform, brief or seek the input of the Board of Supervisors regarding such actions. Section 2-71 (f) provides only that "the County Executive Officer may, from time to time, consult with the Board of Supervisors regarding the execution of these responsibilities."

Concerns have been raised regarding the organizational effectiveness of this structure including the absence of required direct consultation with the elected Board of Supervisors on the appointment of department heads. Further, several contradictions seem inherent in Chapter 2, Article X. For example, Section 2-69 contains the statement that "As the legislative
body of the County, the board of supervisors is responsible for its efficient and effective managementŠ.and the Board has ultimate authority and control over County policy, budgetary matters and strategic direction."

Because of these concerns, and a concern that the Board meet its legislative responsibilities, we believe that now is the appropriate time to reevaluate this aspect of the County organizational structure and to consider amending section 2-71 (f) to return the authority to the Board of Supervisors to "select, appoint, evaluate, suspend, terminate and retain" department directors who are not elected or appointed by the courts.

We hope through objective review of the ordinance including a comparison to similar aspects of duties and powers of the CEO/CAO position in other Counties, this Board will have the opportunity to establish and define its responsibilities as well as the overall county structure.

Labels: Board of Supervisors, Santa Barbara County
posted by Sara De la Guerra | 1/30/2009