Modoc Supervisors, CAO
Criticized by Sheriff, Auditor
Two of the county’s elected officials publicly criticized the Modoc County Board of Supervisors and its chief administrative officer Tuesday for not including them in strategic budget meetings at a time when the chance of bankruptcy appears to loom ever closer.
Charging the board with “a shift towards secrecy” and “bad business practice,” Sheriff Mike Poindexter and Auditor Darcy Locken cast political diplomacy aside and bluntly told the supervisors they are fostering mistrust, dissension and double standards by failing to publicly address the county’s financial status.
“I find myself being pushed aside and kept in the dark by the board and the county administrative officer (Chester Robertson),” Locken said in a prepared statement read to the board. “It begs the question, why are we being excluded, and what are we not being told?”
Poindexter, reading from his prepared statement, went further.
“It all seems suspect to me and I would submit to the public that the elimination of necessary checks and balances is being accomplished behind closed doors,” Poindexter said.
Locken and Poindexter’s discontent with the Board of Supervisor has apparently been building for months. At issue is the board’s efforts to restore a treasury deficit caused by a “rob Peter to pay Paul” principle that for an estimated 10 years depleted the treasury by a reported $20 million, resulting in a state-ordered mandate to make restitution.
Asked just how serious the county’s financial condition is, Locken told the Modoc Independent News blog, “I'd rate it an eight on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being bankruptcy. The reason I put it so high is that the rug could be pulled out from under us at any time. A bad storm that causes an expensive emergency or flood could bankrupt us, although that doesn't seem to be much of a threat so far this season.”
Unnecessary spending by the board at a time of fiscal crisis was attacked by Poindexter.
“I am asked, it seems, at every corner to cut further, while I watch the precious dollars cut from my budget (then) reappear to pay outside professionals for duplication of services,” the sheriff told the board without elaboration.
Explaining her reasons for chastising the board, Locken said she saw no other alternative.
“The reason I came to the board publicly the way I did is that I've exhausted all other avenues,” she told the Modoc Independent News blog in an e-mail exchange. “I've tried to work with Chester Robertson. No go. I've talked to Geri Byrne. I've talked to Dave Allen. No go.
“Jeff Bullock and I are actually on the same page on this subject, but he's obviously on the outs,” she said in reference to an internal move on the board to oust Bullock as chairman. “We ask questions,” Locken continued. “We want to see proof, backup and results. I do believe that there are other ‘pressures’ behind the scenes. I've got nothing to hide, let's see if they do.”
Poindexter asked the board to reassess its methods of managing the county’s business by being more open.
“Please take a close look at the current county government management style,” he asked. “Include the public, your elected and appointed officials in the loop, especially in areas that pertain to their lawful duties. We simply cannot continue in the direction we are moving.”