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Public trust, what a concept......

In an editorial published today, The Bee says Sacramento County should make public two reports on the alleged misdeeds of former County CEO Nav Gill. The Board of Supervisors put Gill on paid administrative leave last November after accusations about his dictatorial management style, racism, sexism, flouting of public health rules imposed on the public, and mismangement of federal Covid-19 funds. Though written documentation of problems with his performance was drafted, he quit before the investigation was concluded. Unless those reports are released to the public, says The Bee, the public trust has been violated and his accusers in the County workforce cannot get justice.

“I don’t feel safe in my home community by the administrators of our community. That’s a problem.”
County resident Ryan McClinton, comment to Board of Supervisors {Source:}
May contain: tie, accessories, accessory, face, person, human, and head
From the County's web site: a smiling former County CEO Nav Gill

Obviously the public deserves to know what the County does with our tax money and how it directs our public servants.  Mr. Gill worked for us. His $400K salary was paid for by our taxes. He was a county employee for 13 years, including being deputy administrator and, later, chief administrator of the County's executive branch. He managed the County's $6.4B budget. He headed the County's departments and ran its staff. So, sure, public trust, transparency and accountability are valid concerns. But we do not think the spotlight belongs on Mr. Gill alone. Consider that the Supervisors let him:

  • Propose and manage annual budgets that continued to obscure how much money the County takes in from Arden Arcade vs. how much - and how - it spends money for municipal services in our community, 
  • Run municipal planning and economic development activity for our community by giving away the store to developers de jour while holding public input at arm's length,
  • Perpetuate the County's pattern of confusing the pubic by conflating its municipal and countywide roles, and
  • Generally ignore our community, letting it continue to run down.

Don't forget there is also an ongoing structural governance problem. As The Bee editorial noted, 2 of 5 County Supervisors wanted to get rid of Mr. Gill and another one (now the Board Chair) has praised him up one side and down the other. Of the Supervisors, 4 do not really represent us - we did not elect them, nor can we un-elect them. We only get to elect 1 Supervisor. And it takes 3 Supervisors to get anything done. While we certainly have good wishes for our new Supervisor, Rich Desmond, we know he cannot fix things by himself. Further, as the new guy, he will need time to forge alliances to get those other 2 votes if and when they might become available.

Will public access to reports about Nav Gill "restore" public trust? Will the County embrace transparency and accountability? Hmm... What public trust? Can the County restore something that wasn't much there in the first place? Given the track record, is the Board of Supervisors likely to embrace transparency and accountability? What do you think?

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