Supervisors to slash the Gordian Knot that ties the OC to John Williams!




In another great if long-delayed victory for honest frugal governance, for the Orange County taxpayer, and above all, for the crusading OC blogosphere, the Board of Supervisors looks finally ready to slash the Gordian Knot that binds the comical and parasitic Public Administrator / Public Guardian John S. Williams – probably the worst of our “public servants” –  to the OC body politic.

That “Knot” was the spectacularly ill-advised Ordinance # 07-008 of 2007 which united the previously-supervised, elected, 5-figure job of Public Administrator (from which nobody can be removed without recall) with the previously-appointed, 6-figure job of Public Guardian. (For four previous years, the PA had also been appointed PG, but 2007’s ordinance made it automatic.)

The idea of the ordinance was to save the County money and bureaucracy – one of the side-splitting ironies of our era.  The actual effect of the ordinance was quite the opposite – it removed JW from any supervision and made him untouchable, as long as he kept getting re-elected every four years.  (No problem, between name recognition, GOP institutional support, and low-info voters who have no idea what PA/PG is or does and probably skip that part of their ballot.)  And the abuses that followed from JW’s permanent fiefdom have been well-documented in the local blogosphere – first by Dissent the Blog, then by myself here since May, and most recently by the Register’s estimable Kimberly Edds:

  • Unneeded six-figure managerial positions created for political cronies (friends of DA Rackauckas basically)
  • Resulting understaffing, overloading, and disgruntlement among the deputies who do the actual work;
  • Increasingly aggressive attempts to take over citizens’ estates to cover the agency’s bloated budget;
  • And more, I’m getting tired of writing about it, but it’s all here.

Ah, I remember one sunny afternoon in Santa Ana last summer, when a ragtag gang of four – two anonymous whistle-blowers and two plucky bloggers (myself and Professor Roy Bauer of Dissent) met with brand-spanking-new Supervisor Shawn Nelson, to convince him to slash this Gordian Knot.  The logic was impeccable:  Remove his plum PG gig, and when all he has left is the dismal low-paying PA gig, the goofy grinning kleptocrat will surely bugger off to Orlando (where he already likes to spend half his time on the taxpayer dime.)  Shawn was all, “You had me at hello.”  But still the wheels turned so slowly…

And this Slashing of the Knot was no new or novel suggestion – It was recommended by 2009’s TWO Scathing Grand Jury Reports®, and embraced by County CEO Tom Mauk… but then defeated by the Supervisors 3-2, with Janet Nguyen, Pat Bates and Chris Norby all finding the special pleading of JW’s attorney, the ubiquitous and ethically-challenged Phil Greer, oddly compelling.  Could this have had anything to do with Greer also being THEIR ubiquitous and ethically-challenged attorney?  The idea is not far-fetched.

But after the tireless pestering of folks like us, the fireworks caused by the related and unwise firing of Todd Spitzer, ONE MORE confidential investigation by the County, and the eventual percolation of the blogosphere’s hard work up to the Register, enough peristalsis was finally worked up to slowly eject this painfully large load.  And so at the next Board meeting March 1 the Slashing of the Knot will be discussed;  March 15 it will be voted on;  and by April 14 there will be a new Guardian in town and Johnny-boy will be left wearing a Public-Administrator-shaped dunce hat (if he’s still around.)  I think the worthy Colleen Callahan should be made PA, as she did get the second-most number of votes last June, and has the honesty, expertise, and caring nature.

Of course, not going gentle into that good night, old John Williams, dopey enough to think himself in a position of strength, is trying to negotiate more of the mega-bucks he has become so accustomed to.  Not happy with the triple-dipping pensions he already has coming, he would also like a few years’ more severance pay for his truncated PG career!  Venerable county watchdog Shirley Grindle calls bullshit on that:

“It is clear that the Board of Supervisors is on record acknowledging they have the legal right to terminate John William’s role as Public Guardian, but not as Public Administrator (as an elected official only to that office, he must either resign or be recalled).  By so doing, the practical result is that an unlawful gift of public funds is avoided by not paying John Williams the Public Guardian pro rata share of his salary and benefits for performing duties the Board has officially relieved him of.”

T-Racks’ beloved P-Buff.

Well, then, he at least wants to make sure his three “political appointees” stay in their cushy jobs – most notably his second-in-command, T-Rack’s fiancee Peggi Buff (who I think we should start calling P-Buff.)  Howls erupt from within the agency at the thought of leaving P-Buff in charge – apparently she has been pretty much calling all the shots for these last few years, with Johnny Boy only dropping by the office to pick up his paycheck … and they have all been BAD SHOTS.

Thankfully, going by the latest Edds piece, this seems unlikely to happen either:  Supervisor Bill Campbell assures us that the “three political appointees will likely be found positions in a different county department… ‘They would be lightning rods if they were still in the office and [Williams]  had left.’ ”  And you know what happens to lightning rods.

So!  That’s one useless, wasteful, ethically shaky, incompetent “Repuglican” down.  Let’s keep the momentum going, boys!  Nest stop, Dick Ackerman and Dave Ellis!  (Then T-Rack himself?  A boy can dream, can’t he?)

Let’s end the way Roy began last night – with Grindle’s merciless epigram:

“He would do us all a favor if he would just resign.”


PS I wonder if JW’s own Baghdad Bob of the Comments Sections will show up this time, and what could he possibly say now?  I’ll be back later tonight with some of his/her choice quotes from past months…….

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.