John Williams Agonistes

Well, that was an interesting morning in the courtroom, albeit a long, tedious and ultimately unsatisfying morning.  We walked in, a little over a dozen of us, with John S. Williams already effectively terminated as Public Administrator / Public Guardian of this County, and waiting to find out if the Judge, Judge Monroe, would re-instate him, whether the Judge would swallow the arguments that his proffered resignation of last year could be rescinded at the last moment as JW tried to, and whether the Board of Supes had any authority to even consider firing a (partially) elected official.

Well, there was a lot of time to kill as Judge Monroe pored through all the material he’d been handed, and John Williams just looked so alone and forsaken in the back row of the court, like someone’s sad red-faced souse Irish grandpa, while his ethically-challenged counsel Phil Greer laughed and shot the breeze with his opponent the way lawyers do.

So I walked up and introduced myself, shook his hand.  “Ah Vern Nelson” – yes he had read all my stuff lambasting him over the last two years.  I wished him good luck with whatever comes next in his life, we kind of agreed that there are different sides to every story, and he eventually told me a couple things he thought I should know (to which there happen to be good counter-arguments by the way)  – he says the two famous “scathing grand jury reports” on him had been retracted because of their “faulty methodology” – and he insisted he WANTS the new “Colantuono report” to come out because supposedly it vindicates him.  (No it doesn’t.)

But the burning question he refused to answer, which was WHY ARE YOU FIGHTING SO HARD TO KEEP THIS JOB? Why can’t you go out with a little dignity?  You’re sixty, you’ve got three pensions to get you through your retirement, your family’s in Florida, you’re obviously out of your depth, EVERYONE says you’ve been doing a horrible job, even your bible-thumping former friends like John Moorlach have turned against you, but you just keep fighting to stay on.  Is it just because staying on a little longer might make your pension a little higher?  Or is Phil Greer dragging you along for a little more loot?


But the first person we noticed in the courtroom when we got there, whirling like a dervish as is his wont, was Todd Spitzer, once and future OC Supervisor, who understandably takes the John Williams matter personally having lost his assistant DA post due to asking uncomfortable questions of the nepotistic, Rackauckas-tied office.

Todd was demanding to be included as a co-respondent against Wiliams.  He wanted a bigger public hearing on Willliams’ performance, and he obviously wants to take it to the doorstep of DA Rackauckas, Peggi Buff, and Susan Kang Schroeder.  It’s highly doubtful the County council wanted more than to keep it focused on Williams though, for obvious reasons.  Todd also emphasized his belief that Williams was LYING last year when he agreed that he’d resign this month as opposed to having just recently changed his mind for whatever circumstance;  and in the hour we spent waiting for the Judge to come out, the born politician busied himself making his case to us few journalists and bloggers there, and looking daggers at Williams.

When the elderly, genteel and soft-spoken Judge finally emerged, and read aloud through passages of Todd’s presentation (some of which I’ll copy below) he shook his head, clucked his tongue, and said, “That’s very uncharitable, Mr. Spitzer.  Yes, very uncharitable.”  Finally he concluded “I don’t see how it will help this case to have you involved, Mr. Spitzer.”  Well, let’s hear this uncharitable stuff here!

…II.  Purpose for Intervention:  To Prove Mr. Williams has a total and consistent inability to tell the truth when the relief sought turns on the veracity of his statement and intent.

A.  The events surrounding what led to Mr. Williams’ demise are critical to show why he was willing to leave the County

I am seeking to intervene to shed light on that agreement based on facts that are within my personal purview and to assist the Court in weighing evidence which will shed light on Mr. Williams’ lack of veracity and the set of cards Mr. Williams was dealing with when he made the agreement to leave public service effective January 23, 2012.

The Petitioner is seeking relief from this Honorable Court to find that when Mr. Williams negotiated his sweet-heart deal with the County of Orange to be demoted from the position of Public Guardian, retain his elected position of Public Administrator, keep his full salary and benefits, he never had any intent to resign from his position on the targeted date expressed in the agreement letter.

The relief Petitioner is seeking turns on whether the Court believes Mr. Williams actually represented a position and intended to fulfill the expectation which is why the County allowed him to remain at full salary and benefits, or whether Mr. Williams was simply bluffing.

[…skipping a little…]  The evidence is so clear that Mr. Williams had spiraled so far down this elevator shaft of professional and political support that this was his “best and final” deal.  Given the circumstances at the time and the options available to the County and the public who had turned on him, it is absolutely clear that Mr. Williams had the intent, purpose and goal to leave the County.  Period.

There is no pleasant way of informing this Court that Mr. Williams is not an honorable man.  Specifically, he is phony.  Mr. Williams consistently lies to gain a political and financial advantage.  The public is, quite frankly, fed up with phony government officials who exploit personal opportunities to achieve exorbitant financial gain on the back of the taxpayer, especially when they lie and cover-up to benefit themselves or their political and professional reputations.  I believe in good faith that Mr. Williams enjoys benefits from a career as a County Marshall, the County’s Public Guardian/Public Administrator, and as a former South OC Community College Trustee.  There is no doubt that he calculated how long staying through 1/23/2012 would impact his pension(s.)  ….

B.  Williams’ lies during the cover-up that unraveled his Administration show he is not trustworthy in his declarations and testimony before this Court.

  • On August 28, 2010, Mr. Williams wrote a press release indicating that I engaged in unlawful and inappropriate behavior in communicating with his office while an Assistant DA for the County.  He told the media that he orchestrated that press release without any assistance from outside agencies.  [Exhibit 1]
  • On October 21, 2010, during a press conference held by the OC DA, DA Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder admitted that she did speak to Williams the night before he issued the press release and assisted him in writing that release.  Up until that point, both Williams and Kang Schroeder had adamantly denied that there was any complicity between the two surrounding my termination.  [Exhibit 2 – Voice of OC]
  • On September 8, 2010, Mr. Williams wrote to the Chief Deputy, James Humes, of the California Attorney General’s Office, indicating that he possessed a TRANSCRIPT of a phone call that I made to his deputy, and repeatedly told the press that he possessed a TRANSCRIPT of that call.  Even his attorney Phil Greer, playing politics and attempting to underscore the strength of his client’s position, emphasized that Mr. Williams had a transcript and was seeking County Counsel’s permission to release it.  In fact there was never any transcript, just notes;  and Mr. Williams was caught lying to the media to gain an unfair advantage in the court of public opinion. [Exhibit 4 – Register]

III.  Conclusion

Based on the forgoing information and additional information I am sure to gain as an Intervenor in this matter, I respectfully request leave of Court to Intervene as a matter of law to support the Respondent, County of Orange, in defending the false and trumped-up claims by Mr. Williams.

Respectfully submitted,

Todd Spitzer, Attorney-at-law.


But Judge Monroe was having none of it, and instead spent two hours exploring arguments and precedents with Phil Greer and the County Counsel as to whether Williams’ resignation was promised or suggested, whether a promised resignation could be rescinded, and whether the Board of Supervisors even has any power to remove an official who is (at least partly) elected.  It was pretty boring.  He concluded, “Well, my mother had a saying … actually she had many sayings.  But the one I’m thinking of now is ‘There may not always be time to do things right, but there’s always time to do things over.'”

Translation?  Good news – Williams is still locked out of his office, and is not our Public Administrator / Guardian.  Bad news – there will be another hearing in March, with “discovery,” at which he might be able to weasel back in.

Frustrating as always, this could just go on and on.  As my whistleblower buddy complained to me on the way home, this is not even the biggest case of cronyism and waste going on in the County right now.  The case of County CEO Tom Mauk [right] that was written about very briefly on our blog the other day by “Over But Not Out” entails a lot more ill-steered money.  But how many corrupt County Goliaths can one little team of Davids fight at the same time?

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.