Former Supervisor Ron Briggs Unloads on County's Self-Serving Politics

by admin / Sep 01, 2015 / 0 comments
Caption: : 
former District IV Supervisor Ron Briggs

2015-09-01, 06:59:29 PLACERVILLE CA

In a wide ranging public letter to the Board of Supervisors regarding the Grand Jury Report Scheduled to be addressed by the public today, former District IV Supervisor Ron Briggs addresses the Grand Jury report on: Auditor Controller “Putting Political Gain Above What’s Right for the County” and District One Supervisor Mikulaco “Sign of Times”.

Ron Briggs served two four year terms for a total of eight years ending January 2015.

Regarding Auditor Joe Harm Briggs agrees with the Grand Jury report and says, "wholeheartedly with the Grand Jury findings on Auditor Harn (AH), in fact, it is a very accurate portrayal of how he wields the county checkbook and claim procedures (for reasons known only to himself) imposing a petulant will, costing great expense to: taxpayers and vendors."

He then goes into great detail and gives several examples: LAFCo Grassy Run Service District dissolution; Serrano Mello Roos – Parker Development request for refund of overpayment; Cost Applied’s – Grand Jury finding number 1.

Regarding a Supervisor Briggs served with, Ron "Mik" Milulako, Briggs not only agrees with the Grand Jury report, he amplifies it with statements like, "This man uses the color of his office as a shield for poor and disgraceful behavior. He walked off the dais one day after a presentation and solicited a “date or hook up” with a victim of sex trafficking."

The full letter follows.

 

August 31, 2015

Board of Supervisors
330 Fair Lane
Placerville, Ca 95667
Attn: Clerk of Board James Mitrisin

Re: Former Supervisor Briggs comments on Legistar 15-1032; Board Response to Grand Jury

Mr. Mitrisin

Please add to the public file the two following comments to public file specifically to the Grand Jury report on: Auditor Controller “Putting Political Gain Above What’s Right for the County” and District One Supervisor Mikulaco “Sign of Times”.

For the record I served two four year terms for a total of eight years statutorily ending January 2015. During this time I concentrated on understanding the internal government structure of El Dorado County which is locked into the culture of fear circulating around the Auditor Controller.

I’ve read the Grand Jury reports and both Auditor Controller Joe Harns and District One Supervisor Mikulaco individual responses. It is from my personal firsthand experiences do I make the following comments.

Auditor Controller Joe Harn -

It’s simple to agree wholeheartedly with the Grand Jury findings on Auditor Harn (AH), in fact, it is a very accurate portrayal of how he wields the county checkbook and claim procedures (for reasons known only to himself) imposing a petulant will, costing great expense to: taxpayers and vendors.

AH responses to the Grand Jury revolve around the very blame game the Grand Jury reports on. He agrees he is ultimately responsible for the “Cost Applied’s” yet he blames the former interim IT Director. 

How does one with “ultimate responsibility” blame anyone?

AH in his response to finding 3 says he’d be happy with responding to specifics, let me offer a few:

LAFCo Grassy Run Service District dissolution.  Several years ago Grassy Run members asked to formally dissolve their district. State statute mandates such dissolutions must move through the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) then to Board of Supervisors for ratification.

LAFCo commissioners and the Board of Supervisors agreed to use as much of the money in Grassy Run account for road improvements within their sphere and any residual money in Grassy Run account be delivered to LAFCo upon presentation to county of claim to pay the cost of dissolution. The residual amount was approximately $5,000. LAFCo submitted the claim, nothing. AH sat on it. Many communications occur from LAFCo, CAO, AH and my office as at the time I sat as LAFCo Chairman. Finally, months after the claim was submitted I walked down to AH office and ask him when the $5,000 would be sent. He produced a copy of the Board Resolution directing the $5,000 to LAFCo and said “the Board “directed” me. You (board) didn’t “authorize” me”.
This money still remains unpaid in the General Fund today years later.

I believe AH was more peeved at LAFCo as he and Supervisor Mikulaco publically grilled LAFCo Executive Director for a $10,000 mathematical error as it related to a PERS contribution for LAFCo employees who were formerly county employees until 2007. A statutory separation was mandated by legislature requiring a PERS recalculation and the argument was about “who” County or LAFCo, was going to pick up the tab.

This LAFCo PERS matter was stupid and inane. I’d guess the county spent $15,000 in legal fees and staff time while LAFCo spent $5,000 in legal fees and staff time simply to adjust the mistake that if everybody met, as the board asked AH to many times, it probably would have taken a couple hours to resolve. But it’s a prime example of how the Auditor chooses conflict to interact with everyone.

Instead of picking up the phone and saying “Hey Executive Director Henriquez, I got a question about the PERS actuarial and when you get a minute let’s talk” he prefers to issue a press release to belittle LAFCo as incompetent, then, sends a letter to County Taxpayers to engage them, then, Mt Democrat writes editorials and so on and so on.

As you read on keep this in mind and think of the many former directors and professionals who are now separated from our county after being recipients of this routine. I would guess 75% of them received this public berating.

Ryan White Federal Aids Program – since the inception of this federal program the County has chosen to partner with Sacramento County who acts as the program lead. There has been a standard annual contract in the amount of $75,000 in place for many years. Annually the contract comes to the Board for approval and we remit to Sacramento County for services.

At the time, AH had been combative with Health Services Director Neilson and in my opinion, chose to sit on this contract in an effort to make Director Neilson uncomfortable. (Director Neilson left the county after doing so much good elevating the delivery of health and social services because of the abuse levied by AH, my opinion) The county’s payment had become so delinquent and after many pleas by Sacramento County staff, they finally had their Board of Supervisors, by resolution, send a letter with an attached unfiled lawsuit to my office to collect the $75,000. The entire Board of Supervisors in Sacramento County had to become involved and threaten litigation before AH would send a check.

The flow chart for contracts such as this, go to: Risk Department; County Counsel; the Department Head and finally the Chief Administrative Office for placement on agenda for Board action.

Despite all these highly paid hands this $75,000 AIDS contract which is substantial in our county delivering services to individuals who live with AIDS, it took about seven months from board approval for the AH to pay. Without any reason or rationale for withholding payment on a board approved contract.

 

Serrano Mello Roos – Parker Development request for refund of overpayment

Thinking it perfunctory, Parker Development submitted calculations along with a request for return of Mello Roos taxes paid in Serrano Development approximating $1,200,000.

Before anyone else in the county could act AH wrote a letter to Parker stating adamantly he didn’t agree and he would not be making any refund.

I am trying to condense a very long arduous process that ensued. But, if can think back to the PERS calculation then the reader may have a better idea of the costly affair about to unfold.

Parkers attorneys responded as attorneys are to be expected to. AH asked county counsel to respond in equal force without any courtesy toward the Board as an “fyi”.

By the time it evolved to a mini war of words between AH through county counsel and the Parker Company once the Board was made aware it acted swiftly some weeks after AH rejection. The Board hired a lawyer specializing in accounting forensics to evaluate Parkers numbers. This is happening over a course of months.

The board wanted an explanation from AH who offered this in response “I don’t like anything Kirk Bone has to say”.

Meanwhile as the attorney fees are racking up on both sides AH sends Parker a check for about $250,000 within a couple months into this morass. Then a couple months later sends Parker another $500,000 or so. Before long, AH disclosed to the board he had hired a personal attorney using county funds to protect himself. From what remains a mystery to me.

In the end, the County forensic attorney findings basically affirmed Parker as correct all along. The county paid upwards of $100,000 for attorney fees and staff time, not including AH personal attorney who identity remains a secret today, my guess Parker paid much more in attorney fees.

And so the basic question: Why?

What good of the people purpose did this near one year long ordeal serve when, while during the morass AH disbursed nearly three quarters of a million dollars BEFORE the county forensic attorney completed his review. Ultimately Parker received all their overpayments requested. I asked AH why he didn’t work with Parker, his response “I do not like Kirk Bone”.

Another example of putting political gain above what’s right for the county.

 

 

Cost Applied’s – Grand Jury finding number 1

There is a reason why District Attorney Pierson was asked to be the IT Director and that sole reason is AH. The board was about to embark on a $6 million upgrade to the county’s circa 1987 DOS accounting program. And we, the board, greatly feared the auditor would frustrate this upgrade because once in place everyone would be able to see the entirety of the county financial books. I think the concept of open books and government frightens AH>

District Attorney Pierson had long championed the upgrade and the board felt his perceived strong relationship with AH would encourage AH to work diligently and positively through the upgrade.

The board then sent Chief Administrative Analyst Webb to assist DA Pierson helping him with the day to day activities. Both relied on AH and his office who long ago became the defacto administer of cost applieds years ago.

Neither, IT Director Pierson nor CAO analyst Webb are/were responsible for the cost applieds.

Ultimate responsibility means just that.


Since the adoption of County Ordinance Chapter 2.57, Section 2.57.030 the Board of Supervisors has authorized four separate Salary and Benefit resolutions increasing salaries and benefits of the “Elected Department Heads”.  County Counsel issued an opinion in September 2013 advising the Board Sec 2.57.030 clearly links the Board of Supervisors directly to each of those S&B Resolutions. Meaning, the Board of Supervisors should have enjoyed the same increases at the time the elected department heads received theirs.

AH states in his response number 5 regarding a 1978 Board of Supervisors action “I have followed the intent of the Board of Supervisors”

Here, he ignored not one, not two, but three Board resolutions. His paycheck didn’t suffer as he chose to personally accept and pay the three salary increases to the elected department heads including his own paycheck failing or choosing not to increase in a like amount to the Board members as mandated in ordinance 2.57.

In 2006 he did however credit Board members $6,000 benefit for health cost approved through resolution to elected department heads. One out of four.

With the 3-2 December 2014 action affirmatively reinstating pay differentials the Board of Supervisors also reinstated a 5% increase to their personal salaries beginning January 2013. My guess none of the board is receiving this or the three other S& B resolutions which is amounts to a 13% raise from current salary level, compounded. Now, today, there are four Board resolutions authorizing an increase to Board member’s salaries that are not being paid.

Yet, every elected department head enjoys these raises while AH ignores 2.57.030 that, according to County Counsel, clearly links Board member’s salaries. Another example of AH doing what he pleases.

The Board did in fact sever its link to 2.57 in November 2013.

However, on the last meeting In December 2014, months after every elected department head was safely re-elected the Board on a 3-2 voted to restore the link and pay schemes increasing AH personal paycheck about $45,000 extra annually.


So Board members, here are a few examples without discussing the cultural assessment which the county has over two hundred thousand taxpayers into and I’ll touch on now.

The three people who braved the system to speak publically about the culture of Auditor Harn are now all detached from county service. Mike Appelgarth was a good county kid. He lived here and probably would have made a great CAO someday. CAO Daly and CAO analyst Webb’s only crime was to effect Board policy.

The Board told the staff “we have your backs!” and as the assessment got a little rough what did the Board do? It fired those we said we have their backs and reward Auditor Harn with a pay raise. So much for public trust.

The Grand Jury recommendation for a criminal investigation and removal from office of Auditor Harn deserves more than what is being is being offered by the Board in their draft response.


District one Supervisor Mikulaco –

Everything the Grand Jury says is true. This man uses the color of his office as a shield for poor and disgraceful behavior. He walked off the dais one day after a presentation and solicited a “date or hook up” with a victim of sex trafficking. I can see him and hear him as clear as the sun is bright. I can attest to personally seeing complaints from staff members or outside agency staff of Mr. Mikulaco’s sexual marauding of women and can relate a couple instances from Mr. Mikulaco bragged to me about.

There are female employees today who fear his retribution as he has had good tutelage by the rewards the county offers for bad behavior. *See cultural assessment and Auditor Harn.

When does it end? The Board of Supervisors are the county’s citizens. You were elected to do right and good for your constituents and the county as a whole. Rewarding or ignoring poor behavior just stacks up the claims and dampens staff innovation.

Specifically to Mr. Mikulaco the Board should censure and strip him from all committee appointments and title other than Supervisor immediately.

 

Regarding both the Auditor Harn and Mr. Mikulaco, the Board needs to publically assure us citizens through resolution or letter stating they will cooperate with any investigation openly and free from obstructions like forcing a Public Records Act for simple information. This letter does not need to indict or promote any particular outcome and needs to be sent to District Attorney; State Attorney General; Grand Jury; Judge Kingsbury as a matter of public record.

Doing so, places the Board of Supervisors in a position of putting themselves ahead of political games and doing what is right for the county.

Respectfully submitted,


s/ rb
Ron Briggs
Former District IV Supervisor
1024 Wallace Road
Placerville, Ca 95667