Exit Strategy

Ensuring Mittermeiers lips are sealed as she leaves CEO post

Mittermeier is now looking forward to her next big, six-figure job. She cannot afford to leave this one with a wingtip up her behind. The supes—and the developers they represent—cannot afford to have her feeling vexed. They need a face-saving, controversy-avoiding exit strategy. The plan—sources at the Hall of Administration say it was developed by Mittermeier and her allies in the 10 weeks since she narrowly escaped being fired—has been to create a scenario in which the CEO could ostensibly leave of her own volition, pick up a very generous $170,000 severance package, and have a decent shot at winning additional public monies from a quiet settlement.

Of course, few if any major government decisions—even key personnel decisions—are made without (to use a generous term) "input" from the Irvine Co., the outfit that wields influence over the offices and budgets of practically every city and county government in the region. That Silva, Coad and Wilson voted to breach Mittermeier's contract also means that the Irvine Co. okayed the move in advance.

The businessmen and their lobbyists must be simultaneously saddened and anxious about Mittermeier's pending departure. Her willingness to manipulate the county's $3.8 billion annual operation for their private whims and cravings has been no secret. Who else could have looked on so coldly as thousands of local children live in abject poverty and then, in just one disgraceful example, send more than $3 million in public funds to the marketing department at Disneyland?

But those special interests can relax. One outcome is certain: the woman who knows about the backroom deals that evaporated a sizable chunk of the $15 billion in county spending since 1995 will surely walk away financially satisfied and closed-lipped. The exit strategy guarantees it.

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