[UPDATE at end] When Orange County's supervisors huddle this afternoon for a hastily called secret meeting apparently to fire or reprimand County CEO Thomas G. Mauk in the wake of the sensational Carlos Bustamante sex scandal, the supes might want to also boot one of their own.
Back in 2007 when then-county Public Works Department director Bustamante was in the middle of his alleged seven-year sex crimes spree against female employees and Mauk was either asleep at the helm or purposefully oblivious, then-Supervisor John Moorlach made sure the CEO could continue his mismanagement for another half decade.
Los Angeles County supervisors made an offer to lure Mauk away. Mauk accepted, going so far as to write and deliver a resignation letter. LA officials celebrated their move in the press.
OC could have been rid of Mauk in January 2007 and hired an on-the-ball manager with a zero tolerance stance about sexual harassment. But in alliance with then-Supervisor Chris Norby, Moorlach couldn't stomach the thought of the county government without Mauk. He fretted and whined and bitched and begged. He wanted to know what it would it take for him to stay.
Mauk, no dummy bureaucrat, said he wanted an eight percent retroactive pay raise. Moorlach, who laughably considers himself a keen negotiator, refused. Eight percent was out of the question. Instead, the supervisor offered him 12 percent in retroactive raises, about $10,000 in additional benefit perks and a five-year guaranteed contract extension.
[This bizarre, suspicious phenomena is similar to a car salesman offering to sell you a car for $50,000 and you insisting that he accept your $75,000 counteroffer.]
Back to the Bustamante mess: On Monday, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas arrested Bustamante, who is a sitting Republican member of the Santa Ana City Council, and charged him with 12 sex crimes allegedly committed in his county job from 2003 to 2011. The accusations are so serious that Bustamante faces a potential 26-year prison sentence if he's convicted at a future trial.
But unlike Rackauckas, Mauk looked at the disgraceful sex scandal and pretended Bustamante deserved a taxpayer funded gift. Instead of doing the right thing--immediately firing him at the conclusion of two, related county personnel investigations, Mauk handed him a bonus. Without having to work another minute, Bustamante collected more than than $30,000 in extra pay and benefits after he was outed as a potential sexual predator.
The absurd rationalization inside the often soiled Hall of Administration? It's one of those we-burnt-down-the-village-to-save-it-arguments. The CEO claims he paid the bonus to financially protect taxpayers in a deal that blocks the accused predator from--get a load of this crock--suing the county for being unfairly removed from his job.
You can stop laughing/crying now.
Back in reality, it's no secret that the CEO in OC has two overarching tasks: make the temperamental, elected supervisors look brilliant as often as possible and, when disaster hits, shield the five bosses from incoming negative flak.
In the Bustamante case, the supervisors are not waiting for Mauk to hit the front line in a Secret Service-style position. They're shoving him forward. But regardless of the CEO's incompetence or callousness to the plight of the abused female employees, his demise won't be the result of a frontal assault. He'll likely be knifed in the back.
The primary assassin--a bearded physical giant with shameless political self preservation sensibilities, ironic pronouncements about personal responsibility and the title of Chairman of the Board of Supervisors--will pretend he and the rest of his colleagues are innocent victims and that once again they've done everything they could to protect the public.
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Will they also tell us that Mauk miserably failed at his job but--like Bustamante--is deserving of a generous, post-employment bonus package?