County to interview final two CAO candidates, discuss assistant position

SBC

San Benito County supervisors addressed two closed session items after concerns arose from local residents at a special board meeting Tuesday morning. The items were listed on the agenda as a public employee appointment regarding the assistant county administrative officer in the morning, followed by a public employee appointment regarding the county administrative officer in the afternoon.
Pat Loe, a former supervisor, in a public comment period before the closed session items said the supervisors seemed to be rushing an appointment of an assistant county administrative officer rather than waiting to hire a CAO and allowing that person to be involved in selecting an assistant. Loe also questioned whether the assistant CAO position should be appointed in closed session as the supervisors only have authority to deal with department head appointments in closed session. She reasoned because an assistant CAO would answer to the CAO the discussion did not meet the Brown Act requirements for a closed session item.
“Why are you rushing an appointment when San Benito County has historically had problems?” she asked. “When bringing in a CAO it is extremely important the CAO can trust and work well with the assistant CAO.”
Loe stressed concern that supervisors were reinstating a position that had been been vacant since former CAO Susan Thompson retired in 2010, in order to save money in the budget.
Supervisor Anthony Botelho was quick to clarify that supervisors had no plans to make an appointment for any position on Tuesday, but rather they would be continuing a discussion on developing the assistant CAO position and interviewing two finalists for the CAO position.
“We are not appointing anyone today,” he said.
Though there were no planned appointments, County Counsel Matthew Granger clarified the state and local ordinances that allow the assistant CAO position to be treated as a department head. He said state government code allows supervisors to meet in closed session to discuss the appointment of public employees, while other ordinance allow the supervisors to appoint other department heads on the recommendation of the CAO.
“Is the CAO a department head?” he asked. “Historically, the answer is yes.”
Granger said an appointment for the assistant CAO position would likely be made in July or August.

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