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How corrupt is Orange County politics?  This corrupt.  (OK, more than this corrupt, but this story by Vern Nelson, my friend and publisher of the Orange Juice Blog, is a good start at documenting it.)

There's a lot of money in Orange County, California, as you may have heard.  One consequence of being "California's own Texas" is that we tend to do everything big -- including corruption.  We had our huge municipal bankruptcy decade before last that wiped the slate clean (and messed up lots of people to whom the county owed money) with the calm aplomb of Mitt Romney pumping the juice out of a taken-over company and burbling it into a wine decanter for later private enjoyment.

So, when we have self-dealing public officials (who scheme at cutting the pay and benefits of their public employees while cramming their own yaps full of goodies), we do it big, with lots and lots of money and power thrown around.  This story tells how.

The County's CEO -- of course we call our county's executive a CEO -- is a guy named Tom Mauk, and he's up for review tomorrow night.  I'll give you the first three paragraphs of the story as a teaser -- but you have to promise to show up and take the poll!

Damn, this county has been run badly these last few years.  I mean, hell’s bells.  Who’s been in charge?  Are they asleep at the switch?  That would be our County CEO Thomas G Mauk.  Since his appointment  September 28, 2004, Mauk has presided over a lavish and consequence-free culture of self-dealing that’s cost OC taxpayers millions and millions.  Tens of millions.

CEO Mauk’s performance review with the Board of Supervisors is coming up Tuesday night. They may offer him a raise, to offset his recent pickup of his own pension costs – got that? – in the same stroke erasing any savings we might have enjoyed from his taking over his pension costs.  In a poll below we will ask you if you think he deserves a raise, or to be kept on at the same salary, or to be replaced.  But first, dear reader, consider the following items:

Consider:  As a scathing audit revealed last year, the County’s Human Relations  under Mauk regularly approved unjustified raises and promotions, breaking county and state rules to benefit its own employees and those of Mauk’s office, squandering over a hundred million of your money and mine.  It was a free-for-all, everyone giving each other the highest performance reviews, people approving their own raises, the Supervisors being kept in the dark over promotions and raises they were supposed to have been in charge of.  More gruesome details are here – pay raises of 33% within 6 months, a Dana Point Harbors Director with four raises in 9 months, and more.

And I just can't resist one more paragraph, dealing with a case where the County turned down a half-million dollar settlement offer and parleyed it into ... well, look:
Consider the case of Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick, whose suit against the County over two social workers who lied to take away her daughter resulted in a judgment in her favor which the County appealed for four years, ALL THE WAY TO THE SUPREME COURT, until it ended up costing us $10.6 MILLION.  ($9.6 to the Seal Beach mother and her counsel, which you can see below, and another million in the County’s own legal costs.)
More details at the link above.  It's hard for us community blogger-journalists to stand up to the overwhelming power of Orange County government (and its generally subservient right-wing press), but getting good readership for a story like this helps, so give us a click, a read, a vote in the poll, and a comment if you are so moved.

Originally posted to Doane Spills on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Your Government at Work and California politics.

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