By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors announced Tuesday the hiring of a Los Angeles school official to head the county’s human resources department.
Wendy Macy, an attorney who oversees 70,000 regular employees as the chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Unified School District, is to take over as the county’s personnel director April 5.
She fills a position last held by Ann Goodrich, who resigned amid criticism from the county’s employee groups over salary and benefit reductions in Dec. 2009.
Julee Murphy, the interim director since then, is to resume her position as the department’s assistant director.
“Wendy Macy is a top flight professional and the entire Board is proud to have her join the county family,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Efren Carrillo said in a written statement.
Macy, 43, has worked at the Los Angeles Unified School District since 2001, also serving as an associate general counsel and personnel director.
She began her career in private practice at three large law firms, where she specialized in employment, commercial and securities litigation and government contracts, among other types of cases.
Macy said the county’s reputation as a “well-run, well-respected” local government drew her to the human resources job.
She will oversee just a fraction of the workforce — about 3,700, or 5 percent — of the employees she managed in Los Angeles.
“To me the size of the county doesn’t diminish the complexity of some of the problems that are facing it,” Macy said, noting the three consecutive years of job cuts, pay and hiring freezes that dominated recent budgets.
At the top of the Macy’s list of priorities is repairing a relationship with county employee groups that many said was fractured during Goodrich’s tenure. Along with former County Administrator Bob Deis, who resigned in mid-2009, Goodrich helped implement a controversial restructuring of employee and retiree medical benefits. The rollback has saved the county millions in medical costs, according to administrators, but it was blasted by bargaining groups and retirees, who have appealed a court ruling that affirmed the move.
Macy said she would try to replicate the “strong working relationship” she said she has enjoyed with unions in Los Angeles.
“We know we’re going to be facing difficult decisions. But we can set a good tone with communications and transparency,” she said.
Macy was one of nine candidates interviewed by supervisors for the position.
The county paid a Beverly Hills-based search firm $25,000 to handle recruitment for the position. Two weeks ago, in naming the new head of the county Water Agency, Carrillo defended the contract, which also included a separate $27,000 sum for the Water Agency recruitment.
Macy was hired on a three-year contract. Her starting salary is $177,000.