Incoming Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin is managing the long days of her transition to higher office with a checklist that only seems to grow.
The former Santa Rosa city councilwoman, 60, is trying to come up to speed on county issues that include a controversial funding shortfall for road upkeep, stalled proposals for employee pay and pension cuts and looming land-use disputes.
In taking over representation of the county’s 1st District from Supervisor Valerie Brown, she has about five dozen appointments to make to county boards and commissions.
Former Sonoma County Supervisor Paul Kelley will be paid $24,000 over the next eight months to provide consulting advice about agriculture for the county’s Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, which of late has come under criticism from farmers.
In 2002, at the urging of labor and with the endorsement of management, the county Board of Supervisors approved a more generous set of pension benefits for all current workers. The change, fueled by salary increases and combined with other workforce trends, is now seen as driving the upward spiral in pension costs.
A little-known perk termed ‘administrative leave’ amounts to a guaranteed cash bonus or extra vacation for some upper-level government administrators and elected officials in Sonoma County.
Valerie Brown’s surprise decision not to seek re-election to the Board of Supervisors means Sonoma County will have seen almost a complete turnover in leadership over a four-year period. Change is good, but is this too much at one time?
Grant Davis, the interim head of the Sonoma County Water Agency, has been hired as the agency’s general manager. The appointment puts an end to a process that was surrounded with political intrigue a year ago, when then-Supervisor Paul Kelley was widely rumored to be seeking the general manager’s post.
It was a day of celebration at the Sonoma County offices Tuesday as two new supervisors were sworn in. But the question remains, who will emerge as the true fiscal leaders on this new board now that those behind the county’s last major reform attempt – the health benefits rollback – are all gone amid controversy.
Paul Kelley, the recently retired Sonoma County supervisor, says he is not seeking the general manager’s post at the county water agency. About 40 candidates submitted applications for the position, which pays more than $175,000 a year. Kelley says he is looking to work as a consultant on water and transportation issues. “At this point I am hunting for a job,” he said.
The debate continues over the merits of a controversial land deal, tentatively approved Tuesday, involving publicly protected Sonoma County farmland. The 3-2 vote has fueled continued discussion over whether the deal provides public benefits and its policy implications for the county’s 20-year-old Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.