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Harn gets recall notice

By From page A1 | December 09, 2015

El Dorado County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn has received a Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition.

Recall proponents cite five issues from which they are “seeking relief from the tyranny of our elected officials who have engaged in malfeasant acts and corrupt practices.”

Citing a violation of California State Penal Code, the notice states that Harn failed “to make authorized payments for reasons of personal or political motivation.” A second charge reads: “Failure to produce and submit required county bill payment disclosure reports to the Board of Supervisors in violation of County Ordinance Code …”

Revisiting an issue controversial two years ago, proponents claim Harn engaged in “an immoral scheme” in which certain elected officials received additional pay and pension benefits for reasons such as “simply being re-elected or possessing the certificates required to hold office.” The latter refers to Harn’s having a Certified Public Accountant license.

The notice also states that the auditor-controller failed “to protect the fiscal integrity of the county by willfully refusing to prepare a complete Cost Allocation Plan.”

Finally, proponents charge Harn with “engaging in inappropriate conduct” such as “harassment of employees, vendors and staff of other agencies.”

In an e-mail to Village Life Harn wrote, “Being county auditor-controller is a lot like being an umpire. I do my best to call the balls and strikes fairly. I don’t vote on the budget. I don’t write county policies. I don’t write state law regarding county spending. I do have a duty to point out cases where the county attempts to spend money in violation of our policies or state law. Occasionally people get mad at the umpire. I am not surprised that there are 20 people who want me out of office.”

In order to file a Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition, proponents must secure at least 20 signatures from resident voters.

Former county Information Technologies acting and interim director Kelly Webb, the primary proponent of the recall effort, sent the notice to Harn by certified mail Nov. 24.

The retired county employee is currently suing the county for discrimination, and names Harn in her lawsuit, along with El Dorado County’s District Attorney Vern Pierson and Human Resources Director Pamela Knorr. Webb alleges that the three conspired to remove her from her position in Information Technologies and demote her back to her previous position as a CAO analyst. Pierson was later appointed to oversee Information Technologies.

As interim IT director, Webb was also directly involved in the Cost Allocation Plan — the topic of a recent El Dorado County Grand Jury report. According to information provided by the Auditor-Controller’s Office, it was Webb’s inexperience keeping the appropriate billing records and time sheets that created problems with the CAP.

Harn told Village Life Thursday that he filed a response with the Elections Department Dec. 1, and served his document to Webb via certified mail.

As permitted under state Elections Code regarding recall, the elected official may make a formal response of not more than 200 words within seven days of receiving the notice.

In information shared with Village Life, Harn focused on several achievements related to “protecting tax dollars and ensuring our county stays debt-free.” He writes that he has “strongly opposed reckless spending and borrowing …” and convinced the Board of Supervisors not to adopt “the most expensive Cadillac retirement plans plaguing nearby government agencies.”

His response continues, “Without reservation, I’ve insisted that big, out-of-county developers pay their fair share for road improvements and libraries — or go develop elsewhere.”

He concludes by noting that in 2013 he successfully advised the Board of Supervisors to reduce the county’s share of Department of Motor Vehicle fees thereby reducing residents’ overall DMV fees.

Once the Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition has been validated and certified by the county Elections Department, Elections Code allows proponents 120 days to circulate the countywide petition to acquire signatures from 10,625 resident, registered voters in order to move the petition onto a countywide ballot.

“However, they will need to collect more than that to turn in since some might be rejected,” Registrar of Voters Bill Schultz wrote in an e-mail to Village Life.

The larger petition must include greater detail with more specific charges and/or allegations. The Elections Department must validate and then certify the documents within a time frame of 88 to 125 days before the next election — June 2016.

When discussing the recall petitions served to the five county supervisors in October, Assistant Registrar of Voters Linda Webster told Village Life that her staff would go through the petition “line by line” and check all relevant statements. If corrections are needed, Webster said her office will send it back to the proponents.

 

Chris Daley

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