Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Board of Supervisor’s Approach Towards Financial Accountability Has Been ‘Lackadaisical’—Letter to the Editor

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Remember opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of MendoFever nor have we checked the letters for accuracy.

Madeline Cline, a 2024 candidate for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, District 1 [Photograph provided by her]

Dear Editor-

Transparency and accountability are core values of government that our elected officials must work vigorously to uphold. In Mendocino County, we are faced with a test of that value, as critical public reports outlining county finances are months behind schedule.

Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports (ACRF) are essential documents that show members of the public and elected leaders the current state of an agency’s finances. State law requires counties, cities, and school districts to release these reports in the six months following the close of the fiscal year in June.

The last ACFR released for Mendocino County covered the fiscal year running from July 2020 to June 2021, which means we have no audited reporting of county finances covering the last two years of operations. This delay in reporting not only makes accountability and governance incredibly difficult, it is also likely illegal.

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Up the coast, our neighbors in Humboldt County faced a similar financial reporting delinquency issue just last year. Their former Auditor-Controller, Karen Paz Dominguez,m failed to file different financial reports, resulting in the California Attorney General sending a demand letter threatening litigation and financial penalties. Paz Dominguez took an adversarial position, shifting blame onto other elected officials and county staff.

The difference between the situation in Humboldt and our situation here in Mendocino is that Paz Dominguez faced a Board of Supervisors committed to ensuring accountability and demanding a resolution to the issue. The Board passed votes of no-confidence, approved third-party investigations, and eventually approved a settlement deal to get the Auditor-Controller out of office and bring someone in who could actually do the job.
Here in Mendocino County, there has been a lackadaisical attitude from the Board,
enabling these serious issues to go unanswered and fly under the radar.

Adding to this issue is action by the Board in 2021 to merge the Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector positions, creating a chaotic situation in which the duties of both offices have suffered as the attention is divided amongst competing obligations.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors must make fiscal transparency, accountability, and responsibility a core value of county government. They have a responsibility to constituents to demand accurate, independent financial reporting from our Auditor-Controller. Mendocino County residents deserve no less.

Madeline Cline
Public policy advisor and 2024 candidate for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, District 1.

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  1. I hope you are elected to the Board of Supervisors. We desperately need accountability, transparency, and people who can do the tough job.

  2. When I was a facility Controller reporting to a Fortune 100 home office, we had to close our financial records and report results within 5 days of each month end. Later, as a management consultant with Coopers & Lybrand, I led a project to reduce the month-end closing cycle from over 30 days to less than 5 for a major Japanese owned computer import distributor while cutting 30% of its accounting staff.

    I fail to understand why a County cannot automate its financial reporting and provide meaningful and timely reports to the BoS and public. I also am shocked that the Assessor’s office doesn’t have up-to-date valuations; it’s not rocket science to update property valuations as they are sold or as building permits are completed.

    Maybe it’s time to outsource some of these functions to a County that has the capabilities to provide timely and accurate administrative duties and financial reporting. No more excuses.

    • You ask the right questions. The Assessor has been stuck in the 1980s in terms of technology. They are still using pencils and parcels cards to appraise as of 2020. The cobalt-to-Aumentum data transfer was a botched job. Much of the staff needs to be retrained by outside appraisers or online courses. No record keeping practices have been developed in the office when it comes to collecting market data, or photos. Building plans and records should be stored on files in data bases and not redrawn on parcel cards. The leadership despises anyone trying to change the process and the higher ups enable/ignore the worst practices in middle mgmt. I was literally the first one to use a camera in the field in 2019. Micromanaging plagues this place from all levels of mgmt. Unfortunately outsourcing is not an option here. It would take a change in the state constitution or a radical change in the BOS policy on how it manages these other tax revenue depts. The BOS needs to treat these tax depts like their own job depends on it. I highly incentivize people with competency to run for the BOS, the Assessors and Tax collectors office to make a difference in policy. The job won’t be easy nor enjoyable but it needs to be done to unravel the nonsense masquerading as business as usual. I wish this gal best of luck in her run for 1st district supe.

  3. I hope you tuned into the BOS meeting today. Item 4B- a contingency plan for a Director of Finance. The Board of Stupid’s real plan exposed publicly.. And yes, we as voters have to give the okay.

    This is all scam!!!!!! I do agree with your Op-Ed. But watching this today shows what a clown show this Board really is. The man you’re replacing, lies and has no idea what each County office does. He was a failure as a Trustee on the School Board and now has continued his failure on this Board. Is he willing to stick it out? No, cowardly he will not run again.

    I do have hope for this district, you were willing to write this Op-Ed, Carrie Shaddock spoke at the meeting telling the BOS they can’t merge their way out of this problem they created. What is very apparent is that Trevor Mockell is their chosen one. He sat there quiet at the meeting and led the Board in the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Kerry Vau spoke at the meeting representing a group who now realizes we need change at the Board and City Council. I urge people who really care about our Community to get behind them. There are two Board seats that are crucial, District 1 and 2. From what I can see you and Carrie Shaddock seem to be the change needed. It is imperative to get Photo-Op Mo out of District 2. We don’t need a social media person making tough decisions that clearly she does not have the IQ to make. If you want to clean up a highway or cut a ribbon for some expensive rail trail that will become a homeless encampment, she’s your girl!!!

    Good luck, I hope you or Carrie win this seat.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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