El Dorado County deserves better

El Dorado County has endured a year of wild politics; maybe 2015 will be better.
El Dorado County has endured a year of wild politics; maybe 2015 will be better. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

It’s been a tough year for El Dorado County government.

One supervisor was removed from the board after a misdemeanor conviction following a politically charged corruption trial. Infighting between countywide elected officials and the supervisors is a matter of course. So many residents mistrust their county leaders that they put growth-restricting measures before voters.

Both an outside firm’s assessment of county government and a county grand jury found a deeply dysfunctional government in which bullying, intimidation and disrespect run rampant.

Now, the embattled top administrator of the county, Terri Daly, who has been trying to turn around the culture of the county administration, has been let go by the majority vote of the board.

Don’t feel sorry for Daly. She managed to hold on for four years in a workforce where there’s heavy turnover in administration and was able to highlight problems, the first step in improving things. She negotiated herself a decent separation fee, $204,692, and will very likely end up with a better – and saner – gig than running a special-needs county like El Dorado.

We do, however, have some sympathy for the people of the county who deserve a better county government than they have received in the past year.

But 2015 could be much improved. That will depend a lot on the three new supervisors. Shiva Frentzen was elected in a special election in September to replace ousted Supervisor Ray Nutting. Two new supervisors were elected on Nov. 4 – Michael Ranalli and Sue Novasel. All three are intelligent, professional and, we hope, independent enough to start steering the county government away from the self-destructive recent history.

Daly’s departure offers the Board of Supervisors an opportunity to select a new chief administrative officer who can continue working on reforming the culture of the county.

It won’t be easy; no doubt El Dorado has a bad reputation among the small group of people who are qualified to run a governmental agency of its size. But surely there is someone up to the challenge that the job presents and who is strong enough not to be pushed around by the elected department heads.

That’s the first order of business for the new board in the new year. But it won’t be the last.