Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Community Post: Brown's New Contract Kept Under Radar

This post was written by a citizen stringer.

County CEO Mike Brown becomes even more unextractable despite costing county $$ millions.

Blogabarbara missed this as an exclusive story by a few minutes after the ubiquitous Chris Meagher of the Santa Barbara Independent posted his article Friday afternoon.

Still, here is the story written independently of the Independent.

During the Board of Supervisors meeting on June 11 immediately at the beginning and just prior to the Pledge to the flag, County Counsel Shane Stark announced that nothing was to report from the Closed Session that started earlier that morning. He noted that it was continued to the meeting later in the week to Friday, June 15. However, no report about any closed session was made that Friday morning at the Board meeting, but just after the last item for the day (the approval of the county budgets) and some flowery remarks by the retiring county Budget director. At that time, County Counsel Shane Stark said --in the legally minimal style-- "the Board of Supervisors will recess to close to consider the business previously transacted." With that, after a slight stumble about adjourning versus taking a recess, Board chair Brooks Firestone declared "We'll recess to closed session."

According to the county government TV showing of the meeting and the video archive at the county web site, the meeting then appeared to end, with the TV music swelling the the production credits rolling. However, under state law, the results of the closed session have to be announced to the public when results are concluded. The Board of Supervisors indeed did reach a conclusion about their closed-session discussion, but it was not shown on the government TV nor was it recorded on video.

The announcement following this closed session was that the County government's Chief Executive Officer, Michael Brown, would be given a two-year contract, to 2011, with a boost in retirement benefits and a extension to nine months as a severance deal. The severance means that the County would have to pay him the equivalent of nine months of pay if the County Board of Supervisors decide to terminate his job and contract. Thus, getting rid of Mike Brown would become even more expensive for the county taxpayers.

The biggest news from this closed session announcement (which was not, perhaps deliberately, shown on TV or in the video archive) was that the Board voted to retain Mike Brown as the County chief executive and extend his contract by two years. The vote was a classic 3-2 split, with Gray, Centeno, and Firestone voting to keep Brown, while Carbajal and Wolf voted to get rid of him for the good of the county.

This brings up some thought questions. After his moves to run the County government like a dictatorial corporation that has had to settle several personnel lawsuits against his actions and costing the county millions of dollars to settle, did the majority of the elected Board of Supervisors do the right thing?

Will Joni Gray and Brooks Firestone have more to answer for when they try to get reelected early next year? Or, is this just another brick in the wall for a history of bad decisions by Gray and Firestone?

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Anonymous DUMP FIRESTONE NOW said...

Sara and "citizen", thanks for posting this--- just as the current BOS Majority emulates the GOP/FOX NEEWS style on most issues, yesterday was no exception--- starting with the budget forecast of "gloom and doom", and CEO BROWN admonishing the Supervisors [what's wrong with THAT picture?!?!?] not to add any "expansions" to the Budget that he alone had crafted [complete with huge pots of money for his office to pay off his compliant, servient "assistants" and over one-quarter million dollars for the PIO who is his lapdog];

So, despite pleas from Supervisors Carbajal and Wolf to their colleagues to do what they were elected to do and fund some needed positions for social workers, Juvenile Officers, energy conservation, etc, Joni, Brooks and Joe made it clear that they would do EXACTLY what their boss Mike Brown asked them to do---so they passed Brown's budget.

Minutes later, however, in closed session, the three "doom and gloom" Supes changed their toon, apparently, in deciding to extend and fatten CEO Brown's contract to the toon of what will undoubtedly play out to be millions, once he does retire. Not to mention the 7+ figures that will no doubt make up the future legal payout on EGAR's suit against Brown. When those details start leaking---well, it won't be pretty.

County residents should be outraged at this duplicitous and completely insane behavior of the Three NORTH COUNTY SUPES. [South County---- dontcha wish you could vote again for that County split]

Firestone needs to go.

6/16/2007 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. I wonder if when they lose this latest lawsuit to James Egar, Firestone will say, "Helluva job, Brownie!" And where is the News Press? Oh yeah, having lunch with Salud.

6/16/2007 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Leopard doesn't change his spots said...

Deja vu for Mike Brown---- when he was in Tuscon as City Manager, he ruled over the electeds there, according to this link... [till they ran him out of town--to SB]

6/16/2007 12:10 PM  
Anonymous boB said...

Ahhh, Houston? I think we have a problem here!

I'm boB

6/16/2007 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really makes you wonder what it takes to get fired from the County. If I was a county worker I think I would feel very secure in my job knowing what kind of crap the head guy has gotten away with. It can't be very good for morale. If you add up the dough that Goodrich won with what Egar will probably get, you could patch a lot of roads and counsel a lot of wannabe gang members. Sad and amazing. Who's money do the North County supes think they're gambling with? Certainly not theirs.

6/16/2007 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brown is a big spender. No surprise there, most bureaucrats are. The surprise is that Wolf and Carbajal don't like him.

6/16/2007 6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelievable — for someone as unpersonable as Brown seems be to have the "leaders" here kneeling down, licking his boots as they did in Tucson! What's he got that isn't at all apparent to the public (via the televised BOS hearings?)

Good for Wolf and Carbajal for saying "no".....

More power to former PD Egar! Would a victory in that suit constitute "cause"? - as noted in the Independent story "In addition to the extension, Brown, whose annual salary is roughly $220,000, will receive an increase in his severance compensation provision should his contract be terminated without cause," ...classic Wellman picture of Brown and Stark.

6/16/2007 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anon with YabbaDabba said...

YABBADABBA. He dominates every conversation with his turgid displays of mundane facts, which he dresses up in the costume of profundity. Apparently he is unable to retain his equanimity when under pressure and should not be trusted with a position of leadership. He is regularly referred to as "King Mike" by his employees who live in fear of his wrath should they so much as come to his attention in a light unfavorable to his whims. Well they should fear, for he takes unmerciful retribution on those whom he perceives as his enemies. That the North County supervisors like his style tells us something about the culture and values of the community north of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

6/17/2007 7:51 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Anon -- had to edit your comment a bit....let's keep it cleaner...

6/17/2007 7:51 AM  
Anonymous County employee ruled by terror said...

whatever yabbadabbado said--- I'm sure it was true.

I've worked under Brown's wrath for several years. He rules by terror and by placating the supervisors with money for their pet projects and by basically lying to them.

The North Hills fiasco is the best recent example of what happens when Brown moves full speed ahead despite being so out of touch with the community.

It was hard to believe that right after the budget hearing during which Brown basically blocked all departmental budget expansions [except his] the North County supervisors poured taxpayer money into Brown's contract.

6/17/2007 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Disgusted at the North County Troika said...

In the early 1990's, CEO Mike Brown terrorized the City of Berkeley; here's a tidbit from the Berkeley Daily Planet (5/6/02):

"City Manger Michael Brown militarized the Berkeley Police. He embarked on a campaign against dissent in Berkeley and created the police unit known as The Crowd Management Team. During that time, supposed progressive city councilmembers voted for the use of crowd control munitions - by police. These had been used on crowds protesting construction of volley ball courts at People’s Park. At the City Council meeting where the deciding votes were cast, Brown stood on the stage of the Berkeley Community Theatre and pointed out community activists to be dragged out and arrested. Some notable activists such as Carol Denney were hog-tied like farm animals. The progressive City Council and Mayor Hancock did nothing to intervene in this gross violation of civil rights and liberties."

6/17/2007 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I about a year, middle of the road county residents will get to un-do their mistake of supporting Firestone over Buttny for the 3rd District. These well-meaning but somewhat naïve folks “bought” Firestone’s carefully crafted public persona of being the grandfatherly figure that would bring us all together down the middle of the road.

Since being elected Firestone has been absent in Goleta, moved the Architectural Review Board to Los Olivos, far from where 2/3 of 3rd District residents live. He has moved to gut the Oaks preservation ordinance, approved mega-mansions on the Coast, promoted changes in ag. rules that would industrialize ag lands until he was forced to recuse himself for conflicts of interest, destroyed all the work that had been done on the Santa Ynez Valley blueprint and recently opposed paying for child healthcare. NOW, he has voted to retain Mike Brown, despite Brown’s repeated personnel gaffes that have cost taxpayers millions in staff time and payoffs to those who sued or are suing.

Oh, by the way, if Firestone is re-elected, in the 2010 redistricting the North majority of Supervisors will undoubtedly move Isla Vista from the 3rd District where it has always been, into the 2nd District. This will create 2 “safe” south coast districts, the 1st and 2nd, but also make sure that North County dominates the 3rd, 4th and 5th districts, FOREVER.

It’s time that folks wake up and back anyone running against Firestone, coming to an election near you, just about 12 months away.

6/17/2007 9:37 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Screw the redistricting and the $800 million grabfest...It's way past time to cut the strings. Also gives Goleta a better chance of NOT becomming the county dumping ground for housing and a more equitable distribution of our tax monies.


(sa1's looking for a bank to burn...Hmmm maybe the credit union will do)

6/17/2007 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need to revisit the county split. You southern folks are out of touch.

6/17/2007 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time for Brown, Firestone and Grey to clean up the ridiculous weekend RV camp in the county admistraation parking lot.

6/17/2007 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't blame me. I voted for the split when it was the perfect time to cut North County adrift, and have them pay for it. It was not rocket science to see this was a no brainer to vote yes. But everyone voted no. Why was that?

So now, we in the South will have to do all the heavy lifting to get it back on the ballot and now North County won't let their South County Golden Goose go.

Never understood why the vast majority of South County voters did not overwhelmingly say YES to the split. Somebody care to explain?

6/17/2007 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did the South chicken out on the split? Heavy duty pressure from labor, basically. Now if only our brothers and sisters in the north would return the favor and start to put pressure on their supes to do the right the meantime, we just hear from Caldwell.......oh and Sister Janet

6/17/2007 11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are tired of you southerners, and yet you stopped the split.

6/18/2007 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conservatives like to crow about running government like a business. In reality they make decisions based on how to best fatten the wallets of their friends. Taking a cue from the kleptocrats in the Bush administration, Firestone, Grey, and Ceteno voted their buddy Brown a fat raise after he has cost the County millions. If the county government were run like a business, Brown would be fired.

6/18/2007 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

South Coast Sellouts.... sheesh

6/18/2007 12:49 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

Your link to the Indy story is now out of date. It's been updated as follows:

This is an interesting decision. What possible rationale could there be for extending the contract at such an inopportune time? Was there any reason they couldn't have delayed extending his contract until fall, or even early 2008? Why the need to act now? Don't those who voted for this realize how bad it looks, or do they just not care? Then again, do Gray, Firestone or Centeno really care about anything?

6/18/2007 6:59 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"Why the need to act now?"

Could it be the BOS needs to make sure he stays a friendly witness for at least two more years?

9 Months severence for what could it be 5-8 years?
Not outrageous unless you consider the only reason he'd be cut is because of job performance.
What was he accused of, talking mean to a lawyer? Something about holding back resources to PD office? I don't know too much about his performance in SB and not being one to judge...

6/18/2007 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Split the county means the chief administrator has half the work which makes him/her worth half the current salary.

And since South County pays most of the money and North County takes most of the money, this half salary for half the work in South County, would cost us South Countians pretty much the same but the new, easier job description might be able to attract someone ....... really good next time.

Split the County - Do It Right Next Time!

6/18/2007 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Brown had to extend his contract past 2009 cause I'm sure he sees the writing on the wall and knows that his buddy Firestone will be ousted in next years election; the new majority will not tolerate Brown's deranged antics so he wanted some extra cushion. But once the facts about the Egar case, and Brown's prior conduct emerge, he'll be a hot potato.

6/19/2007 6:33 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

You all can keep pipedreaming about another 'next time' county split. And the idea of splitting the county equalling "half the work" or "half the salary" is pretty laughable: Not. Going. To. Happen.

sa1: The main issue is that of discrimination/harassment lawsuit settlements/judgments that are being paid out because of Brown. One settlement already for $900K and whatever ends up coming of the former public defender's lawsuit.

Of course, lawsuits of this nature may be "unavoidable" to an extent -- who knows. Apparently, a majority of the Supes think that Brown's a good enough County Manager (excuse me, "County Executive Officer") to offset whatever financial liabilities arise from his alleged temper and abrasive/abusive management style. We'll see, won't we?

Can we ask Firestone, Gray, and Centeno to pick up the tab for future settlements related to Brown?

The thing that's so screwed up about the situation is that it's hard to press Supes on the issue, because they can easily hide behind a veil of silence, saying, "We can't comment on this because it involves an ongoing personnel matter and a pending legal dispute." Check to see how many times you hear that quote in relation to the Brown/Egar action.

6/19/2007 9:56 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"lawsuits of this nature may be "unavoidable""

Why is it the SB School Board can pay a teacher for three years to sit at home and both sides spend $437, 000 on lawyers to see if he can be fired but the SBNP reporters are fired, collecting nothing even though they were part of a union too?

Just one more wasteful example of pride and prejudice and a runaway tort mentality. Both sides of this suit should be ashamed of themselves for blowing this way out of proportion. Now it's cost the tight budget huge money. Those Bastid's

6/20/2007 12:01 AM  
Anonymous Worker Wasp said...

Had enough of Firestone yet?

read this article

Brown now will have to punish the planner staff for doing his job correctly.

6/20/2007 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. great article and horrifying Board hearing. Did anyone else watch Firestone and then Andy Caldwell berating the staff planner for telling the truth? It is worth watching the reruns. And somehow, 13,000 SF of home, if you use the reasoning of the North County majority, should be considered "small" enough to avoid CEQA? The only good thing about the circus of a hearing yesterday is that it will make for great courtroom testimony.....

6/20/2007 7:17 AM  

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