Saturday Jun 12 2010
Looking behind the scenes: County CEO’s support network dwindling
By: Jim Ruffalo
Marking up the notebook while considering my options for the upcoming state gubernatorial race. One candidate appears old, distant and out of touch while the other has already served as governor. ... Meanwhile, it appears the biggest loser in the Placer County elections was a person whose name never appeared on a single ballot. Of course, I refer to the county’s chief executive officer, Tom Miller. Now before I type another paragraph, allow me to give a personal view on Mr. Miller, who lately has been under the assumption that I personally dislike him. Actually, nothing could be more untrue. In fact, I have a great admiration for him as a person, going back almost two decades when he was a high-ranking assistant at Nevada County when that bailiwick was going through its Measure F. That initiative involved a small group of activists who — thanks to the voters — eventually forced Nevada County to spend every dime of DMV in-lieu fees on its roads. A novel idea, and one Placer County’s citizens ought to emulate. During the rather bitter campaign for the measure, most Nevada County officials put on their falsehood clothes and told lie after fib as to what the measure would mean locally. One went so far as to insist that if the measure should pass, it would mean the shuttering of all the county-run mental hospitals. That claim quickly fell apart when the prevaricator was forced to admit Nevada County had no county-supported mental hospitals. But during the whole campaign, only one county official continually answered all questions truthfully, and that was the very same Tom Miller. As one of the activists pushing Measure F, I’ve never forgotten that and I never will. Now the bad news. Miller — as is usually the case for people occupying such positions — has outlived his usefulness. This does not mean that he’s any less talented or skillful than before, it’s just that after a certain number of years, an executive somehow dwindles down to little more than a package to be thrown under the bus. Placer County’s revenues continue to shrink, bills get larger and payees’ demands get louder. So elected officials have little choice than to drop the pilot. With Jack Duran capturing 58 percent of the vote to oust Rocky Rockholm, Miller soon will no longer be able to count to three when enumerating the number of supervisorial votes he has protecting his job. Once upon a time, he had four-and-a-half votes, but fellow supes turned on Bruce Kranz, and now with Rocky soon going back to private life, the count will be two-to-two with the now-independent Jim Holmes possessing the swing vote. And in two years, Holmes will be up for re-election, so don’t even think that he’ll support Miller when push does come to shove. ... Weekend at Bernie’s Part II: Last week I mentioned that Bernie Schroeder was getting rave reviews for her work at the city’s airport, and now the Auburn City Council appears poised to second that motion. At tomorrow night’s meeting, the council is expected to approve an agenda item promoting her to the office of Director of Public Works. In effect, she’ll replace the venerable Jack Warren, although that doesn’t mean he’ll be leaving the city’s livery. Warren, who has labored the past several years as a contract consultant, will keep that contract, but now will be titled as city engineer. City Manager Bob Richardson confirmed that the council was considering the moves, and added that if approved, Warren’s contract now will read “as needed.” Schroeder. a 20-year veteran with the city, had been Auburn’s Engineering Division manager ... Go For Broke: On Thursday, June 24, Auburn’s historic State Theater will host the premier showing of “Valor With Honor,” a documentary produced from about 35 oral histories from veterans of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. That World War II unit, which was made up of Isei, Nisei and Sansei (first, second and third-generation Japanese-Americans), mostly from California and Hawaii, fought its way through some tough parts of Italy to rescue a lot of 36th (Texas) Division ground-pounders. The premier, which also features a reception at Central Square, will serve as a fundraiser for the proposed Placer County memorial over at Roseville’s Santucci Justice Center. One of those interviewed in the documentary is Placer County’s Shig Doi, and Penryn’s Bob Nakamoto (president of the Japanese American Veterans Association) will be present. For more information, check the website placerjacl.org. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.