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Our View: CEO search shows county continues to crave our cash

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Placer County sure likes to spend taxpayers’ money. Whether it be to close down a department or hire a new CEO, the county is not stingy with our hard-earned cash. The most recent expense is hiring a new CEO to replace the retiring Tom Miller. Apparently, the county needs a $30,000 consultant to manage the hiring process. Never mind the fact that Placer County has its own personnel department, whose purpose is the hiring and management of employees. With a department already dedicated to the recruitment of talent for open positions throughout the county, it doesn’t make sense for an outside expenditure like this — especially in these times. Let’s look inward instead of out. So what are we getting for this $30,000 you ask? Well, about the same you should be able to get from the personnel department. A survey has been sent out to ask residents what they would like to see in a new CEO. A worthy venture, but is it one that requires an outside vendor? The case can and be made for no. Another service that consultant Ralph Andersen & Associates of Rocklin is offering for its $30,000 price tag is writing up a job description and putting it in some trade journals. $30,000 to put up some job postings? What’s more amazing is that Ralph Andersen & Associates was the winning bid out of five competing agencies. Was this Rocklin firm the cheapest? The highest? Other than its 39 years in the business, what was the county’s reasoning behind the Ralph Anderson & Associates pick? Another point to note is that Placer County Personnel Director Nancy Nittler is the one who picked and pushed forward this contract, which was unanimously approved. Did the supervisors have a chance to see all five bids? By all accounts it seems they did not. It’s interesting that the head of the personnel department, the person who manages the hiring process for the county, picked an outside vender to do her job and then picked one without sharing the options with the board — or more importantly, the public. As Journal Reporter Gus Thomson wrote, “The $30,000 figure was not discussed during the Jan. 10 meeting.” It seems it was a “this is what I want and this is what we’ll do” type of action. A Friday perusal of the Placer County job board shows 20 current listings. Do those 20 listings put the department at maximum capacity? Let us venture a guess — no. The CEO position should be handled just like the other positions that are currently open. One could make the argument that the nearly $100,000 a year Mid-Level Practitioner II position available is just as important as the CEO (caring for the county population), but we don’t see an outside firm screening medical staff, do we? The unfortunate part about the whole situation is this — government has been making hires in this manner for a long time. At least 39 years if you go by Ralph Anderson & Associates’ track record. What we ultimately need is a fundamental shift in how government does business, right down to how it hires employees. Let’s see government keep it in house and work with the resources it has, just like the rest of us. It would be nice to see Placer County start this trend, but it’s just too easy to keep on spending our money.