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Where I Stand: In response to the county’s investigation of the Sheriff’s Office

On May 2nd at the Plumas County Board of Supervisor meeting, Chair Dwight Ceresola read a letter which was a response to many issues which have been brought to the board in regard to compensation of county employees. First, I would like to provide clarification regarding the statistics presented by Chair Ceresola during the BOS meeting on May 2nd. Chair Ceresola stated that 51 employees had departed from the Sheriff’s Office since July 2022. However, upon review of public records pertaining to the individuals who have left the Sheriff’s Department provided by the Plumas County HR Department (see attached). This represents a significant difference from what I was able to locate in the documents provided by the HR Department. Furthermore, upon examining data dating clear back to 2015, the number of departures stood at a figure of 60 over that entire 8-year span. It is disheartening that incorrect statistics were utilized by the board in an attempt to defend themselves. We should hold our governing boards to the highest standard of truthfulness and transparency, which regrettably seems to be lacking in this instance.

Regarding the letter that was read on behalf of the board, I find it highly inappropriate that one member had not even been aware of the letter, two members had not viewed it prior to its reading, and the Chair and Vice Chair only reviewed it immediately before the meeting commenced. Furthermore, it was alarming to discover that the letter was authored by the CAO, especially considering its lack of accurate facts, absence of viable solutions, and its utilization as a prejudicial political maneuver to suppress those who are voicing concerns and seeking answers.

With regards to the investigation mentioned in the letter, Supervisor Hagwood recently characterized it as a “survey” rather than an investigation, despite the county incurring expenses of $325 per hour, which is higher than the contract states (County Counsel has since confirmed this number was corrected in the billing and the hourly rate being paid is actually $295/hr). The letter of engagement with the investigative party clearly employs the term “investigation” numerous times (see attached), outlining their mandate to perform investigative services related to allegations of misconduct by a Plumas County Employee and deliver a written report containing the findings and recommendations to the County Counsel’s Office. In light of the transparency we seek, I requested a copy of this investigation and received a response from the County Counsel stating it is protected by attorney-client privilege. This is deeply concerning as the letter prepared by the CAO strongly suggests that the county has indeed received a report and used facts from that report to address the public.

I urge the board and the public to vet the information that you receive. For the board I urge them to be as transparent as they can with us, the public because right now we are losing faith and trust in them rapidly.

I also want to warn the public to pay close attention to what the county is spending your money on. For example, on the last two board agendas, there has been an item to request $40,000 to compensate MRG LLC for “additional investigations.” This is explicitly stated in the agenda. In addition to the $8,000 approved last November, the county counsel office now aims to allocate an additional $40,000 of taxpayer funds for investigating employees. Shouldn’t we already have personnel tasked with this responsibility? Can the board truly claim to be acting in the best interests of the county and its constituents by allocating $48,000 in taxpayer money for this? I don’t believe so. I implore the board to make the right decision and cease the squandering of our financial resources, and instead collaborate with one another, county departments, and the community to develop responsible and effective solutions. We entrusted them with the duty to do what is right, now it’s time for them to start proving they can.

Chandler Peay

President

Plumas County Sheriff’s Employee’s Association

MRG invoice MRG Engagement Letter 2.2.23 MRG fully executed 11.29.22 No-reply HR Copier_20230515_115902

8 thoughts on “Where I Stand: In response to the county’s investigation of the Sheriff’s Office

  • Thank you Chandler Peay for your excellent investigative work to uncover this misuse of precious public funds. It seems that this was an attempt by some who worked unsuccessfully to upset Sheriff Todd Johns re-election campaign, to justify their actions. Plumas County citizens deserve a Board of Supervisors and a CAO who work for the betterment of our communities and who do not play cheap politics.

  • Thank you, Chandler Peay. I believe the board’s behavior in this matter is irresponsible at the very least and possibly malicious in the extreme.

    How smart does someone need to be to recognize that paying the lowest county law enforcement wages in the state of California negatively affects hiring of capable, qualified, and committed officers in Plumas County?

    Apparently one needs to be smarter than our board of supervisors.

    How dumb does one need to be to posit false information, in public, without full board review, while assigning blame anywhere but on the board of supervisors? Apparently we do have the intelligence for that.

    Claims of attorney-client privilege in order to withhold from the public information regarding upon what, exactly, has the board thrown away almost fifty thousand dollars, are liable not to hold up in court.

    The public, including the sheriff’s office, is fully entitled to see every bit of that information. Any attempts to hide it may reveal a lot about motivation here, as if some elected officials feel they have something to hide.

    In my opinion we do not need self-righteous political shysters on our board of Plumas County supervisors. We need people who face up to their responsibilities, including dealing truthfully with us. We do not have that right now.

    Similarly for the CAO’s position in this. How in the world does someone in that position let false information pass as fact? “Chief Administrative Officer”… seriously? Get real.

  • $40,000 would pay for another worker at Plumas County Social Services, just saying, or raises that they so deserve. Another employee left today.

    • $40,000 to investigate county employees, (where is the trust in employees) those that have remained, is a high price to pay! It would go a long way toward raises that employees have requested for months, and boost morale when it is at an all-time low! Those of us that are left are now doing the work of many based on the mass exodus in this county… when will “someone” wake up and discover what the county needs? The BOS? The CAO? Who will be responsible for running the county when “we” have all moved to other counties for better paying jobs where we ARE appreciated and TRUSTED!

  • Think you, Chandler Peay, for staying on top of this situation with the PCSO and keeping the public informed.

  • Thank you, Chandler, for providing this very important information. Frankly, I am appalled this kind of money is being spent when we have County employees departing and a crisis at the SO to maintain appropriate staffing to provide a crucial public service. I think it is time the BOS commits themselves to establishing communication with County staff and seeking resolutions instead of pouring money into “investigations”.

  • I must agree with several of the comments to this June 8 article written by Chandler Peay. The Board of Supervisors is spending too much money on unnecessary items, and to state untrue facts is underhanded to say the least. Petty feelings of animosity should not be a part of the public servants’ role in the best interests of the public. The Board of Supervisors are our servants, actually, voted in for the purpose of representing OUR (the public’s) best interests.

  • Is this the sort of thing that the grand jury would investigate? If so what is the process for getting things to the grand jury? Is it a process that would be inhibited by the county? is there a way to side step the county to get it to the grand jury or maybe the state?

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