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Why we need a CAO

In the words of a former supervisor who is concerned for Plumas County

The following was written by a former Plumas County Supervisor and echoes the sentiments of the editorial board of this newspaper:

The members of our board of supervisors represent the needs of our county fairly and well. From real estate development and retirement, health services and veteran’s services, public works and public accommodations, contractors and construction, business interests and transportation, we appreciate the diversity and we enjoy the public banter in the boardroom when they discuss their points of view.

They need a CAO to take those ideas, various viewpoints, individual research, new thoughts and old budget concerns and package them into a cohesive action item. What we’ve witnessed in the past few years of five heads grappling with myriad points of interest, department heads pleading their case to no more than two supervisors (lest they violate the Brown Act), public need and public outcry — because, after all, our supervisors serve the people of Plumas County first — is a variation of stalemate.

Maybe our supervisors would serve the county well if they individually visited other counties where CAOs effectively help run the government. Maybe they could see more clearly what functions a CAO brings to the success. Maybe they could see the difference in those counties and our own.

To a very large part, it has more to do with efficiency than simply perfunctory production. We want our county government to run at optimum level now and always. If the supervisors truly believe they can communally operate as a single voice on each issue, they have to prove themselves to that end. It hasn’t gone unnoticed thus far that discussions often turn to arguments, even to the point of supervisors walking out or shutting down out of frustration. That frustration, we believe, is caused from impasse instead of resolution. For once, let’s emulate the best California has to offer, find the best managerial solutions we can muster, and affect the change.

A CAO, trained by ICMA (International City/County Management Association)to a standard of expertise — in other words, trained and certified in the job, is the person hired to bring it all together. Every successful private corporation in the world depends on either a CAO or CEO to keep their enterprise in the black. Shouldn’t we ask at least that much of our local government?

Our department heads are specialists trained in their specific responsibilities and can plead their case in a logical, well-informed way. Our supervisors were elected because they convinced the public that they know a thing or two about some specifics that will help improve our county.  We need a CAO to knit together the fabric of that expertise and those specifics so our collected government can move us efficiently in the right direction.

3 thoughts on “Why we need a CAO

  • I figured I’d comment, since I’ve already been asked if this was written by me, by more than 1 person.

    It wasn’t.

  • Might have been nice if this sagely former supervisor had revealed his or her name, although Kennedy was a good guess.

    • I wouldn’t have misunderstood how the Brown Act is applied to Department Heads (it’s not), but I do agree a capable CAO would help plenty.

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