A running meme among Board of Supervisors watchers is the rolling implosion of Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s office staff. Whenever a fresh recruit joins his board office, odds are exchanged on how many months – or even weeks – the new person will last.
When Spitzer hired Irvine Councilman Jeff Lalloway as his special assistant at a pay-level far exceeding any board aide, an initial reactions among insiders was it probably signaled his Chief of Staff George Cardenas would not stay in that position for long; it’s problematic to function as chief of staff when one is effectively out-ranked by another advisor outside the chain of command.
Sure enough, Cardenas tendered his resignation last week. This surprising part was reported yesterday in Norberto Santana’s weekly Voice of OC column: Cardenas joined Supervisor Shawn Nelson’s staff. It’s not every day someone quits as one supervisor’s chief of staff to go work for your boss’ arch-nemesis.
Nelson’s chief of staff is Denis Bilodeau. He and Cardenas both worked together on Spitzer’s staff during his first tour of duty on the Board of Supervisors. It’s no secret that Bilodeau and Spitzer have fallen out; Spitzer even made an abortive attempt to prohibit his former staffer from being paid to serve as Nelson’s policy aide on the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board of Directors.
This ongoing exodus has obvious implications – especially when staff departures outpaces Spitzer’s ability to replace them. It’s tough convince experienced people willingly to join a staff where the average tenure is measured in just months or weeks.
It also has implications for Spizter’s well-known ambition to run for Orange County District Attonery: how can he lead and manage an agency with hundreds of employees given the personnel chaos that has plagued his comparatively tiny board office for the last four years? DA Tony Rackauckas’ office tweaked Spitzer on this point in a media release issued last week (emphasis added):
“Shame on `ready, fire, aim’ Todd for abusing his elected office of county supervisor to campaign for OCDA during a board of supervisors meeting. It’s disrespectful to other supervisors who are handling the People’s business. Todd’s agenda was so transparent and off-topic that he was forced to withdraw his motion, knowing he would not get a second. As recognized by other supervisors, the OCDA is an independently elected office. We are busy prosecuting more than 60,000 cases per year with a felony conviction rate of over 90 percent. The OCDA fights to keep its citizens safe from gang members, fraudsters, and human traffickers, while accomplishing its goal of maintaining public safety and operating within its budget. As for his grandstanding suggestions on how to run an office of almost 800 people, perhaps he should show some ability in running an office of eight.”