The Humboldt Consequential

The Auditor-Controller is a jerk, and the Supervisors want his money

This lovely nugget about the operations of the  County of Humboldt came to light last week: our Auditor-Controller, Joe Mellett, is an apathetic waste of public funds, and the Board of Supervisors and County Administrative Office are trying to strip his department of any significant role in government.

This came after Mellet’s second in command, Karen Paz Dominguez, showed up for public comment at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting and made a plea for help on behalf of the failing department.

LoCO has a more in-depth look at the issue here:

What’s Wrong at the Auditor-Controller’s Office? Understaffing? A Vendetta? Or Is It the Man in Charge?

What it comes down to is this: Mellett is no longer interested in his job, and acts like a total P.O.S. The interview he gave to LoCO is damning, and we’re honestly flabbergasted that he would go on record with much of what he said.

We love this absolute gem of a quote from our Auditor-Controller about his current approach to his job: ” Putting out fires and collecting a paycheck.”

But the bigger question, putting aside the incompetence and lack of interest displayed by our publicly elected Auditor-Controller, is this: would giving the duties of the Auditor-Controller to the CAO, or any other department, actually fix the problem?

As we all know, neither the CAO’s office nor our Board of Supervisors are particularly effective or financially competent.

So is Mellett’s charge that attempts to undermine his authority and the duties of his department are an attempted power grab by the Supes and the CAO accurate? THC tends to think so.

There was already one attempt to get rid of his office last year, when the Supes sent a measure to consolidate his department with the Treasurer-Tax Collector. (For  more on that: County Supervisors seek to create a new Finance Dictator at great cost to the public) Word on the street is that the County will try to send  similar measure to the vote in the near future, and are actively exploring methods to strip the Auditor-Controller of his powers without putting it to the public first.

Taken together, it  sure seems like Mellett’s allegations are founded. Streamlining departments for efficiency and reduced costs is all well and good.

But here’s the issue. You don’t fix the problem created by one elected official by doing away with the entire department – you elect a new person to do the job. Why would consolidating the powers of the Auditor-Controller department under the umbrella of equally dysfunctional leadership do anything but exacerbate the problem?

From the sound of it, Karen Paz Dominguez is angling herself to be the next Auditor-Controller. We at least hope that somebody gets a chance to turn the department around before the Supes or the CAO get their grubby hands on even more power and responsibility that they will most surely screw up.