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03 June 2011

Comments

Bob W

It seems to me that any one of the five supervisors could break with the pack at any time if he so decided. This has not occurred. If a recall was initiated on the three that are not up for re-election and it were successful what do you think the chances are that the party makeup would change after the next election?

George Rebane

BobW - first, I don't claim that there is yet any evidence that would justify a recall - only the appearance of incompetence. And as we know from long experience, most politicians and political bodies appear incompetent, which appearance, sadly, time often confirms. I hope we voters will get to know the details of why the county is spending these monies.

As to your question, I think it is likely that the party make-up of the BoS would change if the evidence against the current BoS in this case turned out compelling. And, I don't think that such a change would necessarily be for the better.

My hope is for near-term behavior modification through a more intensive public oversight that could be spearheaded by some non-affiliated voter group like, say, the Tea Party Patriots.

Bob W

George, Thank you for your straight forward answer. I agree with you on most of what you said perhaps with the exception that there isn't any evidence yet that might justify a recall. Please don't confuse this to mean that I advocate one. What I have not been able to understand is why at least one of them hasn't seen the writing on the wall and decided it was probably time to focus a little closer on his own anatomy. But then you did mention incompetence! There is one of them that probably has a better chance of benefitting by going rogue. My guess is the reason he hasn't must have something to do with his personal contribution to the problem but then again we must keep the incompetence factor in mind and he also is best qualified on that score. A toss up!

As far as that change not necessarily being for the better, I agree. With that you may wonder why I bring the issue up. To tell you the truth I have reached the point where I just don't care any longer. Let the cards fall as they may.

Chuck Whitten

George-
Nice job. My concern is that there will be a "scapegoat" in this fiasco. I've always had difficulty understanding why county officials have let this go on for so long. Some of the materials in this case are certainly damming, and I wonder about the advice the Board has been getting. I suspect your assessment that the county will mediate (settle) is very likely correct. I hope the county does not demand non-disclosure. The story will get out anyway.

Russ Steele

Excellent analysis George. If the County Tax Payers ends up with a $2 Million dollar bill, when an apology for making a mistake and $30,000 in restitution would have solved the problem with some minors damages a few egos and a small waiver of some non-sensical PC rules could have saved the day, I want to to know why? Who made the decision to gut it out? I am even more interested in if the BoS were getting the truth so they could have make reasonable decisions, or were they lied to by Diaz, or the Staff?

Chuck, if there was some lying going on, then these are not "scapegoats" they are the culprits in a cover up.

The sooner the BoS comes clean on these issues the better.

Dixon Cruickshank

From afar, I don't think the BOS had a clue what was going on behind closed doors. I'm quite sure they didn't know about the early access, nor were they told the truth on the waiver. Diaz and the IT Dept knew exactly what was going on and what had already happened, I read 1 depo and that was all you needed. Who told them to hang tough? and why they didn't maybe ask tougher questions as things continued into the death spiral I don't know.

2 Million - I think your way under estimating, that 1.2 will be spent pretty quick and they may need more - AtPac has probably spent that much so thats 2.4 right there - then AtPac. Thats why I said a week or so ago after the depo's - that 1 mill settlement was probably long gone at that point - they had them by the short hairs.

My guess close to 4 mill+ total, all for a stinking 15,000 - I don't think so, there was a reason they wanted into that server. I think they needed the AtPac info, in the depo it came out even after that they were having trouble figuring stuff out and needed to be sent screen shots by the project manager. The fact also was recently brought up they are new to CA and the parent company sure could use this helper in there pitch for business. I wonder how many other counties in CA AtPac serves that now could be new targets. I do believe there is the proverbial [smoking gun, edited] in there somewhere - whether they are ever discovered is another matter, one person would certainly jump out at you though - but none of it makes any sense for 15,000 and they had already been in the server.

I feel sorry for the taxpayers and do hope Mr Diaz gets his do in the end, but I doubt it will happen. Hell he probably won't even lose his job let alone jail- oh wait theres no room anyway, nevermind.

Bob W

What do you think? Is it possible that all five of these guys are so stupid that they don't even realize that they don't have to comply with the gag decision? It isn't any good unless they all agree. If even one of them objected in the beginning the whole thing would have been open to the public. It seems to me that any one of them could break and claim he has been misinformed and his decisions until now where effected by those misrepresentations. After all they have already rejected the advise of the previous counsel.

Wait did I actually ask if these guys were that stupid? What was I thinking?

Chuck Whitten

Russ-
I think there was more than enough lying to go around. My concern is that some lower level employee who may have been intimidated into lying is going to take the fall. I can think of a couple of unelected, upper management level people who should be held to account . . . at minimum.

Bob W

No matter who lied or how it has come to this it is the BOS that is responsible now. If they still think they are going to get out of this at this point then I don't feel sorry for any one of them.

Steve Enos

"the only conceivable reason that the county is keeping things hush-hush is to keep the taxpayers and voters in the dark"... "only conceivable reason"? is this a joke?

The County is in the middle of a large legal action, no way can they or should they be talking much about this at this time... it's just basic litigation 101.

Russ Steele

Chuck,

I think the deposition are rather clear on the issue, lower level employees were instructed to create accounts and scrub hard drives. They did not do it on their own volition. I have worked with some of the IT people over the years and they followed the book real close, not much imagination or interpretation of the written word in the manuals. The only time they adjusted their position was when instructed to do so by more senior managers.

Dixon Cruickshank

Hell just Froze over I have to agree with Enos, damn thats painful to type LOL

At this point, whatever they knew then and what they know now needs to be kept close to the vest. I'm quite sure at some point they realized the chit had hit the fan and the county was in deep do do. At this point they need for the taxpayers sake, to try and cut the best deal. Telling the opponents anything probably would not help that cause, just hope you all find out in the end - I know I want to know too - been a great saga

Who the hell has been telling them to fight it out, that would be interesting to know. This hand should have been folded about $700,000 in legal fee's ago. I'll bet the BOS had no clue back then how bad it really was though - nobody could be that stupid

just a thought I had, maybe AtPac is not interested in a settlement at this point. I mean really they have them dead to rights and they knew it after the first depo of the project manager

bill tozer

Is this the classic case where the cover up ends up being worse than the crime? I though we learned that lesson from Nixon and Martha Steward. Guess not. Oh yeah, John Edwards got indicted today over some little cover up scandal. Wonder how much Mr. Edwards will have to pay his team of 4 lawyers?

Barry Pruett

Indeed. What has gone unreported in The Union is that Diaz and the other defendants filed for summary judgment a while back and lost. The evidence is overwhelming and undisputed. My bet is that Diaz and the County will scramble to settle in order to hide the true extent of the wrongful conduct involved in the Diaz case and the subsequent cover-up.

It is noteworthy to point out that our portly liberal blogger is remarkably silent on the subject...appears that he got too far out on that ledge.

Todd Juvinall

Barry, the FUE's $500 bucks was not a good investment.

Bob W

Yes, Yes, somebody made a stupid decision early on. Supervisor, County Counsel, Recorder, Department Head, Employee? That person is no longer the focus of culpability. We are where we are because of group think. Everyone was following and no one was leading. When it became apparent that the County had screwed up it was, at that point, that the leader or leaders would, and should, have pulled the plug. That is "basic litigation 101". The fact that that didn't happen means there were no leaders in the group. It was at that point that the BOS did, or at least should have, "had a clue", so yes several people "could be that stupid". As for knowing what was "going on behind closed doors", it is the BOS that has control of what stays behind closed doors. Everyone involved has been thinking they are going to point at the others. Of course the BOS needs to rely on counsel. But when you are elected to lead and it becomes obvious that counsel is giving you lousy advise, no matter what the rest of the herd does you better do what is right or you are part of the problem. This idea of pointing at someone else and saying, they told me to do it, isn't going to cut it when you were elected. And that my friends is the difference between an elected public official and an employed public servant. Now keep in mind that nothing has changed yet and the sooner each person involved decides to be an adult the easier it's going to be on that person. After all this is over the people of Nevada County MUST have all the information about everything that took place. If that doesn't happen then personally I think it may border on illegal.

George Rebane

I believe that the Supes are working under the assumption that most people have knowledge and interest level of what SteveE evinces above.

No one here has demanded that the county reveal its ongoing litigation/negotiation strategy, only the facts of the case which are already known to ALL parties in the case. If they wanted to add anything to that, it would be some broad justification as to past thinking explaining why they then took the course that now appears to ALL, including the thinking electorate, as having been butt stupid.

Chuck Whitten

I've been trying to chase down the claim on those blogs supporting the county that the county has insurance for this. If so, is there a self-insured portion? Has the insurance agency surrendered its (very common) ability to settle at their discretion? Is the county laying out the money without consulting with the insurer? I would think that if the insurance company is buying this whole thing, it would have to be deeply involved, and I can't imagine it would have gone this far. Can anyone tell me (seriously) if the public is generally aware of the contents of most of the depositions?

Bob W

I am not demanding that the county reveal it's strategy although I am not sure it would exactly be considered strategy. At this point I am not willing to accept that all facts are known by all parties in the case. That is unless you don't consider the people of Nevada County as a party in the case. I do. I agree that it makes no sense to be talking about this now. Problem is the whole thing makes no sense. I am looking at this not so much from how to resolve it but because it has gone so far out of control, more like how to keep it from getting even worse. The first thing that needs to be done is to accept where we are. Then admit how we got here. This is the only way to stop the bleeding. As I keep trying to convey, someone needs to be the first adult and pull the plug. When I mention "behind closed doors" what I mean is that the adult should start telling all the children what to do and he or she should put them in line by threatening to go public. After all, who is that they are supposed to be protecting? One thing an adult leader could do is at least come out and say the he doesn't agree with what the group is doing and intends to document everything so the public will know which ones are responsible. I think if one had stood up said look I have had enough, I'm putting a stop to this now. Now that would have been the leader and the rest of the dummies wouldn't have had any choice other than to follow. If that had happened this would have been millions of dollars ago. Do we keep spiraling down or do we put an end to madness?

Chuck Whitten

Bob-
I agree that not all the facts are known. There are critical pieces of information missing, not the least of which is, why is the county not responding to ANY of this. When the county's attorneys (Cypress) responded, it was inadequate, to say the least. Downey Brand and Michael Thomas are clearly on the offensive and they're walking (or should I say "stomping) all over the county. So much of what is coming from the county's defenders is nothing more than conjecture and innuendo. I suspect a whole bunch of people got caught up in defending the county, and now the house of cards is collapsing. I fear that a lot of well intended people are going to be hurt badly.

Chuck Whitten

Oops, I should have said "well intentioned," instead of "well intended."

Bob W

Chuck I think you are right on target when you bring up the response or lack of. This illustrates that everyone involved is in way over their collective heads. For that reason alone one of them should have already accepted their limited ability to handle this and cut their losses. The only reason that hasn't happened is because of stupidity and a refusal to accept responsibility. Any response to this by any one of the players will be interpreted by the others as a threat. That in turn will cause the whole thing to erupt. At that point you would see fingers pointing all over the place and perhaps even more litigation. I know if I were an employee involved in this I would have my own attorney already.

Chuck Whitten

One of the moments that was most illuminating to me in this fiasco was a response by Ed Scofield to one of Jeff Ackerman's stories. Scofield said he had not read the judge's ruling! I realized at that moment, that it was probably likely none of the members of the board had read ANY of the legal documents in the suit. Truthfully, a prime motivation of my coverage was to try to get someone from the county to give me a response. The only response was, a "memo" from Mike Jamison, that was not on letterhead, and criticism of the fact I was covering it, and that was to other people. I considered it gutless, and decided to step up my research and coverage.

George Rebane

"... only the facts of the case which are already known to ALL parties in the case ..."

For the record, I have not claimed that all the facts are yet known, only that the facts currently known are known to ALL parties in the suit.

Soon after the suit was filed, the county received a 'reservation of rights' memorandum from its E&O insurance provider delineating formally under what to-be-discovered conditions it would not pay claims.

Previous RR coverage on this is easily obtained by searching 'AtPac' or 'Diaz'.

Bob W

Thanks for the clarification George. To assume you were saying that you thought that all the facts are known was a poor take on my part. I expect that the real cover up will come after the first legal battle is resolved. George, you and Russ, and in fact all the other blog hosts, will have that to face then. And it looks like Chuck may want a piece of this too. I admit that I don't know what is going on or what has happened so far, and may never, but I think it will probably turn out that there should be some firing going on and I don't exclude those elected. After all, who is supervising this?

Bob W

Going back over what Chuck said about Ed Scofield not reading the judge's ruling and Chuck's guessing that maybe none of the supervisors have read any of the legal documents, which is what I would also guess, I am thinking that they are all just doing whatever they are told by counsel and maybe the CEO. Now if you think of it this should give you just a little insight as to who these guys are. They are doing that because they don't think they are responsible. They actually think in the end they can say they just did what they were told they should do. Now up front that may have been the right course accepting that they aren't legal professionals but after they had to switch legal teams and especially after they got whacked by the court for destroying the evidence don't you think it was time to take charge? Were they put there to just do what they were told to do? If so, why do we need supervisors? Just let the bureaucrats run the place. Like Chuck says, at least read what's going on so you can ask questions. If you aren't getting the right answers get someone new to answer the questions. Come on man!

Chuck Whitten

Thanks George. Errors and Omissions insurance only pays part of any claims, and rarely pays any punitive damages, which could be sizable. Also, the insurer typically retains the ability to decide what will happen with any litigation, unless there is a huge deductible. I would think the premiums for E&O are extremely high. It would be great if the parameters of that policy were available. I also wonder when it was the county stopped self insuring.

Jack McClure

I have been following this since the first hint of the lawsuit. A guy I met some months ago said that he talked to Beason about the lawsuit and that the Supervisor told him that it was a "nuisance suit". He was right, $1.225 million is a nuisance..and a very big one. Beason has a military mentality, ALWAYS cover your own butt. After everything started to come out he endorsed Diaz for election to the County Clerk-Recorder office. To me, that's just plain stupid. Even we old-timers up here know that if you are standing in poop, it's time to move. After this suit is finished and the County loses, as I think it will, all four so-called conservatives and Diaz should be recalled. Politics are less important than honesty. The question is, where do you find an honest person to run for these offices? (I think I saw Diogenes wandering in the Sierra)
The pressure that is being put on the BOS by George, Russ, KNCO, The Union, and common folks, is driving those in the insane asylum (Rood Center)
even crazier than ever. Keep up the good work!

Barry Pruett

The following teaser was in the Sacramento Bee yesterday. The story is supposed to be in the Bee tomorrow and on Monday.

"Coming Sunday, a two part Bee investigation reveals how high interest, private loan brokers have bilked many Californians and out of their life savings, particularly in Nevada County.

"The stories examined how the money-lending practices flourished, leading to dubious dealings bewteen one broker and a top law enforcement official.

Looks like another shoe is about to fall.

Bob W

Jack- Something in your post stands out. Now I have my own inclination as to who may have initiated what has evolved into a go-for-broke mentality. I had an old friend that passed not long ago. Herman Bansemer. Some of you knew him well. Deeply missed. I have never been in the military, wish I had, but Herman was retired navy. WWII submariner. I learned a lot from Herman. I think it took a lack of appreciation for the intellectual value of software as one factor in this. Probably all of them were capable of that. The other factor might have had something to do with not letting anyone force you into something you didn't think you had to do. What is sometimes referred to as bull-headedness. It was Herman that explained to me how you think if you are a Captain.

George Rebane

IF the "nuisance suit" allegation is true, that would give some purchase to start asking questions as to what evidence was the Supervisor given by whom that would support such an early and catastrophically erroneous conclusion. Following that trail would be extremely revealing about the ethics, professional knowledge, and critical thinking skills of all involved.

Paul Emery

Barry

I know quite a bit about this. This one's been lurking in the bushes for some time. The Sac Bee doesn't sent their investigate team out that often so we'll see.

Bob W

George
Your last comment touches on a lot of the issues I am very interested in. My concern beyond the eventual cost has to do with how this all happened. I am afraid that perhaps at least one or maybe more of the supervisors may have taken the litigation exemption to permit them to avoid public scrutiny. This is not the purpose and that to me would be what borders on illegal. I don't know the protocol for records in closed session. There may be no defined protocol but if not this is one thing that will need to be addressed when the litigation is over. It seems to me quite possible that someone may have thought they would never have to answer for their actions because there is no record. I think everything done in closed session should be recorded and accounted for. There shouldn't be any reason that the public couldn't have full access to the information after the fact because it can't effect the outcome at that point. Now I admit there are always extending circumstances so in those cases it could be left up to a court to decide if any part of the records should be kept from the public. But then "kept from the public" is scary to start with. What do you think? Is it appropriate that the people investigating or at least trying to investigate this ask the questions. Is all of this being recorded? Are all the exchanges of communication being accounted for and cataloged? Will the contribution of every principal be easily evaluated by the public in the end?

Bob W

Paul,
So you know that the Sac Bee sent their investigate team out? One thing I have realized is that you know a lot of things.

Paul Emery

Bob W

This has been in the works for quite awhile spearheaded by bilked investors and borrowers. True investigative journalism is very rare today because it is labor, therefore cost, intensive. Here's the link to today's story.

http://www.sacbee.com/2011/06/04/3677712/nevada-county-bank-caught-in-hard.html

Bob W

Wow! This AtPac thing has tentacles! Yes Paul you know a lot of things.

Greg Goodknight

I know of a now former aircraft and hangar owner at a local airport who sold those assets because he lost his retirement nestegg, perhaps in this scheme, to folks who he believed should be going to jail.

Supposedly from his own dealings he'd gotten the nickname "Shifty" from other pilots...

George Rebane

The next place to show public interest in this case is at the Tuesday BoS meeting during the public comment portion. The questions that I and others have asked publicly asked should be put on record. Right now the Supes may still be able to claim that their silence is explained by no one having asked them. Where are the Tea Party Patriots when we need them?

John Galt

The Supervisors approved the original contract with Aptitude Solutions.
The Supervisors approved the indemnity agreement Aptitude Solutions that transferred all legal liability to The Tax payers.
The Supervisors approved hiring the failed legal representation of Cypress.
The Supervisors refused a $30,000 settlement in the early stages.
The Supervisors Authorized a 1.2 million defense budget when a $1,000,000 settlement is was on the table.


Isn't the buck supposed to stop with the Supervisors?

Regardless of Diaz's role in initiating this disaster, it's clear now that Diaz's error has been greatly compounded by the Supervisors' failure to supervise.

Jack McClure

Paul: I have a question: As the news director at KVMR, why hasn't your station dug into this nasty stuff? If you have known about this for a while, why aren't you exposing it?

Paul Emery

Jack

Responsible investigative reporting is very time consuming and therefore expensive. It is a sad state of journalism that that there are few resources for funding investigative reporting. Also, a story of this nature is very technical and needs expert sources of analysis and research. The Sacramento Bee is to be commended for their work on this. KVMR simply does not have the resources to responsibly take on a story of this magnitude and complexity.

Bob W

Paul,
So the "quite a bit" that you know about this is not based on "expert sources of analysis and research"? Yes that is more of a question for verification or rebuttal than a statement of opinion on my part.

Paul Emery

That's pretty much it. This has been rumbling in the bushes for quite a while.
KVMR interviewed on the air several victims of fraud in the Hastert case as well as the DA but has never undertaken a full investigative look into the story for reasons stated above.

Chuck Whitten

Bob-
I'll vow for Paul's comments. My work on the AtPac thing has been mostly on my own time. Now that I'm no longer with KNCO, I'm trying to pursue the story on my own. I believe it's very important. I always have. I just was too busy trying to fill air time to be able to do much of anything in depth. Whose fault is that? Blame it on the economy.

Chuck Whitten

My gosh, it should be vouch rather than vow! My old age is showing.

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