It’s time to put some pressure on the county Board of Supervisors.
A few weeks ago, we published this story about an investigation the county conducted into allegations about a program it administers called California Children’s Services, which provides wheelchairs and other medical equipment to local children with disabilities.
The gist of the story is simple: In 2007, a whistleblower at the program filed a complaint with the county about how the program was being operated. Minutes from county meetings show that the allegations had something to do with alleged kickbacks at the program, and we know that the county spent more than a year looking into the allegations and compiled a full report on their investigation.
But that’s about all I could find out.
Officials at the county, namely County Counsel John Sansone and Nick Macchione, director of the county’s Health and Human Services Agency, decided the public shouldn’t be allowed to see the report the county compiled. Nor would anyone at the county answer any questions about what was alleged and what investigators found out. I was told, simply, that the allegations weren’t serious and that they had been dealt with.
At the time, I called the spokesman for county Supervisor Greg Cox, Luis Monteagudo, to ask him what Cox thought about the allegations, which primarily focused on Cox’s district.
Monteagudo told me that, in this case, the supervisors had delegated the authority to decide whether or not to release the investigation to Macchione and to Chief Administrative Office Walt Ekard. Macchione and Ekard both decided the investigation should be kept secret, Monteagudo told me, and Cox was happy to let his administrators handle what was, essentially, a personnel issue.
But there’s more to it than that.
When it comes to county dealings, the buck stops with the Board of Supervisors. If the board so wished, it could choose to override the decision of Ekard and Macchione, and to release the investigation, in full, for public scrutiny. That way, the public would be able to see exactly what went on at within public program that receives more than $20 million of public money annually.
Let’s see if they will.
I’m going to call each supervisor, in turn, and ask him or her to explain why they are happy for the document to remain secret. I’ll update this blog as and when I get answers.