In an e-mail statement, County Supervisor Dianne Jacob has weighed in on the county’s refusal to make public an investigation into allegations of improprieties at a program it runs. Jacob says she advocated for the release of the document, but that she was advised by county attorneys not to make the document public and called now on those attorneys to better explain their reasoning.
Here’s the statement, which was e-mailed over by Jacob’s spokeswoman, Jen Stone:
When the allegations were called to Chairwoman Jacob’s attention by a journalist at NBC 7/39, she requested and received for a briefing from the County’s Health and Human Services Agency.
It is her very strong opinion that the County handled the situation appropriately.
At that briefing, the Chairwoman advocated for the release of the documents.
County Counsel, however, very strongly believes that turning over these documents would compromise the way the County investigates allegations of problems within departments, and would put the County at risk of litigation.
The Chairwoman has weighed the importance of releasing the documents with what Counsel maintains is a critical investigatory process.
As it stands now, she has decided to take Counsel’s advice.
She has said more than once that, “sunshine is the best disinfectant” when it comes to the inner workings of government and isn’t thrilled about having to keep the documents confidential.
She is hoping that by referring you to Counsel, Counsel might better explain the reasons behind their advice to her.
I’ve been asking the county supervisors to explain why they won’t let the public see the report, which took county investigators more than a year to complete and that looked into allegations of improprieties at California Children’s Services, a program overseen by the county that provides wheelchairs and other medical equipment to children with disabilities.
I’ve called county counsel John Sansone a few times to get into this and another related matter with him. It’s particularly interesting that, according to Jacob, county attorneys are worried that the county could be put at risk of litigation if the report is released.
I’d like to ask Sansone who county counsel is concerned will sue the county. Is the county at risk from families whose children were treated under this program? Is the county concerned about lawsuits from employees named in the report? Perhaps the county is worried that the employee who complained in the first place will sue because he or she didn’t think the allegations were taken seriously enough?
It’s worth noting that everyone I have spoken to at the county has so far told me that the investigation and the report were not a big deal and that nothing really came of the allegations, apart from a few slaps on the wrist. If it’s not a big deal, then why is the county worried about being sued?
I would also like to ask Sansone why the county’s risk of being sued is more important than the public’s right to know what its government is doing with its money. He hasn’t yet returned my calls.
On another note, I still haven’t heard anything from Supervisor Ron Roberts or Supervisor Pam Slater-Price.