This past week’s drama in the County Administration Building, reported by Tribune Investigative Journalist, DJ Becker, showed some weaknesses in how the Board of Supervisors does its job.
The supervisors had a very loose rein on their chief administrative officer, Eric Fleming, and as a result, they looked the other way when Fleming’s personal problems interfered with how he conducted the county’s affairs.
Instead of listening to other members of the county administrative staff, instead of taking seriously a grand jury report on the subject of Fleming’s management style, instead of closing their ears to reports of inappropriate behavior towards women, the supervisors shold not have shrugged it off. What were they thinking?
It took another elective official, County Clerk Rebecca Martinez, to see what had been obvious to large number of county workers — which was that Fleming was having problems in his personal life, and he was getting to the point that he was simply not doing his job in the way that managerial civil servants are expected to work. Fleming was proud of how he ran the county, and the supervisors took an attitude of “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.” And that works sometimes, but this time it didn’t.
Rebecca Martinez was right to tell the supervisors, speaking from her own heart, that they “owned” the problem of Fleming’s erratic behavior and had been remiss in not taking care of it. After she read the supervisors the riot act, people who agreed with her sent her flowers.
That ought to tell the supervisors something.
The supervisors are pretty good at gabbing, but they are rather short on original ideas. That was why they put their reliance on Fleming to move the county forward, and he did, although not in a way that always led to cohesiveness.
The supervisors probably don’t like the fact they’ve been called out on their management of their manager.
But they had the scolding coming. The public certainly isn’t going to forget — or let the supervisors forget — why they should have been paying attention to the Grand Jury report instead of brushing it off as the work of amateurs.