The Madera County Board of Supervisors has appointed 55-year-old Karen Rodriguez Pouge, daughter of current Supervisor Max Rodriguez, District 4, to the position of Chief Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, effective upon the September 11 retirement of current Chief Clerk Rhonda Cargill.
The posted annual salary range for the county position is between $68,000-83,000 with a standard additional county benefits package health insurance, vacation and retirement of approximately $20,000 to $30,000 also paid.
Public records show Rodriguez Pouge has been employed in deposit services at United Security Bank in Fresno for the last 12 years and has no apparent related legal or governmental administrative experience.
Long time board critic and former employee Michelle Garcia said “This is another reason why this board is so unethical. We need the FBI to come investigate this board (of supervisors)!” Garcia said.
Property owner Khalid Chaudhry said all elected officials and their family members should hold themselves above reproach and this situation is no different. “This just looks bad. She’s his daughter. Is she qualified? We will never know. It’s unethical for sure. To them it’s just spending other people’s money, the taxpayer’s money. It’s certainly another breach of public trust, especially with the history of this bunch of county supervisors,” Chaudhry said.
Board chairman David Rogers and other supervisors declined to comment on the situation.
Chief Administrative Officer Jay Varney said he and the supervisors felt the appointment of Rodriguez Pouge was appropriate and did not fall under the county’s nepotism ordinance, even though Max Rodriguez was a sitting supervisor.
“Yes, it is correct that Karen Pogue was selected at the September 1st Board of Supervisors meeting as the new Clerk of the Board,” Varney said in a statement.
“While I cannot discuss specific HR matters regarding individual candidates ...” Varney said, “The County had over 40 applicants. Those applicants went through a multi step process to screen for qualifications. This screening included individuals who were not aware of Ms. Pogue’s familial connection to Supervisor Rodriguez. After a number of screening steps, the Board, less Supervisor Rodriguez, selected Ms. Pogue as the new Clerk of the Board,”
Varney went on to say “Nepotism is addressed in 2.60.110 of the Madera County Code of Ordinances which is available online. The Clerk of the Board is supervised by the Board as a whole. Practically speaking it is generally the Board Chairman who works closest with the Clerk of the Board, therefore the County does not believe there is a violation of the ordinance. With that (said), I would say let’s give County staff the opportunity to do it’s best on behalf of the community as we move forward with Ms. Cargill’s retirement, and the appointment of Ms. Pogue,” he said.
The Madera County Board of Supervisors can be reached at 675-7700.