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Contra Costa supes may ban naming relatives

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Monday, January 24th, 2011 at 6:13 pm in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics.

The language of a Contra Costa Board of Supervisors policy barring the appointment of the the supervisors’ relatives to  boards in which they select the members emerged from a sub-committee today.

Supervisors John Gioia, of Richmond, and Federal Glover, of Pittsburg, who comprise the Public Protection Committee, approved the wording, which will move to the full board next month.

Click here to read the proposed policy: http://ca-contracostacounty.civicplus.com/DocumentView.aspx?DID=5371

The policy came out of a controversy last fall when David Piepho, husband to Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho, sought an appointment to a small cemetery board. David said he was interested in cemetery governance but critics said his primary intent was to keep his seat on on the Local Agency Formation Commission. (He had opted not to seek re-election in November to the Discovery Bay Community Services District; a cemetery seat would have allowed him to serve out the remainder of his term as an appointee of the Contra Costa Special Districts Association.)

After much ado, the board allowed David Piepho to apply for the opening but after a tense public hearing, they eventually appointed Vicky Rinehart to the Byron-Brentwood-Knightsen Union Cemetery District.

Embarrassed by the perception of favoritism, Glover and Gioia pursued a policy that would remove even the hint of impropriety: An outright ban on appointments to county boards of anyone  related to a supervisor or a business partner of a supervisor.

Keep in mind, these appointments typically involve advisory posts with little or no financial benefits.

Nonetheless, the public remains fiercely opposed to even a whiff of nepotism.

The policy undeniably places the Piephos in a difficult position. David was an elected official long before his wife ran for supervisor, and if this policy passes, he cannot seek appointment to any county board while she holds the seat.

And David is free to volunteer for any number of other civic organizations or run again for public office.

Regardless of where you come down on this issue, when the policy comes up for debate the discussion will be most interesting.

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  • Common Tater

    “…Gioia pursued a policy that would remove even the hint of impropriety…”

    How proper was he when he sold out the county to the labor unions? Just a tad more improper than a little nepotism, methinks.

  • ralph hoffmann

    In private industry, union membership percents are at historical lows. Tater, Lisa and I aren’t related to Federal.

  • Paul Junge

    Is the naming of relatives to boards the most potentially troubling act the Board could make? The benefit of being appointed to a board is small compared to the millions of dollars the County distributes to non-profit groups, contractors, community groups and government agencies. Perhaps the Supervisors should consider a ban on any expenditures to any entity with whom a Supervisors relative is associated, whether that association is service on a board, employment etc.

  • Johnnie

    I think the move is good. It also stops individuals such as David and Mary Piepho from abusing the public for their own personal benefit. Tator also has a point, the public employee unions are just as bad.

    I thank the Piepho’s for their exposed abuse of the public for personal gain leading to this positive change.

    Next exposure should be office slush funds and illegal stipend abuse.

  • Johnnie’s Brother

    Good move if you ignore the discriminatory factor, the potential legal issues and forget the fact that the PPC members previously stated they wouldn’t adopt such a policy.

    People have personalized the issue and lost sight of common sense. The PPC is about public safety. What are they doing trying to dictate appointment policy? Can you say ‘out of your purview’?

    Santa Barbara Co has a reasonable policy on nepotism that doesn’t take it to the level of being discriminatory. The Board would be smart to study an existing working example and not cave to this kneejerk response to a small group of bullies trying to dictate county policy.

    Slush funds and stipends? Sounds like somebody packing an agenda. Just what this convoluted debate doesn’t need thrown in.