Handling of Lamberto prostitution conviction shows problematic CEO ordinance

King Devereaux and the Feckless Five

The recent revelation that San Bernardino County Human Resources Director Andrew Lamberto was arrested and convicted of Penal Code section 647(b)—Engage, and agree to engage, in prostitution—and the handling of the situation by San Bernardino County Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux brought to the forefront the issues caused by the non-interference clause enacted by the county’s Board of Supervisors in 2010.  Devereaux used the clause to keep supervisors in the dark about what proved to be one of the most embarrassing incidents in the county’s recent history.

When Devereaux was appointed as County Administrative Officer in 2010, the board approved a contract that does not allow him to be terminated except under the most egregious circumstances.  The requirements the board must go through to fire Devereaux are similar to that of removing an elected official.

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4 thoughts on “Handling of Lamberto prostitution conviction shows problematic CEO ordinance

  1. A general principle of contract law is that any provision of a contract that violates the laws of the jurisdiction in which it is written is void. In fact, Lamberto was attempting to make a contract with a prostitute. Not only would that contract be void, the making of the contract was a crime.

    Second, Devereaux wrote an emplyment contract. He may be called a “contractor” for the legal definition of the paper. But his relationship with the county is as an employee, not a contractor in the way that I am an independent State licensed contractor.

    I have no problem with the non-interference clause unless it is misused. Its purpose is that policies should be directed by the entire board and implemented to the employees by the CEO. Many times working with homeowner associations, the hired property managers have appropriately told me not to listen to individual board members.

    However, the contractual overruling of the people being able to fire the CEO at the will of a simple board majority seems to me to be a circumstance that violates the law and is void contractually.

    • Here is where the problem with the non-interference clause comes in. The supes have used the clause as an excuse to not interact and help the constituents that voted them in AND they have used it for political cover. Today’s story was just an introduction to a series I’m writing on Devereaux and the harm this whole thing had caused the residents of San Bernardino County.

      One of the points I made in this article, which goes over everyone’s head, but especially Holtz and some of them on the other blog is that our county charter allows the BOS to remove other electeds such as the Sheriff and DA. From the standpoint of California law, this is a very big deal. If these two are as bad and costing taxpayers as much as the other blog claims, they should be removed. But how do you remove an elected official when you’ve set the bar so high to remove your own administrative officer and cannot do that even after he caused great embarrassment to the county? When things went south with Postmus, Ovitt was setting the stage to remove him from office. What has happened since is that Devereaux has neutered the board to the point they are not capable of acting on their own or using the power given to them by the county charter and California Constitution. They have become little more than figureheads.

      If you think I’m wrong, you have to look no further than Los Angeles County to see examples of their BOS using their power to deal with elected officials, including city officials, when they believe there is corruption. Without looking at their county charter to confirm, I believe I am correct in saying it does not give them neatly the power ours gives our BOS, but they use what they have to deal with corrupt electeds. They are far from perfect, but at least they have some semblance of a backbone.

  2. Hiding behind a non-interference clause as an excuse not to exercise one’s duties is what I would call “misuse”. So therefore I would agree with you. The rightful use of a non-interference clause is to keep a board member from actions that supercede his power as only one member of the board.

    The first instance of a board yielding their power to the autocracy that I remember was fifteen years ago or more when the county council told the Orange County Board of Supervisors that they should not look into an issue or they would be required by their knowledge totake action on it. At the extreme we have Bell and Beaumont.

    I agree that the Lamberto situation shows that Devereaux’s cure for the San Bernardino County problem was destined to become a problem in and of itself. I agree with you that it is up to the Board of Supervisors to be upright and to take the full power of their representative positions. Behind them, th voters of San Bernardino County need to elect honest and able Board members.

    I think that the key tool in limiting Devereaux’s power (if that is a goal) is to challange the veracity of his conract at the point of its inception as violating the constitutional rights of the electorate through representative government in general and the County charter in particular.

    The Board could do this by simply making the challenge and then negotiating with Devereaux to create a new contract that would stand up to court challenge. Or a plaintiff could step up to challenge Devereaux’s contract in court over the heads of the Board.

    By the way, who did that great cartoon above?

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