San Luis Obispo County general services director departs suddenly

August 18, 2014
Janette Pell

Janette Pell

By KAREN VELIE

San Luis Obispo County Administrator Dan Buckshi recently informed Janette Pell, director of the general services agency, that she no longer held her position, according to county sources.

On Aug. 11, Buckshi announced in an email sent to agency staff that the merger of the general services agency and the information technology department approximately six years ago had not worked out as planned. As a result, Buckshi said changes were needed and that Pell was through.

“As of today, Janette Pell is no longer the General Services Agency Director,” Buckshi writes in his email.

On Aug. 12, Pell emailed general services agency staff announcing her departure from the county.

“By now you are aware that I am no longer an employee with San Luis Obispo County,” Pell says in the email. “Leaving you is the most difficult part of my new journey.”

Over the past few years, the agency has been plagued with high turnover rates, allegations of misuse of technology services, questions about large contracts awarded to local firms without the required bidding processes, and bullying of staff, county sources said.

Pell’s last day was Friday Aug. 8. She was permitted to clean her desk out during the following weekend, county sources said.

Buckshi did not respond to requests for comment.

After the 2008 merger, the department, which Pell was handpicked by former county administrator David Edge to lead, included parks and golf, administration, fleet services, airports, general services, information technology, purchasing and capital projects. The merger was supposed to help “realize organizational efficiencies” while providing an economic benefit to the county.

“Unfortunately, those goals have not been realized as intended,” Buckshi’s email to staff read in part. “As a result of these multiple factors, I have come to the conclusion that changes are needed at this time.”

During the next few months, Buckshi plans to separate the general services agency into four independent departments: airports, information technology, parks, and general services, he asserted in his email to staff.

In the meantime, Machelle Vieux will serve as the interim General Services Director. The general services department will include fleet services, architectural services, energy, property management, maintenance, and administration, Buckshi noted.

Kevin Bumen will serve as the interim airports director, Curtis Black will serve as the interim parks director and Daniel Milei will serve as the interim information technology director.

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24 Comments

  1. SamLouis says:

    More of the corrosive trail left by His Lowness David Edge…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

    • amazedandshocked says:

      Why is she still contacting current management, and meeting with them downtown at the courthouse, right in the middle of the work week? Does this just mean more of the same? How far reaching does this go? She didn’t allow that when SHE fired people. She forbid them any contact with the remaining staff.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  2. NuttyBuddy says:

    Talk to employees who served (or, sadly, former employees who quit) under her reign and you’ll learn that this departure is considered GOOD NEWS for county employees AND residents of SLO County.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 31 Thumb down 7

    • SLOBIRD says:

      IF she was so bad, why the heck was she allowed to stay on for so long? Who was her protector? How many years has she been in charge of her department? Something is not sounding right in this situation!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 4

      • OnTheOtherHand says:

        All good questions but it doesn’t mean that NuttyBuddy is wrong. Sometimes centralizing bureaucracy has enough drawbacks to more than cancel out any benefits from consolidation of staff. If the leadership of a centralized bureaucracy isn’t top notch, the staff reductions (assuming there were some) can easily be cancelled by inefficiencies and bad morale. When that happens, you end up trading off reduced staffing costs for other expenses resulting from bad performance.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

      • nurse1 says:

        Welcome to how the County of SLO works. The workerbees are as good as their “leaders”

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

    • surfdawg says:

      I concur with Nutty, a behemoth agency lacking any customer service focus; completely non-competitive with local private sector vendors. And, if you actually wanted to be penny-wise with taxpayer dollars and used a local business, as opposed to a general services department, you were scolded. Many great employees left under her reign. An annual internal customer service survey was circulated within the county, but the feedback was never shared.

      I congratulate Buckshi for holding people accountable and making the tough choices!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

    • joerevlis says:

      Let’s be clear: Janette was fired. The question is why did it take so long?
      There are other county employees like her: it’s the empty suit syndrome
      They dress nice, always smiling (unless dealing one-on-one), they normally talk well, they fake it! It’s part of government culture.
      Tell it like it is: Janette was and is incompetent at her job.
      She did bully people to try to make up for her incompetence.
      The people who made the decision to consolidate the departments and to put her in charge should be held accountable.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  3. Pelican1 says:

    See the bureaucracy grow, grow, grow, grow. See incompetence increase, increase, increase. See efficiency decrease, decrease, decrease. See government.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 25 Thumb down 11

  4. scoopone says:

    If there is one time when the County Supervisors should step up to the plate, this is their
    chance. Please stop this enlargement of county departments/employees.

    Enough is enough….we must learn to live within our means like the citizens who are
    paying for it!!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 31 Thumb down 10

  5. As the world turns says:

    Maybe Buckshi is the one who should leave. Interesting how the County gets rid of female directors/supervisors and the men stay.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 30

  6. Jorge Estrada says:

    Four new Director jobs? I guess we are only a buck shy of a balanced budget?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 32 Thumb down 6

  7. calzoni says:

    This article is about the County Department of General Services; Measure G is a city ballot measure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 4

  8. kayaknut says:

    “During the next few months, Buckshi plans to separate the general services agency into four independent departments”, does this mean four separate departments with separate staffs, and if so is this an increase in personal, salaries, benefits and pensions? Is this where some of Measure G money is planned to be spent if it passes?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 13

    • ironyman2000 says:

      This is what sears my drawers about wingnuts: take an issue (in this case Measure G),
      transmogrify it into another (in this case city to county) then issue a rhetorical question
      based on a false premise as though there were an actual point being made. Then often
      accusing the left of doing what the wingnut itself is doing.
      Full of abstract sound and fury signifying nothing.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 25

      • kayaknut says:

        Let’s see if I got this, I make a valid point about government not ever getting the idea to reduce costs, always wanting to increase their size, budget, always wanting more money or making threats about having to cut vital services, never those services that are duplicated, outdated, or pointless, make one minor reference that applies only to the city and not county, and you jump up and down and throw a fit, call anyone who disagrees with you names, and you never address the first point?

        I admit my mistake about referring a city measure in a comment about the county. Happy now.

        Let me guess how you will vote on Measure G if you live in the city………

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 12

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