Vendor lawyer Hall helps county official buy house

June 2, 2008

By DANIEL BLACKBURN and KAREN VELIE

A top county official’s Arroyo Grande home was jointly purchased by her and the family trusts of local lawyer Clay Hall, whose firm receives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually as the vendor responsible for the majority of San Luis Obispo County’s outside legal work.

Gail Wilcox, assistant county administrator, owns one-half undivided interest in the house on Blackberry Avenue, according to county property documents. She took a $417,000 mortgage in April 2007 to purchase her fifty percent share of the residence. Clay Hall, his wife Kristy A. Hall, and several of their family trusts own the other half. The total purchase price, according to records, was $580,000.

Wilcox acknowledged the arrangement Monday.

“This is outside of work,” she said, adding that she perceives no conflict of interest. She said she has no direct authority over payments made by the county to Hall’s law firm, Hall, Hieatt & Connely of San Luis Obispo.

Hall also denied a conflict, describing the Wilcox property deal as “making financial sense for my family.”

Hall’s firm has provided no-bid legal work for the county for more than two decades. The county presently has about 32 legal cases placed with outside, private law firms; Hall is handling three-fourths of those, said County Counsel spokesperson Warren Jenson.

A month before the Blackberry Avenue deed was granted, Wilcox’s boss, County Administrator David Edge, put a proposal before supervisors purporting to “review and update” the county’s conflict of interest codes. The resolution, placed on the supervisors’ consent calendar and approved without dissent on March 20, 2007, also contains language specifically exempting Wilcox’s residence from the conflict regulations. The exemption appears to circumvent California law governing public officials’ conduct and defining conflicts of interest.

San Luis Obispo County officials have adopted a conflict of interest code patterned after the state Government Code. Both require financial disclosures by elected and appointed county officials and specific employees. The state code prohibits any county employee from benefitting from any contract approved by his or her department.

County Administrator David Edge said Monday that he doesn’t see a conflict of interest in the Wilcox-Hall arrangement.

“I think it is not a problem. She [Wilcox] is not involved… Deb [Hossli, county human resources director] is in charge and she reports to me,” said Edge.

Hossli, who promised to provide financial and contract information for reporters early Monday regarding county payments to Hall’s law firm, was instead “in meetings” and unavailable by publication time.

Wilcox, who takes down more than $200,000 a year in salary and benefits, said Monday she is no longer the county’s chief budget officer. Other county officials, however, told UncoveredSLO.com Monday that they currently believe she still is.

Edge suggested “it was probably County Counsel” that made the initial proposal for the conflict of interest resolution changes.

Wilcox received the grant deed to her new house on May 23, 2007. On that document, she is listed as “a married woman.” She was separated from David Wilcox around the time of purchase of her Blackberry Avenue house. The neatly-groomed, single-story, 1,600-square-foot residence has three bedrooms and two baths and is located in an area of homes with a value range of $550,000 to $750,000.

Wilcox’s required statement of economic interests, filed late with the county in April, lists no reportable assets for calendar year 2007. She received a stern letter threatening sanctions from county clerk-recorder Julie Rodewald for missing the filing deadline.

SLO County employees started work on revisions for the conflict of interest code in February 2007. The result was a “resolution updating the conflict of interest code for the county administrative office to reflect two title changes due to classification changes.” In Edge’s subsequent discussion with supervisors, he said the “administrative office has made changes to their conflict of interest code. The board of supervisors is responsible for approving conflict of interest codes for county departments… and therefore [it is] necessary to approve department’s designated position list.”

According to Edge, the conflict code revision also was necessary to accommodate a change in Wilcox’s title, from “Deputy County Administrator” to “Assistant County Administrator.” Along with that change was a less conspicuous alteration; newly adopted requirements for Wilcox’s conflict reporting now specifically exclude this particular provision:

“Investments in, and income from, any business entity doing business with the County and engaged in (a) the acquisition, sale or lease or development of real property; (b) provision of insurance brokerage or consulting services; or (c) provision of consulting services of the type which have, in the past two years, or which with reasonable foreseeability, may be utilized in the next one-year period by the filer’s particular division within the Department.”

When asked if the new resolution’s wording might refer specifically to her own residence, Wilcox said, “I’m not aware of that.”

Wilcox said, “I don’t think this is a conflict of interest because I don’t have any authority over Clay. I don’t deal directly with Clay Hall contracts. Deb Hossli deals with them, she signs off on Clay’s bills. I’m not involved in securing his services. That goes through Deb (Hossli) and David (Edge).”

Wilcox was asked if she thought her financial arrangement with Hall posed a potential conflict of interest.

“Nope,” she said. “I even checked it out with my boss before I did the deal. He said there was no conflict.”

She said she couldn’t recall if that particular exchange was verbal or written.

When asked if he perceived a conflict of interest, Hall replied that the house on Blackberry Avenue “is my wife’s investment. She wanted to get into the real estate investment market. The house was purchased jointly. She has half.” Hall then added, “And [Wilcox] pays rent. But she has half, too.” Hall offered no explanation regarding the rental agreement.

Edge said the Hall firm was picked by the county in “a decision of risk management years ago.” Edge said he did not know if “a specific contract” with Clay exists. County officials have been unable to locate such a contract. A Ventura County claims administrator, Carl Warren and Co., receives county disbursements to pay Hall’s firm. That contract also was unavailable.

Jenson said Hall’s law firm “has been doing the bulk of the [county’s outside] work, and they’re good at it.”

Jenson added, “I don’t think competitive bidding works well in professional services.” And he said Hall’s firm “is the only experienced law firm specializing in this type of work.”

Asked why his firm gets so much work from the county, Hall said, “We’ve been doing cases on and off since the early 1980s. We are the only pure defense firm in the county. The others do plaintiff work; you get conflicts when you do both.”

Tags:, conflict, county officials, San Luis Obispo County


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Stefan

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

When any Supervisor or Council person has even the possibility of conflict they always call the political fair action commitee why is this different unless you don't want to know. It's just a phone call.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

If that house was bought as an investment by the two of them it can not be defined as a principle residence by IRS code. It is a rental. The rent is income to the partners and all the costs are costs. You can't claim half a house as a principle residence. Ask an Accountant.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

"David Edge looks for the good in others"? Since his reign began, he has been ruthless in promoting himself and his own interests (and his own people, like DSS Lee Collins), and has repeatedly denigrated county employees. Gail has adopted the same us vs. them mentality. They sit in their upper floor tower and do exactly what they want to do, and nobody, including the BOS, challenges them. It's time for some real leadership, and time for them to be held accountable. Katcho, et al, get some balls and get rid of them.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

I'm with Liam – Dan's "big story" fell apart when it turned out he made a mistake in claiming the rules were changed for Wilcox. In fact, Dan now admits, no rules were changed. So what's left – Wilcox and Hall bought a house together. Is that reportable on Form 700? Not if its her residence. Is it a conflict of interest? No. Is it a POTENTIAL conflict of interest – sure.

The onus is on Wilcox and her boss to see that she is not involved in decisions relating to Hall's business with the county. Seems like they have set that in place in the office.

As Liam says – no laws broken – and Blackburn said the same thing on Congalton last night.

For those of you that want to keep going it sure does look personal.


By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

From Dewdog:


We are told that Wilcox and Hall are "partners" and both own the home equally. Then we are told that Wilcox rents the house from Hall. Now some questions, is Wicox a homeowner or a renter? Title to the property is Tenants in Common which means both parties can hold an equal or unequal share of ownership.

The amount of the mortgage is $417,000. At an interest rate of 6% the monthly PI payment would be $2500.13. Property taxes would be approximately $607.17 per month and insurance would be around $65 per month. This ads up to a monthly cost of around $3169.30 per month.

So, who made the down payment of $163,000? Was the down payment equal? What is the rental rate? Is the rental rate proportional to the amount of down payment each party made? Who takes the tax write off for ownership of the house? Since I assume that Mr. Hall owns another home he would be exempt from the homeowners deduction. If Ms. Wilcox is a renter, did she apply for a homeowners exemption.

These should be very easy questions to answer and varify what actual arrangement Wilcox and Hall have.

I have an open mind on this, but if there are no answers to these questions I will become more and more suspicious of this transaction.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

to Liam


If it's such a slam dunk and this is so oke doke with you government employees why not just run it by the fair action political commitee staff so us peons can feel OK about it? No one seems to want to answer that.


Stefan

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

If no law has been broken, does that end it for you? If not, then the problem becomes "personal."

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Who said Dan made a mistake in his report? Edge? I heard the story stands. He said one word in a non-important sentence could have been changed, isn't relevent. Did Wilcox get to close and cross the line in dealings with Hall. Yes she did. Is there a confict of interest? Hell yes. There are reasons for laws on these things. To protect us from greedy and unethical government types.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

So, that's that.


UncoveredSLO got a hot tip from a disgruntled old enemy of Gail, and it turns out that she and some friends really did go in together on a house. Dan made a mistake in his report, thinking something nefarious had occurred, but it turns out it didn't. Maybe some "perception of conflict," but no illegality of any kind.


Everyone got to vent their spleen about government, and David Edge, and Gail, and Dan Blackburn, and Santa Maria Bill, and a few people got to trot out their distasteful fantasies, but that's that.


Sure, it's more fun than figuring out what to do about housing and pollution and gangs and growth and homelessness but, hey, I suppose it's time for us to get serious again.


Damn. It's so much more fun to rant and wring our hands about this trivial nonsense, isn't it? Growing up is a bitch.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

I knew Gail for 8 years and in my view she is as dedicated, committed and ethical a public servant as exists in SLO County. If she is seen by some as "too direct" on occasion, that's because she expects the same honesty from others as she demands of herself. While I might have advised her differently than apparently Edge did, her arrangement with the Halls is not illegal. But in public life perception rules, and she would have been better advised to find another investing partner not so close to County business. But any tawdry speculation by "journalists" about Gail's character is just downright malicious and irresponsible – and deserves any financial consequences coming its way.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

If Dan gave up his source, I never heard it. Also, you need not go any farther than the county building to find a source for this story, public docs. There is no controversy here if it happened or not, only if we should care. financial arrangements between county leaders and contractors is not OK. Gail did not claim her joint investment with Hall on her 700 form. Or is her residence. I quess it is determined by the question of the moment.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

To Departmenthead,

I'm not impressed with your ranting. Answer the questions and provide the documents and contracts that have been requested. Until I have answers your all guilty.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Your statements are interesting, but we still do not have all of the answers. The money needs to be followed.No one seems to want to address the money issue. Maybe Mr. Edge caould provide us with that info and put this matter to rest.

With interest I noted how you praised Ms. Wilcox for all of the money she saved the county with the closure of the General Hospital and the deal she cut with a clinic. You then went on to say the money is now spent on other county programs. I may be a little slow but that didn't save me or the other taxpayers a penny.

Saving money is when you don't spend it all. Oh I forgot that in government that if someone actually does save money they had better spend it on something before the end of the fiscal year or they will not get as much or anymore.


Stefan

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

to department head


Quote from your blog


Mr. Blackburn referred the comments in this story as "fun and interesting". The story and statements allege Ms. Wilcox engaged in malfaesance, prostituted herself and abandoned her children. It is also alleged that the county director of public works engaged in illicit activities with Ms. Wilcox in exchange for his promotion.


Now I have read these blogs and listen to the radio show as well as the segment with David Edge. No where did I see Dan or Karen make the allegations you just outlined. Let me put it this way. If your a friend of Ms. Wilcox she don't need no enemies.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Mr. Blackburn confirmed what others have said re: the source for this story. Mr. Blackburn might have clarified that this person recently retired. Just like Mr. Congalton I have no dog in this fight. I have experienced Mr. Blackburn and Ms. Velie's journalistic antics in the past was not impressed.


Mr. Blackburn referred the comments in this story as "fun and interesting". The story and statements allege Ms. Wilcox engaged in malfaesance, prostituted herself and abandoned her children. It is also alleged that the county director of public works engaged in illicit activities with Ms. Wilcox in exchange for his promotion. I do not consider any of these allegations to be interesting or fun and I presume the same for any human being with an IQ higher than 20. We should all be aghast at the indifference exhibited by Congalton and Blackburn – both alleged journalists – with regard to the erroneous reporting that David Edge changed the rules for Ms. Wilcox. Mr Blackburn your profession requires you to set the record straight regardless of your other opinions in this matter. I assume Ms. Wilcox has retained an attorney other than Mr. Hall.


Mr. Congalton,to proclaim the Ms. Wilcox is involved in EVERY decision that is made in county government is beyond ignorance. In fact, she is NOT involved in the vast majority of decisions that I and staff must make nor should she be. Engage in real investigative reporting and find out exactly how many contracts she signs off on. I'm speculating far less than 1% of all the contracts in county.


I have worked with Ms. Wilcox for many years and I have certainly disagreed with her on a number of occasions. I find her to be too direct on occasion but she may very well find me to be too passive. Fair enough. In all my interactions with Ms. Wilcox I have never seen any evidence to indicate she performs with anything but the highest integrity.


I too had disagreements with the former department head but generally viewed him in a positive light. My disagreements with him were in relation to top managers whom he allowed to engage in questionable activities.


This former department head was not discreet about his contempt for Ms. Wilcox or her office. On two occasions I witnessed him make very unprofessional and chauvanistic comments about her including using "Blondie" in place of her name. He was openly hostile to her after she called him on exxagerated material he gave the supervisors to convince them to get more employees added to his department. Ms. Wilcox orchestrated a reorganization of his department that saved quite a large amount of money and EGADS hired a woman to be his successor. Likely he is very unhappy with the positive light in which his successor is viewd.


Ms. Wilcox can ruffle feathers to be sure. But I hypothsize that most or all of my colleagues would agree that she works tirelessly to do what at least she thinks is the public's interest. It is also well known that she is routinely assigned the most difficult or controversial projects while others do not. We have her to thank for closing the money eating dinosaur hospital and orchestrating a deal with a local clinic system that costs us less but gives much more service. This money is now spent on other county programs.


If Ms. Wilcox exercised less than perfect judgement based on Mr. Edge's approval my guess is she will work to correct that. The former department head and others who contributed to this despicable charade would be wise to turn the mirror on themselves.


Stefan

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Whatever happened with the FBI investigations in the North County? They had to have found SOMETHING!

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

What ever happened to the case against the sheriff for bugging the office of one of his captains? Did they ever settle the civil suit. I wish somebody would nose around about that since it really is likely to cost US some of OUR tax payer dollars.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

this is baby stuff compared to what goes on d-town. you should look into nepotism and favortism over qualified job and promotional employees.it's the old boys school run by newbes to the county, nothing new. look at gen services/ parks

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Apparently David Edge stuck his foot so far in his mouth he can't get it out or someone told him to please just leave it in there. Although he was in a hurry to proove one minor statement in the article may have been incorrect he does not seem to have the same enthusiasm answering the hard questions that have been brought to light by his own statements.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

1) If something were to happen to Edge (God forbid) who would fill in as Administrator? Wilcox

2) This has been characterized as an investment not a princible residence. Therefore not excluded.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

I agree. I'm willing to wait a bit and see what else appears. If this is it, OK, no big deal. However, if more stories emerge and abuse seems to be taking place, then Hill, Mecham, and Patterson will have to clean house.,

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

I love how "anonymous sources" are popping up on this site and insisting that Dan and Karen (and now Congalton) don't know what they're talking about in terms of Ms. Wilcox and Mr. Edge.


What is so wrong with reporting the deal that has transpired by Ms. Wilcox and one the county's top vendors? It strikes me that there are elements at work trying to discourage Dan and Karen from digging deeper and getting the rest of the story.


Ms. Wilcox is merely an example of how lax the situation has grown. An attorney who makes millions off the county each year helps the #2 buy a house and "county employee" attacks the media and not his/her boss.


So I have to ask? What is it that certain people in the county are so afraid might come out?


Stefan

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

To Dan & Karen – I think your website is a great idea, and i respect you both. But on this story, you really did make a big mistake. The facts are simple. They are so simple and clear my 5 year old son could understand them. Mr Edge has clearly explained everything. Their is a '' potential conflict of interest'' highlighting the word potential. Potential doesn't mean certain. It was a mistake by Dave Congalton also to let this attempt at journalism, arrive on his show last night. I won't be listening to 920Kvec again. David Edge is a good and decent public servant. He works tirelessly for this county. He puts others ahead of himself, and know that he looks for the good in other people. Why do you look at that bad in these people Dan? Everyone has bad points and everyone makes bad choices. Im sure there are '' potential conflicts of interest every day''. So what? Look at the big picture. Hundreds of thousands die in Africa each day of starvation. Do you even bat an eyelid Dan? My God man, get a hold of yourself.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

I'm still waiting for the details on this 50/50 proposition between Hall & Wilcox or is Hll paying it all?

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Again I will ask where is the story?

You all act outraged, as if they stole money from the treasury, or for that matter from you personally.

They bought a house together and unless someone can show me they did so with inside knowledge that the property was going to be purchased/condemned for a public works project, or some other development they have not done anything wrong.

And I still ask is there anything going on this week in county government that should be reported…..

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Sigh wrote:


"Ron: To your primary point, you are correct and it's the point that Edge is clearly taking issue with."


Exactly. David is 100-percent right.


The story makes it seem like Wilcox and Edge got together, and deliberately manipulated the system in order for her to legally avoid a conflict of interest in buying the house.


And, IF that HAD happened, this would be one hell of a story.


But, the problem is, that never happened (and I don't blame David one bit for being pissed and doing whatever he can to try to clarify the story), and so the story goes from a killer story of government conspiracy and cover-up, to a story where there's a mild perception of perhaps some sort of conflict of interest taking place… which it's really starting to sound like it didn't. But, like Dan said on KVEC yesterday, that's for the courts, or regulators to decide.


So the heart of the story is now this: Wilcox probably should have thought through the whole perception of conflict of interest thing, and found someone else to help with the financing of the house.


A bit of bad judgement by Wilcox. Is it newsworthy? Sure. I'd say there's something there that makes it kind of readable, but nowhere near the story of top county administrators conspiring to avoid conflict of interest laws.


Now, if Dan and Karen get THAT story, that'll be awesome!


Stefan

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Personnel issues with employees are often kept private. However, when higher ranked officials are involved in what looks like possible currupt capurs, the public has a right to know. And if not reported here, would the issue have ever seen the light of day?

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

I find it somewhat interesting that Mr. Edge is even commenting on this. Uncoveredslo.com has made a public complaint against Ms. Wicox. With that in mind this appears to be a county personel issue. What has happened to the confidentiality of an investigation of a county employee? Mr. Edge, his superiors or whomever should be doing an investigation into these allegations and publicly respond to them in the proper manner thru Mr. Blackburn & Ms. Velie and not thru this blog. Responding to this complaint violates any confidentiality that any county employee is entitled to when a complaint has been filed against them.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Let's try a hypothetical. If General Dynamics was half-owner of Condoleeza Rice's house, would it matter much that Rice has no direct authority over defense contracts awarded to General Dynamics? Would anyone be quibbling over conflict reporting rules? No, it would rightly be a scandal.


Jim: "What was she supposed to do? Turn down Hall and live in the street?"


Hilarious. County apparatchiks at the $200K salary level should be just fine.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

I think we need to cut Dan and Karen some slack here. In and of itself, the Gail Wilcox story isn't all that damning, though it is troubling. I heard the show last night and Dan suggested that this was just the first in a series of stories about how the county farms out legal work.


What is painfully clear from the Wilcox story is that the people who are supposed to protect our interests, the people who are supposed to watch out for possible abuse, have been compromised.


I'm glad this story is out there. I do bellieve it is a legitimate news story. And I also think both Mr. Edge and Ms. Wilcox show poor judgment in allowing this to happen.


By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Edge several times referred to this as Gails principle residence as a reason to avoid disclosure. In many other statements it has been referred to as an investment which she pays rent. If it is an investment and rental it does not qualify as a principle residence and would fall under a different IRS policy. So which is it? It can't be both. And are only principle residences excluded for reporting?

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Elements of this story were provided to Bob Cuddy at The Tribune last April, and in writing to him in November. Wilcox's ex, Dave, is or was a reporter for the Tribune. This, friends, is our local daily newspaper. Shameful.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

Damage to the participants follows from the malfeasance, and not from the disclosure


Stefan

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

I listened to KVEC and I don't get what the big deal is. I agree it looks bad, but even Blackburn acknowledged that there did not appear to be anything criminal, or in hindsight unethical. Wilcox asked her boss if Hall could help her buy a house and he said "yes". What was she supposed to do? Turn down Hall and live in the street?


If Wilcox and Hall had invested in some property that they had inside knowledge the county was going to buy/condemn then yes that would be unethical and illegal. But a residential house that Wilcox lives in? Give me a break!

If this was such a big story, how come the Tribune didn't run with it last fall when it was leaked to them originally?

Maybe because there is not a story.

Maybe the "department head" who leaked it did so in an attempt to take heat off of them.

And when it didn't catch on with the news paper they leaked it to Blackburn.


Maybe Blackburn is being used to take attention away from something else that is going on in another department of county government. Has anybody considered that as a possibility. maybe this whole thing is a ruse.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

I want to know what the county board of supervisors thinks about all this. I want to know how much rent Gail pays. I want to know if she pays half the mortgage and who takes the interest write off. How about repairs, upgrades, maintenance, is that all 50/50? This is a question that has been asked many times but there is no responce.

By: Anonymous on 6/5/08

There is a problem with the language regarding disclosure by Gail. Yes the language existed prior to her job discription being changed and the language was rolled over to accomodate her. The question is why was she exempt from reporting that she had made a financial arrangement to purchase a home with Hall to begin with? There is a conflict of interest unless it's been 50/50 all the way. I have yet to hear the facts surrounding her arrangement and it is the public's business. I plan to get those facts.

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

Which brings up the obvious. Why doesn't Edge just copy this whole thing and present it to the staff at the fair action political commitee now. That would put an end to all the sniping right now. Or maybe not.

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

Yeah, I have to agree about why not ask the fair political practices commission. What you would expect to see in a situation like this is that, an official as high up as Ms. Wilcox is, she would at the very least ask of the county's legal counsel whether this transaction posed a legal or ethical conflict, not to mention the appearance of a conflict. Why haven't we heard from Ms. Wilcox or Mr. Edge that "hey, we even asked our attorneys and they said, there's no conflict." One would have to presume they didn't ask, or that would be the first defense; which leaves us with this — why didn't they ask? to dumb to figure that out, or maybe they just asked this

Mr. Hall.

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

to sigh


Bullsh*t. Edge was playing musical chairs with the chain of command. Every time Karen or Dan quoted an exact source of information as to who said who reported to who he would change his story.. Or is this Snidley Whiplash himself I'm addressing?

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

Sounds like if you are down and out a whirl around the block with this Gail Wilcox would not only give you a boost with your self esteem but probably your pocket book too.

Somewhere in this blog it said there was a classification change to save the county some money. Did Wilcox take a pay cut when this happened? If so maybe that is why Hall had to buy her house for her.

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

Sigh says: They don't want Official County Documents to be able to be 'copy and pasted' as a protection against fraud


If so, it's a dubious "protection," that only serves to keep government information harder to access. (A hypothetical fraudster would not be deterred by a scanned page.) More likely it's just antiquated procedures. The County website, especially the government section, is pretty poor overall.


Stefan

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

Ron: To your last point first, I believe that is intentional on behalf of the County for document integrity and protection. They don't want Official County Documents to be able to be 'copy and pasted' as a protection against fraud.


To your primary point, you are correct and it's the point that Edge is clearly taking issue with. There was no 'alteration' of the reporting rules. Blackburn's initial story is factually incorrect. It implies that there was a change to the reporting rules to exempt this acquisition from being reported.


The only thing that happened is that this county used to have two Deputy County Administrators and when one of them retired, it was decided that it would save the County money by removing a Deputy CAO and creating a single Assistant CAO position.


This resolution does nothing other than specify that the new 'Assistant CAO' position has the exact same reporting responsibilities as the previous 'Deputy CAO' positions.


The fact that Blackburn himself has backed off on the language that he used in his piece in regard to this issue is proof positive that he now realizes he was in error.


The issue originally was one not only of potential conflict, but also an implication of a cover-up.


The bottom line is that rules were not changed or altered so that Wilcox would be exempt for reporting this transaction, contrary to the original story. The only issue that remains is whether or not there is a conflict of interest in this transaction or a possible conflict of interest in the future, should Wilcox be put in a situation where she provides oversight to Hall's contract.


What was written as a huge story based on the premise that rules were changed so Wilcox could enter into an (assumed) profitable agreement with a vendor, has now been diminished into a story about personal judgment based upon other's perceptions of impropriety.


Big story becomes little story.


I will say, however, that the level of sexism contained in the basic assumptions of the article as well as the responses in this thread have been quite refreshing. Maybe I do have something in common with all you damn hippies after all.

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

I'm open minded but I have more ?????'s than ever. David Edge sounded like a "con man" and I really was open minded. I think it's time for the FBI, seriously.

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

Gail has been xxxxxx everyone, including me. Gail left her husband recently.


The public should ask how did the new public works director get his job? He was seen with her also. Need to fish in a different direction.Sounds like she plays the field. Gail's first interest is Gail, not the county.


Hey did you know in addition to her salary she gets a car allowance of around $400 a month +. I am so happy to see that Gail might finally gets whats coming to her.


They call this "Karma" I have sat and watched her in action and she is rude and ruthless during bos meetings. She makes people feel little. I was embarassed that the board did not stop her from her action in certain meetings. She will chop you at the ankles if it makes her look good. She will lie to the board and twist the truth. I have seen it. I can't wait for changes. I wish the public could really see whats goes on in Admin. :-)


I am so happy that we will have two new board members. I think Wilcox & Edge should pack their bags.


Hey David, Maybe you should do another employee survey…do you think anyone in their right mind would tell you in a recorded email what we really think.

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

I really thought this was a non-issue until Snidely Whiplash (David Edge) got on the radio tonight. Sounds like they (David and Gail) worked every avenue to make it so Gail did not have to report this deal. To include changing her job title and changing the chain of command. This wasn't so obvious until Edge tried to back track his way out. David I think thee do complainst to much. The political fair practices commitee has staff available to answer these exact kind of questions. Why were not they contacted on this. Guilty on all charges!


Stefan

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

Who cares who leaked the info. It is an news issue when a county official gets involved in money dealings with a vendor. How do you know it is someone in county counsel? I don't care about Gail's personal life. I do care about possible misdeeds by government big wigs.

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

Oh and another thing. This whole little story got started because attorneys at county counsel "leaked" it to Blackburn, who in turn ran with it.

The attorneys at county counsel are upset with Edge and Wilcox because they have been working for three years without a contract. Poor babys, maybe they should go into private practice and then they can pay their own office rent, para legal services, nexis/lexis fees, etc. That is if anybody would hire them…..

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

"Wilcox walked out on her husband and kids"\\

I don't know what happened between her and her husband dave, but if those two rug rats she was shopping with were not her kids, then whose kids are they? And no they were not Clay's kids; I know both of them.

As to Wilcox and Hall having something on the side; what are you nuts! Clay, luv ya man, but get on the jenny craig!

And as far as this whole story goes its another attempt by Dan Blackburn to create news out of nothing. If Dan were really the hard working reporter he wants us to believe why is he writing for a blog? Leslie Parilla, of the Tribune, can be a pain in the ass, but I will say this about her, she is hard working, persistent and reports the facts as she uncovers them. Maybe she could take Blackburn under her wing…

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

Should Mr. Edge choose to respond I would think that it should come through county Council or an appropriate representative from the County since there are some pretty serious charges made here.

The response should actually be made as a public statement that is issued to all of the media, they can choose how they want to handle it.

Mr. Edge answering these blogs is not the correct to address the issue which needs to be made available to the entire public not just bloggers.

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

No, I think it actually is David Edge's duty to respond. UncoveredSLO has raised a legitimate question about a possible ethics violation, and presumably they–and you–want to know the truth. Despite the nonsensical conspiratorial trash that many of the bloggers have posted, the original question remains legitimate.


Only those not interested in the truth would wring their hands over David having taken the time to respond. Is it your recommendation that he not respond at all? Too often, public officials are accused of ducking a controversy or shielding the facts from disclosure. Here, David is shining a light brightly on the facts, asking that they be made available to a skeptical public and inviting a fair interpretation.


Unfortunately, there will always be a minority of the idiocy fringe who will be satisfied with nothing less than scandal and cover-up and, even when scandal clearly does not exist, they will invent it.


Some of these bloggers have raised legitimate questions about propriety, and it's the job of the County to explain itself. But too many of these comments represent the masturbatory fantasies of the worst gutter trash that our society can produce.

By: Anonymous on 6/4/08

Hyeah…them county fantzy-pantzes with their suits and ties and computurs with spell-check. They think thayre so smart! Who does Edge thynk he is responding to a press story?! He's in govmint! He's supposed to stonewahl, dag nabbit!