San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos announced today on his Facebook page that the county has settled with Director of Human Resources, Andrew Lamberto, to assure Lamberto’s departure from county government. Terms of the settlement were not released except that Lamberto will remain on “settlement-related” leave until May 27, 2016, but will not work in any capacity for the county.
“It was not easy for the board to agree to these terms following the incident. However, given the great potential for litigation in employment matters, which would cost taxpayers unknown financial liabilities, this was clearly the best option,” stated Chairman Ramos in a press release issued today.
A special closed door meeting of the Board of Supervisors was called on Tuesday for today. The subject of the meeting was anticipated litigation. Many watchers thought that it was to discuss a settlement regarding Lamberto, but as of press time, the subject of the meeting is not been confirmed. The required announcement of any action from the meeting is not available on the county’s website.
Lamberto was arrested in Orange County where he lives this past March for soliciting a prostitute, which turned out to be an undercover law enforcement officer in a sting operation. His excuse that it was all a misunderstanding did not hold up once a Los Angeles-based news station determined the circumstances of his arrest.
Lamberto was found guilty in August and sentenced to 10 days of community service, John School, and three years of probation. He also had to submit to an HIV test and give a DNA sample.
Although he properly reported his arrest and conviction to his immediate supervisor, Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux, the county’s board of supervisors were not notified, which was not in alignment with the board’s policy of transparency. Lamberto served not only as Human Resources Director, but also oversaw two additional departments and served as an executive administrator where he acted and spoke on behalf of the board of supervisors.
The supervisors only found out about the arrest after it was made public on a local watchdog blog iePolitics.com. The supervisors were caught trying to explain their lack of transparency that they tout at every meeting.
In trying to defend himself, Devereaux claimed it was not policy for him to inform the board when a high-ranking official was arrested for a crime of moral turpitude. That explanation fell flat with the board, which found itself once again the target of public scrutiny due to criminal actions undertaken by high-level county executives.
The board called a special meeting on Nov. 3, 2015, to discuss disciplinary action for Deveraux. The board reported no real discipline except that Devereaux was forced to read a public apology. However, we have since learned that the board may not have reported all action required under the Brown Act. Based on a statement by one county supervisor, it appears the board plans a full work performance evaluation of Devereaux at a future date.
The board asked Devereaux to have a policy ready for consideration by Dec. 15 that would put in writing how these incidents should be handled in the future. Apparently, common sense is not so common on the Fifth Floor. Devereaux is working with County Counsel to draft such a policy.
“It is time to move on and focus our energies on meeting the needs of our county community,” said Chairman Ramos. This is the third time since the revelation about Lamberto’s arrest late last month that the county has tried to move on without addressing the real concern, which is the power the board has delegated to Devereaux.
In 2010, the board of supervisors enacted an ordinance to assure their non-interference in the day-to-day operations of the county. They turned their power over to an unelected bureaucrat, in this case Greg Devereaux. Although Ramos continues to claim that the board is elected to govern the county and takes its role seriously, the Lamberto incident proves that it is not the case as well proves the board does not live up to its claims of transparency and lack of criminal conduct at the highest levels of county government.