Warren Jensen, SLO County counsel, to retire in September

bcuddy@thetribunenews.comJune 13, 2012 

In the second retirement of a key county administrator in two days, County Counsel Warren Jensen has announced his last day will be Sept. 29. Chief Deputy Counsel Rita Neal will replace Jensen, effective Sept. 30, for a 4-year term.

Jensen’s announcement follows by one day that of County Administrative Officer Jim Grant, who will leave in the fall. Both men had long planned their departures.

Jensen, 66, has been with San Luis Obispo County since 1986. He said he and his wife have some travel plans and “a backlog of things around the house” to attend to, including boxes of photos going back 30 years to sort.

Jensen succeeded Jim Lindholm, who was the first San Luis Obispo County Counsel.

Asked what he will remember, Jensen quickly alluded to the “great bunch of people” he worked with, beginning with Lindholm, going forward to Neal, and including many others in between.

As to challenging cases, he said the David Edge-Gail Wilcox case sticks out. Edge and Wilcox, the county’s top two administrators, both were fired by the Board of Supervisors in 2009, and the ensuing legal action and public scandal lasted most of the year.

Neal, who began with the county in 1998, said she was “honored and humbled” to be chosen by the Board of Supervisors. She, too, praised the solid management team now in place, and gave Grant a great deal of credit for leading the effort to bring about that change.

Neal said she will continue her office’s tradition of giving “thoughtful, accurate, well-researched legal advice to the Board of Supervisors.”

In announcing the appointment, the board praised Neal’s “superior work and contributions” and said she had “the right combination of skills and leadership.”

She has advised numerous county departments, has successfully handled complex litigation and “is well-versed in all matters of governmental law,” the board said.

Neal’s contract is on the board agenda next Tuesday. She will make $181,875 with benefits totaling $89,851, the same that Jensen began with four years ago.

The board has not announced a successor to Grant. Supervisor Frank Mecham said he expects to fill the job from within.

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