The local political fallout from November’s election continued last week as a pair of newly elected San Luis Obispo County supervisors replaced members of little-known government bodies who had worked for their opponents.
Fifth District Supervisor Debbie Arnold replaced Jay Salter on the Civil Service Commission with Bob Bergman, who had been representing Frank Mecham. Salter backed Arnold’s opponent, Jim Patterson, last year.
Similarly, Adam Hill, who was re-elected in the 3rd District, named Betsey Nash to take the place of Jeannie Nix on the same board. Nix is married to Ed Waage, Hill’s opponent in the 2012 election.
Nash, a veteran, well-known human relations manager and consultant on the Central Coast, survived the vetting despite misgivings by a North County lobbying group that has already shown influence with the new Board of Supervisors — the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business.
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Members of COLAB strongly supported Arnold’s election, and, through their executive director, Mike Brown, backed her moves to deny committee chairmanships or vice-chairmanships to Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson.
On its website, COLAB questioned Nash’s philosophy about the workplace, as delineated in her application, including her assertions that supervisors need to be trained to be fair, and her belief that employees need the chance to grow and receive management recognition. Nash also advocated a “balanced approach” in labor relations.
“Work is called work because it is work,” COLAB wrote. “Not everyone can be a “self-actualizing artist” (at least in their day job). Just what the county needs — 2,600 (sic) Ozzie Osborns (a former rocker and reality show star who followed the lap dogs around his mansion watching them poo).”
COLAB said workers already have recognition through pay, pensions, health coverage, vacations and paid holidays.
Despite COLAB’s misgivings, Nash was approved with unanimous support from the Board of Supervisors, including Arnold and another North County Supervisor supported by COLAB members, Frank Mecham.
The Civil Service Commission deals with county labor practices, helping to create job descriptions, for example, and conducts hearings for workers who feel they have been treated unfairly.
In this county, the commission is generally not controversial, although it was a major player in the events that led to the firing of former County Administrator David Edge.
Civil service commissions began springing up after World War II as an antidote to the nepotism-tinged so-called “spoils system,” under which relatives and friends of employers were given jobs despite lacking the qualifications of other applicants.