Anyone who thinks that Auditor-Controller Karen Paz Dominguez is solely responsible for the county's financial mess should read the 2019 Civil Grand Jury report ("Opportunities for Fraud," March 3). One finding is that there is a "high risk of fraud in a number of county departments due to their poor cash handling policies and procedures, improper accounting and lack of accountability." The report also noted that the A-C's office was/is severely understaffed.
It is telling that the board of supervisors' response to the CGJ report was to debate the severity of the risk in an attempt to downplay it rather than address the problem early on. Now that the county is being investigated by the State Controller's Office, the predictable response by county officials is to scapegoat Ms. Paz Dominguez while expressing shock that, once again, she is pointing out the problems that have been apparent since at least 2019, if not earlier.
What is most disturbing is the "circling of the wagons" response, as supervisors and department heads blasted Ms. Paz Dominguez, saying they felt "blindsided" by her allegations of mismanagement. Supervisor Bass appeared scandalized as she spoke about this "airing of dirty laundry" — as if there hadn't been two prior CGJ reports pointing out this mismanagement already.
Treasurer-Tax Collector John Bartholomew accused the A-C of the "poisoning of public perception of county operations and staff." I'm sorry but that's like attempting to close the gate after the horse has already bolted, following the release of two CGJ reports into the county's mismanagement of funds. That "poisoning of public perception" is already out there, and it's not Ms. Paz Dominguez's fault.
I'd just like to remind county officials that their first duty is to be transparent and accountable to the public as this is taxpayer money.
Lisa Pelletier, Arcata