There’s something malodorous going on in the Jackson County government.
The firing of several people from the county’s planning staff two weeks ago was not unexpected. With little building activity and few rezoning requests, that department has been underworked for months. During this time of fiscal austerity, the county should be cutting back on staffing in just about every department.
But when county leaders handed the planning duties to consultant Don Clerici, a lot of red flags went up. Clerici, a former county staffer, started his own consulting business a couple years ago and since that time, has had a tick-tight relationship with Jackson County. His firm collected several hundred-thousand dollars from the county last year in consulting work.
All of that may have been kosher, but his having been handed the county’s planning work without any kind of bid process was a mistake by county officials. While it makes sense to have a consultant do that work during a slow period, why wasn’t that county business bid out?
One of the key criticisms that local governments always face are allegations of insider deals where certain people get favorable treatment because of their “connection” to county officials. So it behooves county leaders to make sure that their actions in awarding contracts is done in a transparent, above-the-table manner.
While it’s apparently not unusual for county governments to have close working ties to consulting groups, it’s vitally important to draw a bright line about who really works for whom in that relationship. Mr. Clerici apparently has a county office at his disposal and some believe he receives other, more indirect support services from the county as well. It isn’t clear to many people whether he is a county employee, or an independent contractor, or some hybrid creation of both.
What is clear, however, is that Mr. Clerici’s firm is getting a lot of money from the Jackson County government in consulting fees. The oversight of that appears to be lax.
It’s past time for county leaders to clearly define that relationship and to explain why new consulting business is not being put out for bid.
Mike - You have got to be kidding. Have you already forgotten the memo from former Public Development Director, Scott Carpenter, who was under great pressure to stay quiet about Mr. Clerici's relationship with the Sherriff, Commissioners and County Manager. Jackson County government is a disgrace and should be ashamed of itself for letting the "FOX" back into the hen house. I'm sure Don Clerici will make even more money now that he has been let back into a space that he was nearly fired from a couple of years previous for questionable side dealings with developers and contractors. DO YOUR JOB MIKE!