S. E. Williams
After much public speculation and a closed-door executive evaluation earlier this month, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors officially confirmed publically its continued and complete confidence in Greg Devereaux as the County’s Chief Executive Officer.
Although the closed-door session was publicized as Devereaux’s expected, annual evaluation, it was no secret the board was displeased with his handling of a recent sex scandal that involved the arrest and conviction of San Bernardino County’s now ex-Human Resources Director, Andrew Lamberto. Many expected Devereaux would be held accountable by the board for how he mishandled the situation.
Lamberto was arrested and convicted in Orange County on charges of soliciting prostitution. He allegedly advised Devereaux of his arrest and charges at the time the incident occurred; however, Devereaux chose not to disclose it to the board members and administered what many viewed as soft consequences to Lamberto for his illegal indiscretion.
Seven month later, when the arrest and conviction were made public by an Orange County reporter, board members publicly expressed their displeasure with Devereaux’s handling of the matter. Subsequently, Lamberto was purportedly forced out.
Devereaux’s explanation about why he failed to notify the board regarding Lamberto’s arrest was viewed by many with a dose of skepticism. According to Devereaux, his decision to keep the matter confidential was based on historical precedence. “Disciplinary actions have been handled as purely administrative matters,” he explained. However, after public criticism from members of the board, county employees and members of the general public, Devereaux ultimately apologized for his mis-handling of the situation.
The Lamberto scandal, however, faded quickly in light of the December 2 terrorist attack on the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. Devereaux rose admirably to manage the unprecedented incident—an incident that required his focused, professional and immediate response and attention to details that included the declaration of a county-wide emergency and the coordination of all activities the declaration entailed.
In a press release regarding the board’s closed-door session, San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos stated, “We had a very productive discussion about what we are doing well, challenges we have faced and addressed, and how to continue to move forward.” He added, “[The session] was an example of how the board members and CEO are effectively working together to address the county’s needs and move the county forward.”
Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales also weighed in with a comment that appeared specifically aimed at Devereaux’s handling of the Lamberto issue. “I expect this will result in improved communications, a more inclusive leadership style and a culture of mutual respect,” she asserted.
“An important part of the county governance structure established by the board when it hired Devereaux as CEO in 2011, was to evaluate him annually and develop goals and objectives for him,” explained County Public Information Officer David Wert. “The CEO goals and objectives are then brought forward for public input and revision before being adopted by the board; becoming the county’s goals and objectives; and, serving as the basis for all actions taken by the CEO and county departments,” he concluded.
The board members and Devereaux are expected to discuss potential changes to his contract in the near future. According to Wert, those changes will be designed to institutionalize improved communication strategies and ensure consistent opportunities for the board and Devereaux to exchange information and ideas.