County supervisor allegedly AWOL; seat declared vacant |

County supervisor allegedly AWOL; seat declared vacant

Noel Stack, Mountain Democrat

PLACERVILLE – El Dorado County Supervisor Charlie Paine may hold his title no more.

At a meeting Tuesday, the four active members of the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to declare the District 4 seat vacant and keep it vacant until the Nov. 7 election outcome determines who will take the seat in January 2007. Paine will no longer receive a $75,000-a-year salary or benefits.

A notice of Tuesday’s meeting was personally delivered to Paine’s home in Rescue, Chief Assistant County Counsel Ed Knapp said, e-mails were sent and an agenda packet was sent by certified mail. Paine did not show up and didn’t return a phone message seeking comment left at his home by the Mountain Democrat.

Paine previously said he felt actions taken by the board were “politically motivated.”

“We’re talking about a couple of meetings,” Paine said after a hearing last week at which he was denied a temporary restraining order against Auditor-Controller Joe Harn and denied the reinstatement of his paycheck direct deposit. Harn suspended direct deposit of Paine’s check on July 15.

“I’ve been in the community,” he continued. “I talk to my constituents, answer the phone, answer my e-mail.”

At the request of the supervisors earlier this month, County Counsel drafted a report regarding Paine’s service, or lack thereof, over the past seven months so they could determine if he had abandoned his office.

“The board didn’t remove him from office. The board didn’t fire him,” Knapp said after the meeting. “The board only made a factual determination that the office has been vacated under Government Code … for abandonment.”

The county counsel report states that Paine has not attended a Board of Supervisors meeting since April 25 (his attendance record is 5 for 31) and has attended no other meetings of commissions and committees to which he belonged.

“A significant number of department heads who previously had frequent contact with Supervisor Paine were contacted by the chief administrative officer to evaluate their level of continued interaction with Supervisor Paine,” the report states. “All of the department heads contacted have stated that they have had no contact with Supervisor Paine after April 25, with many department heads indicating that their last contact was well before April 25.”

The report also notes that Paine’s county e-mail had 210 messages from as far back as April 1 but no messages in his outbox. Paine’s assistant, Donna Terp, had 892 messages in her inbox and only 13 sent during the same time period, according to the report. Terp resigned effective May 30.

“I have trouble calling him ‘Supervisor’ Paine,” Supervisor Helen Baumann said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Before she was elected to replace Dave Solaro for the District 5 supervisor seat, Norma Santiago said Paine urged her to run. There were phone conversations and a lot of support, Santiago recalled.

“I thought I would have a mentor in him through the board of supervisors,” she said.

And then things drastically changed. Santiago saw Paine when she was officially installed as supervisor and a few times after that, and then he disappeared, Santiago said. The last time she saw or heard from Paine was at the April supervisor meeting.

“You have a constituency who elected a supervisor and the supervisor is not there for his constituents,” she said. “In my opinion it is in violation of the primary responsibility of an elected official.”

Because of the upcoming November election for the District 4 seat, the board unanimously decided not to hold a special election, which would have been held at the same time.

Having two elections for one seat could confuse voters, Knapp told the board.

– Tribune City Editor Jeff Munson contributed to this report.

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