Supervisors fire county’s No. 1 man |

Supervisors fire county’s No. 1 man

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

Barely four months on the job, El Dorado County Chief Administrative Officer James Bourey was fired by the Board of Supervisors for being “incompatible.”

After meeting for three days on the personnel matter, the board came out of closed session Friday afternoon with a unanimous decision to oust the former Chandler, Ariz., man.

“He’s incompatible as a good fit to the county’s theme and family. Overall, the board felt it wasn’t a good match,” Tahoe Supervisor Dave Solaro said.

Solaro declined to elaborate further, with the exception of saying there were “no personal issues” involved in the decision.

County counsel Lou Green explained that “no specific cause needs to be stated” with at-will employees.

Bourey said the county gave him no reason for his termination. He said he asked, but the board declined to tell him.

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“That’s the board’s decision. But I’m disappointed and amazed. Many people were excited about what was going on,” he said Wednesday.

With the parting of the ways, the county is obligated by Bourey’s contract to pay him a year’s salary in severance — a $161,000 dent in its $249 million budget.

Bourey said he needs the money because it takes a long time to find a job at the level of CAO — especially given the short period of time he would have to account for with a prospective employer.

The payoff comes at a time when the county, like many local governments, struggles to make the budget ends meet. The state faces a $36 billion shortfall and threatens to cut back on funds to cities and counties.

Dealing with those projected cuts has consumed Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Laura Gill, who’s been on the job for two months.

Gill, who was selected for her budget experience, said she’s unsure what amount of fiscal pain the county may face. She anticipates the state will release its latest budget revision May 15.

Now the North Carolina woman will serve as the interim CAO.

When Bourey, 50, came on board, he replaced interim chief Tom Soike, who retired for health reasons.

Before coming to work at the county, Bourey worked for six years as the chief executive for the Maricopa Association of Governments in Phoenix.

Beyond being down its top staff job, the county needs to fill its fifth board of supervisors position. A special election has been called in July to fill the spot.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at