The appointment Tuesday of three Riverside County men as “standby” or alternate county supervisors prompted a resident to accuse the
Board of Supervisors of engaging in “musical chairs,” assuring that only insiders have access to governmental positions.
“I have never seen such a shameful display,” Jurupa Valley resident Rebecca Ludwig told the board. “I really see conflicts of interest here, and I am not too happy about it.”
Ludwig lashed out at a decision by board Chairman John Tavaglione, who was in Washington, D.C. today on business, to nominate his chief of staff, John Field, to be his immediate replacement in case an outbreak of war or other national or local emergency prevents him from taking his seat on the board.
Provisions in state law and a county ordinance provide for ensuring a “continuity of government” whenever circumstances dictate.
Tavaglione’s second alternate was Verne Lauritzen, Supervisor Jeff Stone’s chief of staff, while his third standby was Norco-based property investor Louis Vandermolen.
“I wish you would stop doing this,” Ludwig, a frequent board critic, said, adding that she had never seen a worse example of “politicians playing musical chairs” than in Riverside County.
“We cannot afford to keep having more of the same,” she said.
Prior to voting, Supervisors Marion Ashley and Bob Buster reminded Ludwig of what can happen when the board loses a member unexpectedly, pointing to the death of longtime Fourth District Supervisor Roy Wilson in 2009 as an example.
In the three months following Wilson’s death — and before then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed John Benoit to replace him — the board ran into several instances in which decisions had to be delayed because some policy actions required a four-fifths vote, and only three members were available.
“The reason we have a standby is in case something happens to one of us,” Ashley said. “Somebody has to step up and take over.
“It’s not a matter of musical chairs. If something catastrophic happens, like an earthquake, we have to be able to act. We can’t wait around for the government to send somebody or the governor to make an appointment. This is very much a part of our democracy.”
Said Buster: “We cannot afford to miss even one supervisor for an extended period of time.”
The board affirmed the appointments in a 3-0 vote.