Aaron Klein endorses Barry Pruett for clerk-recorder

Many residents believe Aaron Klein got elected to his nonpartisan position as a Sierra College Trustee by a Republican “political machine” that began when John Doolittle was in office. It created some hard feelings.

Klein was re-elected in a race against John Vodonick, a highly partisan race along party lines, including the campaign donations.

The perception no doubt will linger as Klein this weekend endorsed Barry Pruett for county clerk-recorder. Barry is a Republican and his wife works for Tom McClintock’s office.

Aaron’s endorsement is here.

We’re all entitled to our opinions, but Aaron should have been more clear that it was the board of supervisors — not incumbent Greg Diaz — who voted to approve the voting-software contract. This includes current “fiscally conservative” board members.

In addition, Aaron should have waited for the county’s response to the pending lawsuit for a more balanced analysis. You want to consider both sides.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” (The more things change, the more they stay the same).

About jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.
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53 Responses to Aaron Klein endorses Barry Pruett for clerk-recorder

  1. Aaron says:

    Surprised to see this kind of coverage of my endorsement. Basically, the only way I can make you think I’m “fair” is to endorse the guy you are supporting. Kind of silly logic.

    As I made perfectly clear in my comments on one of your prior posts, I do not endorse people because of their party affiliation. I endorse them because of their philosophy, their ideas and their judgment.

    I have no idea what party Greg Diaz may or may not be affiliated with. As I made clear in my post, I’ve taken a leadership role in trying to create a level playing field for our local small businesses, and keep our local tax dollars creating jobs locally.

    Greg Diaz’s actions to steer our taxpayer dollars to out of state companies make this a slam dunk for me. I waited until The Union completed its analysis and Greg spoke his mind. His excuses for his conduct are inexcusable and I can’t support someone who gives our local tax dollars to higher bidders from out-of-state because of a bad mail merge on a form letter.

    The folks on this blog should go have coffee with Barry Pruett. Sure, he’s a Republican and if you’re a highly partisan voter, that may disqualify him in your mind. For the rest of us voters who don’t vote only on partisan lines, he’s a smart, capable, professional guy who will put Nevada County small businesses and jobs first.

  2. jeffpelline says:

    Aaron,
    You’re sounding a little defensive. All I said was (a) make it clear that the board of supervisors voted for this contract and (b) wait for the county’s response to the lawsuit.

    • Aaron says:

      Of course the Board voted to ratify the contract. Greg made the decision. Go read the story – he defends the decision he made with all sorts of justifications that don’t hold water. It’s inexcusable.

      I’m not basing my endorsement on the lawsuit, or I would have endorsed Barry two weeks ago. I’m basing my endorsement on Greg’s ridiculous response to his poor decisions in The Union article yesterday.

  3. Gloria Zane says:

    Good article by the Union. Looks like Pruett wanted to keep the contract in perpetuity with his inferior product. As for Klein’s endorsement (which he characterizes as precious metal), whatever.

  4. Steve Enos says:

    To endorse Pruett will be the kiss of death. Pruett is toast, has no qualifications, no expericence or training in the field. Pruett failed to disclose that he was Atpacs attorney, then failed to disclose his number one campaign funder is Atpac.

    Pruett makes a claim one day and then changes it the next and refuses to answer simple questions like… how long ago did you stop working for Atpac? You see folks Pruett has provided two versions of that story over the last few weeks and keeps offering a different answer.

    As the facts show Atpac was sent packing by the Board of Supervisors, not Diaz and one reason was to save taxpayers money and get better service from another provider.

    Sending taxpayers money to an out of county provider is why Aaron supports Pruett! This is a hoot! Sue Horne and the full BOS by a 5-0 vote dumped Atpac to SAVE TAXPAYERS MONEY… read the facts as recently provided in The Union.

    More facts… the contract wasn’t given to the highest provider. Diaz didn’t undertake the review and scoring of the potential providers and it was the BOS that made the 5-0 decision to not use Atpac to SAVE TAXPAYERS MONEY. Atpac isn’t a local Nevada County company either. One of the owners of Atpac lives in Nevada County, is Pruett’s neighbor and an Atpac office is in Auburn. These are facts.

    • Aaron says:

      Steve, if you notice, The Union corrected its story and said Barry hasn’t represented the local firm for five months. They acknowledged they made a mistake when they reported five months in one story and eight months in another.

      Also, I’m curious to know how your version of math makes $357,000 cheaper than $303,000.

      Hmmm.

      (If you’re talking about Greg’s claim that he’s saving $165,000 by having the new software, the only way to save that money is by cutting staff, which Clerk-Recorder offices are having to do because the economy is down and there aren’t as many properties to record. Nice try, though.)

      The Union article is clear as a bell. Greg Diaz got what he wanted and was even willing to go so far as to pick a higher bidder to steer local tax dollars out of state. It’s inexcusable, but I look forward to his fan club continuing to defend the indefensible.

      • jeffpelline says:

        It was a blog post here that first got this discussion out in the open: “How the Union erred in report of clerk-recorder lawsuit,” I linked to the minutes of the supervisor’s meeting of Nov. 8, 2008, which is crucial to understand the issue. (http://tinyurl.com/yhxhj3k). The Union should have done the same in its own reporting.

        Some of the comments from that document provide needed context:

        •”Funding to cover the cost of the acquiring this system will come from the Modernization Fund established by California Government Code 27361. Overall there will be no impact on the general fund.

        •”Mr. Diaz pointed out that the Recorder’s office has lost some full-time positions and in order to work with less, there needs to be a more robust system with core features.

        “The new system will provide better service to the public and a high level of accountablility for financial transactions. The current vendor is choosing not to get certified with the state of California to deliver electronic documents.

        •”Mr. Stephen Monaghan, chief information officer, stated that his staff worked closely with the Recorder’s staff evaluating the demonstrations. Mr. Diaz noted that the Assessor wrote a letter supporting this move.

        •”Supervisor Horne asked if it was a fair assumption to make that there is not a good working relationship existing with the present vendor. Mr. Diaz concurred.

        •”Motion made by Supervisor Beason, seconded by Supervisor Spencer, to adopt Resolution 08-564. On a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously.”

        I await the county’s response to the lawsuit, and I also would want to hold the county supervisors (including Horne, Spencer et al.) accountable for this decision. It would be unfair to pin this on Diaz. As the minutes show, there was a lot of collaboration going on in the decision-making.

  5. Gloria Zane says:

    Was he all for stimulus money before he was against it? Or was he always for it? Hmmm.

  6. Tony Waters says:

    Wow that’s heated. How about those of us who really don’t care or feel qualified to judge technical positions like this? I think that such technical positions should be hired by the Board of Supervisors because they have the time and patience to deal with the “whodunit” of such technical arrangements. Dragging these issues through a blog like this, or the Union, often serves to muddy rather than enlighten. I thought that The Union story was well-done, but I can’t see deep character flaws (or strengths) in either candidate as a result of what was reported.

    This election for Clerk-Recorder also serves to divide unnecessarily. If we are going to divide ourselves over something, let’s find something that really matters, not a relatively minor contract dispute. County government undertakes hundres of such contracting arrangements each year–I’m sure flaws can be found in many of them. Let’s elect a competent Board of Supervisors to sort these thigns out. Health care, the prison crisis, water crisis, Highway 49, cutbacks at Sierra, and so forth all come to mind as more interesting than the AtPAC contract.

    Bowling anyone?

  7. Bob Garza says:

    The facts appear to be in Jeff’s post about the decision process to go with a different vendor. I noted that the technology officer for the county also reviewed the software and apparently either endorsed or agreed with the recommendation. There are always costs associated with changing vendors and software but there can also be a significant productivity gain. There are others, like me, who contribute to this blog who understand the nuances of software acquisition, implementation, and process. More importantly, this doesn’t appear to be just Mr. Diaz’s decision. There seems to have been substantial review and decision points along the way to stay with the original vendor. It looks like after evaluation, analysis, and review, the decision go with a new vendor was made by all parties in the process. I agree with Jeff, you can’t hang this on one guy and you shouldn’t do so for political purposes although it happens all the time.

  8. Pat Wynne says:

    Aaron kline endorses Pruett, so what else is new? Seems the clan is gathering. Nothing here but party loyalty. Too bad Greg Diaz, just a political independent, trying to do his job, and run his office efficienly and save the taxpayers money, has to get caught up in this. Is this going to be another Tom Anderson-Ray Shine race with the Republican elite fighting hard to put their man in even after a small affair of violating local election sign ordinances made his knowledge of local laws suspect? How often had an election for judge seen that much action? The Preutt campaign has already started to smell of rotten fish. Those getting into the melee may find the odor clinging to them as well.

  9. jeffpelline says:

    Tony,
    I think if you take the time to read the minutes of the meeting, you’ll find them “fact-based” and enlightening. People get heated in the comments, because it’s an emotional issue. The best thing about the web is that you can link to “unfiltered” documents, so there’s less “twisting of facts.” I’m proud that people here are signing their names. For the record, I did not post a comment this morning from “A reader” who threw Aaron under the bus for the Ramirez affair (at Sierra College). You should at least be willing to sign your name. Thanks for the commentary everyone.
    -Jeff

  10. steve cottrell says:

    Aaron:

    Unsolicited advice from someone who knows from past experience: Do yourself a favor and stop responding to blog comments.

    Yes, I know it’s tempting, (and you make entertaining reading for Jeff’s site), but the more you say the deeper you dig the hole.

    That bit of advice, by the way, comes from someone who did not (and will not) vote for you. It’s just that I can’t believe someone with your apparent political savvy could allow themselves to be drawn into repeated electronic conversations that will eventually come back to bite you in the butt.

    That said, I do enjoy reading your comments and I’m sure Jeff enjoys the readership he gets from folks interested in your gift for spin.

    Steve Cottrell

    • Aaron says:

      Hi Steve,

      I don’t intend to respond to every comment, but I’m never above a little discussion with my fellow citizens.

      I stand behind what I wrote, so I’m not worried about this “biting me” in the future. If saying what I think about issues like keeping our local tax dollars local makes people not want to vote for me, so be it. I have enjoyed serving for six years, but this isn’t my life.

      With best regards to my favorite Nevada County historian,
      Aaron

  11. steve cottrell says:

    Aaron:

    Glad you viewed my advice in the spirit with which it was offered: With a pinch of seriousness and a pinch of friendly jibes.

    Of course you’re not going to stop commenting, but never forget six words –– haunting words, for at least one person –– spoken and frozen in time: “Read my lips: No new taxes.”

    My point? A politician needs to be verrrry careful before speaking…and especially before hitting computer keys. Trust me, I know.

    Few local officeholders in recent years caught more guff than me for my words, (written and otherwise), and it never slowed me down, any more than it will slow you down. But in this 21st century of electronic conversations stored seemingly forever on the Internet, spontaneous blog exchanges can be dangerous.

    Steve Cottrell

    • Gloria Zane says:

      Most definitely. No serious dialoguing with the unelecteds online. It will only lead to truthy stuff and the like, and be around for those other unelecteds to read forever and ever.

  12. Steve Frisch says:

    Aaron I am wondering of you interviewed Greg Diaz as part of your process to decide to endorse Barry Pruett? Did you meet with him and ask him any specific questions about his software decision? Did you discuss his philosophy for running his department? Did you ask him about his ideas for making improvements in services or realizing savings for the taxpayers?

    • Aaron says:

      I think you’re making a little too much of me. I’m a local elected official, not an editorial board.

      In any case, Greg’s answers to The Union’s interview questions were more than enough to show me where he stood on our local tax dollars staying local.

  13. Steve Frisch says:

    That should read “if you interviewed”, sorry.

  14. Sid says:

    There’s no way that keeping local tax dollars local should come before acquiring product that makes the most sense for the county’s needs. I’m fine with awarding business to the local guy if all other things are equal, but in this case, they clearly were not, from the product’s feature set, right on down to the willingness of the vendor to customize the software. The technical committee that reviewed the offerings agreed, as did the board when they voted on their findings. Doesn’t smell like a rat to me — smells like someone did their due diligence and found out that what they were using wasn’t the best choice, regardless of where it was produced. That’s the smell of fresh air, to me.

    (Okay, I’ve got a weakness for carrying a metaphor way past the point of utility)

  15. Tony Waters says:

    Jeff: Thanks for the tip on the meeting minutes. But isn’t reading such things what we have BOS for? I will though vote for Diaz, as he has already been vetted by the BOS, and has the experience to competently take over a job. I also do not believe that someone who is tied in tightly with one party or the other should supervise elections.

    For the assessor race, I will probably vote for Sue Horne. She was my supervisor, and always very accesible in South County. I even met her once in her office, she didn’t get involved with a project I wished she had (local road improvements), but was gracious about it. Plus, the real estate guy is just too big of a conflict of interest. If it had gone through an appointment process via the BOS the need for relevant qualifications would have been spelled out and I suspect that Blashford would apply, and the other two wouldn’t.

    Of the local politicisans, the only one I think I would vote for enthusiastically is Aaron, primarily because of his activity on this blog. We probably wouldn’t agree on everything, but he is a responsive and engaged “listener.” Plus he is a better bowler than President Obama. What more can you ask of a local politican? Having said that, the overall governance is a big mess (not Aarons’s fault), with authority too widely dispersed between the local elected boards, Statewide Board of CC Trustees (appointed by the Governor), multiple acrediting boards, on, and on. But that’s something for a later post.

  16. Tony Waters says:

    Ugh I didn’t proofread the last paragraph before pushing send. Sorry for the typos…It is the overall governance of the Community Colleges which is a big mess…

  17. Bob Garza says:

    My net observation from far away is that your endorsement is based more on political preference, party loyalty, and less on fact or knowledge. That’s okay with me. We each have the right to endorse and vote for whomever we wish for whatever reason. The only issue I take with your endorsement is the spin you put on it. I also don’t care that you may be besmirching the reputation of a qualified civil servant just for political gain for the person you prefer.

  18. Don Pelton says:

    I agree with Sid that feature sets and saving taxpayer money with a more efficient system are of fundamental importance, not keeping the money local. This conclusion is clear from reading the BOS meeting notes Jeff pointed to in his original posting.

    Aaron Klein wrote:

    “His excuses for his conduct are inexcusable and I can’t support someone who gives our local tax dollars to higher bidders from out-of-state because of a bad mail merge on a form letter.”

    Words like “excuses” and “conduct” only make sense if you have already concluded that the choice of software and vendor was a wrong decision. This has not been demonstrated, and — again — the BOS meeting notes strongly suggest otherwise.

    Also, such words have more than a faint odor of moral reprobation. What’s the justification for that?

    Likewise, the reference to a “bad mail merge” oversimplifies the decision to an unjustifiable degree.

    All of this is so thin as to make one suspect that the real reason is elsewhere, and probably partisan.

    Otherwise, why strain so hard to spin through oversimplification?

  19. Peter Barry says:

    What’s the point with myopic “keep our tax dollars local” if the local business loses the county money or runs inefficiently compared to “non-local” businesses? If a business wants the job, local or nor, then they had better present substance – if the only qualification is “being local” then it’s not good enough.

    After reading the Union article, I am totally impressed with Mr. Diaz – honest, working for the people rather than assuming some self-assigned importance as a “leader,” – he’s obviously embraces effective service as opposed to some that apparently are more concerned with rhetoric and ego.

    Mr. Diaz can count on my vote; Mr. Pruett has conducted himself in less than becoming manner, and as such, is undeserving to serve.

    • Gloria Zane says:

      Exactly, Peter. Diaz researched and recommended a better product, and contemplated and passed the idea.

      Klein really said it all when he wrote later today that Pruett “will run a professional Clerk-Recorder’s office that puts our local small businesses and jobs first.”

      I think fair and accurate vote-counting comes first with that job, but it’s interesting to see others’ priorities.

  20. Michael Anderson says:

    Mr. Cotrell’s advice is sound. But I’m sure you’ll still give in to the temptation of letting your “fingers do the talking.” It’s a hard temptation to resist Mr. Klein–the need to communicate is primal.

    It appears that Mr. Pruett, or those advising him, took my and others advice to clam up, at least until the lawsuit has been served. His absence has been noticed, though I’m sure Mr. Pruett and Mr. Diaz are reading every word published in this blog, as well as the comments to the Union story. Mr. Pruett’s blogging absence has upped my impression of his judgment a couple of notches, though it will take a lot more than that before I ink the circle next to his name.

    Not that blogging absence is, by itself, a criterion for sound judgment. But it certainly is when, as an elected official or candidate for office, you are under some sort of scrutiny. I am sure Mr. Klein would be more discreet if he were in Mr. Pruett’s shoes.

    Speaking of sound judgment, I would like to publicly thank Mr. Diaz for what appears to be a fair and ethical process in selecting the recording software that will take Nevada County soundly into the second decade of the 21st century. The noticing glitch to ApPac was fairly resolved as far as I can tell, so I am really looking forward to reading the actual suit to see what the heck all the fuss is about. As a robust county taxpayer, I don’t take kindly to having vendors sue my gov’t for frivolous reasons (and being rewarded with settlements that are decided to be the cheapest course of action), so this lawsuit damn well better have some meat to it.

    That all being said, I look forward to our coffee Aaron. (-:

  21. Steve Frisch says:

    Aaron–of course as an individual you have every right to endorse whomever you choose, and we should all respect that choice. Often individual endorsements are just based on knowing a person and believing they are a stand up person.

    In this circumstance, however, I am a little surprised that you would endorse without doing a little more due diligence.

    First, clearly Mr. Pruett thinks endorsements are important, if he asked for yours, and you must think they are important, if you are willing to give one. Endorsements are by their nature a public “vouching” for the character and qualities of the candidate. For an endorsement to have meaning it needs to be perceived in the community as having been based on some standards. Standards means collecting some level of data to reach a decision. The less the data the lower the perception of the standards. Clearly you also knew that there was a high degree of controversy over the choice of software contractors, and that all of the information appears not to be out yet, as evidenced by the point that there is an on-going court case.

    Second, although you may try to separate your endorsement from your role as a Sierra College trustee, and you clearly stated you are endorsing in your capacity as a private citizen, and I am assuming that for the purposes of advertising you will be identified that way, it is almost impossible for many people to separate between private and public roles, thus a premature endorsement that could later be imperiled by new data, could be perceived as a primarily partisan action. This is a problem because your elected role is a non-partisan one. Private partisanship could reflect negatively on your public role and the perception of partisanship there. Considering the first year or two of your tenure as a trustee at Sierra College, and the politically charged nature of the issues you had to deal with, I am surprised you are not a little more careful about protecting your increasing positive reputation for being able to work across the aisle.

    Finally, I personally am a huge supporter of “thinking local first”, and I believe that local contractors should get preferential treatment. However there needs to be some standard for how the preference is managed. The County, and its elected offices, has no such standards, leaving managers without guidance and policy to relay on to inform the choice. Seems like Diaz was, in retrospect, in a no win position. There is and was enough ambiguity in this situation that by not directly questioning Greg Diaz about the circumstances under which he would prefer a local contractor, and relaying on a two sentence response in a newspaper article rather than direct contact, you did poor background.

    So let me see if understand–Mr. Pruett asked for your endorsement and you granted it without talking to Mr. Diaz?

    Can you see why your endorsement could lead some in the community to question your application of high standards to the endorsement choices you make, and perceive them as partisan?

    It really just kind of looks like you endorsed Mr. Pruitt because he is a fellow Republican, which for someone that serves in a non-partisan office is a little disconcerting.

    With all of this said, I know you, and know you are a person of high standards and high character. There is absolutely nothing wrong with just saying “I am endorsing Mr. Pruett because I know him personally, trust him, share his values and political affiliation, and appreciate his abilities.”

    And we could seize an opportunity from this increasingly public debate over contracting. There seems to be consensus that preferring local contractors, materials, goods, suppliers, labor, and services is a good thing. Perhaps the community could finally work across the aisle to help set some standards for requiring local preferences and use it as a local economic stimulus.

  22. Michael Anderson says:

    Mr. Pelton, I believe the letter fiasco is about more than just a bad mail merge. The letter was from AtPac’s counsel, the Shafer Law Group, sent to the Nevada County Clerk/Recorder, dated July 31, 2008.

    The content of the letter was regarding termination of the existing contract, and was precipitated by AtPac’s discovery that a new contract had been put out to bid, without their knowledge.

    It looks like a hissy fit letter to me.

    AtPac’s CEO, Wyane Long (sic) was Cc:ed, for goodness sake.
    http://bit.ly/cgawW5

    Did he not proofread it? Did he not know that Kathleen Smith left that office in disgrace way back in 2007?! Why terminate a contract if your goal is to stay in the good graces of Nevada County??

    If he didn’t read it first, is Mr. Long in the habit of allowing his counsel to send letters without first reviewing them? Does he normally send out letters on his company’s behalf with his own name misspelled?

    Again, this story is ALL about good judgment and ethical behavior. So far, on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the best judgment and 1 being the worst), I give Nevada County BOS and Purchasing Dept./Mr. Monihan/Mr. Diaz an 8.5 and Mr. Pruett/Shafer Law Group/Mr. Long and ApPac a low 2.

    I am open to changing those numbers once I read the actual suit. What’s the holdup on the service? This drama needs to be put to bed sooner rather than later. It’s an unnecessary and annoying distraction to what we REALLY need to be talking about, which is our local economy.

  23. Steve Frisch says:

    Aaron I apologize for not picking up on the first reading of your endorsement that Mr. Pruett did not ask for your endorsement, you gave it without request. I don’t know how I missed that when I read it the first time since you made it very clear. My points remain relevant regardless.

  24. Steve Frisch says:

    Michael–I hope the suit will not drag out and this will be put to bed long before voters concentrate on the election. However my political sense tells me that the suit itself is likely a political strategy to weaken Mr. Diaz’s position for the election.

  25. Michael Anderson says:

    I agree Steve, and that is why I am spending so much time getting to the bottom of this thing.

    I’ll take Aaron at his word that this lawsuit is not a machine hatchet job, but that’s sure what it smells like. Right out of the Karl Rove playbook. Along with the bogus Vote Safe Now Initiative, which is SOP when the Republicans are on the outs. They like to raise initiative issues, like gay marriage/illegal aliens-ACORN/abortion, to get out the vote.

    I don’t begrudge them the strategy, but it’s pretty transparent.

    Regarding the Vote Safe Now Initiative, there is a tagline being used upon which I would like some clarification. What is meant by the following sentence: “Greg Diaz must support this common sense measure, because it should not be easier to steal an election than buy a bottle of wine”??

    Are people stealing elections in Nevada County for less than the price of a bottle of wine? Which wine? Some wines are quite expensive. 2-buck chuck, not so much. This appears to be a Dick Armey metaphor gone bad. But I understand…in Texas, all of the wine comes with a screwtop.

    If I was King, this is how I would fix the broken American political system:

    1. All counties go away, replaced by regional watershed councils. Lots of work needed to figure out how these councils inter-operate.

    2. State gov’ts get a dose of contention-reduction medicine. Get rid of bicameral bodies and replace them with unicameral institutions. They should meet only during a certain time of the year, with very specific tasks to perform. Legislation needs to stop being a “product.”

    3. Federal gov’t: hopeless. Mother Nature is going to take care of this problem, regardless of any effort on the part of current US citizens.

    M.

  26. Steve Frisch says:

    (satire warning) The whole move to require that voters carry ID to the ballot box and sign in with an ID is nothing but a conspiracy to deny the right to a secret ballot. As soon as the government requires we sign in with ID they will start matching the secret codes on our ballots with our ID’s and then they will know how we voted. This will inevitably be used to identify political dissidents. They will take our freedoms away. (un-staire alert)

    The Vote Safe Initiative should be titled the “limits on voting” initiative.

    These are the same guys that several years ago were objecting to using social security numbers. Now they want people to get chips implanted to vote. Make up your minds, damn it. Oh yeah–they have made up their minds–they are against government regulation when it serves their purposes and for it when it serves their purposes.

    I mean come on–you have to register to vote, and get signed off on by two separate people.

    Diaz is neutral on the initiative because as Clerk-Recorder he would need to implement the law regardless of what it is, and because if you count the vote you should probably not be on record supporting one position over another.

    Barry Pruett is openly supporting the initiative, calling in to question his ability to count votes impartially if elected.

    Here is Diaz’s position on the initiative from YubaNet:

    “The California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials has taken a position of neutrality on the Vote Safe Now initiative,” Nevada County Clerk-Recorder Gregory Diaz said today in response to a call yesterday for adoption of the measure made by State Sen. Sam Aanestad and attorney Barry Pruett.

    “As a matter of principle, a county Clerk-Recorder should not take a position on any ballot measure or candidate,” Diaz said. “He or she must remain neutral in all respects. For any candidate for Clerk-Recorder to take the chairmanship of a political campaign while running for County Clerk-Recorder shows poor judgment. To do so brings into question that person’s ability to administer the office impartially.”

    Pruett has announced his intention to run against Diaz. Pruett is the Nevada County chairman for the initiative to place the Vote Safe Now initiative on the state ballot.

    “As the Nevada County Clerk-Recorder, I am doing everything I can to make sure there is no voter fraud in Nevada County. Some of the things I have done are the following: We have deleted from the voter files fifteen hundred persons who have died or moved. Nine hundred duplicate voters also were removed.

    “The new system of computerized signature-verification I adopted allows us to catch any suspicious signatures and conversely, verify difficult signatures on returned Mail Ballot envelopes; and I have taken steps to improve training of election board workers in handling such things as provisional voters and the steps you take to ensure the provisional ballots can be researched properly by the election’s office before counting their ballots.”

    “The County Clerk-Recorder is a professional, administrative position; not a legal position,” Diaz added. “Over the years, I have seen candidates for the office of Clerk-Recorder who are attorneys, have legal experience in some field that has nothing to do with elections. As County Clerk, if legal issues arise, you rely on County Counsel and the Secretary of State’s office for advice. They are the experts; they have the necessary legal experience. It is essential, in my judgment, for the holder of this professional office to chart a strict central course, treating all clients and voters with strict impartiality. The office of County Clerk-Recorder is an administrative position. The County Clerk-Recorder needs administrative experience in the duties of the office,” Diaz concluded.

  27. Michael Anderson says:

    If you Google “clerk recorder” you will get a huge list of discussions regarding whether this position in the counties and townships should be appointed or elected. Appointed seems to win out by a slim majority.

    I lean toward elected, only because it allows us to have these discussions every 4 years, to educate a new crop of voters about how important an administrative role this job is to our fragile democracy.

  28. Aaron says:

    I wasn’t intending to set the record for the highest number of comments on a post, but wow, what a hornet’s nest! I think it’s humorous that you think I’m this important. Trust me, I’m not.

    I’ve been out for the day, so I’m not going to respond to each and every comment since I’ve been gone. Suffice it to say, the common themes are clear.

    * Some of you are sure I endorsed Barry Pruett just because he’s a Republican, despite (a) evidence to the contrary, and (b) an exceedingly good reason on an issue I’ve worked on and care deeply about, which is completely unrelated to party affiliation.

    * Some of you buy Greg Diaz’s excuses for picking a more expensive out-of-state bidder, and you buy them hook, line and sinker. My experience with bringing our local tax dollars home for the NCC expansion project tells me otherwise, especially after reading Greg’s side of the story in The Union.

    * Some of you don’t think an elected official should make a really strong effort to keep our local tax dollars local. Let’s just say for a moment that the software wasn’t as good. It’s in use in counties all over the state and country, including San Francisco where Greg Diaz is from. It would have to be completely unworkable for my office before I’d pick a higher bidder and ship $350K out of state.

    * Jeff in particular thinks my endorsement is premature, although he endorsed Greg weeks ago. (That’s a bit of a double standard.)

    * Some of you firmly believe that while you need a picture ID to buy a bottle of wine, you shouldn’t need one to vote. And that we should wait for an election to be stolen before we do something to make them safer from fraud. And that a Clerk-Recorder charged with safeguarding elections shouldn’t support measures to make elections safer! Wow.

    I respectfully disagree with all of these points. I don’t need to repeat myself further. Ultimately, I appreciate having had the chance to engage in the discussion with everyone here. I stand behind what I wrote. The rest of you can feel free to have the last word. 🙂

    Best,
    Aaron

    PS: Tony, I appreciate your words, and am grateful that we can disagree on Greg Diaz without it getting personal. I’m especially interested in your thoughts on community college governance. I’m guessing we agree on that issue.

    • Gloria Zane says:

      That’s something.

      To go from self-aggrandizing to self-effacing in the course of one day, nice transformation Mr. Klein.

      One moment: “I don’t endorse political candidates all the time, but once in a while I get asked to. In this case, I didn’t even get asked …”

      The next: “I think it’s humorous that you think I’m this important …”

      Doesn’t hold water, as you might say.

  29. Bob Garza says:

    Aaron, I don’t mean to be impolite but believe me I don’t think you’re that important. I just disagree with your position and now after reading all these posts, I disagree with your endorsement. I don’t know either candidate but the posts certainly make your candidate’s candidacy look questionable. I think to be fair you should have stated that you just like your candidate for the following reasons and kept your comments about Mr. Diaz to yourself. As far as being neutral and not partisan, I think that’s disingenuous but that’s just my point of view. I think we all have our views and that we tend to be partisan in this political climate.

  30. Michael Anderson says:

    Aaron,

    Thanks for clearing up the wine metaphor. I truly didn’t understand it. But now I get it: “if you have to use a photo ID to buy wine, you should also have to use a photo ID to vote.”

    How about this non sequitur? “If you have to use a photo ID to board a plane, you should have to use a photo ID to get a milkshake at the soda fountain.”

    Voting is a civil right. Poll taxes and voter ID at the polls are currently illegal, and should remain so. The secret ballot is a hallmark of our democracy.

    A coupla posts back, a day or so ago, I talked about Florida, and George Bush being elected President of the United States by the Supreme Court of the United States. I am still amazed to this day that this country is still standing after that horrible ruling (I believe it to be the second most horrible Supreme Court ruling in history, after Dred Scott–the Equal Protection Clause being invoked to protect the tender sensibilities of racist voters in Florida’s Collier County? Oh, foul wind!)

    I’ve been beating the drums against fascism in this country since I was a tender tadpole during the Vietnam era. Others have been beating the drum against communism. So be it.

    Let’s go bowling.

    Michael

    • johngavin says:

      Aaron:

      I’ve asked this on your site as well.

      Barry did not work as a Director of Business Development for Apple Computer. He was associated with a small spin-off in the communist bloc that re-sold Apple products.

      Now, I know his resume is, let’s be nice, a bit flimsy. Particularly when it comes to management or anything having to do with elections or recordings.

      But the promotion you gave him in your endorsement letter, and which Barry himself is now repeating, is not factual.

      As someone who I’m sure is interested in accuracy — again, particularly in support of a position that is ALL ABOUT ACCURACY, can you please tell us why you are promoting Barry Pruett to a Director of Business Development for Apple Computer?

  31. Steve Frisch says:

    Hmmm…..Aaron I think that people are concerned that this appears to be a partisan politically motivated hit on an elected official, possibly including a candidate colluding with an outside entity to file a law suit perfectly timed to affect an election, and that there should be consequences when people engage in this sort of destructive political behavior.

    The coincidences and connections are just too strong to not have people think that something stinks here, and you allowed yourself to be associated with it. I think that shows bad judgement on your part and calls into question your judgement as an elected public servant.

    I think if the shoe was on the other foot you would want a little more understanding from the public, as a matter of fact you asked for the assumption of pure motives in 2004 during your run for office, when you made charges of impropriety against Kevin Ramirez, charges which the civil grand jury later found were “utterly without merit”.

    You do yourself no favors as an elected official in a non-partisan office when you jump back in to the slime pit.

    A man is often judged by the character of the company he keeps.

    • Gloria Zane says:

      I’m glad Klein jumped into this, though. This is revealing yet again. Who could ignore the moral to the Ramirez story? Apparently he could.

  32. steve cottrell says:

    Aaron:

    Over 40 comments for a single topic –– many of them calling into question your motive and judgement.

    Maybe now you can appreciate why I offered some friendly advice yesterday re: risks associated with electronic exchanges?

    Reading the comments, I have a hunch some folks would agree with Mark Twain: “The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.”

    Steve Cottrell

  33. Steve Enos says:

    It now clear that FACTS have noting to do with Aaron’s thought process.

  34. Will Cunningham says:

    This conversation should be rewritten into a movie called “How to Fight 35 Left-Wing Nuts with Your Brain…and Win.”

    I don’t know Aaron Klein. The only thing I question is why he wastes the time talking to people who can do nothing but parrot their liberal story lines.

    One guy equates requiring ID to vote with poll taxes, another equates it with having a chip implanted. Are you people nuts?

    I also don’t know Pruett, but given the ferocity of your assault on someone who had the temerity to endorse him, he’s obviously worth looking into. Thanks for the tip.

  35. Aaron says:

    Steve,

    I’ll just say that I think it’s a sad commentary on our ability to discuss political issues today. But it won’t stop me from continuing to try.

    If I hadn’t have been so involved in the “keep local tax dollars local” issue at Sierra College, I probably wouldn’t have the understanding of the inner workings of government contracting to have such a firm opinion of Greg Diaz’s actions in this case.

    Greg could have gone with the low bid and kept the tax dollars local if he really wanted to. That’s the point. It still bothers me.

    In any case, I do respect the opinions that have been expressed here. I’ve expressed mine and that’s that. I’m quite confident that my approval ratings among this blog’s readers haven’t changed since Friday. 🙂

    All the best, everyone.

    Aaron

    • johngavin says:

      Problem with your argument #1.

      By choosing the new system, Greg Diaz was able to eliminate 5 staff positions — that’s half his office — and save taxpayers $165,000 a year. Never mind with substantially higher customer service (that’s us taxpayers).

      So, your numerics don’t add up, and the system you are defending (go to their own website and see for yourself) is so 1996 its embarrassing.

      Fact is, Diaz cut his staff by half and saved $165,000 by the decision.

  36. Peter Barry says:

    mr. Klein stated that “I don’t need to repeat myself further,” and then goes and repeats himself.

    Your knowledge of the sacred “inner workings” is just bunk – the facts speak for themselves – Mr. Diaz saved the County money rather than playing the trite and lazy and ultimately more costly game of “good ole boy” networking.

    If Mr. Klein wants to use this venue for self promotion then beware that it is open to other opinion. Why no sustainable or “green” building for the construction at NCC?
    And I don’t recall Mr. Klein being helpful in the least when students successfully fought to have NCC become a non-smoking campus years ahead of Sierra College’s plans.

    I’ll also take the opportunity to express gratitude that the use of the little smiley faces is only practiced by one poster – are they supposed to be cute?

  37. Bob Garza says:

    Will, I am a liberal on some issues, a moderate and a conservative on others, I believe in the value of good governance, and I think civil discourse is important to making good decisions. I agree that you should look into the facts regarding the candidates to make your own decision. That’s what we all should do. Aaron has stated his reasons for making his choice, some of us agree, some of us disagree with the choice and the methods. You can do the same but omit the platitudes and labeling as though being a liberal or a moderate or a conservative was a bad or good thing. It’s just too easy to label people and what purpose does it serve.

  38. Steve Frisch says:

    By the way Aaron, I want to say that I appreciate your willingness to engage in discussion on a forum like this one, and really do believe that you are motivated by a desired to both do good, and stand on a clear set of principles that you believe in. That is laudable.

    My estimation of you has not diminished it has improved because of the quality of the dialogue and the willingness to engage.

    Reasonable people can disagree on issues while building a foundation for future collaboration.

    I am a little surprised that conservatives have discovered the think local first philosophy. Welcome to the sustainability movement.

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