You guys are probably all already aware of this, but just in case you somehow missed it – Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff, totally randomly and out of nowhere, announced at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting that he has decided to retire after 15 years in office.
Nobody thought Orloff was going to run for re-election next year, but the sudden retirement (he wants to spend time with his grandchild) was unexpected. At the same Board of Supervisors meeting, he asked the Board to appoint his Chief Assistant, Nancy O’Malley, to fill his seat until next year’s election, when she will run for the office herself, and, according to Orloff, win. That last part is of course a lot more likely when she has the advantage of incumbency.
I will keep any specific issues I have with Tom Orloff his office to myself, except to say that as a general rule, I have very little patience for politicians, particularly longtime officeholders, who leave their office unexpectedly shortly before the end of a term in a manner that practically guarantees the election of a hand-chosen successor. I understand why people do it, obviously, but I find the behavior to be extremely contemptuous of the democratic process and I have a very difficult time respecting anyone who chooses to end their career in this way.
Anyway, I’m not the only person who thinks this whole thing is creepy. District 6 Councilmember Desley Brooks also does not like the idea of the Board appointing Orloff’s suggested replacement to the County’s top law enforcement position with no public input and only a week’s notice. She sent out the following e-mail last week asking people to come to the Tuesday’s meeting and protest.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will appoint a new District Attorney Tuesday, September 15, 2009, at 9:00 am. The item is #8A on their agenda. They appear set to appoint Nancy O’Malley at the request of Tom Orloff.
This is an elected position. While the Board has the authority to appoint; it should only do so pursuant to a public process. In the instant case they are making an appointment with less than a week’s public notice and without a public process.
We need to pack the Board chambers on Tuesday and demand a public process for the selection process. Please help turn out as many people as you can. This position is too important for them to make this appointment in secret.
You can also send an e-mail directly to the entire Board of Supervisors, asking for a public process, straight from this page.
I can’t make the meeting because of the Airport Connector coming to Public Works that morning, but I did send a message about it. Some people think Orloff has done a great job (see today’s MediaNews editorial), while others seriously hate him (see the comments on today’s MediaNews editorial), but whether you like Orloff (or O’Malley) is not the issue at hand. This issue is transparency and the public’s right to have a say in who holds public office.