It was over before it started.
Two South Orange County men – both with ties to Capistrano Unified School District – had thrown their hat in the race to be the next Orange County Public Administrator.
But the O.C. Orange County Board of Supervisors signed off today on a plan to shift the vacant Public Administrator job to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas will also be the Public Administrator. The change was approved 3-2, with Supervisors John Moorlach and Patricia Bates dissenting.
The Public Administrator, a part-time job that pays about $32,000 annually, was joined with the Public Guardian's office until March 2011, when the supervisors split the posts. The move came in the wake of controversy involving the way John Williams, who has since retired, ran the offices.
Williams came under fire for taking control of the estate of TapouT co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis, who was killed in a drunken driving crash in 2009. He lacked a will, but he had two children who were apparent heirs.
Grand jurors in 2009 also criticized swelling management salaries in Williams' office, questionable promotions and redundant jobs.
The Public Administrator helps the coroner, hospitals and mortuaries following a death in the county. In the case there's no immediate family, the administrator can take control of and manage assets.
The Board of Supervisors asked voters in 2011 to make the Public Administrator an appointed position instead of an elected post, but the electorate rejected the county's proposal.
“I think this would be a department better served as a stand-alone,” Moorlach said in explaining his dissenting vote.
Rackauckas said the Public Administrator duties “fit fine with the District Attorney's Office.”
Current staff at the District Attorney's office could handle the extra work without expanding, Rackauckas said.
--City News Service, Patch Editor Penny Arévalo contributed to this report