Deliberating entirely behind the veil of “executive session” and outside public scrutiny, and flaunting bipartisan and nearly unanimous constituent disgust with the obvious and egregious mismanagement of the county for almost thirty years under County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, the Board of Supervisors yesterday voted to extend Huckelberry’s contract for four more years. While the board did not grant Huckleberry the full salary he had requested, the starting value of the new contract is still $10,000 per year higher than the contract was when the board approved it four years ago.
Supervisor Steve Christy courageously refused to participate in secret discussion of the contract before voting against its continuation. He was the sole dissenting vote in a party-line sham which included a gift Huckelberry hadn’t requested: opportunity for Huckelberry to contract back to the county after retirement.
Disappointingly, Supervisor Rex Scott proved to be the rubber-stamp vote many taxpayers in District 1 anticipated. Rather than contributing valuable public discourse, Scott pushed for the closed-door negotiations, and then read a prepared statement that dripped with effusive, yet false, praise of the county’s worst bureaucrat. Scott’s ludicrous adulations included Huckelberry’s “record of service and achievement,” and reference to Huckelberry as a “true servant leader.” This stands in direct contradiction to numerous letters in the public record from county employees begging the board not to renew the contract for reasons of poor leadership, a toxic work environment, and, shockingly, life safety problems in county buildings that Huckelberry refused to address.
Huckelberry remains the second highest-paid county administrator in the United States, after Los Angeles County. He has mismanaged county resources for the duration of his career: The average county administrator in the country holds the position for seven-to-eight years before moving on; Huckelberry, conversely, will have been in this role for over 30 years by the end of this contract. He promulgated county budgets for twenty years that did not include any funds for roads, leaving Pima County with a decrepit road system and conditions that have deteriorated even since his last contract took effect. He has overseen tremendous waste in the form of construction projects and building purchases that have far exceeded the county’s purpose or need, and that have often circumvented the will of the voters who defeated wasteful bonds at the ballot box. Recently, Huckelberry has also weaponized county employees against struggling local businesses while mismanaging the county’s response to Covid.
With a mere two meetings under their belts, the Democrat majority on the board is proving itself to be the continuing enabler for the Huckelberry waste machine, despite the three new members of the board who yesterday squandered an opportunity to change Pima County for the better.