Is Diaz vulnerable after his run-in with the supervisors?

It may just be a coincidence that two challengers to county Clerk/Recorder Gregory Diaz  surfaced after his recent dust-up with the Board of Supervisors, but I doubt it.

Gregory Diaz Vulnerable?

Diaz ran unopposed four years ago and appeared to be sailing toward another four-year term last month when he appeared before the supervisors to request $300,000 to test drive the state’s new vote-by-mail system in the June primary. He even brought along Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who praised the new Voter’s Choice Act as a cost-effective way to get more people to vote. The supervisors were not impressed.

They objected to getting the supplemental budget request five months before the election, and challenged the cost estimate. While Diaz’s staff had briefed the supervisors about the program, no cost estimates were available then and Diaz couldn’t offer specifics when pressed by Supervisor Ed Scofield.

Diaz was told to take his request to the county budget subcommittee. Everybody eventually agreed on a sum of $258,000, which was approved at last week’s supervisors meeting. Diaz did not come out looking good in the process, which may be why he’s now being challenged by Mary Ann Davis, events manager at The Union, and Elise Strickler, an analyst in the county manager’s office.

Mary Ann Davis

Davis has no experience in the field but expresses a desire to serve, while Strickler worked in Diaz’s office for four years before taking her current county position. Diaz said in an interview Friday on KNCO that he will emphasize his experience in the election campaign, but his record is hardly blemish-free.

Some vote-by-mail ballots issued by Diaz’s office during the 2016 general election were missing a page listing nine of 17 state propositions and three local measures. “The pages just didn’t get stuffed in the ballot by the printer,” explained Sandy Sjoberg, registrar of voters, who’s usually trotted out when there’s bad news to report.

Management of outside vendors has been a continuing issue during Diaz’s tenure. Ballots for the June 2016 primary were mailed a week late because the printer was late getting them verified. A mailing was also delayed in 2014 due to a printing error.

Elise Strickler

His recent run-in with the supervisors shows a surprising lack of political acumen  for somebody who has been dealing with the board for over 10 years, but Diaz got off to a shaky start in the job when an attempt to change software vendors triggered a lawsuit.

After Diaz took office in June 2007, he decided to drop AtPac of Auburn for Aptitude Solutions of Florida to provide the software the clerk’s office uses to store and retrieve documents.

AtPac sued, alleging Diaz exposed its propriety information to Aptitude in violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The case featured such zany incidents as addressing mail to Diaz’s predecessor and an effort by the county’s counsel to depose a guy who was dead.

Then there was local attorney Barry Pruett, who represented AtPac when the county changed vendors and ended up running against Diaz in the 2010 election for clerk/recorder. Pruett, who received a $1,500 donation from AtPac’s owner, lost the race. The county finally settled the case for $1.9 million, most of it insurance money.

When Diaz ran for reelection in 2014, he announced a “blue ribbon” reelection committee to scare off anybody who was thinking about challenging him. It worked. He hasn’t announced such a committee this time, possibly because he thought his reelection would be a cake walk. Maybe it will be, but Diaz may also have to answer some tough questions this time around.

COVERAGE BIAS?: The Union’s leading local critic (no points if you  guess who I’m talking about) has called for smelling salts because Davis works for the paper and might create a conflict-of-interest in The Union’s coverage of the campaign.

There is a precedent for this: Sally Harris was The Union’s business manager when she first ran for the Nevada City Council in the oughts, and I don’t recall any complaints about the paper’s coverage then.

I suspect there won’t be any complaints this time either, except from the obvious source. If anything, The Union’s coverage may actually be unfair to Davis because you can bet the paper’s editorial staff will bend over backwards to avoid any real or perceived bias. They know everybody will be watching.

This entry was posted in County Clerk/Recorder Gregory Diaz, Elise Strickler, Mary Ann Davis, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Is Diaz vulnerable after his run-in with the supervisors?

  1. rl crabb says:

    And in other news, three of Grass Valley’s councilpersons reject their former police chief’s bid to become sheriff. Yikes!

  2. Podunk Pelline has set the bar for “fair” coverage of the clerk/recorder race by The Union as low as it will go: Immediately publish any press release you get from Diaz.

    Pelline did not learn this at Northwestern University, but he’s been out of the news business since The Union parted ways with him about 10 years ago, and the “news” he publishes these days in his “magazine” is just recycled press releases. Allow me to apply the skepticism to Diaz’s press release that the Medill School of Journalism expects from its graduates:

    Diaz states that our votes are safe from cyber intrusion, but doesn’t explain how he has achieved this level of protection other than we will be participating in the state’s new vote-by-mail system. Is he implying the state has developed a bullet-proof system nobody else knows about? Did he hire an outside firm to attempt a cyber attack that failed? Has he installed special software or taken other steps that will stop Russian hackers or other mischief makers? Or does out safety come from the fact we’re a small fish in a decentralized state voting system, and hackers can get more bang for their buck by attacking counties like San Francisco and Los Angeles?

    Why all of this sudden praise for the supervisors? Is Diaz trying to make nice after the recent dust-up over more money, or is he trying to discourage them from endorsing either of his challengers? Few people are in a better position than the supervisors to judge his work.

    These are questions that occur to inquiring minds, but don’t expect any answers from Diaz’s head cheerleader.

  3. I see Scoop Pelline finally got around to reporting the change of editors at the Sacramento Bee a month after it happened. Does that kind of tardiness qualify for a Medill “F”?

  4. Only Jeffie can segue from a dive that’s closing to a chance meeting with Steve Jobs. Aren’t you impressed with how many important people he’s met? You should be by now.

    Jeffie, did you ever actually eat at The Oasis? I did. Several times.

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