The recently released Mono County Grand Jury Report revealed that the Mono Supervisors had gone so far as to ask the grand jury to investigate former Assessor James Lovett.
The report says, “Due to the magnitude of this investigation, a committee at large, consisting of the entire Grand Jury was created.” Jurors interviewed members of the Board of Supervisors, CAO Dave Wilbrecht and many other officials, including staff of the Assessor’s office.
The Jury Report says that there was a consistent message – while appointed, the Assessor performed diligently and efficiently. Once elected, his approach changed. Jurors proved what Supervisors stated publicly – the Assessor worked three days a week, random hours, damaging office morale and creating tension.
The report notes that the employees’ union filed a formal complaint about the assessor for “locking the employees’ entrance/exit door of the Assessor’s Office in a manner that several employees felt threatened and/ or intimidated.” The union also complained that the Assessor instructed workers not to speak to the CAO or Supervisors or they would be subject to disciplinary action. The Union also complained that Assessor Lovett used unprofessional conduct like when he notified staff that he would “be willing to go away, for a price.”
Jurors said they essentially verified these complaints. Also mentioned frequently – allegations of alcohol consumption during work hours and while driving a county-owned vehicle.
The report says that the jury had to subpoena Assessor Lovett, that he admitted being an alcoholic but insisted the office was being run well.
The Grand Jury concluded that the County Assessor has “seriously abused the office of an elected official.” They recommended citizens take appropriate action. Of course, citizens did launch a re-call. In the end Assessor Lovett retired from office and the re-call effort went through as well.