Sunday, October 28, 2010 – 06:10 a.m.

A new chief executive officer doesn’t seem to have been the potion for San Bernardino County government.

The county, an institution that for decades has thrived on pettiness and in-fighting seems to be chugging along, not missing a beat.

The word ‘comity’ isn’t in the county vocabulary. At least not yet.

Oh I almost forgot. Unless a cover-up is in order.

In an effort to get another view, I’ve been putting a finger in the water over in Riverside County, and have found an environment clearly at odds with its neighbor. One of a more congenial approach to governing. Words like teamwork and problem-solving echo in the Riverside County government center.

I couldn’t stop thinking about San Bernardino and what a pathetic mess.

A general respect for employees and residents alike is common in Riverside County. Whereas in San Bernardino County, the place runs more like a Chicago syndicate.

It’s no surprise Riverside County seems to avoid many of the missteps made by San Bernardino County.

What’s so amazing in comparing the organizational management styles of the two counties is the treatment of the employee workforce.

One county welcomes input, ideas and criticism. The other, often renders punishment. Speak-out in San Bernardino County and expect to be crushed.

Placing employees on ‘misery’ programs, ‘freeway therapy’, and engaging in the denial of benefits is just a sampling of tools used against employees.

The organization knows nothing else. And a new chief executive officer, one man, isn’t going to turn this ship in any meaningful way without bold moves.

I was thinking back to former San Bernardino County administrators Wally Hill and Will Randolph. Neither of the two men were county insiders. Hill was kind of an odd-ball time efficiency nut and Randolph was Mr. Ethics. Both were purged with the help of their own subordinates.

Yes, the term ‘overthrown’ is appropriate.

Another sad example is San Bernardino County under the rule of ousted administrator Mark Uffer.

Uffer subjected all county employees to a presentation called ‘Service First’. A presentation meant to convey service expectations to the workforce.

However, what county employees ended up being presented was a bunch of threats and story-telling by Uffer, while Human Resources Officers patrolled the room like exam proctors. Throwing out anyone who they felt wasn’t going along with what Napoleon Bonaparte had to say.

The whole ordeal wasted over $1 million.

Then there’s that ‘cover-up’ mentality. A mainstay in San Bernardino County government.

Supervisor Josie Gonzales prides herself in this area.

A very recent example of the current atmosphere is the FBI raid at San Bernardino County-owned and operated Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

One would think such an event would be a fairly important and newsworthy item.

The dialogue coming out of the county regarding the situation was absolutely ridiculous and indicative of the organizational culture.

District Attorney Mike Ramos was falling all over himself trying to make it look like he was in-charge and not the feds.

County counsel Ruth Stringer was denying all knowledge of any wrongdoing. Interesting!

Chief executive officer Greg Devereaux lifted up his area rug and pulled out a broom, while county supervisor Neil Derry told the truth about what was taking place and why.

The whole episode came across like Ringling Brothers was in-charge.

And now that county supervisors have relegated themselves to nothing more than part-time city council members, it will be interesting to see what sort of power struggles take place. It’s a fact that various individual members of the board of supervisors are routinely lied to or misled by staff. However, now they, the supervisors, are in a position to question even less.

Regardless, the organization, the employees, and county residents suffer the consequences.

There’s definitely still no light at the end of this tunnel.