BY DUANE W. GANG
STAFF WRITER
dgang@pe.com

Published: 06 October 2011 06:03 PM

An estimated $80 million budget gap for next fiscal year is only the start of the challenges Riverside County supervisors face in the coming months.

The county must fill three key positions that all became vacant within one week in late September.

Supervisors must now find new county executive, public health and chief information officers. The latter was fired the same day the board accepted the resignation of former CEO Bill Luna, according to county officials.

“You don’t like to see all these people leaving their posts all at one time,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Buster said this week. “But it does give us the opportunity to look, particularly in the health area, to better reconfigure these functions.”

Luna had been the county’s top executive since July 2008, and oversaw operations at a time when the county had to deal with plunging revenues. Supervisors accepted his resignation on a 4-0 vote during a special closed-session meeting Sept. 22.

The same day, Nathan Colodney, the county’s chief information officer, was let go. County spokesman Ray Smith said he could not comment except to say that Colodney no longer works for the county. But supervisors confirmed that Colodney, hired by Luna in 2010, was fired.

Colodney oversaw all of the county’s data and information technology operations but had clashed with supervisors and others over many issues. For instance, a proposal to consolidate the board’s own IT department with the rest of the county was met with resistance.

Smith said there is no timetable on a replacement for Colodney.

On Sept. 29, Dr. Eric Frykman, the county’s public health officer, abruptly resigned in a two-sentence letter to Buster. He did not cite a reason for his departure, and county officials have not said whether the resignation had anything to do with a sexual harassment lawsuit filed earlier this year against him and the county by a former First 5 Riverside employee.

Supervisor John Tavaglione said it is unusual to have this many top posts unfilled at the same time.

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