Brown confirmed that the county is hiring a public affairs officer. The application period for the position opened Sept. 12 and closed Oct. 1. With benefits included, the position will cost the county about $150,000, Brown said.
Although Brown said he didn't want to get "caught up" in any issues between the candidates, he did say the public affairs officer's position isn't a "press secretary" -- the term Pacheco used in his news release to describe the job. Brown said the public affairs officer also will perform a government relations role, communicating with stakeholders and legislators in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., as well as assist with internal employee communication and improve communication with the community.
To make the position possible, Brown said, a deputy county executive officer position was deleted. Despite the tough economic situation, Brown said a public affairs officer is needed.
"It is imperative during these times to improve our legislative efforts with significant activity in Sacramento and Washington. With all of the realignment programs that are taking place, with proposals to change county government, we need to be more proactive and increase our presence on these issues," Brown said.
Mike Harris, president of the Merced County Deputy Sheriff Association, said he was aware of the news release Pacheco sent out.
Still, Harris said, he doesn't feel Pedrozo broke any promises to law enforcement because no individual deputies lost their jobs during the passage of the last budget.
Harris said the union is still supporting Pedrozo. "We don't believe (Pedrozo) broke his word to us at all; as a matter of fact, we appreciate his support and the rest of the board's support for not cutting any deputies on the street," he said.
The Board of Supervisors in August passed a $431.7 million budget, down from $436.3 million in fiscal year 2011-12. The plan didn't dip into reserves, but does include $1.6 million in one-time revenues carried over from last year. Six layoffs were approved by the board, which included two correctional cooks. Administrative services, economic development, the library system and the health department, were also handed one layoff notice each.
The last person to hold the public affairs officer position in the county was Katie Albertson, who left in 2010.
City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or email@example.com.