County leader: I’m gone
Ted Gaebler is calling it quits as Nevada County’s top administrator.
“It has become clear after much discussion, and much thoughtful reflection, that the new board as it’s going to be constituted would choose to have – would prefer to have – different leadership,” said the county executive officer.
The move came at the request of Supervisor Sue Horne, said Gaebler, who has agreed to give up his $119,000-a-year post. He described the parting as amiable.
“After much reflection, Sue Horne has indicated that she would prefer to have different leadership,” said Gaebler. “In a democracy, I support her right to have that occur.”
Gaebler said he will leave Jan. 3, handing over the county’s administrative reins to Assistant Chief Executive Officer Rick Haffey, assuming supervisors approve the transition.
Gaebler said he will seek a similar post heading a county government, but hasn’t applied anywhere.
He said he notified supervisors of the decision a week ago, and told county employees and department heads Thursday.
Horne said the decision reflected a difference in leadership styles, and a difference in philosophy in local government administration.
Horne declined to elaborate on her statement, or discuss any philosophical or other differences with Gaebler, because it was a personnel issue and she wanted to take the high road.
Horne did note that it is common with a change in supervisors to have a change in administration. Horne will be joined Jan. 6 by two other conservative newcomers to the board, Robin Sutherland and Drew Bedwell.
Sutherland declined to discuss the matter, and Bedwell was not available for comment. Gaebler said he had talked with Bedwell. In previous interviews, Bedwell has not indicated he wanted Gaebler to leave.
Supervisor Elizabeth Martin, who was defeated by Sutherland on election day, said the reason Gaebler was asked to leave lies in the attacks of conservatives against him, which were described by her as a “well-orchestrated campaign.”
The 61-year-old Gaebler became a target of attacks in the supervisor races. The Republic, a conservative newsletter, ran a series of articles on Gaebler’s contract. Newspaper advertisements in The Union also attacked it.
Gaebler and Horne also have had disagreements over some issues, including Gaebler’s contract and a retreat for county employees.
Martin said that at one point a two-person committee including Horne was appointed to review the contract line by line.
Horne said she had not asked Gaebler to leave because of pressure from conservatives.
“This decision was not made months and months ago,” said Horne. “This decision was not made lightly.”
A special meeting today was set to iron out the financial details of Gaebler’s departure. He is entitled to work for four more months, then receive seven months’ severance pay after that.
His early departure will save the four months of pay, but he would not discuss details of his severance pay. He said it was less than $100,000.
Gaebler also said he will not take the lifetime medical insurance part of his contract – a provision that irked some critics.
“I’m leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table,” said Gaebler.
Gaebler was hired in 2000 by a board dominated by liberal supervisors. His predecessor had left Nevada County for another government post, and an interim executive officer ran the county until Gaebler took over.
Supervisor Peter Van Zant said he was sad to see Gaebler leave. He said Gaebler has met an ambitious list of goals and objectives, and helped to improve employee morale.
“Ted has changed the DNA of the organization from a traditional, command-and-control structure to what we have now – a highly motivated, team approach to management,” said Van Zant.
Gaebler, who began his government career in Dayton, Ohio, in 1964, is nationally known as the co-author of a best-selling public-policy book, “Reinventing Government.”
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