Public Statement from Cooperation Humboldt Board of Directors & Staff
Cooperation Humboldt exists to create a solidarity economy in our community. We know it is possible to meet our collective needs without exploitation or oppression and that it is possible to do so in a manner that heals and regenerates our natural ecosystems.
We also understand the importance of public engagement in civic leadership, and we believe that our elected officials should be held to the highest standards of public service. Humboldt County Auditor-Controller Karen Paz-Dominguez is an outstanding public servant and we are appalled at the attacks she has faced for the past two years, which have intensified of late. The recent actions by the Board of Supervisors taken against our elected Auditor-Controller are baseless, border on malicious harassment, and are a waste of public funds that are badly needed for other purposes. It is particularly disappointing to see a strong young Latina leader being singled out for such baseless mistreatment and blatant abuse.
For two years Paz-Dominguez has stated that she was not receiving accurate information in a timely manner and that her office was understaffed to do the work required under California law — work she was elected to do by the voters of Humboldt County. She has a legal responsibility to certify financial records and can’t do so without proper documentation. No one should want or expect her to do otherwise. Now that she either hasn’t gotten the records or has received them late, the Board of Supervisors and the County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) are attempting to blame her for the adverse consequences of her principled choice to follow both the law and generally accepted accounting principles.
Several times the CAO has hired outside consultants to undo work already completed accurately by Paz-Dominguez. Where did the money come from to hire consultants for this purpose, while the Board refuses to hire the two additional staffers that Paz-Dominguez has said she needed for the past two years?
Now the Board and CAO want to hire an outside firm to audit — not the county — but the Auditor’s office itself, at a cost of $250,000. This during an unprecedented pandemic, when funds are desperately needed to keep county residents housed, fed, and healthy. Furthermore, the CAO is now advocating to hire a Finance Director, in direct opposition to the decision made by voters in 2016.
It is also worth noting that the county’s outside auditor has previously praised Paz-Dominguez’ work when she reduced an $8 million “miscellaneous” trust fund down to $480,000. Paz-Dominguez also kept the county from making a gross error on its projected income when $7 million in revenue was being counted twice. And she has diligently worked to reduce the fraud potential in payroll that was taken out of the Auditor’s office just before she was sworn in as the newly elected Auditor.
Frequently, the County states it can’t do critically important community projects due to a lack of funds. So where is this money coming from to attack the Auditor? It is money that would be much better spent serving the community rather than trying to disparage one of our most respected and effective elected officials.
– Cooperation Humboldt Board of Directors & Staff