A carpetbagger is defined as a political candidate who runs for office in a place where he or she has lived only for a short time. An even stronger—and more expanded—term may be necessary to describe a Madera County official.
Last February, PublicCEO reported on the saga of Madera County and one Marcia Hall—Madera’s Auditor-Controller who did not reside within the county’s borders at the time of her appointment. According to reports at the time, Ms. Hall was instructed she would need to establish herself as a Madera County resident before her first election in June of 2014.
At the January 2012 supervisorial meeting, the Board acted on advice from legal counsel and waived the residency requirement. That motion passed 4-0.
However, subsequent legal counsel offered a different view of the law, instructing the Supervisors that the residency requirement for elected officers and appointed replacements could not be waived and must be immediately enforced.
In other words, before Hall could have been appointed, she must have already lived in the County. Under that interpretation, the County has been operating without a duly appointed Auditor-Controller for two years.
A year and a half into the job, Hall claimed that she was renting a home in a gated community near Chowchilla. Staff reporters at Big Valley News have attempted to contact her several times at this new address, but to no avail.
There have been reports that the rented house in Chowcilla remains unfurnished.
Instead, Hall’s car was routinely seen parked at her house in Merced County. It was this house in which Hall has filed “Claim for Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption” with the Merced County Assessors Office, a filing that must be made with a principal place of occupancy.
When a reporter from Big Valley News followed up on the discrepancy, Hall failed to return his call for three weeks. When she did, the reporter also asked Hall to account for why she showed up to work at 4:45PM on some days and whether this had to do with her full-time job with a small CPA firm in Merced.
This is not the first time Hall has been asked to account for these inconsistencies. For more of Marcia’s excuses, view the following video:
The office of Auditor-Controller has been in flux for the last four years. In 2009, the last, long-term Auditor-Controller retired from his office while facing 21 counts of misconduct over his 22 years in office. Since then, the county has had at least three Auditors.
In 2009, against the backdrop of growing distrust and dissatisfaction with the Auditor, the County interviewed for his replacement. The field was narrowed down to three candidates, and the County’s first choice turned-down the job. In a letter sent on November 30, 2009, Mr. Byron Karow cited a number of reasons he was respectfully turning down the County’s job offer.
“I would need to establish a residence in Madera which means I would need to sell my residence here in Marin, and almost immediate which would be impossible in this housing market,” writes Mr. Karow.
Similar concerns were not raised with Hall’s appointment.
If Hall is asked to resign, she would be the third county Auditor-Controller to resign in the past four years.
Read the full story at Big Valley News.
This story was made possible through the investigative research of Jack Porter of Big Valley News. Check out more of his outstanding work at www.bigvalleynews.com.