Grand jurors ease up on county CEO

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By ABBY SOUZA

In sharp contrast to the 2001-02 Tuolumne County Grand Jury report which called the county administrator's actions sloppy, unprofessional and indifferent, the 2002-03 report says nothing of the sort about C. Brent Wallace.

"We weren't looking to point fingers," said 2002-03 Grand Jury Forewoman Norma Powell. "We wanted the focus to be on the issues."

The 19-member, all-volunteer Grand Jury annually examines local government. Some of the areas investigated are required by the Grand Jury Procedures Manual and others come about through complaints.

There were 19 departments or issues investigated and explained in this year's report. The first was Wallace a key figure in the 1999-2000 and 2001-02 Grand Jury reports. The latest jury report section devoted to him was done as a follow-up to the past reports and because of a complaint received that Wallace was making unauthorized purchases with county money.

"I guess every other year I'm an OK guy," Wallace said.

In the 1999-2000 Grand Jury report, Wallace was slammed for his decisions and management style which jurors labeled as "preposterous," "reckless" and "inexcusable."

In 2001-02 report, jurors took issue with how Wallace fired former Tuolumne General Hospital Administrator Michael Marini.

Powell said this year's jurors felt that past Grand Jury reports "didn't stay on track" and focused on individuals.

"We have chosen to address items of concern without attempting to place blame," said Powell in a letter included in the report.

The 2002-03 Grand Jury looked at Wallace's contract, salary records and copies of his expenses, focusing on county credit card purchases and travel expenses.

The report explained the increases in Wallace's pay since his first day of employment July 13, 1998. At that time, Wallace's salary and benefits package was $106,951. Wallace now makes $141,388. The report said the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors approved all of the increases.

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The Union Democrat
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