Wallace denies Grand Jury allegations

August 07, 2002 12:00 am

By ERIC BURKETT

Tuolumne County's chief administrative officer responded in kind to his critics — 2001-02 grand jurors — during Tuesday's county Board of Supervisors meeting.

Using words like "dishonest," "biased" and "absurd," Wallace dissected the conclusions of the Grand Jury's report, issued last month.

Like the 1998-99 Grand Jury report which was highly critical of Wallace's management style, this year's report took sharp aim at a raise Wallace received last year that the Board of Supervisors approved.

The report said Wallace had taken advantage of his hiring of former Tuolumne General Hospital administrator Michael Marini — who was fired in December — to orchestrate a substantial raise for himself.

Wallace responded by strongly denying those allegations.

"Not a single member of the Grand Jury asked me for any of the background leading to the salary agreement negotiated with Mr. Marini," Wallace said in his 14-page response. "The written record will clearly prove that the Board of Supervisors authorized negotiation of Mr. Marini's salary and approved his salary before agreeing to an increase of salary for me. This is a dishonest, shameful statement of the Grand Jury."

His salary was a matter of public record, he said Tuesday, and anyone could request copies of the documents associated with his pay.

Wallace also accused the Grand Jury of violating laws concerning confidentiality, noting as an example that the jury had used e-mail to communicate with county staff.

"Every electronic response that a county employee provided to the Grand Jury is a public document," said Wallace.

Wallace's response to the Grand Jury's investigation of the financially-troubled Tuolumne General Hospital was more mixed.