"The public was completely removed from this process," Supervisor Dave Pine told the Almanac last week, referring to the rushed and unexpected appointment of Carlos Bolanos to the office, normally elective, of San Mateo County sheriff. Sadly, Mr. Pine, you are correct. But we'd like to take that statement one step further: Other potential candidates for this key law enforcement position were removed from the process as well, and the three supervisors who pushed this appointment through on July 12 before longtime sheriff Greg Munks' resignation, announced July 1, even took effect have much to answer for.
While Mr. Pine argued for an appointment after seeking and interviewing candidates, and Supervisor Carole Groom said she wanted the voters to choose a new sheriff in November, supervisors Don Horsley, Adrienne Tissier and Warren Slocum displayed stunning arrogance in acting to appoint last week.
They did so under an agenda item that was unclear at best one had to read through to the second page of a staff report to even realize that an appointment was possible at the July 12 meeting. And they did so despite warnings about a public perception that the process was rigged in the undersheriff's favor.
That warning came from a letter read before the board, written by two local congresswomen and former county supervisors: Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier. "For a long period of time, there have been rumors that Sheriff Munks would retire early and pave the way for the undersheriff to take this position," they wrote. "...We believe that our mutual constituents support a decision-making process that is absent a perception of a pre-ordained outcome."
They noted, as did Mr. Pine, that an election might be problematic, given Mr. Bolanos' head start in campaigning he essentially began running for the seat after Mr. Munks announced last year that he wouldn't seek re-election in November 2018. But the congresswomen urged the board to "conduct an open and transparent search for a successor."
But ignoring this wise advice, the board majority appointed Mr. Bolanos, who assumed the position on July 16 as Mr. Munks' resignation took effect. In comments that might make sense only to someone who had fallen down the rabbit hole, Mr. Horsley declared his confidence in the "one candidate," and added, "there isn't anybody else." Does Mr. Horsley have to be reminded that the "one candidate" earned that label only because he was an uncommonly early candidate in a 2018 race for the seat, and that there were no candidates for appointment to the current vacancy because there hadn't been a call for candidates?
And perhaps we should mention the elephant in the board room that the supervisors failed to acknowledge last week during their praise fest for Mr. Bolanos: When in 2007 then-sheriff Munks was detained in Las Vegas in an illegal brothel, during a prostitution sting operation, his undersheriff, Mr. Bolanos, was detained right along with him. There was a loud call for the resignation of both men at the time. Neither resigned; neither would provide satisfactory explanations to the public. Apparently, supervisors Horsley, Slocum and Tissier don't want to talk about it either.
We expected more of our elected county leaders, and we thank supervisors Pine and Groom for opposing this disappointing action. The three supervisors who successfully pushed for this rushed appointment let residents of San Mateo County down. As Rep. Eshoo noted, we deserved better.