COACHELLA – Governor Brown has signed Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s (D-Coachella) AB 798, Local Government: Counties: Consolidation Of Offices, according to a press release from the assemblyman’s office. The measure, containing an urgency clause, will allow Imperial County to convert the Public Administrator’s Office from an elected to an appointed position, and allow the County to appoint the same person to the offices of Public Administrator and Public Guardian.
The elected Public Administrator plans, directs, manages, and reviews the operation of various programs, including Public Administrator, Public Conservator/Guardian, Representative Payee Program, Area Agency on Aging and Indigent Burial, according to the county’s website.
Rosie Blankenship is currently the Acting Public Administrator / AAA Director. The agency was established in response to the Older Americans Act. There are nearly 700 such agencies in the nation. The agency is the regional focal point of services to older adults. It administers federal, state, and county funds. The last elected official in the county to the position was Norma Saikhon, according to the county site.
“Imperial County is home to approximately 180,000 residents, living and working within its seven cities and eight unincorporated communities. The combined positions of Public Administrator and Public Guardian manage about 800 open cases. The conversions authorized in AB 798 will save costs for Imperial County and greatly benefit our most vulnerable residents by guaranteeing greater continuity and qualifications necessary for the Public Administrator appointee to manage such sensitive and rigorous caseloads,” said Assemblymember Garcia in the release.
According to the release, the Imperial County’s Public Administrator was an elected position charged with the estate management of persons who pass without a will, with a contested will, or without an appropriate person to manage their estate according to the decedent’s wishes, whilst the Public Guardian served as a legally-appointed guardian or conservator for vulnerable adults found by the courts to be unable to take care of themselves or their assets.
Garcia introduced this legislation at the behest of the County of Imperial, upon the retirement of the former Public Administrator, Norma Saikhon.
“The Board of Supervisors believes that through this conversion, the vulnerable County residents who rely on the office for assistance would benefit from a smoother transition to a trained and skilled public administrator that also provides consistency for the agency’s staff,” stated Imperial County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael W. Kelley in a letter of support.
AB 798 was signed into law by Governor Brown Saturday, September 30, 2017, making Imperial County the fifteenth California County to convert the Public Administrator’s Office from an elected to an appointed position, said the release.