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Voice: Supervisors must do something about Yvonne Smith

March 04, 2002

Soon we'll be electing some new members to the Board of Supervisors, so as a local merchant and taxpayer I'd like to make an appeal to other taxpayers before they cast their vote.

There are some serious problems at our local Health Department, many of which were reported to the Board of Supervisors over a decade ago after a grand jury investigation. As a result of that investigation the health officer at the time, Dr. Cottrell, was "allowed" to retire rather than be fired. They also found serious problems with the administrator, Yvonne Smith.

The grand jury witnessed Ms. Smith intimidate employees and said she had a "Rambo style for management." At the conclusion of their report they said the only body that had the power to correct the problems at the Health Department, including Yvonne Smith, was the Board of Supervisors.

The only action I'm aware of is that they promoted Ms. Smith from administrator to the director of the Health Department with the part-time health officer, Benjamin Lehr, subordinate to her and her assistant, which means all the crucial decisions and policies concerning the health of Imperial County are being made by two women who have absolutely no medical degree of any kind.

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How has this woman who is nearly 80 years old managed to become so powerful even after a grand jury found her so flawed?

What I've heard most recently is of particular concern to me and should be to other taxpayers. It seems that Ms. Smith made an arbitrary decision to place a longtime employee on half-time, citing "poor health."

I don't know the details, but evidently this woman had enough sick time to supplement her paycheck for over a year using that sick time. When a doctor who is not under Yvonne Smith's thumb did a thorough physical on this employee, Ms. Smith was forced to reverse her previous action, pay back this woman's sick time and pay her attorney fees.

Currently the county is in the middle of a lawsuit brought about by none other than Yvonne Smith's actions. If the county loses this suit, they might have to come up with a large settlement. Guess where that money comes from? Taxpayers, of course.

Is there no stopping Yvonne Smith? Years after the grand jury brought this to the attention of the Board of Supervisors not one supervisor, past or present, has done a thing! Why?

We deserve an explanation. Or will they go on ignoring the problem, buy Ms. Smith a motorized wheelchair and allow her to continue the "Reign of Rambo"?

So voters, when you're making a decision about who to elect as a new supervisor, find out first how strong their backbone is!

LOUIS F. GLORIA

El Centro

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