THE FIX is in. In a slimy example of nepotism, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors is set to ensure today that David Piepho, husband of Supervisor Mary Piepho, keeps a seat on the obscure but very powerful Local Agency Formation Commission.

Here's the background. David Piepho has served as an elected member of the Discovery Bay Community Services District for 12 years. In 2005, the Contra Costa Special Districts Association appointed him to serve as one of their representatives on LAFCO, which can expand planning boundaries, city limit lines, and service areas for water and sewer districts.

At the time, the appointment, orchestrated by developer interests, was controversial because it tipped the balance of the seven-member commission in favor of developers, as it has remained ever since.

This year, Piepho decided not to seek re-election to the Discovery Bay district board. But, without a seat on a special district board, he would not be eligible to continue holding his post on LAFCO.

The solution: Piepho applied to fill a vacancy on the Byron Brentwood Knightsen Union Cemetery District, an agency with three board members appointed by the Board of Supervisors, four employees and an $809,000 budget.


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Normally, since the cemetery district is in Mary Piepho's supervisor district, the pick would fall to her with confirmation by the full board. And, so, David Piepho's application contains letters of recommendation addressed to his wife telling her what a great guy he is. We kid you not.

Sensing there might be a conflict (well, duh!), Mary Piepho turned the review of the two applications over to her colleague, Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond. Somehow, this is supposed to make it all OK. Never mind that Gioia and Piepho regularly depend on each other for support of their issues.

Now, Gioia is recommending the full board today appoint David Piepho to the cemetery board. It's the 55th of 147 consent calendar items. We expect Mary Piepho won't vote. That's not good enough. It's wrong for the board to appoint the spouse of one of its members to any position, especially when there's so much at stake.

Supervisors should look for other candidates. That would be the right thing to do.