Contra Costa County's next election czar will undergo a criminal and financial background check not required of any other individual holding elected office.
And the results won't be made public despite the fact it involves an elected official. State law bans the release of such information to unauthorized people, the county says.
No one expects to find skeletons in the closets of either of the applicants seeking to succeed retiring Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir -- Pleasant Hill Councilman Jack Weir or former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, of Pittsburg.
But County Administrator David Twa called it "prudent" to conduct the check -- just as it was done in 1989 when retiring Weir was appointed -- and verify that the county's choice is eligible to serve.
Twa also cited Assembly Bill 2410, a bill passed last year that permanently bars anyone convicted of certain crimes -- voter fraud, accepting bribes and the like -- from even running for state or local public office. The law already blocked these same felons from holding public office.
Bill author Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Arleta, was angry about the plethora of candidates across the state facing criminal charges, according to several newspaper accounts.
That's all fine and good. But the legislation says nothing about who bears the responsibility for sniffing out ineligible felons from among the thousands of people who run for office in California each election, seeking a seat on everything from mosquito abatement boards to transit districts.
Contra Costa doesn't run criminal background checks on everyone who files for public office nor is it considering such a step.
Instead, candidates for public office must sign a legal affidavit attesting they are eligible to serve. If this later proves untrue, the individual could face felony charges.
The board of supervisors could require the same signature from its clerk-recorder appointee, who must sign it anyway if he files for the office in 2014. Public officials must also complete a financial disclosure statement, which is a public document.
Again, no one suspects a background investigation into Weir or Canciamilla will render either man ineligible to hold public office.
But what if it did? How will the county explain it to the press and the public without violating state disclosure law? What if the backgrounder contains information voters would view as important in their evaluation of a public official?
The board of supervisors is not hiring a county employee. They are acting in the shoes of the voters and filling a critical vacancy until the next election.
Whatever information they gather in the process of making that choice should be made public.
MUST LOVE SUNSHINE: Speaking of County Administrator David Twa, it looks like he will be sticking around.
The one-time Minnesota county manager's contract expires this year and he was expected to look for greener pastures after five years of pay and benefit cuts.
But supervisors on Tuesday are set to vote on a new five-year contract that boosts Twa's annual pay 4 percent to $260,000 a year, plus bumps in vacation and deferred compensation.
The deal probably won't set well with county labor unions looking for a restoration of some of their wages and benefits.
On the other hand, all five supervisors hold Twa in very high regard and will probably argue that the cost to replace him -- in both money and experience -- would exceed the new contract's value.
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AND FINALLY: The National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems will hold its 2013 meeting in Honolulu and organizers must not want all this unpleasant talk about unfunded liabilities to dampen attendance.
It posted on its website a helpful "2013 Attendance Justification Tool Kit" complete with a sample letter to download and personalize, seven key talking points to help you make your case and travel tips for the budget conscious.
The Contra Costa County Employees Retirement Association is sending five of its board members -- Terry Buck, Richard Cabral, Gabe Rodrigues, Jerry Telles and Debora Allen.
Conferences undeniably offer opportunities to mingle with experts and glean valuable information, especially part-time pension board members charged with a great deal of fiduciary responsibility in a highly complex field. Kudos to the folks willing to serve on such an important governing board.
Did no one ask, "How will this play at home with voters?"
Seriously, someone ought to build a mega conference resort in say, North Dakota, and block out December through March for gatherings of public officials and government agencies.
That would weed out the serious policymakers from the surfers.