Merced County Director of Planning and Development Services, Robert A. “Bobby” Lewis, reportedly tendered his resignation on Friday. Numerous calls to different county offices to confirm the report met a stone wall.
Nevertheless, other sources convinced members of the Badlands Journal editorial board that the report was true.
The board issued a statement along with an article written when Lewis arrived nearly four years ago.
“He came under a cloud, worked under a cloud, left under a cloud.” – Badlands Journal editorial board
Who is Robert A. Lewis?
The largest group of stories listed on the Merced Sun-Star’s website under City/County during the last two weeks concern growth. Since the arrival of UC Merced,
Nonetheless, one would have thought it somewhat important, at least to the Sun-Star’s readers, to report the county decision to hire Robert A. Lewis as its director of development services, and to demote Bill Nicholson to the position of assistant director.
Lewis’ arrival was a surprise to the county planning staff as well. One of them said they didn’t know anything about Lewis until he was appointed, Tuesday, at the board of supervisors’ meeting (Agenda item 31). Demitrios O. Tatum,
The board confirmed the appointment.
Rumors began to float about the county. Lewis came from
Members of the public who take a deep interest in county planning issues wonder how exactly Lewis was found and appointed with about as much fanfare as an ant breaking wind. Tatum informed the board of supervisors Lewis arrived via the CEO’s authority under
Appointment to the following positions shall be made by the county executive officer subject to confirmation by the board of supervisors … 12. Planning Director.
Lewis was appointed as director of development services. Nicholson was demoted from director of planning and community development to assistant director of that department. Nowhere, except on a county organizational chart, does the office of director of development services appear. Yet, everyone seems to agree that Lewis has been Nicholson’s boss since Tuesday.
Lewis brings to five the number of non-elected officials with major, contending control of county planning and who can be counted on to recommend approval of any development project (if one considers that Nicholson will enjoy some advantage of information over his new boss and long-time involvement with most of the current projects).
· Nicholson, now assistant county planning director
· Lewis, director of development services
· Bob Smith, former county planning director, former director of the former County of Merced UC development office (University Community Plan), now with an office in the public works department
· John Fowler, director of commerce, aviation and economic development (Riverside Motorsports Park)
· Paul Fillebrown, director of public works (Campus Parkway)
Lest this list confuse you, be certain all are firmly under the control of CEO Tatum, who last year appeared, according to county documents, to buy a piece of property in Planada for an estimated $254,000 from Pacific Holt Corporation a day before the county Housing Authority sold the parcel to Pacific Holt for an estimated $509,000. The Sun-Star reportedly looked into the case but found it amounted to as little as the appointment of a county director of development services.
The word on the street, to which McClatchy’s local snoozers reduce us, is that the supervisors doesn’t know any more about Lewis than the public does. Under this ordinance, Tatum decides, period, and the supervisors have no responsibility for who runs planning in their county. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter who you elect.