Play by the rules

mono_courthouse_10-08.jpgPeople who run for office can gather signatures instead of paying fees, but can they ask for signatures during work hours on the job? Inyo County says, no. Mono County says employees can’t, but elected officials can. Recently, two Mono officials did take their petitions to a management meeting to get signatures, which raised questions. The Mono County Code claims elected officials are not “employees” and are not subject to the same improper political activity rules.

Asked if the color of office doesn’t give elected officials a kind of involuntary persuasion factor when gathering signatures on the job, Mono County Counsel Marshall Rudolph said, “That’s a fair question, but it’s a policy question and not my call.”

It’s apparently a Board of Supervisors’ call. State Government Code says any County or City may prohibit officers and employees engaging in political activity during work hours at the local agency. Inyo County Supervisors did adopt a Personnel Rule that says employees shall not campaign or conduct any political activity during normal work hours in county facilities. This includes elected officials.

According to County Counsel Rudolph, Mono County rank and file employees have such a policy which also covers management workers. Rudolph said employees can not engage in political activity on the job. He said the definition of employee includes appointed officials but not elected officials. Mono County Code Section 440 seems to disagree when it says, “No one employed by the County will engage in political activities on County premises while engaged in official duties, using County equipment, or wearing an official County uniform….”

Recently, Mono County Sheriff Ralph Obenberger and District Attorney Tim Kendall took their election petitions to a County management meeting in Lee Vining. County Counsel Rudolph said they did not break the rules. Since Sheriff Obenberger and DA Kendall were appointed, and not elected, are they prohibited from political actions on the job as appointed officials? Counsel Rudolph’s opinion is, no. Once someone is appointed to an elective office, said Rudolph, he’s an elected, not appointed, official.

District Attorney Tim Kendall said legally County Officials can engage in political activities during work hours. He said there is no County ordinance prohibiting this. Kendall said he and the Sheriff “explained to everyone at the end of the meeting and everyone was told that if they wished not to sign then that was absolutely fine. For them to feel no obligation.”

State Code also says no one can campaign in uniform. Rudolph said Sheriff Obenberger was not gathering signatures in uniform. At the Town of Mammoth Lakes, Attorney Andy Morris said it was his understanding that Police Chief Dan Watson has talked with Mammoth Reserve Officer and Sheriff Candidate Ingrid Braun about not engaging in political activities on the job, not campaigning in uniform, and not soliciting contributions from individual workers.

So, bottom line during these days before the June 3rd election – In Mono County, if you’re an elected official you can gather signatures and politick all day long at work. If you’re just an employee, forget it. In Inyo County, no political activities on the job – period – for either elected officials or rank and file employees.

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18 Responses to Play by the rules

  1. wagonroad February 18, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    The President spends millions of dollars flying around the USA politicing. Our Congressmen and Senators devote most of tbeir working day to staying elected or getting reelected. I don’t see all this anger directed towards them for so doing. Besides, folks, if you do see Sheriff Obe politicing, here’s your chance to talk to him about your likes and dislikes.

    • Benett Kessler February 18, 2014 at 8:32 am #

      State code sets up rules and allows local jurisdictions to make their own rules. Inyo and Mono have. Maybe federal rules should limit politicking on the job, too. We might get more public service.
      Benett Kessler

  2. john January 27, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    I have dealt with Mono County Counsel. Marshall Rudolph and Stacy Simon are there to protect the status quo of the Mono County Good ol’ Boy Club. They don’t do anything beneficial for the Mono County tax payers.

  3. Sick of Mono County January 26, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Are both of those guys so cheap thay can’t afford to pay the fileing fees?

  4. OffaMyCloud January 24, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    @Finally – slowly but surely. If the taxpayers only knew the lies and corruption of people in power in this county…it will come to the surface eventually.

  5. Finally the truth is coming out! January 24, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    I feel hypocrites squirming all over Mono County right now!

    Loving every minute of it!

    Thank you Benett for bringing out the truths they don’t want the people of the county to know!

    You have a great flashlight for all those dark places!

  6. Fact January 24, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Bennett, it is also a fact that the sheriff’s department policy and procedure manual strictly prohibits campaigning on duty! Another example of “do as I say not as I do ” actions by this administration! Let me take a guess, the policy and procedure manual doesn’t apply to the administration!

    This policy became a direct order by former sheriff! This is Another example of this administration changing their own rules or ignoring them to suit their own needs!

    Where is the accountability?

    • Rick O'Brien January 25, 2014 at 2:32 am #

      The accountability will come on JUNE THIRD ! Make sure you’re registered to vote,people.

  7. Really January 24, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Seems like you have an agenda Bennett.

    • Benett Kessler January 24, 2014 at 11:45 am #

      I do. My agenda is to reveal the truth about our lives and shine light in dark places.
      Benett Kessler

      • Mongo The Idiot January 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

        Sierra Wave Media is a business;
        Its job is to provide media that attracts readers so that it can effectively support itself with advertising.
        While the personally motivated political story is tempting, it doesn’t pay the bills unless a politician is paying cash for it which is completely illegal and not something I would accuse anyone of without a lawyer.
        That said; it would be commonplace and ethical for me to send SW Media a press release regarding my business alongside a paid advertising campaign.
        It would be at their discretion whether or not to publish it, not mine.
        It is impressive to me that SW can thrive in a community of about 20,000. That would be comparable to having a media group in So. Cal with an audience of 20,000,000++.
        The blade of media cuts both ways; it’s nice to see whats going on, not so much when it’s your own mug shot.

    • HWBN January 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

      It seems Bennett’s agenda is for Mono County to have a fair election. Not one in which one of the candidates uses the weight of their APPOINTED position; the resources of their taxpayer financed department, and the equipment of their taxpayer funded department as his personal campaign account.

  8. Mono Citizen January 24, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    really reaching for this one Benett.

    • Benett Kessler January 24, 2014 at 10:39 am #

      It was a public issue that citizens asked me to look into. That’s why I did.

  9. Amazed January 24, 2014 at 12:50 am #

    Do we really pay Marshall Rudolph to be an attorney???? He can’t even give answer to the simple question about whether or not that Tim Kendall or Ralph Obenberger can collect signatures or not while they are at an official county management meeting!

    I absolutely disagree with his opinion that they are elected officials! They where appointed when their predecessor’s retired. How scary is it that he doesn’t know the difference? This is the lead council for Mono County????

    • seriously January 26, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

      You should probably check your spelling and grammar when trying to insult someone else’s intelligence.

  10. Al Capone January 24, 2014 at 12:11 am #

    “You can get much more with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone.”

  11. loree January 23, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    Seems the Mono County Code 440 is interpreted differently by those who would benefit from pressuring people into signing petitions.

    Seems integrity and ethics are interpreted differently also.

    Really…… stood up after the public meeting and said people didn’t have to sign. How sensitive of you.

    My head is spinning!!!!


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