Lake County Recorder Michael B. Brown

Lake County Recorder Michael B. Brown

The Lake County Council unveiled a plan this week to reduce the 2020 annual salary for elected Lake County Recorder Mike Brown to $1.

It's a great idea that bears broader application and should prompt deeper discussions about holding elected officials accountable when they're not performing the tasks taxpayers pay them to tackle and voters elected them to handle.

Brown has been largely absent from his post, for which taxpayers pay him more than $62,000 a year, since a female subordinate in his public office filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him in 2017.

The suit cost taxpayers at least $185,000 in a legal settlement.

Adding to this cost is the salary county residents have been covering for Brown while he fails to show up for work.

There are very few options for an elected official to be removed from office under such circumstances.

So the Lake County Council deserves some praise for exploring the reduction of Brown's salary — by 99.9% — to better reflect the effort taxpayers have been receiving from Brown.

The council took the first key steps Wednesday to adopt Brown's $1 salary into the 2020 budget.

County council members are right to go after the key thing the county's chief fiscal body controls — compensation levels and budget.

But a deeper conversation also needs to occur about creating avenues to remove deadbeat public officials like Brown from office.

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In that vein, Lake County Councilman Christian Jorgensen is right to be asking for for the council to use its subpoena power to document Brown's excessive absences.

It could be a prelude to seeking a grand jury, that could formally accuse Brown of dereliction of duty.

Then a case could be made in the courts for removing Brown from office.

The Times attempted to get comment from Brown about all of this Tuesday.

Not surprisingly, he wasn't in his office and none of his employees had seen him that day.

County officials and concerned voters also should be contacting their state legislators about this issue. We need a state law that would allow for a recall or impeachment and removal from office of any elected official not fulfilling what should be a sacred pact with residents.

In the meantime, Brown has one more year left on his term as supposed keeper of county deeds and other records.

No doubt, his chief deputy, Gina Pimentel, will continue running the office in Brown's absence. Pimentel has stepped up, despite earning $20,000 a year less than her boss, who doesn't come to work.

Not another day should go by in which Brown is compensated for failing to show up for work.



Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Regional News Editor Sharon Ross, Assistant Deputy Editor Andrew Steele.