Local

Merced official reprimanded by Board of Supervisors

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A North Valley public official has been relieved of some of her duties following a report that substantiated complaints of harassment.

Merced County Clerk and Treasurer Karen Adams was reprimanded by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning.

The board voted to demote Adams, but her pay will stay the same.

During public comment held before the vote, Adams read a prepared statement where she questioned the validity of an independent investigation that substantiated complaints of harassment against her.

"Since then you have followed your prescribed direction and I have been humiliated," Adams told supervisors.

According to the report, Adams created a hostile work environment by using sexual and verbally abusive comments towards her staff.

"After waiting over four months of a copy of the investigation, sufficient time has not been provided me to meet with county executives and county counsel to discuss the errors and efficiencies of the report," she said.

However, none of the supervisors were swayed to come to her defense.

"I think the county of Merced has been humiliated by the actions that have occurred in the department that she's been in charge of and it was her choice," Merced County Supervisor Deidre Kelse said.

Since Adams is an elected official, the most the board could have done was formally condemn her actions.

"I know what the board had to do and I think we made the best decision possible at this time," Supervisor John Pedrozo said.

The board also voted to strip Adams of her appointed duties as Registrar of Voters by transferring the Elections Department over to the Assessor's Office.

But despite taking responsibility away from Adams, her $150,000 salary won't be docked.

"She will still be receiving the same pay because state law prohibits us from lowering the salary of an elected official," Merced County Board Executive Larry Combs said.

Adams has hired a lawyer and vows to fight the allegations of harassment. She says she does not plan to step down and will stay in office until her term expires in 2015.

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merced, merced county, north valley, local
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