Beach chief up for assessor post

June 12, 2012 

Santos Kreimann will be heading downtown if appointed to temporarily run the Assessor's Office.

Santos Kreimann, who has led the county’s Department of Beaches and Harbors since 2009, could become the new temporary head of the controversy-plagued Assessor’s Office under a recommendation made to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Kreimann would take over for Assessor John Noguez, who announced he will be taking a voluntary leave of absence as soon as a temporary successor is in place.

Chief Executive Officer William T Fujioka recommended Kreimann for the position, citing his professional experience, including a stint in the CEO’s real estate division, as well as his managerial acumen.

“I feel that Santos, with his background in real estate and his very strong, to the point of exceptional, management skills, would be an ideal candidate for this assignment,” Fujioka told supervisors Tuesday.

The board is expected to take up Fujioka’s recommendation next week. If supervisors agree that Kreimann is the best choice, he would be appointed by Noguez to run the department in his absence. While the assessor himself must make that appointment, Noguez has said he preferred to stay out of the selection process to “remove any possible concerns” about his involvement.

Noguez’s leave of absence comes as he and members of his staff are being investigated by the District Attorney’s office on allegations of preferential treatment of some property owners. In announcing his decision to go on leave earlier this month, Noguez urged supervisors to designate “a highly qualified person” he could appoint to manage the office in his absence.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, he asked his staff to support Kreimann while he is on leave, adding: “He will have my full authority to manage and oversee the department.”

If Kreimann moves over to the Assessor’s Office on the temporary assignment, Beaches and Harbors will be run in the interim by its three assistant directors, Fujioka told supervisors.

Kreimann, who said he was surprised to be tapped for the assessor’s post, said it’s unclear how long the assignment might last.

“It could be a year or three months; it could be all the way into 2014,” he said.

Whatever the timetable, he said, it will be important to review policies and procedures and make adjustments, if necessary, to prevent “bad things happening.” Another top priority: lifting employees’ morale.

“They’ve been beat up. And I would imagine they’ve been embarrassed to a certain extent,” Kreimann said. “I think it’s important for anyone who goes in there, whether it’s myself or someone else that goes in, to give them some confidence that they’re doing the right things.”

It’s all about making sure the public can believe in the integrity of the office, he said.

“Ultimately it all translates into making sure that the public trust is regained, and that people have confidence in the employees and the work we do in the assessor’s office.”

Kreimann, 47, a 22-year county veteran, lives with his wife and three daughters in Whittier. For him, the saying “county family” is more than just an expression—he has a brother in the Chief Executive Office and a sister in the department of Human Resources.

And when the “family” needs help, he said, there’s really one way to respond.

“When Bill approached me, I felt that I had to do it to help the county as a whole,” he said. “We’re all one big family.”

Posted 6/12/12

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