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COLAB Hires Mike Brown


Michael Brown, who just recently retired as the CEO of the County of Santa Barbara, apparently wasn’t ready to retire from involvement in county oversight just yet. The Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business (COLAB), a county watchdog group, is set to announce this Thursday it has hired Brown as its government affairs director, starting January 1, 2011.

Brown, who spent 14 years in the county’s top bureaucratic spot before taking a retirement incentive from the Board of Supervisors and stepping down on December 31, has often been pinned as being closely aligned with conservative COLAB Executive Director Andy Caldwell and COLAB when it came to policy issues, despite Brown working at the behest of the Board of Supervisors. Caldwell has long been an agitator in front of the supervisors, trying to hold them accountable for their decisions.

COLAB’s Santa Barbara branch is celebrating its 20th year, while San Luis Obispo’s COLAB has been going for about a year-and-a-half and the one in Ventura County since July 2010. The organization is making a push at a more regional approach to tackling issues on a county and state level, such as the Regional Water Control Board, Caldwell said. Brown will work primarily in San Luis Obispo and will be overseen by COLAB’s San Luis Obispo branch board of directors. Caldwell approached Brown after word got out the CEO was retiring, and Brown said he would consider it, Caldwell said. Last month, the COLAB board decided to offer Brown the position, and he accepted.

The two also plan on doing some white papers on how to improve county efficiencies and will start comparing county functions in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. “The good, the bad, and the ugly,” Caldwell said.

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