Chandra Wallar, Santa Barbara County CEO

Paul Wellman

Chandra Wallar, Santa Barbara County CEO

Supervisors Decide to Not Renew CEO Wallar’s Contract

Secret Negotiations for Orange County Job Ruffled Many a Feather

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
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Santa Barbara County CEO Chandra Wallar will not come back to her post after her contract expires in October, the Board of Supervisors unanimously decided Tuesday. The brief announcement was made by County Counsel Dennis Marshall after a private, closed session hearing.

Wallar came under fire after news leaked out of Orange County in mid-February that she was pursuing the CEO job in that county. After a long, drawn-out public process, the two sides ultimately disagreed on compensation with Wallar declining the offer from the OC board for a salary of $254,000. The compensation package was a bump in pay compared to her Santa Barbara gig, where she makes $232,000, but below what similar agencies pay their CEOs. She was seeking $290,000 a year. The negotiations came after Wallar had asked the Santa Barbara board for a contract extension.

Wallar — who oversees a bureaucracy of 3,800 employees and a budget of $820 million — had been angling for the OC job without notifying her bosses here in Santa Barbara, a move that didn’t go over very well. The supervisors were caught off-guard and, for nearly a month as the situation with OC played out, department heads and managers were left wondering if their boss was leaving.

She didn’t, and Wallar told the board of supervisors it was “never an issue of wanting to leave SB but more of a desire to end my career in a larger and challenging organization.” Much of the consternation remained, however, and apparently the damage was done. When asked in a brief interview during a break in the board’s Tuesday meeting if she thought the way her negotiations unfolded with Orange County had anything to do with the board’s decision, Wallar said she would leave that answer up to boardmembers. Board Chair Salud Carbajal said it was a personnel matter, and he would let the announcement speak for itself.

Wallar, who knew the supervisors were discussing the issue behind closed doors, said she hadn’t had time to digest the decision. Wallar could elect not to serve out her contract, which allows for a 60-day notice period to quit. She said she hadn’t given the idea of quitting early a lot of thought, but that she “signed a contract to serve until the end of October, and that’s what I intend to do.”

After more than a decade with Michael Brown at the reins, supervisors had high hopes for Wallar. She came to Santa Barbara in 2010 after a long stint at San Diego County, where she was a deputy chief administrative officer, overseeing a staff of 1,550 and a budget in excess of $400 million.

During her time here, she has worked to revamp the budget process, pursued various avenues of increasing revenue for the county, and tried to find efficiencies in how the county government was run. But she’s endured year after year of budget deficits, and struggled to lead effectively, many say, micromanaging where she doesn’t need to.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

good going, supes, now hire from within for a lot have to cut anyway WHY NOT START AT THE TOP? Oh, and hack 10% from your salaries, too.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 11:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Since Wallar was hired as the SBC CEO her primary job was to find savings where ever possible, primarily from the workers. While cutting pay and benefits through the cooperation of employees, department heads were not able to hire replacement staff as numbers dropped to levels effecting service to the public. Leaving those department heads to take the public’s wrath.

Although having been with the county far less than the employees she took from apparently she didn’t think her compensation was enough. I don’t buy this whole “larger and challenging organization” stuff. If that was so then why not take the $254K instead of $290K? Wallar’s only dedication to service was that to her bank account.

Wallar would have no credibility to bargain with employee groups in the future, no trust from the BOS that she’ll be there, and showed the public just how greedy she really is. You know, like a corporate CEO. The BOS made the right decision.

Validated (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 12:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

See what greed got ya Chandra!! Nice hire BOS. You bear direct responsibility for this one. I hold no hope you'll do any better next time around.

Dr. Dan, this is the last group of people who would ever lead by example by cutting their own budgets.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 2:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Now if they could also get rid of the dead weight of the other two deputy CEO's and let the new administrator bring on their own team. Won't happen. Logic and this board majority aren't very well aquainted.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 2:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"After more than a decade with Michael Brown at the reins, supervisors had high hopes for Wallar."

The author took a nice swipe at Brown and got away with it. Good on him. Two thumbs up.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
April 12, 2013 at 1:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

-siiigh- Queen had the signature song, "Another One Bites The Dust," but literally it's pretty tasteless these days. This is much better, as performed by J. Andrew Caldwell's smarter brother: .

GregMohr (anonymous profile)
April 13, 2013 at 5:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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