Merced County CEO Accused of Abusing Power

November 18, 2008 8:57:24 PM PST
One law enforcement union claims Dee Tatum tried to secretly give his wife a pay raise ... a claim Tatum and the county firmly deny.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 |   DOWNLOAD CEO DEE TATUM'S STATEMENT   |
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Jeffrey Miller/MERCED COUNTY SHERIFF EMPLOYEE'S ASSOC.: "Mr. Tatum owes the citizens he serves an apology, more than that, he owes us all his resignation."

The Merced County Sheriff Employee's Association pulled no punches while demanding County C.E.O. Dee Tatum resign.

Miller: "I'm gonna say it. He's arrogant. He's very arrogant. People are losing their jobs, their homes, their way of life and this guy's is trying to give his wife 11 thousand dollars of tax payer money. That's arrogant. You just have to say it."

Tatum's wife currently earns more than 100 thousand dollars as the Administrative Operations Manager for the county's mental health department. But the union believes Tatum tried to secretly raise her salary by 10 percent ... a claim that has frustrated other county employees who confronted Tatum Tuesday morning.

Anita Richards/MERCED CO. EMPLOYEE: "I'm just here to tell you that you really disappointed me."

The county says the pay raise was recommended by the new interim director of the mental health department, not by Tatum's office. But specifics about the salary increase were not included when the board voted to approve the raise.

Kathleen Crookham/MERCED CO. SUPERVISOR: "None of us received that information."

Tatum did not want to speak on camera, but released a statement that says, "I did not come up with the idea for nor was I involved in the planning of the differential pay raise for the mental health administrative operations manager." And county spokesperson Katie Albertson says details about the raise were left off the agenda by mistake.

Katie Albertson/MERCED CO. SPOKESPERSON: "There was communication breakdowns, both inter-department and intra-department communications. So that's certainly an issue we're looking to improve in future agendas."

Alberston says because the board never saw the pay raise resolution, their vote to approve it did not count. The proposal has now been dropped, but some say that's not enough.

Miller: "This was a deliberate act, it was not an accident. And if he wants to prove us wrong, go before the grand jury, under oath and tell his story."

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