Christopher on way out

The embattled director of the Butte County Department of Development Services, Yvonne Christopher, will be stepping down from her $108,722-a-year post to become an instructor at Butte College beginning Aug. 1.

An official in the college’s Human Resources Department has confirmed Christopher’s hiring, and employees in Development Services say she has announced the change to them. The assistant director of the county’s Human Resources Department, Jean Davis, also confirmed that Christopher was leaving.

Christopher did not return the CN&R’s phone message. Last week her boss, Chief Administrative Officer Paul McIntosh, said she had not yet officially tendered her resignation. Asked if he knew whether she was planning to quit, he replied, “No comment.”

Christopher’s upcoming exit also means that the job of building official, the title given to the manager of the Building Division (the department’s other division is planning), will need to be filled, as she’s been wearing both hats for some time. The deadline for in-house applications was May 16. The applicants will be vetted first by county Human Resources, after which Christopher will choose her successor as building official.

The search for Christopher’s replacement as director has not yet begun, said Davis. Most likely it will be outsourced to a professional “headhunter” outfit. The county is also currently looking to fill a newly created position in the department, assistant director, and has commissioned Cooperative Personnel Services, of Roseville, to do the search.

As the CN&R reported Feb. 2 (see “Bottlenecks and backbiting,” Newslines), Christopher has been under fire lately, with critics charging that she has forced out experienced plan checkers and planners in an effort to “clean house” that made the department even less efficient at processing development applications than before. As a result of the understaffing, the county has been forced to outsource plan checking to private engineering firms.

Christopher’s defenders disagree, saying she’s improved the process in numerous respects and is sincerely trying to make it better.

Several sources inside and outside the department report that the Grand Jury has been carefully scrutinizing Christopher’s handling of the department, and her method of “cleaning house” took a hit recently, when the county was forced to pay fired Senior Planner Craig Sanders $100,000 in a settlement of his grievance filing.

Butte College has hired Christopher to teach construction inspection services on a full-time basis. The salary range is $39,000-$60,000.