Supes reaffirm Parilo firing

Denying it violated state open-meetings laws, the Butte County Board of Supervisors reaffirmed its closed-session firing of Development Services Director Tom Parilo in an open session April 10.

It was a strangely quiet vote, given all the noise Parilo’s sudden firing—on March 13—stirred up. The supervisors didn’t discuss it among themselves prior to voting, other than to listen to County Counsel Bruce Alpert’s reasoning on why the vote was needed.

In fact, the whole issue, which has sparked several weeks’ worth of newspaper coverage and several editorials, took the supervisors less than five minutes to finish.

Lawyers for the Chico Enterprise-Record had alleged that the board broke open-meetings laws when it didn’t release the news of Parilo’s firing—done in closed session—immediately after coming out of the meeting. The Brown Act, the newspaper’s lawyers claimed, requires that the results of closed-session actions be released right away.

The county didn’t release the news of Parilo’s firing until two days after it happened.

Alpert said that the board’s April 10 vote was needed to “set the facts straight” about the case. He denied that the board had broken the law and said he’d consulted with several other lawyers—including a Brown Act expert from the state Attorney General’s Office—about it. All of them, Alpert said, agreed that the county was justified in holding back the information while it settled the personnel issues surrounding the firing.

In the end, a narrow majority of the board agreed with them. Supervisors Bob Beeler, Curt Josiassen and Kim Yamaguchi—all of whom voted to fire Parilo in the first place—voted to reaffirm the earlier action, and Supervisors Jane Dolan and Mary Ann Houx—who initially voted against firing Parilo—voted against it.