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New Clerk Already on the Clock

Times Staff Writer

Former Anaheim Mayor Tom Daly took office three weeks early, becoming the county’s clerk-recorder last week through special appointment by the Board of Supervisors.

Daly, whom voters elected to the post in November, will be sworn in Jan. 6. But supervisors voted 3 to 1 Tuesday to appoint Daly interim clerk-recorder until he officially takes office.

The department handles vital county documents, including birth certificates, marriage licenses and records of property transactions.

The position was held by Gary L. Granville until he died in February. Clerk of the Board Darlene Bloom had been doing both jobs ever since.

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Daly said a number of factors drove his desire to take office early. They include an annual year-end rush of property transactions, proposed state legislation that could change how the county uses electronic systems and effects of the state budget deficit.

“I’m anxious to begin making decisions,” he said. “It’s a small part of county government, but to the real estate industry and people who use the department, it’s very important.”

Daly said he hopes to build upon Granville’s accomplishments.

“I want to honor the standards set by Mr. Granville in terms of customer service and efficiency and innovation,” he said.

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“I knew Gary before he was elected and I heard him talk about changes he wanted to make. And, by golly, he made them. He was very committed, very focused. There’s no question that he made a difference.”

One major change that Granville pushed through was the merger of the clerk’s department and the recorder’s office in 1995. Other California counties go further by combining their registrars of voters and assessors with the clerk-recorder’s office.

Daly said he too would “be mindful of potential cost savings and efficiencies that might come about via consolidations.”

The most obvious target for merger would be the beleaguered county registrar’s office, which failed to tally nearly 8,000 absentee ballots in the last election, delaying the certification of results. The registrar has been embarrassed by a series of errors in recent years, including incorrect sample ballots, mislabeled candidates and political parties, improper Vietnamese translation, missing fiscal analyses in voter pamphlets and precincts running out of Spanish ballots on election day.

Daly said he will have to study the offices more before deciding whether he favors a merger.

Daly won his early appointment from a divided board.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Cynthia P. Coad, in her last meeting before her term ended, voted against the appointment. She called the move a “sweetheart deal that flaunts public policy” by allowing Daly to take office early and collect three additional weeks of pay and a month of health insurance.

“This unnecessary action is tantamount to a gift of public funds,” she said. “The fact that the clerk-recorder-elect would even consider accepting such a gift does not bode well for the future management of the department.”

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Supervisors Tom Wilson and Jim Silva said they saw no problem in allowing an elected official to fill a vacant position, and Supervisor Chuck Smith added that he wanted to give Bloom a respite in time for the holidays.


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