A series of recent scandals have cast an unflattering light on local officials in Madera County: Both the county's auditor-controller and public guardian resigned after prosecutors began investigating them. Two other key county employees have come under scrutiny, and one faces possible criminal charges.
But leaders of this rural county of 150,000 aren't alarmed. They say coincidence, not a culture of corruption, is to blame.
"There are bad apples in every barrel," Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow said. "You pluck them out before it spoils the entire barrel."
Others see a more troubling pattern.
Dale Drozen, a retired firefighter and self-described county government watchdog, has been keeping track of county officials for the last three years. He watches most Board of Supervisors meetings and regularly e-mails a newsletter to a few hundred people that is often critical of the county's leaders.
At times, Drozen said, he has been tempted to seek a recall vote on all five county supervisors because of what he says is their inability to follow the law and their lack of leadership.
"If you want a dirty story, you can pretty much look anywhere and find it," he said.
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Madera County Awash in Scandals
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