Calaveras in a complicated relationship with the health officer

San Andreas, CA – In a complex move, the Calaveras Board of Supervisors has renewed the contract with its county health officer, but has also made it clear that they hope to replace him soon.

On this week’s agenda was the renewal of Dr. Rene Ramirez’s contract, effective July 1 through June 30, 2023. It must not exceed $ 166,400. The state requires the county to have a public health officer, and Dr. Ramirez, who is based in Fresno, has served in the role over the past year.

Before voting on the contract, supervisor Benjamin Stopper said he would like the county to find “someone who is a little more in touch with our constituents within our county and understands how business is handled here and how to handle business. people correctly “.

Supervisor Gary Tofanelli said he was also disappointed with Dr. Ramirez’s performance. Tofanelli said some comments were allegedly made by Dr. Ramirez, along with a “southern county health officer,” headed to the Mountain Valley EMS Agency. Tofanelli didn’t go into details, but said Mountain Valley EMS and himself have tried to contact Dr. Ramirez on multiple occasions. Tofanelli said, “I think for $ 166,000, when a council chairman from Mountain Valley EMS, which is the agency he was talking about, and the vice president of this council, call you, you would at least answer or give them a call back. I have neither of them. “

Supervisor Merita Callaway retorted by saying she had no problems with Dr. Ramirez and reminded the board that it was very difficult to find someone to fill the role after Dr. Dean Kelaita stepped down. She said there was no one in the three county area interested in the position at the time.

Supervisor Stopper said that when they recruited for the position earlier (following Dr. Kelaita), “things were very controversial” (in reference to the COVID restrictions) and it was a smart move to “politically” not accept it.

Stopper recommended contacting the local health leader, Dr. Randy Smart, to see if he would be willing to take the position. If he refuses, Stopper said the county could then apply for other candidates.

Supervisor Jack Garamendi expressed regret that the board was reviewing Dr. Ramirez’s contract just two weeks before its expiration. “We’ve been put in a box, and I don’t appreciate that,” he told county staff.

Cori Allen, Director of the Calaveras Agency for Health and Human Services, defended Dr. Ramirez and said he had faced “the greatest challenge we could have imagined” in the past year. She stated that she “fulfilled every element of the scope of the job” listed in her contract. She also stated that she tried to answer the call to which supervisor Tofanelli referred and that she probably received an incorrect voice message. She also stated that Dr. Ramirez was concerned about a possible violation of the Brown Act related to that incident, so she did not pursue conversations with Tofanelli beyond the initial attempt to recall him. He also said that Dr. Ramirez “is a health officer” and “not a politician,” to which supervisor Tofanelli interrupted him, “he should stay out of politics then. That’s my comment. And he didn’t. “.

The county solicitor confirmed that even if the county approves a one-year extension, both parties can end it with just 30 days’ notice.

Eventually, in a tricky move, the board voted to approve the new contract, but also asked two supervisors to contact Dr. Randy Smart to see if he might be interested in the position. If he is not interested, the board will then make a request for proposals for other potential interested persons who would like to fill the role. The final grade was 5-0.

Dr. Ramirez was not at the board meeting.

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