Now that the dust has settled following the trial of Supervisor Ray Nutting, many readers are wondering what cost to county taxpayers was spent on this losing endeavor? Losing you ask? Wasn’t Supervisor Nutting found guilty of something?
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Let’s see. District Attorney Vern Pierson charged Supervisor Nutting with four felonies and at the end of the day he lost on three of those counts. The jury was hung 7-5 on the fourth. That only confirms the jury didn’t have enough solid evidence to connect the dots.
For those following the play-by-play here in this newspaper, it was obvious the DA’s case against Nutting was weak. If not for Nutting’s ill-fated attempt to meet bail, the DA would have been left holding an empty bag.
In hindsight, had Supervisor Nutting opted to spend the night in jail instead of scrambling for bail, more of his constituents would be hailing him a local folk hero. And the county wouldn’t be spending a hundred grand to fill his seat on the board.
Remember, the misdemeanors he was convicted of occurred after his arrest. And yes, he’s smart enough to know the rules about asking/receiving money from staff and vendors doing business with the county. Ahh … if not for this strange twist of fate.
And fate it seems will now see voters in District 2 choosing between six candidates to occupy his vacant seat. Jennifer Nutting, Ray’s wife and staunch supporter during his trial, is one of the six. Her entry in this special election has many county residents shaking their heads. Is this an act of vengeance against those targeting her husband? Could she possibly win this election and become a force to be reckoned with, with her husband counseling behind the scenes? Stay tuned …
The damage to Ray Nutting is done. The DA’s Office accomplished what they intended. It offered him a plea deal early on seeking his resignation from the board — an offer that included dropping all the felony charges and pleading guilty to the misdemeanors. He declined. Smelling a witch hunt he preferred to face his accusers and salvage his dignity.
He lost his case but remains determined to seek vindication through the courts. And who knows, if he should win an appeal, could he reclaim his seat on the board?
Of course other questions were raised during the trial. Like who was exchanging information between the DA’s Office and the Board of Supervisors during the preliminary investigation? Or, why the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0, including Nutting, to review how Proposition 40 grants were received and dispersed by the county dating back four years? What a coincidence in timing.
This behind the scenes power struggle between the good old boys, and well, the good old boys here in El Dorado County rages on. If it wasn’t so contentious and downright dirty, this feud between the Hatfields and McCoys would be much more entertaining. Apparently the taxpayers enjoy a good fight, especially one I suspect they’re paying dearly to watch.
And if by chance Jennifer Nutting wins this popularity contest in September to recapture the seat snatched away from her husband, the county might find one way to save a couple of bucks. Print her last name only on the nameplate located at the front of the Board of Supervisors’ rostrum. It could then be reused by her and her husband. Whether he wins an appeal or not.
Richard Esposito is publisher of the Mountain Democrat.