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Public guardian to retire

Lucille Lyon plans to leave the post after three years.

March 13, 2014|By Jill Cowan

After moves that folded many of her duties into other departments, Orange County's public guardian and assistant public administrator, Lucille Lyon, will retire after almost three years in that post, a news release said.

"We're very thankful for Lucille's willingness to help Orange County during a troubled time, and we wish her all the best in retirement," Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson said in a statement.

Lyon — who managed estates of residents who died without heirs in her role as assistant public administrator and oversaw the county's conservatorship program as public guardian — joined Orange County in July 2011 as a scandal involving the previous public administrator and public guardian, John Williams, neared its conclusion.

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Her career in the mental health field spanned almost four decades. Previously, she served in Los Angeles and Riverside counties' offices of the public guardian.

Williams was pushed out of the job in the wake of blistering reports of "egregious" financial mismanagement in the office, among other allegations.

Because the public guardian is an appointed position whose duties make up the bulk of the previously combined job, the Board of Supervisors was able to strip Williams of that title, which allowed Lyon to take it on.

Voters chose to keep public administrator an elected position. Therefore, it wasn't until Williams agreed to retire in January 2012 that the post was vacated. When he tried to renege on that agreement, he was literally locked out of the county office.

Because the public administrator must be elected, the job had been vacant until earlier this year, when the board voted to combine the public administrator title with the district attorney's.

In January, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas, who is up for reelection in June, accepted the added responsibility and an additional $32,406 to his salary.

On Tuesday, the board appointed Adult Mental Health Services manager Kevin Smith as interim public guardian, folding the department into the county's health care agency.

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