Romero won't seek reappointment to transportation commission, cites new county policy on background checks<BR>

Golden Valley resident John Romero, a member of the Mohave County Transportation Commission for four years, said he is not seeking another term because of a county policy on background checks that now applies to volunteers.

Romero, a retired union plumber who is married to a county employee, said he is not seeking another term because of the intrusive nature of a release authorization form that required his signature.

The form used to apply only to job applicants.

His term expired with the July 8 meeting of the commission, which advises the county supervisors on what roads should be declared maintained county highways.

The release form states that appointees to county boards and commissions understand that a consumer report or "investigative" consumer report may be requested and will include information "as to my character, work habits, performance, and experience, along with reasons for termination of past employment.

"I understand that as directed by County policy and consistent with the position described, you may be requesting information from public and private sources about my workers' compensation injuries, driving record, court record, education, credentials, credit, and references," the form continues.

"If company policy requires, I am willing to submit to drug testing to detect the use of illegal drugs prior to and during appointment," the form states.

Romero said "it went a little too far," adding, "It just gets too much into your personal life."

County human resources director Geoff Riches said the company doing the background checks only tries to determine whether an applicant has been convicted of a crime.

Riches said the company, Automatic Data Processing of Roseland, N.J., insisted on the other language because it is part of a standard form.

ADP officials could not be reached for comment.

"We are only looking for criminal background (information)," Riches said.

"And that has been explained and explained and explained.

I don't know why there has been a lack of understanding."

Riches said he has talked to department heads about the new policy, not to Romero.

Romero asked, "Why even put it on the application if they won't need it?"

Romero said he sent a letter about three weeks ago to District 3 County Supervisor Buster Johnson, who appointed him, explaining his reasons for not seeking another term on the commission.

Johnson, who voted against revising the form policy, said the policy is making it even more difficult to recruit volunteers to serve on boards and commissions.

"People I talk to don't want the county to have access to their records," he said.

"I have had problems filling other vacancies.

I have approached people.

They don't want to be part of it.

They don't like the forms, they don't like the interview process and they don't like the possible public embarrassment."

Riches said he and County Manager Ron Walker determined that background checks should extend to appointees.

Over Johnson's objections, District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers and District 2 Supervisor Tom Sockwell approved the new policy March 17.

Three weeks later, Riches informed the Miner that the county hired ADP to conduct background checks on employees because ADP's system was a lot quicker than continuing to rely on fingerprinting.

Byers and Sockwell voted for the policy in response to a controversy over the appointment of Don Van Brunt, a convicted felon, as a precinct committeeman for the Mohave County Republican Central Committee.

The supervisors held up Van Brunt's appointment during their Feb.

3 meeting pending an investigation into Van Brunt's felony conviction for counterfeiting in 1982.

Deputy County Attorney Charlotte Wells sent a memo to the supervisors saying that Van Brunt's conviction did not bar him from serving as a precinct committeeman because, she assumed, he only had one conviction.

Sockwell said no one seeking appointment or reappointment to a county panel has complained about the new policy.

"I have no idea (why)," he said.

"I guess they accept the fact that we need to do this before we appoint people to commissions," he said.

"At this time, no one has said a word."