Two days after Shirlee Zane publicly excoriated Efren Carrillo and called for his resignation, the two Sonoma County supervisors sat across from each other Thursday at Santa Rosa City Hall, barely making eye contact.
At Tuesday's standing-room-only Board of Supervisors meeting, Zane told Carrillo he had "disqualified" himself from leadership because of his recent legal troubles and "ongoing disrespect and disregard for women."
Yet on Thursday, Zane and Carrillo sat an arm's length from each other in the Santa Rosa mayor's conference room for a meeting on the potential city annexation of county-governed Roseland. One of the few times they acknowledged each other was when they inadvertently started speaking at the same time.
"Go ahead," Carrillo said to Zane.
Thursday's meeting highlighted the unprecedented challenge the county's five supervisors face to conduct the public's business in a toxic atmosphere following Carrillo's trial on charges of peeking into the apartment of a female neighbor 10months ago.
Carrillo was acquitted April 28 on attempted peeking charges by a Sonoma County jury. In his testimony, he attributed his behavior to a mix of arrogance, alcoholism and his desire to have sex with a neighbor he barely knew.
His sharpest critics say he's unfit for elected office, and in lieu of his resignation are clamoring for the board to limit his role, including Carrillo's high-profile appointment to Sonoma Clean Power, the county's new public electricity supplier.
"This is one of the worst situations our county has faced in a long time, because it really is potentially disruptive to Efren, and the district, and the whole process of conducting business," said Cloverdale Mayor Carol Russell, one of several local officials who called on Carrillo to resign after the trial. "It puts a tremendous strain not only on supervisors, but on staff members as well."
Carrillo has steadfastly maintained he has no plans to give up his post.
"I was elected by the voters of the 5th District," he said. "Until they tell me otherwise, I'm not resigning."
His four colleagues on the board, who on Tuesday laid bare their anger while unanimously urging him to resign, now express a mixture of reservations and hope that they'll be able to work as a group to manage county government and meet constituents' needs.
"I think this board has five professional people who know their duties and want to perform their duties," Supervisor David Rabbitt, the board's chairman, said Wednesday. "There's issues of rebuilding trust and respect, but I'm sure everyone is willing to roll up their sleeves and get back to work."
Zane, who was the first fellow supervisor to call on Carrillo to resign and leveled a forceful argument Tuesday against his continued service, said board members will be "respectful and professional."
"But it will be very difficult at times," she said.
Zane said at Tuesday's board meeting that she had heard stories from "many other women" who felt "objectified" by Carrillo, and that she personally had witnessed such treatment. Asked for specifics Wednesday, Zane declined, saying, "It means a lot of things."
Carrillo declined to comment on Zane's assertions, saying he did not want to "get into the back-and-forth banter" with her. He said he has to "earn forgiveness from her and forgiveness from my constituents."
How Carrillo conducts his official business may largely be up to him. Legally, there is nothing to prevent Carrillo from going to any county facility, or attending any function related to his work as an elected member of the board, according to County Counsel Bruce Goldstein.
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