Chuck Ecker confesses political inexperience, and thus it is no accident that his administration has been plagued by questions about the executive's ability to handle the tricky political curveballs thrown by those with vested interests in county policy.
Predictably, Ecker stumbled in the beginning -- first, by recommending developer John Mardall as his chief administrative officer, though Mardall's contracts with the county created the perception of a conflict of interest. And second, by appointing a close friend of Michael Davis, an Ecker campaign adviser, as personnel administrator, although her credentials remain in question.
Now come reports that Davis -- who was also co-chair of Ecker's transition team and currently heads a public panel drafting an adequate facilities ordinance -- was a registered lobbyist for a private concern, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and that he wrote to Ecker asking him to discuss alternatives to the amusement tax increase. Moreover, Ecker made special provisions for Merriweather when he proposed the tax hike in his budget. Under Ecker's plan, the increase will be effective for other entertainment concerns in July. But Merriweather will be exempt until Oct. 1 -- saving the promoter about $150,000.