‘Intimidation and manipulation’: Sacramento County health officer echoes allegations against county executive

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Another Sacramento County Public Health employee is speaking out about what she says is aggressive and abusive behavior toward women, specifically Black women, by county Executive Navdeep Gill.

As the stakes for public health have gotten even higher with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, Sacramento County employees say that needed spending is being delayed and a bad environment allegedly created by Gill has degraded even further with racist and sexist behavior.

“Personally, to me, he just slandered me in the meetings, which was totally unprofessional. If there was a problem with me going to the union and there was a problem with me going to the board, then that should have been addressed with my supervisors, as well as with me,” said Pamela Harris, Sacramento County director of nursing and Department of Health Services division manager. “But instead, he chose in an unprofessional way to bring these issues that he had to his executive team, which was totally inappropriate. If any of us as managers had done that, we would have been reprimanded for that.”

Harris is one of the people who signed onto the letter calling for Gill’s resignation or removal that was emailed to the board late Monday.

In addition to being attacked herself, she claimed she’s witnessed Gill screaming at the county’s Black, female public health officer, Dr. Olivia Kasirye.

In writing, Dr. Kasirye told FOX40 the following.

Nav Gill made it clear to me from the beginning of this pandemic that he was not pleased with my request to declare a Health Emergency. From then on, through intimidation and manipulation, he created blocks at every step in issuing Health Officer Orders. He withheld resources despite our multiple requests for funding, and sought to silence me and alienate me. All this caused me a lot of anxiety, and were it not for support from the Public Health staff and County Counsel, I would not have been able to do my job. I was also disturbed to find out that there had been discussions of getting rid of me, even though I had not done anything worth being terminated for. After the Board meetings in August, several former staff members contacted me and related similar treatment that had forced them to leave the County service. I am coming forward now because I have seen the impact of his leadership on not just me, but our ability to provide services to our community in the middle of a crisis.

Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Sacramento County Public Health Officer

Gill refused to go on camera Tuesday, instead opting to send FOX40 the following statement.

Statement by Sacramento County Executive Navdeep Gill sent to FOX40 Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020.

“When you’re taking resources away from this community because you’re angry with the people at the head, that’s unacceptable behavior,” Harris said. “People suffer when he does not give us the things that we need. They suffer.”

FOX40 heard back about all this from supervisors Phil Serna and Patrick Kennedy Tuesday night, who said Gill’s alleged pattern of behavior continues to be very troubling and they stand by their earlier calls for him to resign.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Sue Frost said via a statement, “Claims of racism and sexism are big allegations that I take very seriously. However, I have not seen any evidence of such claims, and cannot legally publicly comment on specifics of personnel matters.”

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