roadbikeRob saidIt is up to the people of Sonoma County to vote these incumbent officials out of office. Even though the county has settled out of court, this still costs the taxpayers a large bundle of money. These county officials need to realize that nobodys civil rights can be abridged in any matter.
Many governments carry insurance against such judgments, meaning that taxpayers may not bear the full cost of this, perhaps a premium increase. Which the county can cover by letting some workers go, deferring equipment purchases and other savings. And I'm not sure if any elected officials were directly involved, just county employees, and to what extent County Commissioners have control over the operating departments, and hiring & firing decisions.
An out-of-court settlement typically excludes any admission of guilt, and an agreement not to bring any further prosecution. Although the Federal government would not be bound by that, assuming they had no active role in this settlement, they often will not bring a case if they think there has been an adequate resolution among the parties.
It would be interesting to see what happens to the county workers who acted like pirates in this. The article seems to indicate that the county to date has made the usual lame response when staff gets caught screwing up: say that everybody is getting additional training, and rewrite a few pages in the policy manuals. Then return to business as usual.