As we reported earlier this week, Department of Personnel Administration Director Ron Yank is leaving his post at the end of this month. The news -- which he spread himself in a series of personal calls and emails -- surprised labor leaders and state managers.
Late last month I asked Yank how he was enjoying his job as California's labor relations point man. "I love it," he said, and told me that he had no plans to leave.
I asked him that question nearly every time that we spoke over the last year. Yank didn't need the money, having retired from a long and successful career in labor law representing the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and other unions.
And I always wondered whether Yank, a marathon runner who admits to flashes of temper and salty language when it gets his point across, was suited to head a bureaucracy.
The DPA director sits at what can be an uncomfortable intersection between politics, law and finance. The job requires offering carrots and sticks to other department heads and labor leaders and walking a narrow path between the administrative independence that gives the office power while still executing the governor's agenda.
Ron Yank never struck me as a guy who was keen on asking for permission. His exit illustrated that fact. Instead of waiting for the governor's office to announce his departure and name a successor, he broke with protocol, picked up the phone and started calling union leaders to tell them he was leaving at the end of the month. The news quickly spread.
On Wednesday, Yank said that despite all of his assurances to the contrary, he took the post with the understanding he would leave after one year. That was all the time he was willing to take away from his family in the Bay Area, he said.
He didn't want to make that known for fear of hobbling his effectiveness. "If I'd been a lame duck, we couldn't have accomplished half the things we accomplished," he said as we drank coffee at a restaurant near DPA's offices on S Street.
What follows is an email to DPA staff with the subject line, "Why is Ron leaving his job after only one year?" Yank issued it a few hours after news of his exit surfaced on Tuesday. We're publishing it here after confirming its authenticity with DPA.
As of this morning, the Brown administration still hasn't issued an official statement about Yank's departure or named a successor.