Lake County Fires Its Health Services Director

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has fired Health Services Director Jonathan Portney after a rocky tenure that lasted less than two years. Portney’s termination followed a closed session meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 2. The vote was unanimous. 

“We are grateful to Mr. Portney for his service to county residents since January of 2022, and wish him great success in the next phase of his career,” Board Chair Jessica Pyska said in a statement. “No further comment will be provided, as Mr. Portney’s separation from county employment is a confidential personnel matter.”

Shortly after his hiring in December 2021, Portney began clashing with the county’s sheriff over the jail medical services program. He was later criticized by Northshore Fire Chief Mike Ciancio and Lakeport Fire Chief Patrick Reitz for a news release that suggested their departments were not responding to emergency calls. Nine of Portney’s employees had also submitted a letter to supervisors expressing no confidence in his leadership. According to Lake County News, Portney also took the unusual step of emailing reporters to request that negative articles about him be removed — a request that the publication rejected. Removal of the articles, he said, would be in the “best interest of my emotional and mental wellbeing.”

County Administrative Officer Susan Parker is serving as the interim health services director until supervisors find a permanent replacement.