Monday, September 27, 2010

CONVICTION POLITICIANS Take Public Stands

ABSTRACT: Selected excerpts from a letter to the editor by former Mayor Ken White is juxtaposed against an “Update” from City Councilman Jason Burnett regarding City Administrator Rich Guillen and the City Council. A Comment is made about conviction politicians.

In the 10 September 2010 edition of The Carmel Pine Cone, former Mayor Ken White wrote, in part, as follows:

“As a former mayor and after 52 years in Carmel, I’ve never witnessed a scandal grip our community like the one created by Carmel City Administrator Rich Guillen’s misbehavior. His unacceptable conduct, in violation of our city’s harassment policy and Code of Ethics, caused the city to settle five separate claims totaling in excess of $1.1 million.”

“...the scandal now shifts to the shoulders of some indecisive city council members who cannot come to grips with right from wrong behavior...Rich Guillen has lost our trust and all credibility...The community cannot move forward until council members directly and decisively withdraw support of Guillen so he may announce his retirement.”

“...Have Carmel residents, complacent in comfortable lives, become so immune to misbehavior at city hall they will tolerate even the most egregious in our midst? For the good of our community, I urge everyone to request swift action of the city council to ensure that Guillen goes — one way or another.”


(Source: Guillen must go, Ken White, Carmel, The Carmel Pine Cone, September 10, 2010, 20A)

After the last closed session at City Hall on Thursday, September 23, City Councilman Jason Burnett wrote, in part, as follows:

“UPDATE: ...Some have asked why I have not yet said publicly what I think should happen. My best judgment tells me to wait so I don't jeopardize progress being made. I will take the opportunity to share my thoughts at the appropriate time. Right now, I am focused on getting the best outcome for Carmel even if it takes longer than any of us want.”

(Source: City Administrator review, Jason Burnett, Carmel-by-the-Sea COMMUNITY CONVERSATION)

COMMENT:
Conviction politicians take public stands; self-serving, politically correct politicians rationalize why they cannot take public stands. Moreover, by voicing strong opinions based on convictions, conviction politicians promote discussion of issues, such as sexual harassment, employment discrimination, retaliation, thereby involving all citizens in a robust, healthy debate, and most importantly, making an outcome an extension of the will of the people, not solely a decision of representatives meeting in secret closed sessions.

12 comments:

CV said...

People forget how this process started. When the city announced settlement of Miller's lawsuit, Jason Burnett immediately called for setting a closed session meeting (as required by law on personnel matters) to discuss Rich Guillen's performance.

Burnett pressured the Mayor who finally responded with an August 24th date. Surprisingly, one meeting has led to three, without resolution. Strong disagreement must exist and/or a power struggle is going on.

If not for Burnett, the city wouldn't be having ANY discussion about getting rid of Guillen. Mayor McCloud and Vice-Mayor Hazdovac would be "business as usual" as they continue to ignore problems caused by Guillen.

Burnett is taking the right approach at this time. He is only one vote on the council but has shouldered the lion's share of responsibility to convince other council members of the need to address Guillen's performance.

Many are unaware that at the Council's last closed session, Guillen was leaving on a three-week vacation. Councilman Talmage is also gone now and will miss the October 5 council meeting. Another closed session meeting on Guillen will be held, but "when" is the question.

Guillen may have to be present for some announcement. His contract provides that should the council decide to fire him, he then has the right to resign instead. Guillen turns 60 in October and has talked of retiring.

I will put my money on Jason Burnett that he will speak out as soon as reasonable. (Best laid plans could go haywire if not careful.) If an impasse continues or when Guillen goes, we will likely hear from Burnett. Other council members are likely to stay quiet and have no public opinions.

Town talk is that two councilmen lean towards Guillen's removal. Where do the three councilwomen stand? In the next few weeks, it is important to continue pressure on this council to act and in doing so the public can show support for Burnett's actions to get this resolved.

Anonymous said...

Good for former Mayor Ken White for having the conviction to speak out in letters to all three local newspapers. Notice how he said "some indecisive council members"?

Having been an honorary co-chair of Jason Burnett's campaign, White probably has a sense of where Burnett stands on the subject of Rich Guillen's behavior.

The scandal gripping this community started when Mayor McCloud was elected and then hired Guillen (without any community involvement or a search for the best qualified candidate).

Let's hope that if Guillen goes, they do not put Heidi Burch in as acting administrator. She is part of the problem at City Hall and cannot make decisions on her own. Carmel needs someone from outside the city who will stand up to Mayor McCloud.

VillageinForest said...

“The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is good for them not to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”
The Ralph M. Brown Act, California Government Code § 54950.

We, the people, also do not give our public servants the right to decide when it is appropriate for them to inform us on where they stand on important issues, specifically issues involving harassment, discrimination and retaliation, and in this case, the future city employment of City Administrator Rich Guillen. Taking a public stand does not involve the betrayal of confidential closed session’s discussions or jeopardize “progress.”

That said, it is true that “If not for Burnett, the city wouldn't be having ANY discussion about getting rid of Guillen.” It is also true the Burnett is “only one vote on the council.” Perhaps, as stated by CV, we, the people, can assist Jason Burnett in shouldering “the lion’s share of responsibility to convince other council members of the need to address Guillen’s performance” by starting a recall petition for Mayor Sue McCloud, Council Members Paula Hazdovac, Karen Sharp and Ken Talmage since other methods have been unsuccessful in pressuring the City Council to take appropriate, swift and decisive action and instead has led to a protracted, uncertain outcome.

Anonymous said...

Burnett is not taking the right approach. What he's doing is being a true politician and not taking any position on things publicly. This is in complete contradiction to his pledge of transparency during his campaign. Burnett is proving to be very ineffective -- just look at the results -- he has not accomplished anything in nearly 6 months in office! Zero results! Zero statements to the press! Zero responses to public inquiries on where he stands on Guillen. Such a disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Many of us are frustrated by the council's seemingly endless behind closed doors meetings on Rich Guillen's performance evaluation without any resolution in sight. We are frustrated Jason's public acts are no different than the other 4 council members. The longer this drags on without definite resolution, more and more Carmel residents will lose confidence in the entire council and their ability to do the simpliest things.

Anonymous said...

Because Ken White was Jason's campaign co-chair, because Ken White took the time to pen a letter to the editor calling on council members to withdraw support from Rich Guillen for the good of the community, because Ken White's elected office experience dwarfs Jason's, because of all these things, Jason should respectfully take the former mayors's advice and publicly declare his advocacy for the departure of Rich Guillen. If Jason continues on his current path, before long he may wake up one day and find his Carmel reputation tarnished and not much better than his PG reputation of being a great talker, but not so great following up his rhetoric with communsurate deeds.

Anonymous said...

What we have in town is someone who lost in the last election going around talking about transparency and taking cheap shots at Burnett as if that individual has already begun to run for the next election. Sounds like this is more of the same.

And it says more about the loser than the winner. Everyone these days wants instant gratification.

Six months on the job and Burnett has achieved more than most in his position. He has brought back town hall meeting discussions. He got the elections process on the agenda. He got the council to set closed session discussion on Guillen. Unfortunately the Mayor has blocked everything else of substance and importance that Burnett had properly requested be publicly discussed.

Burnett has fed more to the press that meets your eyes. Or you may just be reading the wrong newspaper. You won't find much in the Pine Cone about the scandal.

Keep the pressure up on the rest of the council members. You are beating the wrong horse if you think bashing Burnett is going to get Rich Guillen out of town.

MG said...

While Jason Burnett is silent over the Rich Guillen scandal, the mayor is proactively orchestrating a damage control, PR campaign to keep her man with a little help from Paul Miller (2010 Golden Pine Cone to Carmel City Hall for Best Place to Work) to the current city staff (half page ad with color photos, proud to be voted best place to work and ‘Oppressive and demoralizing?’ letter from Carmel City Hall employees 10/01/2010) to her favorite and called upon letters to the editor writers (Pine Cone and Herald, most recently Steven Hillyard). I get the sickening feeling Sue McCloud has Jason Burnett just where she wants him voicing no public opposition to her agenda of keeping Guillen. Oh, and did you notice that nice Pine Cone article lauding Jason’s Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History's new exhibit “Glow: Living Lights,”? Quid pro quo? Needless to say, this is not the kind of progress I had in mind when I voted for a new presence on the council.

Fire Rich said...

This is worthwhile reading material for anyone frustrated by the silence from the City Council on the Guillen scandal: http://www.westerncity.com/Western-City/October-2010/Closed-Session-Leaks-Discretion-Is-The-Better-Part-of-Valor-mdash-and-Ethics/

Unfortunately, any member of the Council's current take on Guillen's future employment with the City has been informed by information provided in closed session meetings-which means that it must remain confidential.

Also, a quick review of the City's check register last month shows that another $23k was paid to the City's employment attorney over the past two months-which suggests that some type of agreement is being hashed out.

Best guess at this point is that Guillen will resign; the other unresolved issues (which have been blocked from discussion at the Council meetings by the Mayor: Flanders, CalPERS, etc.) will not go away. We need continued public involvement on ALL matters that concern the future of Carmel, not just the one that makes headlines in the the local news.

VillageinForest said...

RE: Also, a quick review of the City's check register last month shows that another $23k was paid to the City's employment attorney over the past two months-which suggests that some type of agreement is being hashed out.

City Checks to Liebert Cassidy Whitmore:
$3,184.00 (Sept 2010)
$896.00 (Aug. 2010)

City Checks to Kennedy, Archer & Harray:
$6,358.00 General Legal Services (Sept 2010) & $2,045.00 Personnel (Sept 2010)

$251.50 (Aug 2010 General legal services) & $493.50 (Aug 2010 Legal services personnel)

Please advise checks totaling $23,000?

Fire Rich said...

Checks to Kennedy, Archer, Harray totaled nearly $23k for August and September. However since no payment to this firm appears on the July check register it is possible that some of this money went toward the resolution of the Miller lawsuit.

VillageinForest said...

For the months of August 2010 & September 2010, checks totaled $4,080.00 to the City’s primary labor law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore and checks totaled $2,538.50 (personnel matters) to Kennedy, Archer & Harray. Of the total $22,706.47, $6,618.50 consisted of LCW and KAH (personnel matters). All other check amounts totaled $16,087.97 which consisted of checks for General legal services, Flanders Foundation v. City of Carmel and Mandurrago v. City of Carmel.