ABSTRACT: The PETITION TO TERMINATE THE CURRENT CITY ADMINISTRATOR is reproduced, followed by the circled phases in quotes from the Carmel Petition Flyer Response document and the CITY STAFF RESPONSES in blue text. COMMENTS are presented for each and every one of the nine PETITION points. Basically, City Staff responses to the PETITION TO TERMINATE THE CURRENT CITY ADMINISTRATOR are misleading because the responses do not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Carmel Petition Flyer Response document is embedded.
CITY STAFF RESPONSES
PETITION TO TERMINATE THE CURRENT CITY ADMINISTRATOR
1. The creation of policies reflecting a lack of transparency regarding disclosure of public information as demonstrated by:
a. The refusal to produce documents in a timely fashion and in the format prescribed by law. (Resulting in the community being identified as having the "most recalcitrant government officials in the State").
b. The hiring of lawyers outside the community, at great taxpayer expense, to handle requests for public information that have been handled by City staff for decades.
“a lack of transparency:” The PRA policy complies with legal requirements. A log of all information requests is on each city council agenda.
COMMENTS: The Carmel Pine Cone, attorney Neil Shapiro, Transparent California, Thomas Peele (Bay Area News Group) and members of the public have had public records delayed, redacted and denied, according to reporting in The Carmel Pine Cone, when Liebert Cassidy Whitmore and Stradling, Yocca Carlson Rauth were both advising the City on City Responses to public record act requests. To wit, the City Attorney and City Staff should be able to handle most public records act requests for the purpose of minimizing taxpayer dollar expenditures.
“refusal to produce documents in a timely fashion:” Staff routinely goes beyond the requirements of the PRA by organizing documents into the most usable format that is practical.
COMMENT: With both Liebert Cassidy Whitmore and Stradling, Yocca Carlson Rauth law firms, the City has not produced documents in a timely fashion, often abusing the additional 14-day legal extension period.
“that have been handled by City staff for decades:” The process was mismanaged in the past, with no oversight and no logging or tracking of requests.
COMMENT: The City has not produced any evidence proving past City mismanagement of public record act requests.
2. The terminations or resignations of the newly hired City Clerk and about a dozen City employees with hundreds of years of institutional and historical knowledge, most of whom have been replaced by out-of-town individuals who have no vested interest in the community, at suspiciously high salaries and benefits, two of whom commute weekly from their homes in Redondo Beach and Ventura.
“about a dozen City employees” and “whom commute weekly from their homes:” Of the five employees who were terminated and the two who resigned, none have been replaced by out-of-town individuals. All city employees reside locally during the work week.
COMMENT: City Employees on Paid Administrative Leave, Fired, Resigned & Dates of Leaves, Firings, Resignation
1. Linda Macdonald, Children’s Librarian (Fired, March 2013)
2. Molly Laughlin, Deputy City Clerk (Fired, March 2013)
3. Art Black and Tim Meroney (Suspended Inspections Agreement, April 2013)
4. John Hanson, Building Official (Paid Administrative Leave, June 2013; Fired August 2013)
5. Steve McInchak, IT Manager and Rose Franzen, Computer Tech (Paid Administrative Leaves, June 2013; Criminal investigation of McInchak “Closed.”
6. Heidi Burch, Assistant City Administrator/City Clerk (Resigned, October 2013)
7. Margi Perotti and Leslie Fenton, Administrative Coordinators, Community Planning & Building Department (Paid Administrative Leaves, October 2013; Fired April 2014)
1. Brian Pon, Sgt. Carmel Police Department (Fired January 2014)
8. Catherine Raynor, City Clerk (Hired June 2014; Terminated Employment, July 2014)
Twelve (12) Total City EmployeesAdministrative Services Director Susan Paul and Public Services Director Sharon Friedrichsen may reside locally during the work week, but they do not live locally on a permanent basis, according to reporting in The Carmel Pine Cone.
3. The deaccessioning of City art valued at more than a quarter million dollars and sold for $9,548.
“valued at more than a quarter million dollars and sold for $9,548:” This was an action directed by the previous council, and the replacement value of the art for insurance purposes is not the same as market value.
COMMENT: Semper pro Populus means "Always for the Public" -- the core message of both a fiduciary approach to public service and the concept underlying public service ethics laws. The law speaks in terms of a fiduciary using his or her "best efforts" on behalf of those served. Given that the City determined about a year prior to the decision to auction deaccessioned artworks that it would not be cost effective to have the artworks auctioned due to the value of the artworks and the cost of contracting with an auction house, “best efforts” translates into determining a venue to sell the deaccessioned artworks which would maximize the monetary amounts from the sale of the artworks to then be used to provide for “maintenance and preservation of the City’s art collection.” Accordingly, the City could have used other methods of selling the artworks which would have maximized the amounts to the City, such as consignment with local art galleries.
4. Actions that have resulted in a number of lawsuits and unasserted pending causes of action, which expose the community to significant financial loss and litigation expense.
“expose the community to significant financial loss and litigation expense:” The City is operating within budget norms for legal activities.
COMMENT: Currently, there are two civil Complaints against the City, namely, Steven Mclnchak, Petitioner/Plaintiff v. City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Jason Stilwell, City Administrator of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Susan Paul, Administrative Services Director of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Does 1 through 50, inclusive, Respondents/Defendants ), VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS (CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SECTION 1085) AND COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY JUDGMENT, BREACH OF CONTRACT, DEFAMATION AND INTENTIONAL AND NEGLIGENT INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS and JOHN HANSON, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA and DOES 1 through 100, Defendants, COMPLAINT. Ergo, the City is not operating within budget norms for legal activities due to the anticipated attorney costs associated with future settlements or jury verdicts and punitive damages, if any.
5. The spending of approximately $274,000 on computer experts (including a forensic expert) to support claims of employee misconduct without any identified wrongdoing, despite assurances from the Mayor that such reports would be forthcoming no later than January 2014.
“spending of approximately $274,000 on computer experts:” Includes system support, a long-neglected security assessment of the City’s computer system, and forensic investigation that is necessary for accountability.
COMMENT: The City has not produced any evidence to support the idea that a forensic examiner was required to complete services related to check payments for CONTRACTUAL SERVICES-IT NETWORK SERVICES or CONTRACTUAL SERVICES IT SECURITY, nor any evidence to support paying a forensic examiner was cost effective.
6. Violation of Municipal Code 3.12.530 re splitting of contracts to avoid the necessity of complying with the requirement that contract., in excess of $25,000 dollars, receive City Council approval, e.g. the Mark Alcock contracts.
“splitting of contracts:” Standard practice is for separate services to be provided under separate contracts.COMMENT: The City of Carmel-by-the-Sea Municipal Code, Chapter 3.12, PURCHASING SYSTEM, deals in part with Contracts. The intention of the code is that “No undertaking involving amounts in excess of $25,000 shall be split into parts to produce amounts of $25,000 or less for the purpose of avoiding the provisions and restrictions of this article.” Not only were the original contracts for less than $25,000, but Mark Alcock, Forensic Examiner, was paid additional sums beyond the amounts approved by the City Council. Moreover, contract splitting is “the practice of unnecessarily dividing an aggregate requirement into a number of smaller contracts, thereby avoiding controls on the duration of assignments or contract approval authorities,” and is “something to be avoided,” according to many contracting policies.
7. Failure to set priorities for the repair and reopening of the historic Forest Theater and the disposition of Flanders.
“Failure to set priorities for the repair and reopening of the historic Forest Theater:” The Building Official and Fire Marshal closed the theater because of significant safety concerns. The project remains a City Council Strategic Initiative for 2014.
COMMENT: Given that the Forest Theatre grounds are public parkland, the City need not padlock and chain the Forest Theatre gates thereby preventing access by neighbors and other members of the public until construction is commenced.
8. The City budget has paid out funds to 4 out-of-town law firms when we have a City Attorney. This does not adhere to the City's local hiring policy. The new fiscal year budget of $24,000,000 appears top-heavy as it includes an Executive Assistant for the Mayor and City Administrator (a first), and since April2012, an increase of 10 FTE's and projected for the new Fish /Cal year of about $500,000 for IT upgrades.
“This does not adhere to the City's local hiring policy:” Recent staffing levels have reestablished appropriate levels of oversight over the city operations following inappropriate management cuts in the past. The city operates within budget and has a surplus that has been placed in reserve.COMMENT: The city administrator, a former Budget Director, does not follow Government Finance Officers Association (GFAO) guidelines for reserves, namely Budgetary Uncertainty Reserve approximately 12.5 percent of general fund revenues and Emergency Reserve approximately 12.5 percent of general fund revenues. “Combining the components gives us a target of approximately 25 percent of general fund revenues, which is in line with the range of reserves actually maintained by other cities that are comparable to Colorado Springs. It is also greater than the 16 percent the GFOA considers a minimum baseline level.”
Note: Per GFAO Guidelines, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Total Reserves (Budgetary Uncertainty Reserve and Emergency Reserve) equal $6 million, not $11 million; $11 million represents 46% of general fund revenues.
9. The projected costs of $900,000 to build a new two stall restroom at the south end of Carmel Beach at Santa Lucia.
“costs of $900,000 to build a new two stall restroom:” The restroom has been a city goal for 25 years and the project went to bid and was awarded to the lowest responsive bidder.
COMMENT: After nearly three years as city administrator, the Scenic Road/Santa Lucia Av. restroom project is only now in the construction phase; completion date October 2014, arguably due to a lack of leadership and urgency of the part of the city administrator.
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