SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
DATE OF MEETING: April 7, 2005
TIME OF MEETING: 6:30 P.M.
The agenda for this meeting was posted pursuant to Resolution No. 28-1995
Councilmembers Present: Andy Houghton, Mayor Pro Tem
Councilmembers Absent: Larry Stevens, Mayor (excused)
Russ Frey (excused)
Staff Present: Susan Price, City Manager
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney
Gloria Shepherd, City Clerk
Tessa Pritchard, Human Resources Director
Michael Damon, Fire Chief
Al Shamblin, Police Chief
Charlie Mullen, Planning Director
Margaret Van Warmerdam, Finance Director
J D Ellison Sr., Building Director/Official
Gary Antone, Public Works Director
Nik Reikalas, Parks & Recreation Director
Mary Alice George led the Pledge of Allegiance at the request of Mayor Pro Tem Houghton and the assemblage joined in.
Pat Kain, Concerned Citizen, commented on a ban on large trucks in the residential areas that are destroying the streets when there is no money to replace the streets. She would also like a discussion about the co-op for marijuana, as it is not legal.
CONSIDER APPOINTMENT/REPLACEMENT OF MAYOR AND/OR MAYOR PRO TEM
Robert Minch couldn’t believe that the City Council would have this meeting without Larry Stevens present to defend himself.
Dorothy Lindauer opposed the proposed action to remove Mayor Stevens and felt that the people with disabilities in the community have appreciated the efforts of Mayor Stevens on behalf of people in the North State. She felt that this action to a disabled person sends a wrong message.
Jack Winter, Planning Commission member, feels that this action is wrong when Mayor Stevens is not here to defend himself and he felt the Mayor does a pretty good job for the City.
Honorable Council Members,
The members of the Red Bluff Police Officers’ Association have long supported the members of the Red Bluff City Council as well as the Chief of Police and the City Manager. For the past few years, we have not voiced our complaints about Council Member Larry Stevens, for fear of reprisal by Mr. Stevens. That time has passed and we can no longer sit idly by and watch as Mr. Stevens ruins our City and bullies our employees. It is for this reason that we announce our collective vote of no confidence in Larry Stevens and not only request he be removed as Mayor, but also request a recall of his position as a Council member.
Mr. Stevens has spent his time on the City Council harassing members of the Red Bluff Police Department and using his position for his own personal gain, rather than working to better the City as a whole. His views clearly demonstrate that he has lost touch with the goals of the citizens he was elected to represent and has no idea the demands and work load our police officers and dispatchers face every day.
Mr. Stevens has telephoned the Police Department to report parking and noise complaints and has informed the Dispatchers that he would be timing the Officers’ response. This clearly demonstrates that Mr. Stevens is unaware that during many hours of the day, the City of Red Bluff is protected by only two police officers. Does Mr. Stevens really believe that those officers can leave calls involving public safety such as incidents of domestic violence and drunk driving to immediately handle his complaints about his neighbors’ parking?
Mr. Stevens ordered Red Bluff Police Officers to conduct a traffic accident investigation on a traffic accident that occurred in the City of Redding. The City of Redding is clearly out of our jurisdiction, but that was of no concern as one of the involved parties was Mr. Stevens’ son. I’m sure I do not have to explain the inter-departmental conflict this situation could have created.
Mr. Stevens has supported initiatives that can only be detrimental to the City of Red Bluff. It has come to our knowledge that Mr. Stevens supports marijuana “clubs” in the City, which would allow certain businesses to sell marijuana. Mr. Stevens has openly sought to change the City’s ordinance on alcohol use in the City parks, an issue that the rest of the Council voted to maintain, with a 4-0 vote. Once again, he did this to support his friends and lost sight of the greater good.
Other citizens within the City have requested stop signs be placed at certain intersections with some being granted and others not. Mr. Stevens had no difficulty spending the City’s money to have stop signs erected at the intersection of South Jackson Street and Crosby Street. Coincidentally, that is Mr. Stevens’ neighborhood. Once again, Mr. Stevens has sought improvements for his own personal gain. Our officers are unaware of any traffic accidents occurring at that intersection to warrant the stop signs. Since the stop signs were put in place, we have taken traffic accidents at that very intersection. We are also aware of many other intersections that would be far better served with the stop signs, but those intersections are not in Mr. Stevens’ neighborhood.
Mr. Stevens has demanded that his picture be displayed in City Hall and has gone so far as to demand that the City Manager take care of this. We believe that Mrs. Price has better things to do such as oversee every department in the City, rather than make sure Mr. Stevens’ vanity is bolstered.
Mr. Stevens was also angered that the City Manager implemented a security code system on City Hall’s doors to monitor who was entering certain areas and limit access to unauthorized personnel. This was positive and proactive action taken by the City Manager, yet it still angered Mr. Stevens. Does Mr. Stevens feel that his position should allow him to snoop though City employees’ offices and belongings? Do employee rights mean nothing to him or is he willing to risk lawsuits in order to be able to exert his authority.
Mr. Stevens has conducted ride-a-longs with Red Bluff Police Officers. During those ride-a-longs, Mr. Stevens’ expressed his views on how crime occurred in the City and directed officers to take action that was completely ineffective and simply made no sense. This further demonstrates that Mr. Stevens has absolutely no idea about what is occurring within the City and should not be making key decision for the City.
It should also be noted that we have received a copy of the agenda of the meeting Mr. Stevens is attending today in Mt. Shasta. The agenda clearly shows that Mr. Stevens could have attended this Council meeting but chose not to attend.
The Red Bluff Police Officers’ Association is excited about the growth our city is experiencing. We appreciate the leadership and dedication exhibited by our City Council, our City Manager and our Chief of Police. Every single member of our department takes unparalleled pride in our city and works relentlessly to protect and maintain the quality of life we as citizens value so greatly. Rarely do we complain, and to our knowledge, we have never openly denounced any city official. Mr. Steven’s history of tyranny can no longer go unquestioned and we implore you to take action to stop him from interfering with the function of our department. We therefore publicly announce the Red Bluff Police Officers’ Association’s vote of no confidence in Mayor Larry Stevens.
The Red Bluff Police Officers’ Association:
Robert Minch explained that Mayor Stevens could not attend tonight due to another meeting he had to attend that was given with sufficient notice. Mayor Stevens has been critical of the City Manager and the Police Department and that is not a good enough reason why he can’t be Mayor just because he criticizes.
Barbara McIver mentioned that they would benefit from hearing the issues framed from the City Council Members.
Ed Simon felt this was a political ambush without the Mayor here to defend himself and suggested the City Council wait until he gets back to defend the charges. He supported the stop sign that was needed in the Mayor’s neighborhood. He mentioned that Mayor Stevens defends the people and advised the City Council to be careful with this action as voting time comes around soon.
Kathy Bonner explained that she had a question last year about a disability attorney and had tried to contact Mayor Stevens regarding this very important issue and never had a response from Mayor Stevens.
Kathy Nelson mentioned that the issues about voting for street signs was done by the whole City Council and not by Mayor Stevens alone. She also explained that the night Mayor Stevens stormed out of the meeting may have had something to do with the 6% salary increase for City Manager, Susan Price, while complaints that the City doesn’t have enough money to repair streets and sidewalks is a current issue.
Kevin Johnstone responded that it is not only about how Mayor Stevens voted but how he calls the department with complaints and asserting his authority. There are Police Reports which are public record to support this and he felt that the Mayor could have made it back to town for the meeting if he had wanted to as other City staff are not kept over night for meetings of this nature.
Lance Hall has known Mayor Stevens for 10 to 12 years on a business level and has never known him to abuse his authority for his own personal gain and requested more specific examples if it’s true. He questioned whether certain departments having issues was enough to remove someone from this position.
Larry Stevens’ wife handed out copies of a letter. She read the words of Mayor Stevens that claimed that the possible actions demonstrate the unwillingness to listen to both sides of the issue. It was mentioned that this will stop him from defending any reasons to justify this action and asked whether they would want this back door approach done to them and it was thought that they wouldn’t. She commented that Mayor Stevens doesn’t drive and could not be back for this last minute meeting.
Timothy Stevens, son of Mayor Stevens, explained that he would get apologized to before hand when his father would ruffle any feathers. He said that he would get pulled over once or twice a week to try to deter his father from ruffling any feathers and he is appalled that they would say this when his father supports them 110% when they are doing their job correctly.
Pat Washbish, Larry Stevens’s sister in law, mentioned that she feels this is a lot of garbage going on. She described how she has been present when phone calls from Susan Price come through at Mayor Stevens home regarding Susan being afraid to drive in the fog on the way home, or complaints of having mice in her home and calls to the Corning Police to help her. She mentioned that Susan Price discusses business after the Council Meetings over the phone and that she has no business doing that. It was her understanding that Mayor Stevens and other Council members are not allowed to talk to employees of the City of Red Bluff per Susan Price and that coffee was removed from the City departments because it was costing too much and no more drinks were allowed in house. She feels this is a railroad and wanted to know why Susan Price was calling at 9:00 at night after a Council Meeting to talk business and felt this isn’t right.
Lynn DeFreece represents the Disabled Community in the Far Northern Area which is the service area where Mayor Stevens is at this evening. Speaking as an individual he commented that Mayor Stevens misrepresented a situation involving their agency in a City at a meeting in Glenn County that took 3 months to resolve. Once it was resolved Mayor Stevens returned to another public meeting stating a similar position that there was a problem with contracts and a problem with representation of the disabled people working in City Hall. Lynn DeFreece found Mayor Stevens statements reprehensible and at that point he told Mayor Stevens that. They discussed the issue of his statements and Mayor Stevens turned this on to other individuals rather than take responsibility for what he said. Mr. DeFreece supports the Red Bluff Police Officers position and asked that the City Council look at that position.
Charles Cartwright talked about his son having paperwork trouble in the post office, and Larry Stevens was the one who stepped up and helped him. His son has gotten to know Mayor Stevens and his family and he has proven to them to be a man of integrity. He hopes the Police Department and the Mayor can work things out and based on integrity the City should wait until Mayor Stevens can be present.
Eddie Woods explained that whether you agree or disagree with the Mayor that it’s wrong to do this without him being present and that it should be done the right way with him present.
Clint Cartwright explained that he feels that Mayor Stevens is an outstanding man and has always been good to him and his family and that he is doing a wonderful job for the City. He feels that one of the areas for improvement is in the Police Department where they pull him over repeatedly and he wants the harassment to stop. He feels like the Mayor is doing a good job and that they shouldn’t hold this meeting without him and that the City Council is scared of him.”
Todd Bottke requested knowledge for the reasons for the vote tonight and from what he could tell, it looked like it was for the Mayor’s overstepping the boundaries and getting involved in powers invested in department heads. He explained how the representative system of democracy is set up to run the day to day and no one should overstep the bounds. He felt that being involved is good and if that line has been crossed it needs to be dealt with.
Councilmember Flynn mentioned that this has been going on for years and didn’t just start. As a Council they act on problems and none of them as individuals have the authority to go departments and dictate that they make changes. By allowing this situation to continue it puts the City of Red Bluff in a place of liability. Micromanaging tactics take up a lot of time. The Council has talked to Mayor Stevens explaining that he cannot run the City and Stevens refuses to admit this. Mayor Stevens means well but he is not running the City of Red Bluff. The City Council runs it at the Communities pleasure. They have tried to deal with these issues and tried to smooth things over and they felt that they were at the point where they had to do something. Without noting the calendar they didn’t realize that Mayor Stevens wouldn’t be here. The intention was not that he is railroaded and they would have preferred that both Councilmember Frey and Mayor Stevens be present. He explained that Mayor Stevens in his own way is looking out for the benefit of the City but it has gotten to the point that no one else can make the correct decision except him and it had to stop some place and was the reason for bringing it to the Council.
Barbara McIver asked that the Council hear from Richard Crabtree, City Attorney.
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, explained that a General Law City is what Red Bluff is and that the Mayor is an appointed position among the five elected Councilmembers serving no particular term of office and can be removed at the direction of a majority of the City Council. The Mayor’s only authority is the ability to conduct the Public Meetings and has no more or less authority than any other member of the City Council or the authority to act on his own outside of a public meeting. The Mayor has no authority to give direction to City staff and direction must come as a result of a majority act at a convened public meeting.
Jackson Williams, retired employee of the City, sees this as a dictatorship and doesn’t support the action of the Council while members are out of the area and unable to defend themselves. He mentioned that other staff have left the City recently and there needs to be a stop to it.
Kathy Nelson mentioned that during the forming of the Ad Hoc Committee both Councilmember Stevens and Frey gave dates when they would not be available to serve and their schedules were a topic discussed by Council. She explained that the issue seemed to be that Mayor Stevens was perceived as an irritant and she implied that the one who is also an irritant in the City is someone who recently received a raise.
Leo Thurston commented on Council postponing the meeting until Councilmember Frey and Stevens could be present.
Karen Gigla mentioned that it sounds like no one is innocent and that it’s human to make mistakes that will better yourself and she wants the Council to wait for the Mayor to get back and discuss this together.
Tammy Loyer explained that Mayor Stevens has been like a father to her and he has gone out of his way to help her and her family and she felt it is ethically wrong for them to hold this meeting without Councilmember Frey and Mayor Stevens present. She commented that the City needs to get rid of the City Manager if they are going to get rid of anyone.
Joe Miller commented that from observing the meeting that there was an underhanded movement by the Council while the other Councilmembers were not here to defend themselves and he couldn’t understand why they would hold a meeting knowing that they would not be present.
CHARLIE MULLEN, PLANNING DIRECTOR,
READ A STATEMENT:
Honorable City Council Members,
I wish to applaud and support you for recognizing a legitimate and inappropriate behavioral problem by Council Member Larry Stevens, and for taking action to curtail this inappropriate behavior. And while I am concerned that Mr. Stevens and/or his misinformed supporters may and probably will seek retaliation in some form or another for my speaking out against him, I believe my speaking out is necessary for the long term greater good of the City of Red Bluff and this governmental organization if it is to survive and prosper. I wish to be part of an organization that supports it’s City staff and fosters a working environment that is professional and respectful.
I further wish to express my devote support for City Manager, Susan Price. Mrs. Price represents the highest standards and qualities necessary for managing and leading the City of Red Bluff governmental organization. Mrs. Price is a leader in the true sense and leads by example. Mrs. Price’s conduct is always of the highest ethical and professional standard. I am proud to be a part of the management and employee team that looks up to and respects her.
I am also proud of working for the greater good of the citizens of Red Bluff and look forward to the positive and productive future that lies before us.
Thank you for listening.
Tim Stevens, Mayor Steven’s son, asked Charlie Mullen if he had written that or if Susan Price had and Charlie responded that he had. Tim Stevens then commented in response to the points that the Mayor has only a certain amount of authority. It concerned him that if the Police did not know the authority of the Mayor or realize that they didn’t have to listen to unauthorized direction that perhaps the Police maybe need to go back to school and learn what their job is. He felt the City Council needed to drop the whole situation.
Pat Washbish, Larry Stevens sister in law, explained that she felt part of the problem is that the Councilmembers don’t exert themselves and they just come here twice a month and that Larry does a lot more. She explained that you have to push people in the City to get things done and that she has had problems getting work done on her house that needs to be inspected. She felt that if Larry had been on it that it would have been taken care of. She explained that she has issues with the City Manager, Susan Price, and she felt Susan Price needed to be investigated. She complained that Councilmembers don’t devote enough time to the position during the month.
Maureen Shira felt that the Councilmembers don’t like Mayor Stevens because he is the squeaky wheel. She felt that Mayor Stevens is approachable and that he will try to help and that the City Council wants to get rid of Mayor Stevens because he doesn’t agree with them and she suggested that they should wait to make a decision until he can be present.
Ron Nelson felt that the proceeding is not a recall, but an attempt to take away the power of Mayor from Larry Stevens and degrade him. He suggested doing a recall and letting the people vote or he explained that there may be a repercussion and there will be a recall but that it won’t be his.
Tessa Pritchard, Human Resource Directors, explained that due to confidentiality she would not give out specifics or names in her statement and that all of the employees were hardworking and she expressed an appreciation for the different Departments and all staff.
Mayor Stevens contacted a former employee whose employment had been terminated by the City to ask the former employee some “questions”. The former employee’s termination was confidential and the former employee complained to a City employee that Mayor Stevens was trying to contact him regarding his previous employment.
Tessa Pritchard, Human Resources Director, explained that they have some of the best employees and that they work hard. Councilmembers come in to City Hall and ask questions without getting involved.
Robert Minch asked for the Council to ask for a vote of postponement and get on with it.
Jerry Wilson requested that the City Council wait until there are five members present as it may bring a dark cloud over the City Council that may not go away.
Councilmember Flynn said that as the instigator of the attempt to resolve this problem he would make a motion that the meeting be postponed until they have a full council.
M/S/C Flynn, Brown to postpone the meeting until they have a full Council and continue this meeting Thursday April 21, 2005 at 6:30 p.m. at the Red Bluff Community Center.
ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: Stevens and Frey (absent-excused)
Councilmember Brown thanked the people for coming tonight and explained that when they decided to call for a meeting he did not know that Mayor Stevens would not be here and did not read the schedule. He had erred by not knowing what the schedule said and was sorry about that. Larry’s support of all the disabled things is very admirable and that it has nothing to do with this situation. The Council was fully aware that Russ Frey would not be at the meeting and because it dealt with some work place problems the City Council felt a responsibility to address the concerns and felt it was appropriate to have this meeting. He also said that the Council members are very accessible and that his phone has been ringing off the hook.
Councilmember Flynn also thanked everyone and encouraged people to call and explained that they are accessible and that it helps to give them direction.
At 7:40 p.m. Mayor Pro Tem Houghton adjourned the meeting to April 19, 2005, at 7:00 p.m. in the in the Red Bluff City Council Chambers.
s/b Andy Houghton Mayor