SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
DATE OF MEETING: April 21, 2005
TIME OF MEETING: 6:30 P.M.
PLACE OF MEETING: Red Bluff Community Center
Councilmembers Present: Larry Stevens, Mayor
Andy Houghton, Mayor Pro Tem
Councilmembers Absent: None
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
J D Ellison Sr., Building Director/Official
Gary Antone, Public Works Director
Nik Reikalas, Parks and Recreation Director
Mary Alice George led the Pledge of Allegiance at the request of Mayor Stevens and the assemblage joined in.
Councilmember Flynn began with an introduction of some basic ground rules to make the meeting move smoothly and respectfully.
It was suggested that people not duplicate what someone else has said.
The order of the meeting would start with a presentation by the City Attorney giving a presentation regarding the rules and responsibilities of the Mayor and Councilmembers and the description of the City Code and State Law regarding contact with City Manager, City Staff, and penalties for violations.
There would then be a presentation by Mayor Stevens and then responses to the Mayor’s presentation.
Presentations would be given by others and City Staff with responses to their Presentations.
The City Council would then take any action as determined by the Council.
Public comments will be limited to 3 minutes and timed by Charlie Mullens, Planning Director and everyone will have an opportunity to speak.
All persons will treat others with respect and there will be no shouting or name-calling or any other form of disrespect by persons in attendance. No speaker or presenter will be interrupted except when they reach their time limit.
Mayor Stevens began by explaining that the City Clerk would read a letter submitted by his daughter at an appropriate time. He explained that there had been other letters received from citizens, which had been distributed to the Councilmembers.
Term of Mayor: In a general law city such as Red Bluff, the Mayor is appointed by the City Council. (Govt. Code §36801.)
The Mayor shall preside at all meetings of the City Council. (Govt. Code §36802.)
Authority of Mayor: The law provides that, with the exception of presiding at meetings, the Mayor has no more or less authority than any other member of the City Council. (Govt. Code §36803.)
City Code Requirements: Consistent with state law, the Red Bluff City Code dictates that the City Council work through the City Manager:
Importantly, the City Code and state law indicate that direction may be given to the City Manager only by a majority of the City Council, during a duly convened public meeting:
Accordingly, the City Council may give direction only to the City Manager (not subordinate staff). Such direction can come only from a majority of the City Council, during a duly noticed public meeting. Any direction by individual councilmembers, to the City Manager or other City staff, is expressly prohibited.
Brown Act: Furthermore, any attempt to deliberate or to give directions to the City Manager, or other City staff, outside of a duly convened public meeting, is a violation of the Brown Act. (Govt. Code §54950.) It is the intent of the Brown Act that council actions “be taken openly” and that deliberations “be conducted openly.” (Id.) A violation of the Brown Act is a criminal misdemeanor. (Govt Code §54959.)
Summary: Taken together, these requirements make it clear that it is unlawful for any City Councilmember, alone or acting with other City Councilmembers, to: give direction to the City Manager, or any member of the City staff, outside of a duly convened public meeting.
o Individual councilmembers may contact the City Manager outside of a duly convened public meeting “for the purpose of inquiry,” but may not give direction to the City Staff. (Red Bluff City Code §2.30(A).)
o In other words, individual City Councilmembers may direct information requests to the City Manager outside of a public meeting, but may not offer any direction to the City Manager. Attempts by the City Council, either individually or collectively, to give direction to the City Manager outside of a public meeting is prohibited, and may constitute a criminal violation of the Brown Act.
Legal Roles of Mayor and City Council
In a general law city such as Red Bluff, the Mayor is appointed by the City Council. (Govt. Code §36801.) While traditions may be established indicating that a Mayor serves for a year, or some other term, the law provides that the Mayor serves at the pleasure of the City Council and may be replaced at any time, with or without cause. (67 Ops. Atty. Gen. 405 (1984).)
The Mayor shall preside at all meetings of the City Council. (Govt. Code §36802.) In the absence of the Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem shall serve as the Mayor and preside at meetings of the City Council. (Id.)
The law provides that, with the exception of presiding at meetings, the Mayor has no more or less authority than any other member of the City Council. (Govt. Code §36803.) Accordingly, the Mayor has no authority to give independent direction to the City Manager or to City staff.
Consistent with state law, the Red Bluff City Code dictates that the City Council work through the City Manager: “The City Council and its members shall deal with the administrative services of the City only through the City Manager, except for the purpose of inquiry, and neither the City Council nor any member thereof shall give orders to any subordinates of the City Manager.” (Red Bluff City Code §2.30(A).)
Importantly, the City Code and state law indicate that direction may be given to the City Manager only by a majority of the City Council, during a duly convened public meeting: “The City Manager shall take his or her orders and instructions from the City Council only when sitting in a duly held meeting of the City Council and no individual councilmember shall give any orders or instruction to the City Manager.” (Red Bluff City Code §2.30(B).) These provisions in the City Code are mandatory and the Code provides for no exceptions. These provisions of the City Code have continuously been in effect since 1959.
Accordingly, the City Council may give direction only to the City Manager. Such direction can come only from a majority of the City Council, during a duly noticed public meeting. Any direction by individual councilmembers, to the City Manager or other City staff, is expressly prohibited. Furthermore, any attempt to deliberate or to give directions to the City Manager, or other City staff, outside of a duly convened public meeting, is a violation of the Brown Act. (Govt. Code §54950.) It is the intent of the Brown Act that council actions “be taken openly” and that deliberations “be conducted openly.” (Id.) A violation of the Brown Act is a criminal misdemeanor. (Govt Code §54959.)
Taken together, these requirements make it clear that it is unlawful for any City Councilmember, alone or acting with other City Councilmembers, to give direction to the City Manager, or any member of the City staff, outside of a duly convened public meeting. Individual councilmembers may contact the City Manager outside of a duly convened public meeting only “for the purpose of inquiry.” (Red Bluff City Code §2.30(A).) In other words, individual City Councilmembers may direct information requests to the City Manager outside of a public meeting, but may not offer any direction to the City Manager. Attempts by the City Council, either individually or collectively, to give direction to the City Manager outside of a public meeting is prohibited, and may constitute a criminal violation of the Brown Act.
REASONS FOR CITY CODE RULES:
EMPLOYEE COMPLAINTS RE: MAYOR STEVENS
o Several Complaints of Mayor Stevens independently giving directions to City staff outside of public meetings (violation of City Code)
o (police, planning director, and others)
o Some of those complaints indicated that the directions from Mayor Stevens were so intimidating, frequent or time consuming that employees:
o believed the conduct to be harassing, creating a hostile work environment, and
o interfering with their ability to complete their normal work load.
CITY’S LEGAL OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE WORKPLACE FREE OF HARASSMENT:
Eldon Gleason commented that it did not sound as though the Mayor was a member of the City Council as the City Manager is also not a member of the City Council and therefore the Mayor should not have to go through this. He also questioned whether either the Mayor or the City Manager could be removed from their position.
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, explained that all members of the City Council are elected members of the City Council whether or not they are selected to be the Mayor and that the law provides that the City Manager serves at the pleasure of the City Council.
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, explained that the appointment or removal of the City Manager was not agendized tonight and could not take place this evening but that it was possible for the City Manager to be removed from office.
Kathy Nelson questioned what the law was regarding when a City Manager talks to the Public about Department heads referring to their jobs and what they’ve done and plans for the future.
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, explained that Public employees have privacy rights but that they also have the same rights as any other citizen to make comments they deem appropriate
Ron Nelson mentioned that the Code Section said that it forbid the City Council members to give direction to City Staff outside the Council meetings except for inquiry. He questioned if they can still inquire of other City department heads for inquiries of what happens.
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, explained that they can still make requests for information and those requests should circulate through the City Manager.
Ron Nelson noted that the Code doesn’t specifically say that it should circulate through the City Manager and that it seems that the current City Manager wants the City Council to funnel everything through her and any inquiry to her she sees as a violation of the code.
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, explained that Ron Nelson was entitled to his opinion and his interpretation, but that he did not share that opinion.
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, reread the section of the Code that said, “the City Council and it’s members shall deal with the administrative services of the City only through the City Manager except for purposes of inquiry and neither the City Council nor any member thereof shall give orders to any subordinates of the City Manager.”
Ron Nelson felt the directive was being given that all inquirers are to go through the City Manager and therefore are in violation of the Code.
Councilmember Flynn explained that they as Councilmembers talk to any staff member and ask questions but cannot not give them direction, intimidate them or ask questions that would put them in a bad position.
City Manager, Susan Price, explained that there has been misinformation floating around and that Councilmembers can inquire of City Staff, but that they are not to provide directives. The City Council can provide direction to the City Manager and the City Manager provides direction to the Department Heads and if there is an inquiry then it can’t be such that it portrays that it is a directive.
Councilmember Brown explained that he has talked to Department Heads throughout this week.
City Manager, Susan Price, explained that there had been numerous letters to the Newspaper with inaccurate and blatant misrepresentation of these facts regarding this issue and that she appreciated the opportunity to clear up those rumors
Eldon Gleason questioned why they weren’t taking care of the streets rather than having a power struggle and he supports Mayor Stevens.
Mayor Stevens asked the City Attorney for clarification regarding questions that end up requiring some research in order to answer the inquiry.
City Attorney Richard Crabtree explained that a reasonable time without going to extremes is acceptable and if it involves reorganizing workload priorities then it should go to the Council.
George Russell mentioned that everyone has learned their lessons and they ought to get on with things and work with the Mayor and he feels that this is a waste of time for everyone.
CITY CLERK, GLORIA SHEPHERD, READ A LETTER FROM MAYOR STEVENS DAUGHTER:
To the Citizens of Red Bluff and Elected City Officials,
I would first like to thank you for taking time out of your busy life’s to attend this special meeting. Whether it is in support of Larry Stevens or just to get the story straight and to know what is going on in your city. I am the daughter of Larry and only wish that I was there to show support for my father and family. Unfortunately I have two young children one who is ill at this time.
I would like to take just a few minutes of your time today to tell you about my father and the type of man he is. For as long as I can remember he has been involved in some type of political process. He has and will always hold his head high for he knows that he is doing his best to help the people in the community. He believes in finding a way to create a city where people could have good jobs, plenty of housing and a safe environment to raise a family. He is and always will be my hero. There has been many times where my father has been busy with the political process and could not be there for family events. The birth of my youngest child was the last event he was unable to attend. He stayed in Red Bluff for some meeting ADA or City I am not to sure which one it was exactly and then took a greyhound bus and train combo so he could get to Nevada the next morning. I understand his drive to make Red Bluff a better place to live. I admire him for keeping his commitments to you all. It gives me a sense of pride. He has always made sure that family came first so he worked hard so that my mother could be a stay at home and be with us kids. This was to give us the good positive morals. They gave us an upbringing of honesty, integrality, manners and a strong sense of self. I have the confidence, drive and ambition to do anything in life and I owe that to my father and mother. Also when on vacation to Nevada on several occasions he would do research for new businesses wanting to possibly join Red Bluff. He took photos of how they would set up the business and asks questions as to when and how deliveries are handled. How they impact the residents whom have homes close to the store and what part of community they would bring to the area. He does and always will go above and beyond the call of duty to do the best he can for the people in the community. If you feel that is a bad thing then you don’t deserve him.
THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR TIME.
CONSIDER APPOINTMENT/REPLACEMENT OF MAYOR AND/OR MAYOR PRO TEM
Tom Gutierrez, asked the Council to consider closing the hearing and to move on in the best interest of the community as a whole as this was a waste of time.
Kelly Meek, former Red Bluff Police Officer, mentioned how she had felt a fear of reprisal from Mayor Stevens as he has implied to staff numerous times that he would pass things if they did not do as he wished. She commented on Mayor Steven’s letter to the newspaper claiming that one person can’t harass a department alone and she attested that one person can and does harass a department. Her response to complaints Mayor Stevens lodged against motorcycles near his residence was on a minimum of once a week for a period of time. While she worked dispatch for a short time, the Mayor called to demand police officers respond immediately and that he would be timing them. The field was not properly posted and because there was no signed letter from the landlord the officers were not able to cite individuals. Yet Mayor Stevens continued to demand that the Police contact the individuals riding on motorcycles, by leaving their cars and walking into the field alone that is not in the best interest or safety of any officer to do.
Regarding the traffic accident of Mayor Steven’s son, which was on a snowy day and became an officer safety issue for the officer to stand on the side of the road taking the accident report. The officer probably would have been happy to meet him back at the Police Department at Redding or to make sure he had medical care if needed. Mayor Stevens called in and demanded that a police report be done and when it was denied then Mayor Stevens called the Police Chief at home and demanded it be taken and an officer was contacted by the Chief to take the report. There was no way to obtain the information that is required by the State of California for a traffic accident report when done in this manner.
When other City Councilmembers, spouses, or family members have been incarcerated, the Mayor has called and demanded they be released immediately.
Dean Cofer, Business Rep for Operating Engineers Local 3, represented the Public Works, Clerical, and non-sworn people in the Police and Fire Department. He encouraged people to not take sides too early and to get the facts out on the table and that once the law is clear then the Council will decide whether to retain or replace the Mayor. His members oppose a recall and support the City Manager and ask that the City Council support the City Manager and the employees.
Mayor Stevens responded to Ms. Meeks by explaining that he had called the Chief of Police at home and it is true he did so because the Chief gave the home phone number to him. The City Managers direction in past times has been that she could call Chief Shamblin, or that the Mayor could call the Police Chief. He explained that the quad riders removed the posted signs and pictures were taken of the removed signs. Mayor Stevens said that he doesn’t keep time well and that he cannot read a watch because of his vision and that he was sorry that she had that impression or that recollection, but that it wasn’t his recollection of what was said.
Pat Washbish, sister in law of Mayor Stevens, explained that the City Councilmembers voted on the policy of possession for marijuana unanimously and there was nothing there that said Mayor Stevens demanded it. She claimed that she had been in fear of reprisal because of Susan Price asking the Corning Police to call her and ask her if she had called Susan Price and the Police also asked her for her complete description.
Pat Johnson asked City Manager Susan Price to explain what had been going on with her phone and what the calls said.
Susan Price, City Manager, explained that on the morning after the Council meeting on April 7, 2005 she had received four harassing phone calls and she had called the Corning Police department to ask that a report be taken. Susan Price said that her husband is on his way to Saudi Arabia and has served in Iraq and is a Colonel in the Army. The phone calls played music from a radio station that discussed Saudi Arabian terror cells and Islamic terror cells. Those four phone calls were placed to her and she felt that she had to get a trap on her phone and one of the phone calls was recorded.
Pat Johnson read a statement that said: Things are getting better in Red Bluff, but unfortunately just when it appears our community is starting to bounce back and heal after ten years of nasty political infighting, all heck breaks loose at City Hall. Of course I couldn’t keep my nose out of it having invested 10 years of my life trying to stop corruption. It seemed necessary for me to step into the fray. Reading the Daily News editorials and letters one would think City Manager, Susan Price, is a power hungry City Monster. Apparently the majority of the City Council are a bunch of back stabbing Brown Act Violating wimps. Department Heads and Staff relegated to mindless zombies who serve Susie without question. I don’t agree. The same people criticizing her are the same group who blindly backed ex City Manager, Police Chief, Dick Bull. Embezzlements, cover-ups, and police harassment were the norm under their watch. Councilmen Ken Robison, Russ Frey and Larry Stevens let him have his way no matter how many or how bad the complaints were. Bull quit and Frey did not seek re-election. City Hall changed over night. For two years the Council and City Manager have brought in new blood to replace burned out ineffective Department Heads and the City has thrived. That’s why our roads are garbage, because for so many years the money wasn’t accounted and put in the right places. Robison stepped down and Russ Frey swooped down. The Council made a very serious mistake when they appointed Frey. With a long history of abuse of power at the City and County as an elected official, I warned the Council that night that the appointment of Frey would destroy all the progress and harmony at City Hall and it has. Susie had to take the keys away from Councilmembers after personal files were gone through after hours without knowledge or permission of the full Council. One of Frey’s relatives was reorganized out of a job. So a tactic was devised to drive Susie bonkers and hopefully quit. Larry has always been a nice gentle guy and a very appropriate squeaky wheel, however there has been changes in his attitude and even appearance since Frey joined the Council. Even more so since becoming Mayor. I think overall in my closing I’d like to say that Larry deserved a chance to defend himself. Organizing a meeting without him was wrong. Closed Meetings have tried to address the problem but to no avail. So you guys have tried to work this problem out. Unless there is documented proof of criminal behavior, Larry doesn’t need to be recalled and Susie doesn’t need to be fired. Larry clearly said in his letter that he used his position to help his friends, neighbors, and family get special attention. This is an abuse of power that needs to be controlled. Staff and the Mayor must get along and if that is not negotiable then the Mayor needs to step down. Experience in my gut tells me Larry’s not the problem. Frey and members of his downtown Mafia are behind the problems at City Hall. If anyone should be removed it should be Frey. Thank you.
Mayor Stevens explained that this isn’t easy on any of the Councilmembers, City Manager, or staff. He felt the one thing that should come out of this is for everyone to learn their lesson and move on.
Lance Hall suggested that individuals bring out specifics and then get to the facts and until then he supports Mayor Stevens.
Councilmember Flynn agreed that the facts needed to be presented and began by asking that staff provide comments with the Mayors permission.
Tessa Pritchard, Human Resources Director, explained that due to confidentiality she would not give out specifics or names in her statement:
§ Two employees have complained of harassment by Mayor Stevens that they perceived as leading to a hostile work environment.
§ Several employees have complained regarding requests by Mayor Stevens that appeared to be directives to staff in violation of the City Code (i.e. directives outside of a public meeting, without the consent of the balance of the council, and without following the proper chain of command (e.g. Council to City Manager to staff). Some of these directives appeared personal in nature. Other times the directives from Mayor Stevens were so time consuming that staff were to the point that the employee(s) were unable to keep up with their normal workload.
§ 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 that Mayor Stevens was trying to contact him regarding his previous employment.
I would like to start by saying that I support the Council, the City Manager and other Department Heads of the City. The reason that I am speaking out is because of a concern with the tactics of Mayor Stevens. I do not have any personal animosity towards Mayor Stevens but do not agree with his behavior and some of the things that he has done or is doing.
The problem involving Mayor Stevens has been brewing with my office for a long period of time. Mayor Stevens would call into the office for non-emergency type calls and some of the statements that he made upset employees in the Department. I discussed this issue with the City Manager and we agreed to allow Mayor Stevens to call the City Manager and then she would call me directly 24 hours a day including weekends and holidays rather than calling dispatch. Most people do not call the City Manager or Police Chief directly on these types of issues however because of the problems we agreed to this to minimize his contact with some members of my Department.
During the last two years Mayor Stevens has contacted the City Manager and myself concerning boats parked on the streets over 24 hours, dead animals and picking them up after hours, weekends and holidays, cat licensing, being critical of either not receiving a press release prior to seeing it in the newspaper or identifying a misspelled word in the release. The City Manager and I spent at least four or five hours researching laws relating to electric scooters vs motorized scooters, since one other council member had an electric scooter and Mayor Stevens was contemplating buying one. He further instructed the City Manager and I of his wish to have bicycle lanes painted to allow him to travel from his residence down South Jackson Street to the Wal Mart area as this is a requirement with these types of vehicles.
Since Mayor Stevens was appointed as Mayor the problems or concerns involving him have increased. In the fall of 2004 an advocate for medicinal marijuana addressed the council, and requested our Department draft a procedure for handling medicinal marijuana investigations. In February of this year I started the procedure, and prior to presenting the procedure to council, Mayor Stevens contacted Sheriff Parker obtaining a written statement pertaining to amounts of marijuana used as a guideline for his policy. Mayor Stevens further provided page after page of information concerning types of marijuana, yield amounts, and other information concerning the growing of marijuana.. The medicinal marijuana advocates were not happy with my decision to follow the guidelines in the Penal Code, and would have preferred that I raise the amounts above the standard set by law. Mayor Stevens indicated to Channel 7 News that we had taken a step in the right direction but indicated more was needed therefore, indicating to me his support for liberal medicinal marijuana use laws.
The latest incident where Mayor Stevens was upset with my Department was in March of this year. Mayor Stevens and two other residents in his neighborhood complained about motorcycles and quad riders in the open field area to the South of their houses. Officers responded to the three calls regarding the M/C’s at different times during the afternoon. On the first call they made contact with the people and requested that they leave. On the second and third calls no one was in the field area when officers arrived.
This property is private and because of complaints from Mayor Stevens in previous years I sent a letter to the landowner requesting the authority to pursue trespassing charges if needed to prevent this problem. I received the letter from the landowners however the law states the property has to be properly marked before enforcement can be taken. The landowners indicated a local person to represent them who would be required to properly post the No Trespassing Signs for enforcement.
Mayor Stevens called the City Manager demanding that I had the file that allows officers to enforce the trespassing violation and was upset they were not arrested. He indicated the No Trespassing signs are being destroyed and wanted the Police Department to take action without the signs being present. What I have is an authorization letter only, without the proper signs no enforcement can be taken.
These are just a few of the issues that Mayor Stevens has brought to our attention requiring considerable amounts of staff time and disrupting normal duties. I therefore am requesting council to consider these items and take steps to rectify the problem.
Mayor Stevens responded that the word “demand” was not an appropriate word and that it had been a frustrating situation with the quad runners. He explained that he understood that without the signs posted that there was not much they could do. Since that last occurrence the neighbors have given up and can’t afford to keep buying signs to put on someone else’s property.
He explained that the medicinal marijuana ordinance was brought to the City Council and they voted in favor of it and the information from the Sheriff’s department was obtained in order to be consistent through out the County. It was to offer information and not a directive. He also explained that he is not for marijuana for sale for anyone at any time, period.
The local retailers were selling scooters without telling them what the laws were and the concern was that some bike lanes needed to be connected up to others and they wanted guidance in order to abide by the law. The State recently made a ruling that if it’s motorized and it’s a scooter that you have to have a valid California Drivers license, wear a helmet, and be sixteen years old making the law more clear to them.
CITY MANAGER SUSAN PRICE’S STATEMENT
The City of Red Bluff operates under a Council-Manager form of government. The City Council of Red Bluff consists of five elected members with a Mayor appointed by the City Council from their own membership to preside at City Council meetings. The function of the City Council is to establish local laws and ordinances, set policy, appropriate funds, and establish local taxes and assessments.
The local ordinances adopted by the City Council are compiled in a book called the City Code. These laws are enforceable by the City and violations may constitute misdemeanors or infractions.
The City Manager is the administrative head of City government. The City Manager enforces City laws, directs the daily operations of City government, and implements policy set by the City Council, and has the responsibility to hire and fire employees. Department Heads report to the City Manager and the City Manager reports to the City Council as a whole and not to individual City Councilmembers. The City Code addresses violations of this organizational structure.
City Councilmembers are advised of their policymaking roles and responsibilities when they take office and are advised of their responsibilities as delineated in the City Code. Most recently, on October 5, 2004, a presentation was made by the City Manager to the City Council about the roles and responsibilities of City Councilmembers and the organizational structure of the City at a City Council meeting which was open to the public.
Part of that presentation included a discussion with the City Council regarding City Code restrictions on giving direction to any employee other than the City Manager at a duly authorized City Council meeting wherein all City Councilmembers sit as a full body.
Over the past several months, and even reaching back several years, Mayor Larry Stevens has continued to make demands and issue directives in violation of the City Code. As you have heard earlier, the City has received several employee complaints about Mayor Stevens giving direction to City staff and employees improperly in violation of the City Code, and circumventing the City Council as a whole.
In addition to the employee complaints the City has received about Mayor Stevens behavior, Mayor Stevens has placed a barrage of demands on my time outside of the City Council as a whole and has requested special treatment for his individual requests for action. These demands, and the employee complaints, have escalated to the point of allegations of his creating hostile work environments for these employees.
Some of Mayor Stevens’s special requests for his individual interests have included the following:
Early in 2004 Mayor Stevens called me at home on a Saturday morning and demanded that the Planning Director and I meet with him and City Councilmember Russ Frey on that Saturday afternoon regarding the Super Wal-Mart project. At that meeting, Mayor Stevens berated the Planning Director and demanded that he take certain planning actions with regard to the potential siting of the Super Wal-Mart project. When he continued to order the Planning Director to take the actions he was demanding, I had to stop the meeting and let him know that he had completed overstepped his bounds and that he would have to treat City staff with courtesy and respect.
In the summer of 2004, prior to the City Council’s consideration of a request from a project proponent to waive development impact fees for a potential project, Mayor Stevens requested that I individually, without City Council direction, waive $8 million dollars in development impact fees for the project. When I explained to Mayor Stevens that his request was in violation of the proper procedure for consideration of this request, he became angered and began to disparage my reputation for fairness.
Around November of 2004 Mayor Stevens came to my office and asked to meet with me and the Planning Director regarding storage bins that he wanted the City to allow Walmart to place in the parking lot to hold their Christmas inventory. The Planning Director and I advised the Mayor of the Planning Department procedures for approval of this type of request. Mayor Stevens then demanded that the Planning Director do as he asked without going through the proper approval process. The Planning Director and I advised the Mayor that the City treated all approval requests in the same fair manner and that he was asking for special treatment in this matter.
Recently, Mayor Stevens came into my office and said that if the Planning Director did not alter his behavior, in other words stop insisting on compliance with state law and our local zoning codes, he needed to go, and that he would make it clear to me that I needed to terminate the Planning Director.
Since my hiring of the Police Chief, Mayor Stevens has contacted me numerous times to tell me that the police officers “were driving all over town every day and not even doing their jobs.” He attempted to direct me to tell the police to work on building and property code violations. When I explained that there were many other high priority life and safety calls that they must respond to, Mayor Stevens said that he did not agree with that and that they had plenty of time to look around the City and address code violations.
On another occasion, Mayor Stevens derided me and the Police Chief regarding a press release prepared by a Police Lieutenant that Mayor Stevens claimed was not provided to him immediately. This was an occurrence wherein the Police Chief and I were out of the office and we were not able to provide this information to him as expeditiously as he demanded.
In 2004, Mayor Stevens contacted me and demanded that the Police Chief and I spend many hours researching state vehicle code regulations to ascertain which type of motorized scooter or moped Mayor Stevens should purchase that would be permitted to be ridden on streets in the City. Mayor Stevens furthermore demanded that we hold a meeting outside of the City Council regular meeting to discuss the City expending funds on creating scooter and moped lanes that would connect to his home so that he could ride the scooter or moped in and around the City. He furthermore called the meeting and spent several hours of staff’s and other agencies’ time discussing routes he had identified and when told that this would require City Council action, became angry and upset and rejected the idea of going to the full City Council to discuss the matter. After spending numerous hours on discussions and meetings, and after he demanded that the Police Chief and I research further in the state vehicle code, he was ultimately advised by the Police Chief and I that if he wanted to change the state vehicle code, that he would have to contact the state legislator for this area. The Police Chief and I spent at least 10 or more hours on Mayor Steven’s demand, which was requested outside of the City Code requirements.
Recently, Mayor Stevens contacted me 5 times one afternoon at my home about quads being ridden in the field near his neighborhood and demanded that I make sure that police officers were sent out to stop this activity. When I told him to contact dispatch, he said that he and his neighbors were tired of calling about these quads and that they were going to “take the law into their own hands.” I told Mayor Stevens that this was not appropriate and that he and others should go through proper channels to address their complaints and not “take the law into their own hands.” Later a police vehicle was damaged with 4 flat tires by roofing nails that had been placed on the trails in an obvious effort to damage the quads.
Mayor Stevens has continuously overstepped his legal bounds as an elected member of the City Council. As noted earlier by the City Attorney, the City Code and state law specifically note that he cannot give direction individually to the City Manager or department heads. Any direction to the City Manager outside the entire City Council is a violation of City Code.
In conclusion, at least one other City Councilmember and I, as well as the City Attorney, have tried to discuss the proper role of the Mayor and City Councilmembers with Mayor Stevens but to no avail. Mayor Stevens refuses to acknowledge that he has continued to overstep his bounds in violation of the City Code and state law. And further more created blatantly untrue rumors that say I have said he cannot talk to Department Heads. I am very dismayed at that and I want the Public to know that. That is disparagement and it is an out right lie and I am wondering why he would do that. In addition, I placed an item on the City Council agenda in October 2004 to educate and inform the Mayor and
Councilmembers of their roles and responsibilities.
One of the most important roles of the City Manager is to protect the integrity of the City organization and operation. That, in addition to the employee complaints about Mayor Stevens, is why these matters are being brought to the City Council’s attention this evening.
As a result of Mayor Steven’s continued behavior, it is important that the City Council take appropriate action tonight.
Mayor Steven’s response to the City Manager’s Statement was to say, “Gee if I’d done all those things I’d want to fire me too.” He went on to say that, “The point is, my recollection is nothing like that.” He explained that the meeting that took place on a day other than a normal work day regarding the issue of the Wal-Mart Super Center had been suggested and agreed to by the City Manager at a time when there wouldn’t be the disturbances of a normal work day.
The $8 Million dollar issue was in reference to a company that was looking to come into the Red Bluff area. Mayor Stevens explained that this wasn’t a case of demanding or ordering, but a consideration of the impact fees by that individual company versus what the net gain would be if they had the proposed number of jobs with an average potential of $50,000 a year pay checks. They never found out who exactly the Company was, but it was heard that company chose a site in another State. Mayor Stevens felt that as the person who had been asked to sit in on that preliminary meeting and asked to comment on ways to get guarantees that would entice that company to come to Red Bluff it would help to increase better paying jobs and improve the lifestyles.
In response to the storage containers Mayor Stevens referenced talking with a former Councilmember in conversation about the Wal-mart seasonal merchandise storage on the sidewalk area in front of the store. A lot of discussion came about doing the construction of a Quarter Million dollar cinder block unit that sits in their parking lot today for merchandise. Since the enclosure was only used for the summer and spring merchandise, it meant the cinder block area was empty during the winter. The Mayor’s suggestion was made that the seasonal merchandise storage containers be placed in the enclosed area during the winter months when it was empty and the City said no to that request. Wal-Mart pulled out the request to do this before the issue could be resolved and they now store merchandise in an offsite location. Mayor Stevens had the opinion that having Wal-Mart build the cinder block enclosure was a lot to ask a company to do just to make it look better.
Mayor Steven’s mentioned that he voices his opinion and he has heard people say tonight the words “demands” or “ordered.” He feels that those are words used to inflame or imply that that’s they way things happen. He doesn’t think he gives that impression and he apologized if that is the impression. He also felt that this is a two way street and if staff is so concerned about time and situations they could say that they would get to it as soon as they can or take it to Susan Price, City Manager. Mayor Steven’s does not feel that he is a retaliatory type of person and does not know where the so-called fear of retaliation remarks come. He is really sorry that people think that and explained that he had made a gesture earlier through the City Attorney and commented that he feels that he has learned something as we all have. He would like to remain the Mayor and maybe be more mindful of the time constraints of the City Manager and Department Heads and try to move forward in a more unified way. He felt it was like a wake up call and wanted the opportunity to prove it, or the City Council could move along with the item that was agendized tonight. He apologized to the Human Resources Director about trying to contact two employees and made references to those situations. He had tried to wait until they were no longer employees in order to offer assistance with possible employment. The one employee he did not remember as an employee, but as an internship and was going to tell them that they had a lot of talent and was going to give them a letter of recommendation. Nothing was meant to harm or injure anybody. Everybody knows what it’s like to pay back, but he recommended that everybody watch the movie called “Paying it Forward.” This was a movie where you take the initiative to do things for the right reasons for people as it results in a good feeling and to help others to understand his perspective of life. The reason he is on City Council is to try and help people and he is a big enough person to slow down knowing there is a better way to handle things. He admitted that he is sometimes hard headed but he felt that these two meetings have made him aware of this and he hopes that he’s answered some of the questions and concerns. He mentioned that he appreciated the time that the Human Resources Director has talked with him in generalities, as other council members have to discuss some things about what can be done for employee recognition. He hoped that there has been some clearing of the air here and regardless of the outcome of this meeting he will still be a councilmember and that he will still ask questions in a more public forum. It won’t be a temporary policy but a change of attitude and a change of action policy. “I’m going”, is his commitment to the Citizens, Council, Staff, City Manager and the City Attorney.
Ed Simon did call in about the Quad runners and the field had been set on fire before and that was the concern. He addressed the Peace Officers Letter read at the April 7th meeting that was worded that Mayor Stevens had a sign put up in his neighborhood and that it was not the case. He mentioned that the suggestion that Mayor Stevens was for alcohol use in the Parks was only for a request for clarification for the proper criteria to deny permits. The Stop sign issue and these other items came before a full City Council. He felt that these accusations were untrue and it was wrong to stand by and do nothing while someone’s character was being assassinated.
Police Chief Shamblin responded to the comments that the sign that was referenced to was the Stop sign that was erected in the neighborhood. In response to the alcohol it was not understood why Mayor Stevens didn’t contact the Police Chief himself or the City Manager instead of going to the newspaper and having a newspaper reporter ask that question to the Police Chief.
Mayor Stevens response to the Police Chiefs comments was that “Going to you directly seems to get me into trouble.” He explained that it was a case of being questioning what was the criteria and wasn’t at the meeting when the decision came down. The Police Officers letter made a point that the vote was 4-0 only because he wasn’t there and that he wasn’t looking to change the policy. The Minutes from the City Council meeting show that Stop sign was an afterthought after talking about the crosswalk and the Stop sign was recommended by Councilmember Avilla and the second Stop sign was recommended by City Manager, Susan Price.
Police Chief Shamblin responded that Mayor Stevens was correct that the initial suggestion was to put only a crosswalk out there and that the staff were concerned because it was going to create a false sense of security out there.
Mayor Stevens mentioned that they had had a discussion about the validity of crosswalks and then staff did say that their recommendation was to not put a crosswalk. But he argued that if that’s the case there shouldn’t be any crosswalks in town where drivers do not pay attention to pedestrians.
City Manager Susan Price responded to the comment about the Police Chief having the discretion to issue alcohol permits and that the Mayor’s comments with the City Manager had been that he felt it that should not be the case. The Mayor was then concerned that if the Police Chief had that discretion that the Mayor then wanted to dictate what that criteria were for the Police Chief.
Mayor Stevens said, “I beg to differ with you I’m sorry, my quote stands in the paper.”
Pat Johnston commented that in regards to crosswalks that it would sure be nice to have one on Antelope east of Chestnut or some lights as that’s a dangerous street.
Leo Thurston made the comments that the more a person gets involved the more a person can make a mistake and people can come down on them. Mayor Stevens has been open to most people in the community and that’s why Mayor Steven’s is in trouble now. The field with the quads has caught on fire before and Mayor Steven’s is thinking ahead and might be trying to prevent a fire of devastation or put in the crosswalk for the future.
Mayor Stevens commented on the Villa Columba safety crossing that was accomplished as a result of their concern to provide safety. That project was partially paid for by Cal Trans and has been an asset and provided safety. The Stop signs on Lincoln were placed in barrels on poles but they are effective and solved a problem.
This is reference to Mayor Stevens attendance at the newly formed Dog Park Committee.
April 11, 2005
Managing Broker, Coldwell Banker C&C Properties
741 Main Street, Suite #2
Red Bluff, California 96080
RE: Your April 11, 2005 letter regarding statements by Mayor Larry Stevens at the Dog Park Committee monthly meeting on April 5, 2005
This is a followup letter to our telephone conversation today regarding statements made by Mayor Larry Stevens at your monthly meeting on April 5, 2005. I wish to respond and set the record straight as to the inappropriate and inaccurate statements made by Mayor Stevens.
Your letter indicates that at the meeting Mayor Larry Stevens made the statement that “the Committee was up against the City Council and that Susan Price, the City Manager dislikes dogs and three other members of the City Council were in her pocket, so our work was cut out for us when we go to them.”
As we discussed, I informed you that these remarks are blatantly untrue. While I currently have a cat that I have owned for about 12 to 15 years, I have also owned several dogs during my childhood and enjoyed them thoroughly. I do not “dislike dogs”.
Furthermore, as I said to you, I am dismayed that Mayor Larry Stevens would say that the “City Council is in my pocket” and that “all requests (should) receive consideration based on merit, not personal bias.” City Councilmembers are independent policymakers and I have always placed any item requested by the public on the agenda for the City Council to consider. I consistently maintain fairness with respect to every request that I receive for placing an item on the City Council agenda.
I am left to wonder the following: Why would Mayor Larry Stevens disparage me and three City Councilmembers with inappropriate and inaccurate statements that are not true? This item has not even been requested to be placed on the City Council agenda yet for City Council consideration. So how would Mayor Larry Stevens know that and why would he disparage and place out that rumor in the Public when it is in fact factually not true.
I appreciated the opportunity to discuss Mayor Larry Stevens comments at the Committee meeting with you and hope that our conversation addressed your concerns.
Please let me know if I can assist you further in any way.
Cc: Mayor and City Councilmembers
Linda Stevens, wife of Mayor Stevens, commented to City Manager, Susan Price, explaining that “many times when Susan Price has been dropping a packet off to do with the City for Larry, that Susan Price would practically be in tears to guarantee that their dogs were locked in the house.” She said that it was because Susan Price was in fear of the dogs and said, “don’t sit there and tell me any different.” She also mentioned that because of all the phone calls that Susan Price made to their house during, after and before meetings over the years Susan Price was known as the “other wife.”
Susan Price answered, “Thank you I do respond 24 – 7 to City Councils requests and yes I do have a fear of vicious dogs.”
Mayor Stevens mentioned that it was a great letter and that if he had said those things in that manner he would have been a bit surprised. He said that there were people at the meeting tonight who were at that meeting and he didn’t want to put words in their mouth. He remembered saying that he thought it would be an uphill fight for them to get it to Council, as it has to go through a lot of steps. He stressed that there are rules and regulations, approvals, permits, and departments that all have to get involved and agree. He had suggested they talk to the skate park people as they could attest to it. He had mentioned that the City Manager had a fear of off leash dogs and that’s what this park is all about. Susan had mentioned numerous times that she jogged and carries spray in case a dog comes at her. He commented that he didn’t think he was quoted properly in the letter.
Todd Bottke reiterated what he had said at the last meeting which was that our Country and our Constitution are founded on our separation of powers doctrine. Freedom of speech that allows everyone to get up and say what they want and the City Code that directs how the City is run daily and the separation of powers.
Kathy Nelson explained that she had been told that Mayor Stevens was pushing the mandatory garbage through along with a variety of other comments about city staff, and that she was also told that Mayor Stevens would be stopped in the near future and she claimed that information all came from Susan Price.
It was recommended by some that I sit and say nothing on this issue. However, I feel it is necessary to speak out regarding the inappropriate actions of Mayor Stevens.
In November of 2003 I was called into the City Managers office and informed that Councilman, Larry Stevens, intended to have me dismissed as the Building Director/Officer for the City of Red Bluff. Mr. Stevens was not present but had presented many false accusations against me. This is the 37-page letter that was developed and given to him to have me fired. Obviously, this action by Mr. Stevens occurred in violation of the Cities Code’s requirement that direction be given by council members only collectively, in a duly convened public meeting. Clearly, Mr. Stevens was acting of his own accord, without proper consultation with the rest of the City Council.
Fortunately, City Manager Price and the H.R. Department conducted an investigation which revealed that the allegations made against me were false.
Responding to the false allegations took over 80 hours of lost city work by myself and in turn placing an extra work load burden on other employees as well as putting building projects in the city behind over 2 weeks. This time was necessary to collect documentation and create a real time line and put them in place, which demonstrated allegations against me were false. I collected saved documentation of Building Dept./ Public Works Department/ Planning Department/ and Fire Department records and gathered over 225 pages of documentation and emails sent back and forth from contractors, developers, other city employees, and state agencies.
These are the documents that I gathered for myself. ( He raised a stack of papers.)
I know I would not be here tonight, nor would other employees who were unjustly accused of wrong doing, which was basically my whole department, if the above documentation had not proved beyond any doubt that this employee, like myself, was innocent of any wrong doings we both would be gone.
My only conclusion drawn by Councilman Stevens supporting these false allegations, was a total lack of trust shown by him in relying on the ability of the City Department Heads from my hiring selection board, the City Manager, and the non-bias investigative agency that was hired by the city to do my extensive back-ground check. The check took 9 weeks and went from age 16 through my military history my personal history, everything you could think of and everything proved to be true. I now work with these Department Heads daily and I have only the highest regards for their ethics and the duties they perform each day for Red Bluff as well as our City Manager.
I have reviewed the City Codes indicating that council members may give direction only to the City Manager, and only in a proper public meeting. Mayor Stevens obviously violated those requirements in my circumstances I know that Councilman Stevens requested the meeting with the City Manager concerning me and was present during this entire meeting. He then called the City Manager several times afterwards, asking for her to hurry up the process and terminate me. Even though the charges against me were determined to be false, to this day, I have never received an apology nor an explanation from Councilman Stevens as to why he did this and I do not expect one, nor will I ask for one.
I did, on my own accord, contact outside legal advise to protect myself from these accusations and was informed that I was a fool for not suing him, with the proof available against him and the allegations, and there was no way that I’d lose. I informed that attorney that I only wanted to protect myself from the wrongful accusations. My only regret is that I did not bring this to everyone’s attention at the time these allegations were proven false. Perhaps Mayor Steven’s personal attacks on employees and other departments would have stopped and we would not be here tonight if I had come forward.
I truly enjoy my job and the employees I work with each day. As an employee like many others working people for the City of Red Bluff, we only wish to have the respect we deserve and the support needed for the job that we perform daily for our community.
As Department Heads for the City Of Red Bluff, we have to make hard decisions each day that affect not only our lives, but the lives of other people. Sometimes these are not publicly popular decisions, but our job is to make them.
I can only admire the Councilmembers that called this meeting and support any action no matter what your decision is. My only request is that all concerned will put this behind us for the good of Red Bluff after your vote tonight and it will allow all of us to get back to the work of our City.
Mayor Stevens responded that he was familiar with what he is talking about but that there were some inaccuracies there. He claimed he never wrote anything or directed anything, never had the ability to do so as he is not in the Building Department.
J.D. Ellison, Sr. then asked why did Mayor Stevens call the meeting or never acknowledged he was wrong and the only reason he never said the other person’s name, as he was asked not to.
Mayor Stevens explained that there was an employee who had concerns and went to J.D. Ellison, and didn’t get satisfaction on their concerns. They then took it to the Human Resources and didn’t get any action and they asked the Mayor what the next step would be and the Mayor directed the employee to go to the City Manager, Susan Price. The Mayor explained that he was asked to sit in on the meeting at that time copies of that were distributed and the Mayor never knew the response that he had made and wasn’t a party to know what was done. He was present only at the request of the employee to be present. The City Manager flipped through a couple of pages and when they were through they left and a few months later that employee found that their job was eliminated. It was explained that the job wasn’t necessary because the big projects were out of the way but after some time had passed, the Council authorized the hiring of another part time person. Since then, two additional people were hired to help that department because of the fee holiday. Mayor Stevens claimed that he has never asked for any employee to be terminated.
Susan Price responded by saying, “That is not correct Mayor Stevens.” She wanted to indicate that this was an example of the Mayor’s inappropriate involvement in personnel issues of the City.
Mayor Stevens asked, “Well then why didn’t you ask me to leave the office because you thought it was inappropriate?”
Susan Price said, “I did.”
Mayor Stevens said, “ No ma’am you did not.”
Tessa Pritchard, Human Resources Director, asked Mayor Stevens if he had a lack of confidence in the Human Resources Department in the City of Red Bluff, as this was the first time she had heard comments in regard to the employee not being happy with Human Resources.
Mayor Stevens, replied that it was not up to him to decide whether or not he has a lack of confidence, but when an employee tells him that they have gone through the two appropriate channels and they are not satisfied is to respond with telling them to go to the City Manager.
Susan Price, City Manager, said that she couldn’t elaborate further but that there was more involvement by the Mayor in this matter.
Mayor Stevens explained that “it get’s into, he said she said “ and so much of what he’s heard tonight has been interpretation and framing of statements and ways things are being said. He disagrees with them as things did not happen in the manner to make their case. He told J.D. he was sorry if he had had some repercussion from that and only the City Manager knows the content of the work he had done or time he had spent and the Mayor had no knowledge of that.
J.D. Ellison, Building/Director Official, said that the Mayor’s allegations why the person was gone. He explained that he had the emails of where they conversed back and forth and the assistance that J.D.Ellison, Building/Director Official, offered to help that person get their license so they could be in the Building Department and that the person declined that. The way that it was happening was that they could no longer have people who were not qualified and he had tried to get that person to go to school and it came down to it that he needed to have inspectors to inspect in the field. That was how the City report read and the Mayor abstained from voting on.
Mayor Stevens explained that the reason he abstained was because he had the knowledge of the situation and when he did vote that way, he was questioned by others why he had voted that way. He explained that he didn’t ever remember asking anyone why they voted a certain way and that he believed they are all supposed to be independent thinkers and independent voters. Mayor Stevens said, “We win some we lose some and that’s what this is all about, that’s what tonight’s about. The majority will rule and whatever the decision is of the majority that’s what he will live with.”
Susan Price City Manager said, “The topic is the appropriate roles and responsibilities of the Mayor and City Councilmembers.
Jason Brown explained that the difference between an inquiry or demand is easy to answer as it’s in the dictionary. The fact that the Mayor asks the question is not a violation of the code and he hadn’t heard any real direct evidence that he has inappropriately made actual demands or given direction. In regards to the cannabis issue, as an advocate for patient rights, he explained that the decisions before the Council have been unanimous and it was the patient community to ask for a uniform guideline. He asked which Councilmembers were responsible for the original Special Meeting where Councilmember Frey and Mayor Stevens were absent.
Councilmember Flynn explained that he had made the first call for the meeting.
Patsy Kenyon apologized to Russ Frey and mainly had questions as to why the Council didn’t talk to Mayor Stevens for some time and why did they elect him as Mayor knowing about the problems. She wondered if they had discussed these things or looked into them or if the Department Heads came back to the City Manager about the concerns. She also wanted to know did the City Manager know that both of the men were going to be out of town when the Special Meeting was called. She mentioned that these kinds of things have hurt the Council and the Town and all of these people here and her comment was that, “you guys need to figure a way to heal that.”
Councilmember Flynn felt that he could take the blame as much as anyone for how it transpired. They had attempted to have this be addressed behind closed doors without bringing it to the Public’s attention and they were attempting to talk about it. Some demands were made and complaints were made to the Councilmembers and he explained that when you get a certain amount of complaints you have to take action and do it right away. They may not have gone about it 100% the right way, but they were trying to do what they needed to do to get a job done. Councilmember Flynn was not personally aware that Mayor Stevens was going to be out of town and his calendar didn’t even show that he was going to be out of town. A calendar did show up on the 7th on the day of the meeting that he was going to be gone but Councilmember Flynn didn’t know it until then. He did know that Councilmember Frey was going to be gone and personally he thought it might have been easier on him and made a bad judgement on that case maybe. But if they don’t act on complaints, they are not doing their job, and that’s what they did it and they only have a certain amount of time to react and he suggested the City Attorney elaborate on that.
Mayor Stevens reminded Councilmember Flynn of one occasion when he felt left out of the communicative loop and he voiced that to the City Manager. He got an email back from Councilmember Flynn saying to the Mayor that he didn’t have time to read everything and get involved in everything that goes on at City Hall, and explained that it would be micromanaging. Mayor Stevens felt that asking for information, which was what he was doing, was semantics and allowing the City Manager to issue her concerns it was allowed to be done at a time that was set aside for the City Manager’s performance review.
It was Mayor Stevens’s impression that they only talk about things that are on the Agenda and that is why he left the room.
Susan Price, City Manager, said that she differed with him as to that and explained that the City Attorney can speak to that. Without getting into privacy rights she explained that she did not believe that was why he left the room.
Mayor Stevens replied that “they could speculate as to why and that he is telling her why he left because he didn’t feel he had the opportunity to work the process.” He explained that last Tuesday on the Agenda the amendment to her contract came up on the Agenda. He explained that the reason he voted no was because he had a question regarding Section 7, as to why a letter had not been written, according to her contract to identify the findings of the Council and her performance review and that he had said this the past Tuesday. He also said that he would like to have a copy of the letter that was to be given in writing as to the City Manager’s goals with the realistic period of time for her to achieve those goals and priorities. The City Attorney had assured Mayor Stevens at that time that some mechanism would be gotten to see that he got that information. He expects that that information will be forth coming. He explained that “this is what this is all about tonight and that it's not a legal thing in a sense that it's a court of law and people here aren’t sworn to tell the truth tonight. It’s up to everybody’s impression as to whether or not they believe Susan, the Mayor or anybody.” He explained that “when he goes home tonight and he lays his head on the pillow, he has to know that he says what he believes to be the truth, what he recollects, and what he is able to find among documentation to prove his point.” He mentioned that he has a nice big fat binder and he would be more than happy to share it if anybody would want to see the statistical information he has and some of the things he would like to share. He felt it was too much time right now to go through it item for item.
There was one point that he did want to get back to, which was when the charge was made about his son in a traffic accident. He explained that when the accident took place, the Redding Police Officer said it was too cold and too wet. The Mayor explained that his son had his wife and mother in law in the car with him and mentioned that they were shaken up, they weren’t bleeding per se, but they were in a state of shock from having been hit. The Police Officer referred them to go to the Police Department and didn’t say that he would meet them there. He just said if you want to file a complaint to go. Mayor Stevens explained that he had the documentation of what transpired with that. He mentioned that when he responded to the POA’s letter in the Newspaper article, that it mentioned that a complete Police report was not taken and there wasn’t any further work that could be done because it was after the fact. Consequently the Insurance Company that covered the person that hit his son’s vehicle had gotten away with it. A sideline comment made to him by the Chief of Police at the time was “that’s the way Redding operates and that’s a given and they refer people back to the Police Department to take the report.” He commented that if his son knew where the Police Department was or the Hospital was, he probably would have gone. He had wanted to get home to where he felt safe and so he came and drove to St. Elizabeth. When the Mayor found out that this had all occurred that way the Mayor called the Redding Police Department talked to a dispatcher who explained that all they have to do is call in the local Police Report and then have them fax it to them. Mayor Stevens said that that was what he had asked for. Mayor Stevens didn’t know how this gets sorted out and mentioned that they are talking about history and about the past and not about the concerns. He explained that he had already told what his action plan will be for the future and it’s clearly up to the Council whether on not they want to accept that. He said, “that to err is human and to forgive is divine” as some people say. Other people say “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission.” He felt that he had to live with what he has said here tonight and hoped that he hasn’t let anyone down. He apologized if mistakes had been made and explained that he would try to do things differently and he would be more in compliance with what the wishes of what the Council wants. He mentioned that he will be more respectful of the time restraints on the City Manager and how he will approach things. He gave that directive to the City Attorney to share with the City Council Members and the City Manager in writing. He closed by saying that they are still here and still listening and still a part of the process and he hoped that never changes.
Al Shamblin, Police Chief, responded with a couple of clarifications that it was true that he had told the Mayor that Redding does not take an accident report unless there are injuries and the Community Service Officers take most of the reports up there. The Police Chief felt that he heard the Mayor say or imply that because the Red Bluff Police Department wouldn’t take a report, that the Insurance Company didn’t pay and his son didn’t get reimbursed. The Police Chief wanted to indicate that he believed that the Police Department did provide the Mayor with an accident form that he could fill out. He could then send it back to the Redding Police Department where the actual jurisdiction was, which would have documented all the information and then he would have turned it into his insurance to pursue the matter.
Mayor Stevens explained that he had it with him and that it doesn’t much matter now as it was more than a year ago. He offered to show what he had and what the Redding Police Department sent him as an end result. He felt that the Police Chief might understand it better than he will since he deals with them more frequently.
Al Shamblin, Police Chief, explained that he would be glad to look at it and clarified that he was talking about the actual form that the Mayor would fill out and then turn it into the insurance company to pursue.
Mayor Stevens did not recall receiving that form but did recall going to Redding a couple of days after that fact and they searched and found some kind of a memo that they gave to them.
Mayor Steven’s son made a comment and he pointed out that the Red Bluff Police Officers had done their job and that they had said it wasn’t a common occurrence because of it being a courtesy report. Because of the situation that had happened he didn’t know where the Police Department was in Redding. They were not on the side of the road but in a parking lot and he didn’t know where the Police Department was in Redding. The Police Officer had him pull into the parking lot and pushed his hood down and tie it up. He explained,“he was afraid to go anywhere in that town and he wanted to get back home where he felt safe with the people he knows.” He explained, “that the Red Bluff Police did all that they could.” He explained, “that the reason why nothing could go any further was because the Red Bluff Police couldn’t go up to Redding and do a full Police report with the guy that ran the stop sign or get a report from the witness.” He mentioned that he felt that the Red Bluff Police did their job to the best of their ability and that he appreciated that.
John Elko said he didn’t know Mayor Stevens other than his visits to the City Council. He explained that he felt that the Mayor is sincere in his efforts to serve the community and he suggested that the City Council accept his apologies, give him a chance to repent and to vote to keep him as Mayor for his term and to put this issue to rest.
Ed Simon felt that something that had become clear to him was that some people have an idea that they need to go really far to get information and other people believe that that is micromanaging. He felt that if they would come up with some kind of solution or agreement to where the Councilmembers know exactly how deep they can dig and then the City Manager picks it up when they reached a certain point. He suggested they let Mayor Stevens serve out his time and that this has more to do with personal attitudes than the true function of the City Council.
Charlie Mullen clarified in regards to the Wal-mart incident that the City did issue a temporary Use Permit to Lance Hall and Wal-mart did put two storage containers at the back of the store this past Christmas season and he did not know whether they rented additional space.
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, responded to statements directed to him in previous statements. The City Attorney was not at the Closed Session that was referenced, however the City Manager reported publicly that she felt she was having difficulty doing her job due to interference from Mayor Stevens. If she had reported that in the Closed Session in question here, it would have been consistent with the topic of the Closed Session, which was her Performance Review, which was about her ability to do her job. There was also a question about the Contract with the City Manager and the Performance Goals and it appears there may be some unfinished business there in establishing written performance goals and the Council may wish to and can if it likes, schedule that topic for a future closed session.
Councilmember Flynn mentioned that when he received complaints that he took action to call a Special Meeting and he then asked the City Attorney to address why they did that.
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, explained that as he stated in the very beginning of the evening, that the City as an Employer, as any employer, has an obligation to take reasonable steps to provide a work place free from harassment and allow employees to work in a work place that is not a hostile work environment.
When presented with employee complaints, the law imposes a requirement that an employer take prompt and reasonable steps to address the circumstance.
Mayor Stevens requested clarification about the Wednesday before he left for Mt. Shasta and how he was contacted by email by the City Attorney requesting that the Mayor meet with the City on Friday and he explained that he was going to be in Mt. Shasta on Thursday and Friday and that he couldn’t do it and the Mayor asked for a later date of the upcoming week. They agreed to a date with an approximate time and a location to be determined at the direction of the City Council. After a few hours the Mayor was notified by phone that an Agenda had been prepared and given to the Red Bluff Daily News and he was asked what he know about it and he claimed that he knew nothing about it. The Daily News read it to him and he was surprised. He went to the meeting in Mt. Shasta because the Vice Chair Person of the Area 2 Board had an issue with a family death and could not attend the meeting. Mayor Stevens had to go to the State Funded meeting that had been set up long in advance. He then received a comment back from the City Attorney suggesting Monday and asked if the Mayor wanted to do it then. He felt at that point that the Council had made a request of him and then didn’t have faith in that process working and so they moved forward with a call for the Special Meeting. His feelings were hurt then and his feelings are hurt now. All of this having been said and all of this having been done he didn’t think any of us can change, not one iota, of what’s happened. What has happened has happened. The thing is how do we go forward how do we improve things in the future, how do we get about doing your business, and how do we mend the fences and work together to do just that. He claimed that his proposal still stands as to what he gave in the information to the City Attorney that he was willing to do. I made a commitment to the Councilmembers, the City Manager, and to all of you publicly tonight. If he doesn’t stick to it then they have exactly the right thing to do and that is to remove him as Mayor and if someone thinks that he has then violated that, then move forward with a recall and he would sign the petition. Otherwise he hoped and asked that they consider their action and take his word seriously as a solemn promise and go from there.
Councilmember Brown thanked all of the Citizens for being here tonight and making their feelings known and it has been a long couple of weeks and that they do pay attention and they do listen to what you say. To the Councilmembers he wanted to apologize for not asking for an adjournment at the April 7th meeting when he realized that Mayor Stevens was not going to be there. He did not know he was out of town until he got to that meeting and found the schedule on the desk. He told Mayor Stevens that it will never happen again and he has already addressed his concerns for that error to Susan Price, City Manager, and it was extremely unfortunate. If he would have known better he would have called for an adjournment and they should have done that and it was a big mistake that they made. Even though on that night there was a lot of support for Mayor Stevens and criticism of the Councilmembers tied to Mayor Steven’s disability. They haven’t had any of that referencing tonight and he doesn’t know why that stopped, but he considered all of those comments that night criticizing the Councilmembers and supporting Mayor Stevens because of his disabilities an insult to Mayor Stevens. He feels that the Mayor is a man that has devoted a lot of his life to achieving some degree of equality. He has not known Mayor Stevens for long, but to his knowledge Mayor Stevens has never wanted to use his situation as a leverage point. Within 24 hours of the April 7th meeting they received many emails from disabled groups from many places in California and he does not know how they found out about that meeting so fast. But before they went to that meeting they had received many emails criticizing them for bringing this up about Larry and many used his disablement as part of that and they couldn’t believe that we were doing that. Many of them didn’t know Mayor Stevens and it was interesting how that happened or why more of that didn’t happen tonight. During his short time on the Council there were two people on the platform tonight who have given him all kinds of information and they included both Mayor Stevens, and City Manager, Susan Price. Almost from the beginning they begin receiving notices from situations from employees who felt uneasy after what they felt was inappropriate by Mayor Stevens. After that Closed Session that night he called the City Manager, Susan Price, to talk about these things between Mayor Stevens and the employees. If Mayor Stevens would have stayed at that meeting that night instead of leaving, when he said he was ill, all of this may have been avoided. He truly believed that any work place where someone intentionally or unintentionally creates an uneasy or disrespectful or disruptive situation has to be dealt with. In these situations from what he can see Mayor Stevens has stepped over the line. From all the complaints they’ve received on a regular basis it appears that something is going on. There is a correct way to conduct yourself with respect to these folks and you have to treat employees with the utmost respect if they expect performance and respect in return. He believed following proper channels is possible. If they don’t get the results they want they have ways to deal with it with the City Manager. They are the final authority in the City as long as they are elected by the Citizens. Being a Councilmember is a very humbling reality and Mayor Stevens said to him the very first week that they would see how very little power they have and that is very true. The one person who has had to answer to the Council is the City Manager and they have spent way too much on the subject and they have so much more to do. He commented that Councilmembers Flynn’s statement on April 7th was that he and others have spoken to the Mayor previously about this and he either didn’t change, refused to respond, or had a useful dialogue in resolving these issues and added please correct me if I’m wrong. I do believe that you believe that you are only doing good and watching out for the best interest of the citizens. I do believe that you believe at times that you are possibly the only Councilmember who can a do a Councilmembers job correctly. In conclusion, because of all the uneasiness you have created in City Hall, it is my suggestion that you seriously and with the best interest of all concerned reconsider your position as Mayor and all it entails and submit to some kind of monitoring by Council in respect with your contact to City Staff or on your own step down as Mayor so we can get this behind us and carry on with the business at hand.
Someone has launched this coordinated attack on the hardest working member of this Council, who is just trying to serve the Public and be their Champion and watchdog and to ask questions in order to make the right decisions. This attack whether or not successful will not prevent him from being an active City Council Member. It’s only possible aim is public humiliation. The level of Public support is overwhelmingly in Mayor Stevens favor and rightly so. We were elected to reflect the people’s will and we have heard their voices for the past two weeks and tonight loud and clear. They want Mayor Stevens to remain as Mayor. Let’s end this defiance of the Public’s will so we can get on with doing the Public’s business. Take your vote now and let’s all see if you are truly intent to listen to what the Public is clearly saying, retain Mayor Stevens.
I think I’ve served the longest with Mayor Stevens we came aboard seven years ago and Mayor Stevens probably is the hardest working Councilman we have. Supervisor George Russell earlier stated that this is a waste of time and it this has been brought up by some other people and Council and it is true it is a tremendous waste of time. But something has to be done. We are sitting up here to make hard decisions. I really believe that Mayor Stevens is sincere in what he does, he just doesn’t know when to stop. This has been going on from when we first started and it wasn’t near as bad but it just kept pecking away and pecking away and something has to be done.
I’ll keep it short and I think I’ve said enough and I agree that I think Mayor Stevens has done a lot and worked his tail off to accomplish a lot of things. I feel kind of bad tonight because he really hasn’t admitted that he’s done anything out of the ordinary and he has arguments for everything that has gone on and I really doesn’t see a change in attitude. He’s sorry that we’re at this point, but I don’t see that things are going to be any different. While I was Mayor I brought up the subject of micromanaging at several meetings and the City Manager has addressed this with the Mayor several times. I wish he had taken this information to heart a long time ago. The ADA letters and emails that I received I felt was an insult to us and to Mayor Stevens. I didn’t appreciate them. We had a gentlemen that is going to come up here and he’s going to make us abide by a lot of ADA rules and I think those threats and letters are inappropriate. With that I would make a motion to get this meeting over with.
Mayor Stevens commented that he doesn’t know what more I could say then what I’ve already said. Being Mayor or being a Councilmember I still want to ask questions. I’ve said that I will do it in another fashion, I’ve said it through the City Attorney and publicly to you. If Council decides that me being Mayor or not being Mayor is anything more than a slap and to try to get my attention, you already got my attention, I’ve said that. Anything beyond that will be left up to you to decide how you feel and what if anything you want to say further about it in whatever form you want to say it. I’ve said my piece, I believe what I’ve said is to the truth the best of my knowledge and that Mayor or Councilmember, I will always work for you and try to be respectful of what your needs are and if you come to me with a concern I’m going to be involved. I will take it to the City Manager, and I will take it to Council if it needs to be an agenda item. Your voice will be heard and you won’t be shut out of the process. On two different newspaper articles that I was asked to write by the Red Bluff Daily News, I’ve made reference to the fact that people need to be involved. I only wish that at each and every one of our Council Meetings we had this many people this interested in what’s going on at City Hall.
M/S/C Flynn, Houghton to remove Larry Stevens as Mayor of the City of Red Bluff effective this date.
AYES: Councilmembers: Flynn, Houghton and Brown
NOES: Frey and Stevens
ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None
The Seat of Mayor is now vacated and the seat of Mayor is now available.
The meeting was turned over to Mayor Pro Tem Houghton to conduct the election of Mayor.
Councilmember Flynn asked if they could appoint a Mayor at another time or do they have to do it tonight.
Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, explained that they did not have to do it tonight and in the absence of the Mayor the Mayor Pro Tem assumes the Mayor’s duties and it could be placed on the Agenda for the next meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Houghton felt that it should be done tonight.
M/S/C Houghton to nominate Forrest Flynn to fill out the remaining term as Mayor.
The Motion died due for lack of a second.
M/S/C Flynn, Houghton to nominate Russ Frey to fill out the remaining term as Mayor.
AYES: Councilmembers: Flynn, Houghton and Stevens
NOES: Frey and Brown
ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None
At 9:45 P.M. Mayor Pro Tem Houghton adjourned the meeting to May 3, 2005 at 7:00 P.M., in the Red Bluff City Council Chambers.