Finding Number 24 of the Grand Jury report is particularly disappointing and alarming because it suggests that I lied in a statement on November 3, 2009. This was after I provided sworn testimony and documentation to support the statement provided.
This is a very serious matter so let me be clear. The Grand Jury report, Council Member Cliff Thompson and the City Attorney MEMO not only suggested that I lied; ALL THREE misrepresented my statement.
The Grand Jury report stated the following:
On November 3, 2009 the City Manager issued a statement in open forum of the Taft City Council; the statement included the following excerpt “To the best of my knowledge, the issue regarding Employment Contracts began on August 12, 2009 at 1:58 a.m. when (name omitted) sent an Email to (name omitted) and copied me.”
Cliff Thompson’s misrepresentation stated the following:
On November 3rd during City Manager statements Bob Gorson issued the following statement “To the best of my knowledge, the issue regarding Employment Contracts began on August 12, 2009 at 1:59 am”
The City Attorney MEMO dated April 6, 2010 stated the following:
On November 3, 2009 the City Manager issued a statement in open forum of the Taft City Council. The statement included the following excerpt, “To the best of my knowledge, the issue regarding Employment Contracts began on August 12, 2009 at 1:58 a.m. when (name omitted) sent an Email to (name omitted) and copied me.”
ALL OF THESE ACCUSATIONS ARE NOT TRUE!
My statement actually read exactly as follows:
City Manager Statement
I have not and would not fail to follow Council policy direction. As of this day (November 3, 2009), the Taft City Council has NOT directed me to get “at will” Department Head contracts approved by Council Resolution.
I want to address the misunderstanding regarding Employment Contracts between myself and the City Attorney’s office. To the best of my knowledge, the issue regarding Employment Contracts began on August 12, 2009 at 1:58 a.m. when Cliff Thompson sent an Email to Kathy Gibson and copied me. In that Email he questioned the City Manager’s right to negotiate contracts with Department Heads and asked Kathy review and inform the Council and me. I responded with an Email to Kathy later on the same day (August 12, 2009). I also sent an Email to Kathy and Edward on August 17, 2009 and asked that one or both of them contact me as soon as possible. Edward Gordon responded with an Email on August 19, 2009. Edward Gordon sent the Email that had the City Manager Right to Negotiate Contracts MEMO as an attachment on August 18, 2009.
I will continue to follow Council direction and look forward to implementing the Council’s bold “Vision”!
Isn’t it interesting that the Grand Jury report, Cliff Thompson’s presentation during City Council statements at the Council meeting on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 and the City Attorney MEMO of April 6, 2010 are similar and ALL of them misrepresent the facts and are NOT true?
A reasonable and impartial person might also find the differences in what the Grand Jury stated in the Grand Jury report/Cliff Thompson presentation/City Attorney MEMO and actual truth to be disturbing. It is interesting and supports my belief that the Grand Jury process is biased and goes to great lengths to protect Cliff Thompson while slandering the majority of the Council and me by misrepresenting the facts.
This finding is especially alarming when one realizes that I also provided testimony and supporting documentation that prior to August 12, 2009 the Emails referred to in Findings numbered 8 and 10 were specifically related to Professional Service Contracts (PSA). The specific PSA was in regard to a consulting contract with Lawrence Tomasello to work on specific land use policies as directed by the City Manager.
It may be helpful for all reasonable and fair minded people to understand that past practice for the last twenty (20) years was for the City Manager to negotiate and enter into agreements with unclassified Department Heads. In fact, most of the Agreements and Amendments during the last 20 years were NOT approved by Council Resolution. If there is any question about that, I will be happy to provide the 20 year past practice and a lot of supporting documentation.
The Jenkins & Hogin, LLP opinion dated September 29, 2009 examined the Code provisions including Section 1-6-6 (C), 1-6-6 (P) and 1-10-2 and specifically concluded that “it seems clear that the effect of these provisions is to allow the City Manager to select unclassified employees and negotiate and execute employment contracts with them.” The same report concludes by stating that the Council may chose to more closely guide the exercise of the City Manager’s authority by amending Municipal Code Sections 1-6-6 (P) and 1-10-2 (G) to clarify the Manager’s contracting authority and the Council chose to amend the relevant codes on February 16, 2010. I have always followed Council direction and welcome the changes. At the same time, I have also always wanted to not only to create new policy direction for the Council but to also implement the new Council direction.
Cliff Thompson would like for people to think that everyone who disagrees with him at Taft City Hall is corrupt and he is the only person who puts the City ahead of himself. Well, Mayor Noerr stated that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want. People who were already predisposed to believe that Taft is not a very good place will continue to believe Cliff Thompson’s false allegations. I am also concerned about people who do not know me and key staff by reputation and do not understand what is actually happening here. With the exception of a rogue City Councilmember who has a hidden agenda and another Council Member who is a good man but does not understand the role of a Council Member, Taft is led by a Council that is dedicated to the community and has made policy decisions that have already benefited the entire community and have made other decisions that have laid the groundwork for a very bright future!
One might ask – What is Cliff Thompson’s hidden agenda? Only Cliff can answer that question but it has become clear that part of his agenda is to get me fired. When he was not able to get Council support, he expanded his reign of terror and went after other key employees. When that didn’t work, he expanded his attacks to include some of his Council colleagues. In short, this person is committed to destroying people and the planning efforts that the rest of us have worked very hard to create. We are now at a crossroad and need to move on and leave Cliff Thompson behind.
The majority of the Taft City Council and the other hard working and dedicated people at Taft City Hall have endured a tremendous amount of public humiliation, uncivil behavior, intimidation and all kinds of other tactics that Cliff Thompson considers a game. Everyone else just wants to serve our community and we have resisted legal remedies to this point because the rest of us do not want to harm this city in any way. Conversely, Cliff Thompson has damaged the people and plans that the rest of us have worked hard to create and implement and has even filed a $500,000 claim against the City of Taft. Everyone should realize that the truth will come out over time and the cancer that has damaged our community can be dealt with.
Finally, the Taft City Council has addressed and remedied all issues presented to them including the Grand Jury findings and recommendations and the majority of the Council is dedicated to the City of Taft and will provide policy direction that will benefit all of the citizens and other community stakeholders in the City of Taft. We encourage everyone to focus on all the positive things that have been planned for the City of Taft and welcome your involvement.