Your Voice: Kimball inspires, city leaders disappoint
Mar 14, 2014 | 6640 views | 7 7 comments | 205 205 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kimball walk inspiring

EDITOR,

How can you help your community? Kimball’s social science department chair Jared Rio and his field trip to Tracy Interfaith Ministries with his students was inspirational. Tracy’s residents need to realize they are not helpless when it comes to poverty in their town. More students should be aware of the ways to help the poverty situation in Tracy, and everyone should know that they can help others in their own community. Imagine the feeling of knowing you were a part of developing the solution to poverty in Tracy. It was very encouraging to read that the students themselves walked four miles to Tracy Interfaith Ministries. Their effort in doing so should be applauded. More residents of Tracy should take the time to see the many ways they can easily help out those who are less fortunate than they are.

Kaitlyn Hawkins, Tracy

Not surprised

EDITOR,

One has to believe that Leon Churchill was not at all surprised about the termination of his employment. That’s because the way such procedures are accomplished at the executive level — delicately. When Churchill’s “error of judgment” was discovered, the inevitable termination process went into motion. Some Tracy citizens, including myself, questioned what appeared to be the action or non-action of the City Council in addressing the Churchill issue. In ordinary times, there might have been less vocal criticism of the council. However, these are not ordinary times. Now, an extraordinary mistrust of government by citizens exists caused by revelations of corruption and malfeasance by government at all levels. The result has understandably created a “peasants with pitchforks” mentality. The gallery visiting the last public City Council meeting included many who were certain that shenanigans were involved in covering up the Churchill Caper — the “one bad apple” syndrome. Churchill supporters were also vocal, including a testimonial praising his ability to “get things done” compared to some previous city managers. (My personal reaction — high efficiency trumps a little larceny.) The same could be said about the Cosa Nostra.

When news of Churchill’s termination was released, the crystal ball unfogged. From past professional experience, it was remembered that personnel matters at this level are disposed of “in camera.” Therefore, details of the personnel action might not be made public in compliance with legal and contract considerations. The “week off with pay,” so widely criticized as a vacation, is a common courtesy allowing the subject to contact his head hunter. By this time, Churchill knew the party was over. Hence, because of the confidentiality required, it can be presumed the council acted properly.

One council member in an earlier event described “we the people” as being stupid and uncaring. It should be noted that if that were to be true, the gallery would have empty.

Charles Norton, Tracy

State of the City

EDITOR,

In last week’s Friday edition of the Tracy Press, an ad was placed about the upcoming State of the City address. My question, what did the city of Tracy taxpayers have to pay for the ad in the paper? Why are we being forced to pay $20 if we want to attend? The cost is double that of a movie ticket, but at least you get professional entertainment. Then staging it on a Thursday morning, where most of us are at work or school, where many cannot take time off for another gathering of political turkeys. My fellow citizens, please, next election, clean house, vote them out the entire City Council. They failed us because they were to slow to act. They acted too late to fire our City Manager Leon Churchill and sent packing with a severance no less. In most organizations, public and private, they would have fired him that same day and given him no severance, because he broke the public trust. Doesn’t anyone read the Brown Act anymore? Now the issue of parking at Tracy High School, it has been an issue for years, just now addressing the issue rather than the school board. When we have a parking lot across the street, near the police station, a parking lot next door at the theater, plenty of parking at the old Heinz facility we can use. Then came the promise of high-paying Silicon Valley jobs coming to Tracy — well, they really missed the bus on that one. Years ago, our City Council sent Apple Computer, HP, Dell and Compaq packing by insulting them and their products. Then we have our City Council great victory celebration about Amazon, which ended up with no more than a few warehouse and forklift operator jobs. Please, next election, replace them with people that really want to serve our community, people that are tired of seeing Tracy the laughingstock of Northern California.

Al Galaviz, Tracy

 
Comments
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ketchupsavegetable
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March 16, 2014
Rosa, you wrote that you were not surprised that your comment was deleted. It sounds like you have a theory as to why. I also have an opinion explaining why certain things wind up in the Bermuda Triangle of Unwelcome Comments.
pcmiles
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March 16, 2014
Mr. Norton: I, too, once labored under the misconception that our City leaders would deal with malfeasance responsibly and professionally outside of the public view. After over four years observing them closely, however, I am quite certain that the truth is far simpler: the Council had no intent of removing Mr. Churchill, and would not have done so had these events not received broad public exposure.

There is absolutely no indication in the written reprimand given Mr. Churchill (www.tracy-ca.us/Churchill_2nd_Reprimand.pdf) to indicate this was the case. In fact, the signatures on the reprimand all post-date Mr. Helm’s exposure of this misconduct, suggesting that in the absence of public exposure no action whatsoever would have been taken!

Both Mr. Ives and Mr. Maciel, on January 7 and February 18, respectively, also stated unambiguously that Mr. Churchill’s statements had been dealt with as a personnel matter, and that the matter was closed. Why would Ives and Maciel make these statements knowing them to be inaccurate? These statements, followed by Mr. Churchill’s termination, only made them look foolish.

I don’t believe any presumption of propriety is justified.

ketchupsavegetable
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March 16, 2014
I wouldn't take it for granted, Mr. Norton, that "the party was over" for Leon Churchill. Without prosecution, he can come back, more likely as a contractor. I think it is assumed by those running things that the public has the attention span of a gnat. (No offense meant to gnats.)
rosa62
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March 16, 2014
I am not surprised that my previous comment was deleted. In essence it said that Maciel and Ives were the mysterious "Wolves in Sheeps Clothing" that Mr. Gumfudgen is searching for.

Ives and Maciel both changed their votes after realizing that Rickman, Mann and Young would not be swayed. Further, Ives and Maciel were unwilling to enforce the policies until they were caught red handed not holding Churchill to the same standard as the other city employees.
rosa62
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March 16, 2014
I also thanked Mr. Miles for bringing the truth forward and for sharing the copy of the disciplinary action given to Churchill, by the Mayor and Council.

It is very telling because it outlines Churchill's second infraction of credit card misuse and quotes the language listed in the city policy, along with the consequences of credit card misuse.

The most telling thing is the policy language which states:

"In 2012 we became aware of credit card misuse by an independent auditor's letter on that subject. That resulted in a performance reprimand letter to you dated August 22, 2012. In that letter you were told to adhere to city policy relative to the use of your city credit card."

"This policy was issued in January of this year and clearly outlines the areas in which you were in violation."

"As such the council will tolerate no similar issues in the future and take necessary actions should they arise. It is vitally important that staff members at all levels adhere to city policy."

It then goes on to say; "The City Council is very concerned about your lapse of judgement regarding this second related issue." cont.
rosa62
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March 16, 2014
They then go on to cite the city policy Section they referred to in their memo.

The policy very clearly states that the use of a city credit card for personal purchases, even if the employee intends to reimburse the city in the future, is strictly prohibited and could result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

I guess I am curious why it took two instances of Churchill using the city credit card, in violation of the policy, before the Mayor and Council took action? Churchill's situation is finished but the entire event does nothing but raise questions about the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem's ability to make clear and concise decisions that are in the city's best interest.

I can only imagine what other indiscretions are being dealt with behind closed doors and how they the other city policies are being loosely enforced.

I think it's time for a house cleaning at City Hall and it's time for the citizens of Tracy to stand up and demand transparency from their government.


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