Whatever became of the moral outrage expressed by the Katzenjammer membership over the Owens&Minor tax sharing contract? I no longer hear their shrill condemnations of this agreement which will bring to Fillmore $800,000 to $1 million per year in tax sharing revenues – for the next 20 years. Where are those Katzenjammer condemnations which used to echo throughout the ranks, condemning former City Manager Roy Payne and past city councils for bringing this “immoral” agreement?

Of course these were the voices of those pious frauds (council members Gail Washburn, Jamey Brooks, Brian Sipes, and Patti Walker) who were at that time seeking public office. Their complaints were nothing more than political flatulence, but the effluvium overpowered any common sense remaining with the Fillmore electorate; these people really were elected. Katzenjammers like Bob Stroh and former, failed mayor and non-resident gadfly Gary Creagle, must be chortling over the success of their strategy to completely repopulate city government with their own luminaries. This change does not bode well for the residents of Fillmore who must abide by the results.

Briefly, here’s what the Katzenjammers have done: Those upper and middle city management members who saw the writing on the wall, and refused to work for the cabal, left early. Finance Director Barbara Smith took early retirement rather than deal with the new régime. Her position has not been filled to date. Former City Manager Roy Payne, serving as a coordinator for on-going issues such as the Business Park, resigned when the new council (utterly ignorant of his work) intended to review his work in order to decide whether to retain his services. In fact, there was no one around with sufficient knowledge of the importance of Roy’s work to be able to evaluate it. Then, City Manager Tom Ristau, who refused to have the new (Katzenjammer) City Clerk, Clay Westling, attend his staff meetings (something never done before, and a raw aggregation of power by Westling) and who was having to defend against increasing council disrespect, also resigned. Steve McClary, who had headed-up several critical, mid and upper level positions at city hall for many years, also resigned, and is now Acting City Manager for the City of Ojai. Most recently, Bert Rapp, Director of Public Works and City Engineer for nearly 20 years, resigned as well, to take a position of General Manager with a water company, giving him both a raise in salary and responsibility. Mr. Rapp had taken the brunt of Katzenjammer disrespect for at least four years, without complaint. His replacement has not been revealed, but whoever he/she may be, that person will not have Rapp’s nearly 20-year experience with the city’s infrastructure, which he largely rebuilt.

This exodus of management talent has not played out as yet. One has to wonder what the year 2011 will look like after the loss of the city’s most important and experienced employees. We have no Finance Director, no City Engineer, no coordinator for special projects, and we have two letters of no confidence in management from Fillmore’s employees.

What we have, instead, is a city council now composed of a majority of four Katzenjammers, a Katzenjammer city clerk, and a new city manager co-opted by the Katzenjammer council, and a city manager demanding to hire an assistant city manager. Perhaps it would be wise if future candidates for Fillmore public offices were asked if they are able to do the job without an assistant, or mandate that top tier positions must be filled only by candidates having the skill and experience to do that job without a highly-paid assistant. This would avoid unnecessary duplication of positions and the significant expense attendant to this duplication – especially during times of deep economic recession, when other employees fear for their jobs.

I believe this extraordinary series of city employee losses and economic challenges are directly due to the machinations of that group I tagged as Katzenjammers. After a long and energetic run, the dogs have finally caught-up with the car. Question: Now what are they going to do with it?

I have to thank God that Bert Rapp and American Water were able to finish our new award-winning water treatment plant before the Katzenjammers could stop the project, as they tried so hard to do.

The Gazette will publish a “State of the City” report soon. It’s got to be soon, before city hall completely disappears.