Bob Stroh
Bob Stroh

Last night’s city council meeting was both dramatic and anticlimactic.

I owe Mayor Walker an apology for stating in last week’s editorial that it appeared she was packing-up, selling her house, and headed out of state. I was wrong in assuming she was leaving the state, or the county, or city, for that matter. She took it upon herself to speak as a private citizen at last night’s meeting and bitterly criticize my carelessness in not verifying. She said she had no plans to leave the city. Therefore my concerns about who might be appointed to her seat on the council in the event she decided to leave were irrelevant.

For jumping to the conclusion that she would change her present city residency after selling her house I apologize. I learned of the sale of her house on press day and failed to check my facts. Again, I apologize. I will be sure to verify my facts in the future.

* * *

I guess this mistake lit my old nemesis Bob Stroh’s fuse. We haven’t heard from Bob in a long time, but he has apparently used this absence to distil and compress his once notorious vitriol.

Prior to the opening of the meeting he ambushed me by sneaking up and pointing a camera in my face and taking several photos. By “in my face” I mean within three or four inches. I returned the favor, and he skulked away to his seat.

During the public comments time, Bob excoriated my reputation as he has done so many times before. Bob has always had difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction during his diatribes. When I make a mistake Bob sees it as a lie, a filthy lie.

But when Bob lies about me it’s no mistake. One whopper I can never forget was when he completely lost it, referring to “my favorite abortion center.” Making such a scurrilous remark about someone who professes to be pro-life makes it the more outrageous. But, Bob did apologize that time, a couple of weeks later, in one medium, after posting in two. Of course, I have to forgive him, as I do once again for last night’s irrational tantrum.

Press the Play button above to see Bob Stroh.

There is a live wire running through all of this emotion and name-calling. It began with the local political group I dubbed the Katzenjammers. This is a tightly knit, highly focused, well organized and financed group of like-minded friends and acquaintances who set out to “take back our town”. Commendable for awakening community interest in city government, it has proved to be a financial and civic disaster. It began in earnest when the north Fillmore Specific Plan, showing nearly 1,000 homes first appeared in a half-page rendering in the Gazette. This led them to Measures H and I which they won. Then it was an exhausting fight over our new water treatment plant, which they lost. It goes on and on, past our hoped-for Business Park, etc.

Highest on its list of objectives was replacing city officials and employees whom they found to disagree with their agenda. A Katzenjammer majority succeeded in taking over the city council. Thereafter, we began to lose the most talented and experienced city officials and employees and all of their historical knowledge. After eliminating virtually all opposition (city manager, city engineer, city finance director, city clerk, etc. and three council members, they brought in interim and temporary replacements, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. They even criticized city legal counsel, after he reduced his fees by 20 percent to help in this fiscal emergency. They caused three fine planning commissioners to resign in protest. To this, Mayor Washburn said, “I don’t understand the animosity”. Councilman Brooks characterized the resignations as a political ploy. How clueless can they be?

They created a true mess, especially with the budget. They also created serious and expensive problems Vis ‘a vis state and federal laws and regulations, which must still be dealt with.

Without cause or reason even long-time professional firms dealing with city business were let go. A councilman dismisses a great Planning Commissioner arbitrarily, saying “time for new blood.” They bring in a new manager who every employee publically condemns as incompetent, and do nothing. They fought and criticized even the most beneficial programs (water plant) and financial arrangements (sales tax contract worth millions) without understanding what they were doing. Even today, recently, complaints are made about the tax contract which was lawful from the beginning (contrary to Bob Stroh’s opinion) by the court, and which will soon bring in $2Million. So, they hunger for that much needed money, but defame the city officials who created the contract. It was illegal, they said, it was even “immoral” they said, they’re now eagerly on the take.

The Katzenjammer issue is too long to relate here, but I am working at a detailed story to be published in the Gazette soon. A reasonable person will be shocked by the stubborn stupidity, malice, arrogance and incompetence of the Katzenjammers, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars their foolishness has cost the City of Fillmore.

I’m considering discontinuing all coverage of city council meetings if three good council members cannot be elected in November of 2012, or if a recall fails to materialize. These are the only two ways Fillmore can balance the council and replace our present city manager.

Consider this a preview of coming attractions.