Over the years I’ve received a number of complaints about my steady criticism of the city’s council majority. This is especially true during the past four years or so. My only answer to such complaints is that it’s my job to seek out and reveal the truth in public matters affecting our city when and where I can.

I haven’t been writing this opinion column for nearly 25 years in order to curry favor or make friends. And, I can truthfully say, I’ve had more than my share of success in making enemies. I am accustomed to that reaction; these days I only find it annoying. If I couldn’t express my opinion openly and fully, under the extraordinary protection of that glorious First Amendment, I would have found other work long ago.

This preamble is my way of explaining why Gazette readers have read so much sharp criticism of the Fillmore City Council majority during the past four years. Fillmore city government has been in a state of progressive collapse during that time. For those who have been paying attention, we are now in the winter of our discontent. We are, as a city, bankrupt due to the policies and practices of a mostly inexperienced, emotionally unstable, and stubbornly incompetent council majority. Their motto may as well be: Cling to mistakes, never admit fault, and slander all knowledgeable opposition.

In large part they have succeeded. The Katzenjammers, as I have branded them, were successful in taking over the entire city government. Nearly all professional, experienced, knowledgeable employees have been fired, laid-off, or escaped to normal jobs elsewhere.

I say “nearly” because a few vestigial stalwarts from the old régime remain, for the time being. One of the best is our current City Attorney, Ted Schneider.

In what is one of the most bizarre tactics I’ve witnessed from a council member in the past 25 years, appointed Mayor Gayle Washburn has colluded with our City Manager Yvonne Quiring, to oust Mr. Schneider. She did this by calling his law firm and demanding that Schneider not return to city hall.

Washburn has denied that this happened. Washburn, had she been under oath, would have perjured herself.

This was not only an action bizarre in its unprecedented nature; it was wildly beyond Ms. Washburn’s authority, for reasons which will be explained in later editorials.

Schneider has won every legal action brought against the city during his time as city attorney. He has cut his fees in a generous attempt to assist the city in its time of dire fiscal need. He has successfully involved co-counsel members in what is described as “a very complex lawsuit”(the tax suit). That lawsuit will begin in January. If lost, the city could lose millions and be liable for very large legal fees. However, foolishness continues to drive Washburn, Brooks, and Sipes to replace the city's legal counsel at this time. The council majority continues to ignore sound legal advice, guided instead by emotion and a peculiar personal vendeta against Schneider. And, I hasten to add, he has been a gentleman during a trying time when council members on the majority side have been dismissive, rude, and insulting to him without cause. His patience has been remarkable during this time.

The problem is, Mr. Schneider is intensely disliked by Ms. Quiring, our manager. I should add that Ms. Quiring is disliked by nearly everybody who has had to deal with her during the past two years – as two open Letters of No Confidence have proclaimed, as read by former Mayor Scott Lee, from the council dais. Would that we only had $300,000 to buy out her contract as the City of Lathrop, her former employer for 15 months, voted to do. Washburn, Brooks, and Sipes are the crutches that support her destructive activity.

Ted Schneider and the members of his law firm, as Councilman Conaway has demanded, deserve a full apology from appointed Mayor Washburn and her manager.

If I were Mr. Schneider, I would contemplate a lawsuit against Ms. Washburn for defamation per se. But then, I think he’s too much of a gentleman.

Next week I hope to have the time to tell you what I really think about this situation. People of Fillmore, you had better wake up before November.