In my 20 years as a resident of Fillmore I have not seen such anger, hatred, disrespect, and suspicion in and around city hall as I do today. This almost complete loss of civility and cooperation was caused by a very small group of highly organized and determined people who desired to take over city government.

That take-over necessitated, in the minds of these activists, the winning of two council seats (giving them a council majority with Patti Walker) and the replacement of key, upper echelon (mostly long-time) city employees. The plan was to promote the candidacies of political fellow travelers Gayle Washburn and Jamey Brooks, long-time associates of the group. If this could be achieved, Walker would be appointed mayor and Washburn mayor pro-tem, with Brooks locking-in the majority.

Enter non-resident (and failed ex-Mayor) Gary Creagle, campaign manager for Clay Westling, candidate for city clerk. The position of city clerk was to be radically changed. Westling had a lengthy list of changes he intended to implement, including giving orders to city staff and presiding at staff meetings. The existing city manager refused to let this happen, and shortly thereafter resigned. Westling has become, many believe, a mere go-fer for the new majority.

This new crew had fought for more than five years against the north Fillmore general plan. It promoted Measures H and I. They succeeded in achieving both goals. They also succeeded in driving-off the city’s four top employees, who refused to work with the new management.

They failed in their many attempts to destroy plans for the new water treatment plant, however. That plant, and the Design, Build, Operate method which was employed, exceeded everyone’s expectations – on time and under budget, by millions.

But the new hard core political city management drives on. For a splendid example of just how clueless Brooks, Washburn, and Walker are, Fillmore residents should be sure to view Channel 10’s video of Tuesday’s council meeting (views at 6:30). It’s my impression that Washburn got the ear of our temporary city manager and succeeded in convincing him that last minute changes should be made to the remaining 2 percent of treatment plant construction. Despite the truly beautiful job the present contractors have done, Washburn, Brooks, and Walker feel the need to make last minute changes; new bids for remaining work are contemplated.

It appears that only two objects (targets) remain on the political agenda for the new city leadership: a wish to chase away our Director of Public Works, Bert Rapp, and City Planner Kevin McSweeney. Both are very long term, distinguished employees of the city. The first effort by the new majority to further this goal was to deny requested contracts by these two worthy employees, who fear for their jobs. This decision was made by a supporter of the new majority, Bill Bartels, who has been promoted to Assistant City Manager by the group, given a 10 percent raise, and two assistants to help him do his job. If we should lose Rapp and McSweeney the new management will have won a clean sweep of all top management at city hall, and with it the loss of 60-some-odd years of institutional memory and talent. Winning control was not enough. They could easily have changed council direction without chasing-off talented, long-term employees.

Some of the new management’s political camp followers contribute mightily to the cause through at-council statements and letters to the editor. Among those is Bob Stroh, with whom I have debated these past three weeks.
The Gazette has published his latest pathetic letter this week. It’s about what I expected after he could not provide a reason for his June 19 letter condemning Councilman Conaway. He asked for examples of his unfair and untruthful tactics. I provided the first example; he could not answer. This was a clear, recent example. Why waste more time supplying the others?

This nasty dialogue would not have been necessary if the new management (Washburn, Brooks, and Walker) had not implemented such a scorched earth policy from the beginning. I believe it’s my responsibility to point out to Fillmore residents the injustice, favoritism, and gross ingratitude of the new council, as expressed against the loyal staff and employees at city hall.

This new group has done incalculable damage to city government. They also completely ignore the great accomplishments of the old council and employees. Above all, they are simply incompetent.

I have absolutely nothing to apologize for.