Realities Revealed

THIS IS NOT MEANT TO BE AN EDITORIAL, though I do editorialize. What is usually about 500 words has been stretched to 6,500. This will provide source material covering important election issues.

This material is not in any particular order. Some goes back to 2007 when the city’s biggest issues were being fought out. I have gathered a representative number of false charges, statements and information from members of that small group I call Katzenjamers, which includes former mayor Patti Walker, Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, Clay Westling, Brian Sipes, Bob Stroh, (non resident Gary Creagle), and a few of their minions.

No one will ever understand what has happened to the City of Fillmore during the past 8 years without realizing that every aspect of city government has been overtaken through the efforts of these few people. This is something entirely new to Fillmore. This group methodically succeeded in replacing the city manager, staff and employees while implementing their destructive agenda to halt all construction in north Fillmore and the water treatment plant by deceiving the public. This happened in the election of 2008. I pray it doesn’t happen again in this year’s election. For the good of this city, Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Clay Westling have to go. They continue to blame everyone and everything but themselves for the sorry condition they have left our town after the past 4 years.

For the past four years the city council has existed with a four-to-one majority. Only the presence of Councilman Steve Conaway has enabled the truth to come out, and he has been reviled for his efforts to let the light shine in. The following statements are intended to demonstrate to Fillmore voters just why Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Clay Westling should be replaced in this November 6 election.

This is also a generalized rebuttal to a host of false and misleading allegations by Bob Stroh and Gary Creagle concerning city government. This job proved to be larger than anticipated because of the number of these allegations, going back years, some more than 8 years. Also, the picture is much darker than I realized. I’ve been naïve, and I hate naïveté. After reviewing the video tape of the last meeting it has become clear to me that something new and very serious is being created. This article is much too long for an editorial, so it will be placed on It is a roughly focused collection cobbled together from among thousands of communications, going back to about 2007. It should answer many questions about the choice of water treatment technologies, the high cost of water, the cost of various public facilities, election behavior, the competence of past council members and city managers, etc. It is, of course, nowhere near complete, and more is to come. This should, among other things, give every fair-minded person an idea of just what an extraordinary amount of thoughtful effort went into deciding on what sort of treatment plant and what technology was best for Fillmore. EVERY city and town that has more than a slit trench for waste disposal is battling horrendous increases in the cost of water. Blame liberal government representatives who forced us to comply with their outrageously unreasonable (and ever increasing) water quality standards, not our former city councils, city managers, and (especially) not our former City Engineer, Bert Rapp. This was not some extravagant “Cadillac” plant. It was such a good deal for Fillmore (being under the state and federal gun) that our plant is being copied across the country – where they are also screaming about the high cost of water. [See LINK 1]

While Creagle’s blather is easily countered [See LINK 2] Stroh’s attack is more personal and pointedly malicious. But they work as a team, supporting the council majority. Stroh’s intent is to cause damage. I think of him as the Katzenjammers’ malevolent Minister of Propaganda.

Video is a wonderful thing, and all meetings are videotaped by both the city and the Gazette. I invite everyone to view the tapes of past city council meetings and decide for themselves just what is going on.

Let’s begin:
Gary Creagle (campaign leader for Brooks and Westling) admonished the Gazette for reporting that he and Jamey Brooks had posted campaign signs without permission and against posted prohibitions, despite the photos. Yet, he told the council that he did have permission. However, this was a childish lie, and he was forced to remove the signs. The signs have not returned. This may seem like a small thing, but it is a blatant lie, just like the Perry Ranch story about “Shorty” Crockett. That story, designed to cast aspersions on former city attorneys and our former city managers, was totally faked. [Also See LINK 2] Stroh and Creagle lie with the ease that comes with habit.

Gary Creagle made the following comment at the March 22 WRP workshop at the Memorial Building: He stated that “When I was on the Council [1988] the City had $7million in reserves!". Another Creagle falsehood. The truth: When Creagle started as a Councilmember the City had approximately $1.5million in the general fund. When he left office in 1988 the general fund had just under $600,000. The general fund decreased by $900.000 during Mr. Creagle’s tenure as a Councilmember. He was also harried out of politics by an unsuccessful recall movement.

Council meetings today.
Some attendees, two meetings ago, may have observed a Sheriff’s deputy posted at the chamber entrance. I learned he had been called in because rumors had circulated that violence was a possibility. Those rumors were circulated by the Creagle-Stroh cabal. At the last council meeting two deputies were called in. I was briefed by the Sheriffs Department and told that statements and behavior by the crowd of Creagle and Stroh supporters (raucous cheering and clapping for the Stroh and Creagle) added fuel to Stroh’s inflammatory diatribes, causing serious concern. I also had a slightly deranged looking man in his 50s wade through the audience to stand directly behind my usual chair. He then followed me to the end of the dais and stood directly behind me. When I turned to face him he just glared at me. The man was reluctant to go to the rear of the chambers at Captain McGrath’s direction and was thereafter directed to leave the building. These are the kind of flies that are attracted to the malicious, malodorous fumes from Stroh’s podium rants at every council meeting, for years.

It was Jamey Brooks who made that triumphal announcement upon being elected to the council “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword”. I was impressed - with his lack of common sense. Any threat of violence is clearly caused by Mayor Gayle Washburn’s groupies, not by the single representative of the local newspaper. I should add. Nothing will ever prevent me from reporting on city council mischief.

Stroh needs to understand that even publishers of small town community newspapers have the right to defend their reputations against statements falsely and maliciously designed. His malice intensifies with the approaching election deadline. Consequences of Washburn’s negligence in managing attendants’ conduct during city council meetings (personal, slanderous, angry comments) by her supporters Stroh and Creagle, and loud, boisterous cheering and clapping are clearly her fault. It’s her way of fending-off public scrutiny and distracting from her innate incompetence. If objections to my editorial opinions cause this poisonous behavior at meetings, and the mayor is incapable of controlling the hostile oafishness of her political partners, she should resign. This is something that has never before existed in Fillmore’s history.

Another example of the Creagle mindset: The day after the 2008 election, when three of Creagle’s candidates, Washburn, Brooks, and Clay Westling, won seats at city hall, I received a phone call from an alarmed city official. “Martin! You won’t believe what’s happening here! Creagle had just burst into the upstairs offices at city hall and demanded to know where the office space for the new city clerk, Clay Westling, was. In a loud, boisterous voice, this (non-resident) campaign manager for Westling began walking about, pointing at various staff members, saying “You’re OK, or “You’re gone”. When I arrived Creagle and Westling had departed, and there were many unhappy staffers talking about the incident. Thus began the reign of the Katzenjammers.

Before that election (2008), I believe it was Thanksgiving Day, I was walking back to the office with camera in hand, when Creagle suddenly pulled-up the curb, parking at a radical angle, jumped out of his pickup and charged toward me, leaving his driver’s door open. While Westling stood near the pickup, Creagle stomped towards me, bumped into me with fists bared, yelling “I did not get thrown out of the council!” I thought he had gone nuts; didn’t have any idea what he was shouting about. It turned out that he was responding to a half-page ad that had run in the Gazette the previous week. The ad, placed by 5 former Fillmore mayors dismissed Creagle as a former mayor who turned out to be a loser, now supporting Westling, Brooks, and Washburn. Westling stood about 10 feet away from his manager looking surprised, and saying nothing. Creagle’s shouting attracted two Gazette staff members to the front door. Creagle was later cited by a Sheriff’s deputy for his conduct. After the election I passed by Creagle on Central Avenue speaking on his cell phone. As I walked by I overheard him say, “Well, we got three out of four”. It was a big day for the Katzenjammers!

Bob Stroh has characterized me as a religious bigot because I caution against the candidacy of Ms. Pella. No doubt she is a wonderful person. But, she is also a personal friend, political ally, and fellow pastor of the same church denomination as Jamey Brooks. Her comments stir my concern that she would be merely a clone of Brooks on the council (a disaster) when we need independent council members more than ever, not members joined at the political hip. This suggestion had nothing to do with religion. But Stroh saw another opportunity to attack, alleging I said I am a “congenital Catholic” and therefore a bigot. This foolish quote was false, never uttered by me.

Bob, do your Freethinker friends hate “organized religion”? Understanding this would at least help to explain your irrational hostility.

This peculiar lie of Stroh’s is easy to refute. But it deserves particular scrutiny because it reveals his hallmark malice. What would possess him to tell such a curious lie? He had searched the Gazette website and found my (3-year-old) response to a letter from Dennis DeCuir [See LINK 3] I had used the term “congenital CONSERVATIVE in that response. Stroh, true to his MO, completely changed the statement for the purpose of misleading his audience and to ignite animosity. His malice here is clear, as is his intent to paint me as a religious bigot. I expect he will call me a racist next. I am indeed a happy Catholic, but have always been equally happy with the task of facilitating the welfare of every church in Fillmore. I would like to hear from any church member who thinks I have behaved otherwise (anonymously if they wish). They have my 24-years as publisher of the Gazette to reflect upon. Provocative political deceit is Bob Stroh‘s trademark and a major reason for the outpouring of ill will during city council meetings. I think being a Freethinker prompts this attack.

Stroh (and Creagle) are personal and political friends of the council majority, Jamey Brooks, Gayle Washburn, and city clerk Clay Westling. Former mayor Patti Walker is always there as well. I welcome criticism and differences of opinion. But there are limits to this great thing we call free speech. Stroh has crossed the line.

As I responded to Ms. Walker, I’m preparing a documentary on the Katzenjammer years (hopefully soon past). It’s fortunate that their antics have been captured on videotape, and interesting that city clerk Clay Westling, an original groupie, bragged about just how this group was formed [See LINK 4]. It makes a long-standing pattern of conduct easier to understand. This was a political effort unprecedented in our city’s history, specifically targeting a take-over of all city government positions - and it worked. Fillmore has a new documented political party – the Katzenjammers. Only one councilman, Steve Conaway, is left of the old régime: for the past four years it’s been 4-1 on council votes. That’s an unhealthy condition – a one-party government.

My opposition to this group and to its destructive activity during the past 8 years or so is due to their outrageous mistreatment of prior city employees, staff and upper level department heads: what they did after they got in. Insulting, dismissive, and demeaning activity drove away the best, and intimidated others. [See LINK 5] This deconstruction of most of the good work of previous city managers and council majorities is a tragic loss, camouflaged by denials, misrepresentations, and flights to the closed session. The “Take Back our Town” slogan and agenda was just a vengeful grab for political power for its own sake; and for the purpose of replacing former employees and officials for personal reasons, as Brooks famously put it, “It’s personal, very personal” It also allowed the group to settle old scores, as with the Meyers law firm and Ted Schneider. “Taking Back our Town” like this destabilizes city functions.

The story began with the disastrous Measures H and I, which prevented 700 (ORIGINALLY 1,100) new homes from being built, dooming north Fillmore to generations of weeds. Those homes would have spread-out the water/sewer costs to all city residents by 20 percent. Instead, all of north Fillmore was condemned to foreclosures, destroyed businesses (Keller Classics) and a disrupted housing plan. That low income housing plan is still a serious, unresolved, expensive problem. This was an early Katzenjammer catastrophe. The people were fooled by false promises. The only thing that resulted from H and I is a mandated obligation to spend up to $300,000 to re-do the housing plan, and scramble to find space for low income residents. A very serious problem still without a solution, and without council discussion.

Next came opposition to the water treatment plant. Creagle. Stroh, Walker, Washburn, and councilmen Brooks and Sipes have repeatedly misrepresented and obstructed this project, delaying its construction for 18 months. Most of their objections are clearly answered in former City Engineer Bert Rapp’s letters [See LINK 6] Washburn’s alleged alternative treatment plans were always dead ends, arguing with the experts. [See LINK 7] [See LINK 8 PART 1] and [See LINK 8 PART 2]. Stroh, in particular, badgered and insulted City Engineer Bert Rapp for years. The Katzenjammers always charged Rapp and a multitude of nationally recognized experts on water treatment with misrepresentations, bias, and sweetheart bargains; all were untrue. The plant was built the best, most economical way possible, as is recognized by virtually technical authority today. But, it was still expensive!

The water treatment plan was bid out to three companies. Nationally recognized experts recommended the technology (which is commonly recognized now) and the plant was voted Project of the Year by Ventura County. Compared to Santa Paula’s new plant, built, operated (with problems), maintained and owned by the PERC company, our plant is owned by Fillmore and virtually flawless, with its operation guaranteed for 20 years. We were forced by state and county to build a plant, and to build it beyond our existing needs (thus its size, to accommodate 20.000 residents). The old plant was costing the city huge fines (something like $240.000 remains to be paid, with interest) and these fines are mandatory and cannot be forgiven. Again, we own our plant, while Santa Paula would have to pay $90 million to purchase their new plant. Read Peggy Kelley’s front page story (Santa Paula Times, Friday. Sept. 25. 2012) then ask which project, though they are very different, is best for its community. Headline: “SP has highest sewer rate of VC’ cities, City Council to consider alternatives”. Mayor Washburn and her group of’ supporters were in love with PERC; Washburn even addressed the Santa Paula council, lauding PERC, after promoting Vertreat and others for years. Santa Paula didn’t have to build a re-circulating system (different geology - $20 million) and that city, twice Fillmore’s size, should have provided water at a lower rate (economy of scale). Our high sewer/water costs are due to three things: absence of 700 new homes in north Fillmore (Measures H and I), a killer economy, and government mandates with unreasonable deadlines, carrying draconian fines ($10,000 per day). Criticisms by Creagle, Stroh, Washburn, Brooks, Walker, and fellow Katzenjammer travelers are completely bogus and self-serving. No project in city history was so thoroughly studied AND REPEATEDLY EXPLAINED TO THE RESIDENTS OF FILLMORE and Bob Stroh [Again, See LINK 6].

Washburn and Brooks have spent a lot time blaming the city’s financial troubles on expenditures such as the swimming pool and skateboard park. Washburn neglects to mention that she pushed hard for the two tennis courts to be finished before the swimming pool. She is an avid tennis player as are several of her political supporters. Those courts cost a half- million dollars, and, relative to the skateboard park, are lightly used. Skateboarders, on the other hand, outnumber tennis players about 20 to one, and their park is heavily used seven days a week, regardless of the weather. Should we have eliminated the tennis courts altogether or maybe used that half-million to finish the ball park?

“Work Order 37 [treatment plant] is not a new project, as Mr. Stroh would have all believe. It is the final phase. Approximately 2%, of the Professional Engineering contract, with AECOM which will test and document the Treatment Plant Startup and Performance. The scope of work was planned from the beginning. The funding of the anticipated work was calculated years ago. Reasonable people would want city to verify we are getting the performance out of the plant that is in the contract. Collecting baseline data is key for State Regulators and will be critical in the years to come. Work Order 37 was passed by the council. Inflow and Infiltration work on the sewer collection system was omitted from the motion. The work needs to occur, but the council wanted to provide opportunities for other Engineering firms to perform the work.” [Steve Conaway]

“And to the root of Mr. Stroh’s letter, the Mayor’s [Steve Conaway] trip to Washington D.C. to make a presentation at the US Conference of Mayors. Bob [Stroh] believes the trip was about Water Privatization. He couldn’t be further from the truth. Fillmore owns the plant and all assets. Fillmore has been told repeatedly, by one of our own, that we did it wrong. We couldn’t use Design Build Operate, it was illegal. We should have used the Acme Blasto-matic 9000 technology. Fact: Santa Paula saw a huge benefit in a DBOF contract. So much so that they started over after expending $3,000,000.00 dollars on their previous design. The County of Ventura tossed out their previous work and also changed to a Design Build Operate Plant. [Gayle Washburn and friends fought long and hard to prevent the DBOF plan] [Steve Conaway]

[Steve Conaway] “When at the conference I spoke to Mayor Coody from Fayetteville Arkansas. He related as story from his town of his effort to use the DBO approach for a vital water project. In the end his council chose to not use the BDO approach. Mayor Coody said, “To this day the plant is not completed and the project is millions of dollars over budget”. I’m proud to have contributed to the US Conference of Mayors. As was previously stated my comments came after the lowest qualified bidder was awarded the contract and the contract signed for our Water Recycling Plant. Objectivity wasn’t and issue then, it isn’t now. I see the benefit of not throwing the baby out with the bath water for the final 2% of the original work scope. Call me crazy for supporting the completion of the plant so that meets the State deadline. For those with wide screen Fillmore vision if the council had not approved the final 2% of the original planned work we could have violated the contract, placed the city and your tax dollars at risk of unnecessary legal costs and fines due to our work stoppage. Based upon facts and all relevant information the right decision was made to allow AECOM to complete the work they started over 6 years ago.”

“The Council did remove the sewer main repair work from the Boyle work because this was new work and could reasonably be put out for new competitive cost proposals.”
Bert [Rapp]

Here is another, among many, of Gayle Washburn’s suggestions for an alternative, cheaper, treatment plant. and the results [See LINK 7].

Even today Washburn explains her suggestion that the treatment plant construction plan could economize by eliminating non-reactive concrete. “It was just a suggestion” she recently said. The point here is that she is utterly ignorant of construction requirements, but recently selected herself to negotiate a new management plan with American Water, after rejecting Steve Conaway, who volunteered and who is more knowledgeable than any other council member. Though Washburn continues to fight American Water at every turn, and thanks to her impulsive activities, has effected several breaches of the contract she seeks to terminate (seeking to brake the contract without consulting American first), she must always have the last word. Conaway should have been the logical choice, but Gayle has been appointed mayor by her council friends, and it’s really all about her.

This is the sort of hair-brained idea Washburn continuously inflicted upon City Engineer Bert Rapp. Sometimes it was Vertreat, or MicroMedia. Then, her persistent pressure to drop American Water and switch to PERC, ad nauseam.

Stroh also dredges-up Councilman Conaway’s trip to D.C., long exposed as a false accusation, again propagated by Stroh (who knows the truth). After Steve Conaway’s trip to D.C. Stroh alleged shady, unethical conflicts of interest. It was an absurd allegation:
“Steve Conaway attended the Mayors conference because he knew Fillmore saved 15% on the Water Recycling Plant using the Design Build Operate process and wanted other Mayors around the country to know about the cost saving process. The Mayor’s conference paid for Steve Conaway to attend not American Water. American Water is only one of hundreds of members of the Mayor’s Conference.
Santa Paula was so impressed with Fillmore’s Design-Build-Operate process that they threw away about $3 Million in engineering plans to copy Fillmore. Similarly, the County threw away about $1 Million in plans for Piru to copy Fillmore. Mr. Conaway was trying to help other communities learn about the Design Build Operate process and not throw away money like Santa Paula and the County did.” [Roy Payne]

“Regarding bidding for professional services: Only licensed contractors can bid work for professional services for architects, engineers, attorneys etc the work is awarded on a qualifications basis with cost. This was done for the Boyle work at the beginning of the 6 year project. If the City changed the Engineering team for the last 6 months of a 6 year project it could cost the City millions of dollars, especially when the Boyle team is bringing in the project on schedule and under budget.” [Bert Rapp]

This is just another example of how Stroh attacks with provocative falsehoods. He’s a provocateur, like a union or Occupy leader

This is right up there with his telling people I have “a favorite abortion clinic.”
(Realities, December 16th, 2009). I’ve been a staunch Pro-Lifer my entire adult life.
Another provocative Stroh lie.

Stroh’s and Creagle’s support (together with Washburn, Brooks and Sipes) for former City Manager Yvonne Quiring proved to be utterly disastrous. Quiring left the city quickly and left us in complete disarray, without a manager and without a finance director, before finishing her term of office. She was rehired by an acquaintance (city manager) in the City of Davis. Come to think of it, Quiring had her contract bought out for more than $300,000 in her former city of Lathrup, after only 15 months on the job, where she left the city with nearly $500,000 in legal damages for mistreating an employee, and after a letter of no confidence as well. Does this sound familiar? This is who the Katzenjammers hired to be Fillmore’s city manager. How did they vet Ms. Quiring? They left Conaway out of the trip for that job he was scheduled for, with Patti Walker.

It’s time for fresh, honest faces and ideas, a positive attitude, and new ideas on the council - and in the clerk’s office. We need independent thinkers, not non-productive, agenda-bound diehard incompetents like Gayle Washburn. Jamey Brooks, and Clay Westling.

Gayle Washburn’s devious, destructive activity.
The tag-team of Creagle and Stroh support Washburn’s denial that she did not act unlawfully in contacting our former city attorney’s law firm’s senior partner and facilitating Ted Schneider’s removal from all future meetings. We know Washburn called the Meyers law firm senior partner and that Schneider was gone for good the next day. There is no other explanation than to conclude Washburn ‘fired’ our city attorney, for personal reasons, and without authority. She was, as they say, the proximate cause of Ted Schneider’s removal as city attorney. Her continued reference to a letter from that firm saying they can’t disclose the discussion does not change the facts. The city needs to hear Gayle Washburn state from the dais: “I did not call the senior partner of the Meyers law firm the day before attorney Schneider was removed from his job as Fillmore’s city attorney. I did nothing to facilitate the removal of Ted Schneider from his position as city attorney for the City of Fillmore, nor prejudice his tenure, either directly or indirectly, when that firm was bidding for the job of Fillmore’s legal counsel (Under oath). Until that time, I conclude that she’s a liar, and therefore untrustworthy. Washburn is afraid of making a public denial of her unprecedented action, or providing an explanation: she hides behind her disclosures in closed session so they can’t be made public. By the way, contrary to Creagle and/or Stroh’s statements (and, I think Brooks’ (the overlap gets confusing) Mr. Schneider is no longer with that firm where he was a partner. Typical of Creagle’s reckless disregard for propriety, he mentions a lawsuit by Schneider (none of his business).

All of this is Washburn’s fault, and her friends on the council prop her up. Why did she do it? She refuses to explain or admit. However, Gayle Washburn, our appointed mayor, seriously damaged Schneider’s business affairs and disrupted his professional life. Was she doing a favor for now-former city manager Quiring, as many believe? I repeat, if I were Schneider I would have sued Washburn, if discovery difficulties could be overcome. She acted as an individual, completely without authority, on a personal whim of her own. As in so many of her activities, she scurried into closed session, the perfect cover. Promises of open, honest government’? Phooey! Our city council majority is a nest of schemers and self-serving scofflaws, propped-up by a group of friends, family, and hangers-on.

Jamey Brooks’ petty “personal” vendettas and lack of common sense.
As for Jamey Brooks: The story of Brooks being forced to resign as a teacher after punishing a talkative student by taping his mouth shut (and other similar foolish actions) has been attacked by Stroh as a lie. I’m waiting for a response from Brooks, and/or Stroh, though I would just as soon drop the matter for other’s sake. The issue here is Brooks’ famous lack of prudence, lack of common sense. Bob Stroh, was this a lie, as you allege? You made the charge, prove it.

Brooks came onto the council having made the triumphal announcement: “I’ve not come to bring peace, but a sword”. In other words, he came to divide the council and town; and has done just that. Brooks stated from the dais that his decisions were “Personal, very personal”. That’s the only reason I can find for his arbitrary, out-of-the-blue decision to remove a great and long-time member of our Planning Commission, Diane McCall from that commission. We had a very cohesive and productive Planning Commission, and Diane was a highly valued part. It was a slap in the face to Diane after many years of service. We have no explanation other than it was “Personal, very personal” and he wanted his friend on that board. What kind of fair judgment is that? Jamey seems to have a Napoleon complex. In matters concerning the scary issue of an ethics code and code of conduct, he says it’s not needed because “I’m ethical!” He was finally persuaded to let the new council vote on it.

He has never explained his reason; just as Gayle Washburn has never explained why she had Ted Schneider removed as city legal counsel. With this group it’s always personal. Brooks has been a harsh critic of Councilman Steve Conaway, often insulting and confrontational. He has virtually no business experience and takes his advice from Gary Creagle, as does Clay Westling.

Washburn and the Planning Commission resignations.
Then we have Washburn’s behavior with the Planning Commission which caused four great, long-serving commissioners to resign. Those commissioners told the council in open session that Washburn’s unethical behavior caused the break-up. Ironically, she was narrowly saved from a Brown Act violation by none other than Ted Schneider, the attorney she back-stabbed. Again she denies any wrongdoing, but read the public statements of those commissioners who resigned to find the truth. Who are we to believe’? [See LINK 9]

Washburn and the Verizon Cell Tower
As for Washburn’s opposition to the cell tower, nothing but hearsay exists about a fear of microwaves. In any event, granting this rumor was false; her objection to the tower is fact. She objected to the height (necessary) location (preferred and well integrated with the railroad theme) and appearance. Gale Washburn challenged and disrupted the approval and construction process sufficiently to cause five Verizon attorneys to sit in the front row during the council meeting, in order to stop her shenanigans, which narrowly averted yet another lawsuit at the last minute. Washburn’s actions, once again, disrupted the Planning Commission, invited another lawsuit, and embarrassed the city. Washburn’s incompetence is hurting our town.

Many important facts remain to he revealed about this council majority, our city clerk Clay Westling, and their fellow travelers. I waited months for an answer from Clay concerning a serious issue with Councilman Gonzalez. After months of repeated (FOIAs and Requests for Public Records) I finally received the information October 5. I’m told now that the information was sent in May. But, on its face, it was incomplete without further explanation.

Re-read Westling’s attempt to keep candidate requirement notices from being adequately published. This was a blatant attempt to keep the fact that his position as city clerk was open this election. Clearly, Westling wanted to run unopposed so his victory would be guaranteed. He strongly resisted my attempts to notify potential candidates that they had only a short time to file with his office to qualify for the election. It took two orders, from the interim city manager (Rigo Lindaros) and the absent city manager Yvonne Quiring, before he would provide the Gazette with the official notice. This was an outrageous breach of his fiduciary duty to the citizens of Fillmore. Clay also hindered the candidate filings of two Fillmore residents by rejecting harmless sentences on their candidate statements, like “It’s time to get Fillmore back on track

The council majority of Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Brian Sipes, with City Clerk Westling holding up the rear, each constantly blame the Owens & Minor tax contract for the city’s financial woes. That’s far from true. [See LINK 10, LINK 11, LINK 12, and LINK 13

In short, Jamey Brooks and Gayle Washburn don’t want to reestablish the city’s Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. They claim it was abused by a former city council in censuring then Council Member Patti Walker, their friend and fellow Katzenjammer. My question to Jamey and Gayle: Why have stop signs when we know people often ignore them? This is a common way of establishing objective rules of conduct. Their objections are childish, and they didn’t have the courage to make a decision themselves, leaving it to others. Lack of leadership.

The City of Fillmore has fought for the residents of the El Dorado Mobile Home Park for years. It has cost more than $230,000 to date. After four years of litigation, and four months of arbitration they reached an agreement with the owners of the Park. For emotional reasons the council majority voted 3-2 to reject the settlement at the very last minute, guaranteeing several more years of litigation, about which our city attorney said: (paraphrase) “If you think $230,000 is a lot of money, compared to what you now face... it’s nothing.” We are told that we could easily spend another $500,000 on this case, which does nothing for the rest of Fillmore’s 14,000 residents. We simply don’t have that money, and we were advised by two of our attorneys that we will very likely lose the case at the end. I am truly sympathetic for the cause of the 300 residents of the Park, they have been treated terribly, but the council has a strong fiduciary duty to protect the city’s finances for all of the people. Rejecting the settlement, which would have ended the litigation, is a scandal of major proportions. Where is the money to come from? When will the suit ever end?

The Katzenjammer story needs the documentary treatment which I’ve promised Patti Walker I would work on. But it’s a long, dark story of the cabal’s abuse of power in the service of revenge, personal self-interest, and incredible incompetence which has destroyed so many jobs and reputations and disrupted good will at city hall.

It’s not possible to tell the entire story in such a short space. For those interested in more detail, especially on the 18-month delay, and numerous obstructions this group caused in the construction of the treatment plant, see There you will find more detailed answers City Engineer Bert Rapp supplied to all inquiries about the technology, location, cost, and bidding process relating to the water treatment plant. It clearly shows that we built the right plant, at the right location, for the best price, under the most reasonable financing plan. The opponents to the plant have never accepted (or read?) any of the expert explanations - and they never will. But it gives them a hard target to hammer. Our water sewer bill is outrageous - but don’t blame the new plant -- blame the near fascist federal, state, and county commissions and regulators, the unelected bureaucrats that forced this expensive plant upon this small community and on others as well.