Fillmore City Council Candidate Question #4
2012 Fillmore City Council Candidates (l-r) Manuel Minjaras, Rick Neal, Douglas Tucker, Gayle Washburn, Sandy Pella and Alex Mollkoy.
2012 Fillmore City Council Candidates (l-r) Manuel Minjaras, Rick Neal, Douglas Tucker, Gayle Washburn, Sandy Pella and Alex Mollkoy.

Question No. 4: With the two letters of No Confidence submitted by city staff regarding ex-city manager Yvonne Quiring, how do you see morale being restored at city hall and in the council that ignored the letters?

Question 4 states, “the council ignored the letters;” a statement not based upon fact. The council did respond to the 2 letters of No Confidence drafted by Roger Campbell, an individual who was not employed on city staff, and had no authority to interfere with employee relations. The council addressed allegations from city staff in 2 city council meetings, and spent city funds to conduct 2 investigations. It was found that Yvonne Quiring had acted in a professional and appropriate manner in her dealings with staff.
This incident became a morale issue at city hall because standard policy was not followed; a procedure that is the norm in most organizations. Grievance issues follow a process of levels. The first step is to bring the grievance to the supervisor, and if there is no resolution to the matter, then the grievance is taken to a higher level. In the case of the city staff’s grievances against Ms. Quiring, this standard procedure was not followed. There might have been a resolution on the first level had this process been utilized.
Morale in any organization is restored when employees understand the organization’s vision, goals and policies, and their role in meeting the organization’s objectives. It is management’s responsibility to state the vision, direct the goals and to provide tools necessary for employees to succeed. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines one aspect of morale as, “the sense of common purpose with respect to a group.” Morale is maintained when employees understand policy with regard to grievances and follow the policy guidelines. Communication is always a major key to resolving issues. Problems in the workplace can usually be worked out with cooperation and communication.

There were many factors that lowered the morale at City Hall, the largest factor of which has taken a position at the City of Davis as an Assistant City Manager. It is my belief and experience that the employees at City Hall understand that cuts need to be made during tough economic times but do expect answers to questions such as how much the City will save by removing their position. That was one of many questions that went unanswered by the City Manager at that time which made the impending cuts a difficult matter to become comfortable with and trust that they weren’t the result of a witch hunt propagated by a campaign promise.
It will take time to restore the employees’ morale but I am confident that it will return with time and will come as the council as a body is stabilized and the City’s financial health begins to see improvement. The candidates that I am most confident have the most appropriate skills, experience and vision to see us to that end are Rick Neal, Douglas Tucker and I for City Council. Nancy Meyer for City Clerk and Shannon for Treasurer.

This question is misleading. We learned that the letters were given by Roger Campbell, who should not be interfering between the City Manager and employees. I also believe morale was lowered by the false statements and gossip perpetuated by the Gazette and others. I have reviewed the editorials from 2008 and 2009 and find that at least a half dozen times, the editor mentions that former Mayor Walker, myself and others were going to fire all staff members. The Gazette's accusations are false and malicious and ultimately terrorized employees, reduced morale and demonized council members.
Here is one example from June 2009: "Walker, Washburn, and Brooks have openly, often obnoxiously, voiced their intention to get rid of these employees…". This Gazette statement is 100% false. No council member has ever made any such statement! The truth is I tend to focus on the issues. I was steadfastly opposed to the size, cost and financing of our sewer plant because I knew it would have devastating impacts on the community and we could do better. I was also opposed to 700 homes in North Fillmore. While I am outspoken on these issues, I do not call people names, or make personal attacks on employees or anyone else just because we disagree.
Also, the council did not ignore the letters. An investigation was conducted by an attorney with expertise in these matters. Five grievances were filed and the investigation concluded that there was no substantiation of allegations made in the letter.
Morale of employees and the community could be restored if the Gazette would be less biased and negative in its opinions and reporting

I have been told by several city employees that morale is now being restored at city hall with the departure of the city manager. I hope that Mr. Rigo Landeros will welcome and acknowledge the willingness and best efforts being given by the remaining city staff members. As for the council members that seemed to ignore the letters of no confidence, I would only hope that they will now recognize their mistakes and act accordingly in the future. If they prove to us otherwise than they deserve to step down or be replaced. Morale will continue to be restored only if the right person is found to fill the city manager position. It is now up to the voters of our fine city to make the right decision with their Voice and their Vote.
Best regards,
Alex Mollkoy

Improving the morale at city hall begins with electing new leadership, because the cities morale starts with the council and works it’s way down. The council must give the city manager clear vision of how they want the employees to be treated and how they want the atmosphere around city hall to be. Next it’s having the right city manager. The city council only meets two evenings a month and consequently can not run the day to day operations of the city. This is why the city manager position is so important. They need to be willing to get involved in the community.
As far as the employees at city hall, people want to be treated honestly, fairly, and they must have trust in their leadership. People want to feel like they are part of something, they want to feel valued, they want to grow both personally and financially. People want a stable, comfortable, and challenging place to work.
It boils down to finding the right city manager for Fillmore or removing a city manager if they become incapable of carrying out the vision of the council.
Also it’s the responsibility of the community to elect a new council if their current council fails to carry out the vision of the community.
In the end the morale at city hall rests heavily on the city manager's shoulders, where I would come in as a councilperson is the selection process and removing that person if they are not compatible with the community.

With the two letters of No Confidence submitted by city staff regarding ex-city manager Yvonne Quiring, how do you see morale being restored at city hall and in the council that ignored the letters?
Vision, persistence, communication and appreciation are the ways to get back the morale that this council has lost. When the city council choose to ignore the letters of no confidence they caused several key employees to resign. Next the city council laid off employees to the point of not being able to get work done which is effecting us all to this day. The overworking of remaining staff and consultants/contract employees appears to have caused morale to slip even further.
We need to use a recruiting firm to locate a new City Manager, learning from mistakes of the past. While it may seem cheaper to have city council conduct background checks, this is what was done with Ms. Quiring. The city council needs to look for a city manager that understands the vision of the city council and our community, they need to be able to stand up for what is right and not just be a manager that says yes to whatever the council demands, they need to be able to locate talented staff to meet the needs of our community. The city manager needs to be able to communicate effectively, to be open and reachable, and able to prioritize customer service and is truly business friendly while at the same time can be proactive in economic development. The city manager must be able to rally staff and most importantly the community for the common goal of surviving through our current economic troubles. We need a city manager that will help unify our community, understanding that together we can get it done.