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Gruendl Whines Again

Former Chico Police Chief Mike Maloney recently posted on his blog an unflattering opinion piece about Mayor Gruendl, who lashed out in the comments like a toddler throwing a tantrum. If it weren’t so pathetic, I would have laughed at him… But he’s the Mayor, for crying out loud! He needs to grow up. There’s no whining in politics.

Here’s a link to the blog post:  Chico: We have a problem….with our Mayor….

We’ve told you before all the reasons why Scott’s got to go. Please send him on his way (and Mark Sorensen, too, while you’re at it) by using the power of the ballot box.

Truth Matters, Chico!

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Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

I’m disappointed that my household chores kept me close to home over the weekend. According to Mayor Scott Gruendl’s official Facebook page, there are “Impeach Gruendl” signs posted in north Chico, and I would like to take a selfie in front of one before he tears them all down. Or requires city staff to remove them (your General Fund dollars at work).

Along with a photo, the esteemed mayor posted this politically savvy, academy award worthy spin of a take on the signs:

“This is what motivates me politically. A constituent sent me a photo of these signs that have appeared in north Chico. Flattering that someone would take the time and effort to promote my name. Of course, the act of impeachment is something reserved for a Federal official, such as the president, so quite flattering indeed! However, it is also serious to accuse me of criminal wrong doing as a public official, so it is very concerning that someone would do this in such an anonymous and cowardly way. In fact, for me to be denied the opportunity to face my accuser is quite un-American.”

My thoughts? Why yes, I happen to have a few to share.

1)  Someone being disappointed enough in his performance to post negative signs “motivates [him] politically”? To do what? Actually vote in a manner that he feels benefits Chico citizens, instead of voting along with the Council majority (since, as mayor, he votes last)? Stop mocking voters/taxpayers/citizens? Run for a higher office, inspired by this thinly veiled adulation?

2)  He’s flattered “that someone would take the time and effort to promote [his] name.” Nice spin. Even if I wasn’t acutely aware of his shortcomings as an elected official, seeing “Impeach Gruendl” on a sign isn’t a real motivator for me to vote for him, at any level. And with a distinctive name like his, it’s easy to remember. I don’t think the old adage, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” necessarily applies in local government. Especially when this council is about to pull off a sleight of hand maneuver that will result in spending six figures’ worth of our tax dollars to pay a company to turn around and impose a garbage tax on us.

3)  I actually snorted when I read that “it is also serious to accuse me of criminal wrong doing as a public official,” when over the past six months or so, that has been the modus operandi of Gruendl, Sorensen, Flynn, and intermittently, some of the other councilors. Rather than admit they have changed their colors under their latest city manager, they continue to cast unfounded accusations — some of them involving criminal wrongdoing — at previous administrators. And at “disgruntled former employees,” such as the three of us.

4)  He’s concerned that someone has posted their opinions “in such an anonymous and cowardly way.” So writes the guy who abuses his bully pulpit at every opportunity, clearly more interested in making accusations than revealing truths that might paint him in an unflattering light. We at Truth Matters, Chico! have been sharing our opinions in a very public way, à la blogging and speaking at meetings; yet I don’t see the mayor taking what we are saying to heart. For example, why don’t we see an indignant Facebook post from him about protecting the integrity of the public record or not abusing closed session privileges?

5)  Rolling right in with my fourth point is a snicker at Gruendl being “denied the opportunity to face his accuser,” who must, therefore, be “un-American.” When the mayor accused my colleagues and me of great wrongdoing on his Facebook page [Have you read the now infamous Facebook rant?] and threatened — repeatedly — to release “embarrassing things from [our] personnel files” (perhaps embarrassing to him in their total lack of embarrassing things?), I don’t recall getting an opportunity to face him. He did it while cowering behind the council dais and from the safety of his computer, like so many Internet trolls, as well as through a statement to the press, which he later attempted to have retracted. Apparently, Gruendl’s reputation is sacrosanct, while the professional and personal reputations of dissenters, nay, taxpaying citizens, are his to tread upon with impunity. I would also refer you back to my third point; I have yet to hear of any former administrators being allowed an opportunity to face those councilors who routinely accuse them of wrongdoing and mock their professional reputations during the council’s twice monthly grandstanding sessions.

For the record, we at Truth Matters, Chico! are not responsible for the signs. If we make signs, they will read, “RECALL GRUENDL”  with our web address clearly displayed beneath. That’s the way we roll.

If anyone wants to start a recall effort, contact city clerk Debbie Presson at (530) 896-7250. Having been recalled as a Town of Paradise councilmember, she’ll surely know the drill.

And if the anonymous sign maker is reading this, and I hope you are… If you make a new set of signs to RECALL GRUENDL, I’d like one for my yard.

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A Matter of Minutes

At Tuesday night’s Council meeting, the minutes for the first four meetings at which we spoke were on the agenda for approval. As expected, they did not reflect the nature of any of our comments. The clerk either ‘misunderstood’ the points we made, or ignored them altogether. This inane effort to pretend everything is coming up roses during the meetings is completely out of hand.

I pulled the minutes from the Consent Agenda to address concerns about the integrity of the record. Because there were five sets of minutes included as one agenda item, it was clear I could not cover them all in the three-minute time limit. So, I submitted a separate speaker card for each of the four meetings I wanted to address. I opened my remarks by telling the Council what I had done and respectfully requested their indulgence in allowing me to finish my comments without interruption.

It didn’t work, but l guess the outcome made for a pretty interesting show. The video clip is about 12 minutes long and is definitely worth a watch.

Did you notice in the video how the Mayor was absolutely intent on keeping me from getting through my comments on the September 17 meeting? As l mentioned to him, that’s because he knew what was coming next.

September 17 was the meeting at which the March 5 minutes debacle occurred, but more importantly, it was also the meeting at which l exposed the Mayor’s crazed Facebook rant. The difference is that l originally exposed it during Business from the Floor, when the Council Chambers were virtually empty; last night l was speaking during the Consent Agenda, in front of a packed house.

I was also unable to point out that, in addition to having denied the existence of the March 5 memo, the clerk had responded to our Public Records Request for the backup documentation related to it by stating that “Nothing exists that is responsive to your request.” Well, now that we all agree the memo exists, rest assured we will be demanding the supporting documents again.

Is it just me, or would you also agree that having received a request for the backup documentation in August, the clerk might have thought it prudent to go back and watch the meeting video to make sure her recollection was correct? She sure made a big enough stink about our records requests disrupting her life. Perhaps watching the Council meeting video would have been a better way to spend her time than giving that television interview griping about how we were trying to destroy the City by asking for public information.

And here’s some alarming news: According to the Mayor, the official record is neither the video nor the minutes. Apparently there is an expand-o paper file somewhere in the clerk’s office that contains any items that were not included in the agenda packet, not posted to the web, and/or not identified in the minutes. Somehow, citizens must divine that there might be a document of interest in the paper records — even if its existence has been denied. If true, shouldn’t that gap in the public’s web access to City Council public records be called out somewhere on its information page?

Councilmember Schwab was the only one who seemed to acknowledge the importance of having a correct permanent record, and l applaud her for continuing to stand up for what she believes is right, particularly in the face of the ongoing condescension and mockery from others on the Council. Although she and l are miles apart politically, she has the courage of her convictions, and my admiration for her continues to grow. Truth matters.

Councilmember Sorensen’s comments were a bit disturbing. If you watched the video clip, you saw how aggravated he was about the Council being asked to “tinker with the minutes… especially post-mortem.”

Well, l agree that Council should not have to tinker with them. The clerk should get them right before she puts them on the agenda for review; that’s her job.

The ‘post-mortem’ remark is puzzling, though. When, exactly, do the minutes become post-mortem? Is it when they are placed on the Council agenda for approval? If so, how can anyone comment on or tinker with them ante-mortem? Just wondering…

He also seemed to be suggesting that as long as the minutes get done, their accuracy is immaterial. Maybe in his view that is true; however, as l mentioned during my comments, inaccurate minutes are a disservice to the public. How else can a citizen who is unable to attend meetings get a true accounting of what happened, unless he or she has hours to spend watching entire meeting videos? Why even bother with minutes if there is no requirement for them to be accurate?

What really disturbs me most is Sorensen’s comment that the minutes are action only, and Business from the Floor is not an action item. To me, that screamed foreshadowing.

One thing we at Truth Matters have struggled with on an ongoing basis is whether we should publish predictions about the Council’s next dumb move, to try to head them off at the pass and prevent it, or allow them to go ahead and do the dumb thing and then call them out on it afterward. In this case, I am going to go with making a prediction, because the official record is important stuff. Perhaps when Sorensen reads this (and we’re quite sure he will), it will dissuade him from suggesting what I suspect he is already considering.

So, here goes: I predict that the Council will direct the clerk to change the Business from the Floor section of the minutes to a simple list of persons who addressed them, with no description whatsoever of what was said. This is what the clerk already does with other agenda items. The problem with changing Business from the Floor to a list of speakers is there is no detail in the agenda that would identify the topics. It would make the clerk’s and Councilmembers’ lives easier, for sure, but it would be a horrible disservice to the community.

If they wanted to add service to the community, they could certainly do that by moving Business from the Floor to the beginning of the meeting. As it currently stands, people wait through hours of bureaucratic double speak and political grandstanding just to get their 3 minutes in front of the Council. There are many communities that provide that courtesy to the citizens, including Hemet, which hears Communications from the Public immediately after the Consent Calendar. (As an aside, Hemet also provides an opportunity for public comment on Closed Session items, which I addressed in a previous post.)

If you’re interested, here is what was left unsaid last night, due to the Mayor’s interruption: Remainder of Minutes Presentation

Based on the reactions of Sorensen, Stone, and Gruendl, one would think I had asked the clerk to spend her entire life doing something irrelevant. All I want is the truth, because it matters.

We thank you for your continued readership. As always, your questions and comments are welcome.

Remember: Truth Matters, Chico!

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Photo credit: escunited.com

Mayor Gruendl is at it Again

At the September 3 City Council meeting, during my 3-minute window in Business from the Floor, the mayor interrupted me in the middle of my first sentence to scold me, saying in part that the Council is “trained” on how to interact with the public and that I had “asked for that.” We would like to know whether the Council’s “training” includes how to effectively launch a smear campaign against private individuals via newspaper quotes, press conferences, and social media.

In a recent post on the “Mayor Scott Gruendl” official Facebook page, he wrote that I have called the city manager a liar. “Liar” is his word, not mine. What I have done in my three 3-minute free speech sessions is identify specific, verifiable instances wherein the city manager lied to a Council member and the public during a meeting, lied to staff, and lied to the media. The Mayor’s attempt in the Facebook rant to label the flex schedule debacle a “procedural error,” and to state he found the City Manager had not lied, does not withstand the facts. (For that story, click here.)

If he would care to debate that, or any of my public comments, I would be happy to engage him in a public forum, and we can let the citizens decide for themselves what is true. Again, every accusation I have made is verifiable, and I am floored that he answers me with personal attacks and proceeds to circle the wagons around the City Manager.

The Mayor is the one making baseless accusations, not me. He has accused the three of us of causing “physical and emotional harm” by our requests for public information, of “hijacking” business from the floor, and of “encouraging hateful individuals among us to act.”

He attempted to tie our protected speech to racism, threats, and violent crimes, including “personal attacks on family members, vandalism of property, and hospitalization of city officials.”

He accused us of playing “a major role in wrongdoing at City hall and contributing to the hostility towards the great city employees” and said he “observed [us] violating public personnel standards.”

Finally, he accused us of having “contributed to loss of revenue or level of debt or impeded [his] ability to perform the responsibilities of [his] office.”  What’s next, will he use the power of his office to have us investigated by the police?

The entire rant is available here:  2013-09-06_Mayor Scott Gruendl_FB POST

As I have written before, we are former employees who paid a very dear price to stand at that podium and speak openly, without fear of retaliation. We hope he is prepared to defend his public remarks, as we are prepared to defend ours. If he takes issue with what we say, he can question or challenge us while we are able to respond; otherwise, we would thank him to listen politely and knock off the ad hominem attacks.  His efforts to “manage” us will fail.

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