On Tuesday our City Manager, Ken Domer, wants Council to award Acting Chief Dunn with an Interim Chief gig. With this new gig comes a new contract as the new council decides who to put in the role “permanently”. Like all things in government there are already some serious questions in how this is playing out legally. Let’s see if you can spot an obvious problem in the contract.
Ok, I’ll give you a hint (emphasis added):
SECTION 12 – CONFIDENTIALITY AND NON-DISPARAGEMENTExcept as otherwise required by law, in the event the City terminates Employee with or without cause, City and Employee agree that no member of the City Council, the city management staff, nor Employee shall make any written, oral, or electronic statement to any member of the public, the press, or any City employee concerning Employee’s termination except in the form of a joint press release or statement, which is mutually agreeable to City and Employee. The joint press release or statement shall not contain any text or information that is disparaging to either City or Employee. Either City or Employee may verbally repeat the substance of the joint press release or statement in response to any inquiry.
What’s the problem, you ask?
Your right to know how the most senior members of Fullerton’s government behave is being voted away, again, by our City Council on Tuesday. Watch it pass 5-0. Bureaucracy Commandment #3: Protect thyself and thy brethren. I’m actually a little surprised this contract wasn’t buried in the Consent Calendar in the hopes nobody would even notice.
Take a look at Fullerton’s track record. Our previous city manager and 2 of our last 3 Police Chiefs resigned in disgrace — City Manager Felz hit a tree allegedly driving drunk, Chief Sellers went on medical leave in the midst of the Kelly Thomas scandal and most recently Chief Hendricks left after allegedly battering an EMT.
With contracts like this one, you have no right to know about any of it. That of course means you have no right to pressure City Council to do anything about it, either.
See the sickness?
When Hendricks resigned the city lied by omission and gave you nothing but a puff piece about how awesome he was for Fullerton. When I called the City’s Public Information Officer I was told, laughably, that Hendrick’s alleged battery for which he went on admin leave was unrelated to his resignation.
This contract is written so poorly that Dunn could shoot somebody in the face and BY CONTRACT nobody from the council or city could tell the public, media or other city employees why he was fired.
More to come on this outstanding contract at a later date. In the mean time, remember, your right to know stops where an employee’s paycheck begins.