Council splits over $10K appropriation to investigate misconduct

September 15, 2000
Santa Paula City Council
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesThe City Council tussled and split over a $10,000 appropriation to investigate possible misconduct on the part of an employee after a closed session to address that issue that didn’t yield any pertinent information to base such a decision on, according to a councilwoman.The closed session was listed as regarding possible discipline of a public employee and after about 15 minutes behind closed doors, reconvened publicly.Vice Mayor Don Johnson made the motion to appropriate “$10,000 for a criminal investigation,” but Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa said she needed more information.“As discussed in closed session there’s a conflict among the council members about this action. . .I’d like to voice my concerns,” she noted.Espinosa said the proposed appropriation had “no or little information” offered to council members to base their decision on. “City Manager Peter Cosentini has the authority to deal with personnel matters but I question whether this action requires such secretiveness. . .no facts were given to the council,” on the investigation.
Espinosa added that as a county employee she is aware that there is a procedure governing such actions and decisions, and the “council was not given policy to review” as well as the nature of the claim.City Attorney Phil Romney said the appropriation and investigation “clearly” is related to the conduct of a city employee or employees, and that under the “circumstances, and government code” being followed, the secretive nature of the investigation is warranted.The council split 4-1 on the issue, with Espinosa casting the lone no vote, but Mayor Rick Cook asked later in the meeting - during requests for future agenda items - for an update on the item, “to discuss it further when we have further information.” He noted that the issue was going to be researched and asked, “Can we bring it back or do we have to wait?”“You’ll have to wait,” noted Romney.

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