Frank Pietro: Atwater's savior decides to retire

By  John Derby
Times Publisher
August 18, 2016

No one can say that Frank Pietro, Atwater’s City Manager and former Police Chief, hasn’t served his time well.

If anyone deserves to retire it is Frank.

As Atwater’s Police Chief he already had a full-time job, but when the city was short of funds and needed a City Manager, he took on both jobs and did it for one salary.

The city was in worse financial shape than anyone expected. Not only could it not afford to pay another person to be city manager, but it could not even afford to pay the staff it presently had.

Someone had to be the bad guy.

Frank Pietro took on the job of laying off nine city workers.

If you have never been in a management position, you don't know how difficult it is to say to a person who has done nothing wrong, “I’m sorry we have to lay you off.”

That person all too likely had a spouse and family depending on that same paycheck.

Pietro not only laid the employees off, but did it in such a way that they understood he had no alternative.

The City of Atwater was broke.

He also went to the union and showed it that Atwater could not afford to pay its members at the rate they had been paid. He asked for, and got a 22 percent salary reduction, something unheard of in these days.

Now bringing in the right financial advisers to correct the problem was the next job, and finally telling the residents of Atwater that not enough was being charged to cover the city’s utility expenses. Frank took on each job as a challenge, and did not stop until the job was done.

As of last report, the City of Atwater is balancing its utility costs with the expenses, and there is a little left over for emergencies.

Voters were asked to help pay for more police and fire protection and the city residents responded by passing Measure H, largely because Frank Pietro said it was important.

His efforts have been praised by many:

City Mayor Jim Price said he found Pietro to be very professional when it came to fixing Atwater's financial dilemma, however, it was on a personal level that he and Pietro had the best relationship.

"I am proud to call him my friend," Mayor Price said.

Councilman Larry Bergman called Pietro, “truly one of a kind.” Bergman said Pietro brought Atwater through one of the roughest economic times it has ever encountered. In 2012 Atwater was $7.5 million debt, and that has been cut to a $2 million debt.

Councilman Brian Raymond said Pietro has “given his life to Atwater ... He truly cares for Atwater and its residents. ... He has been dedicated to making Atwater a safe place to live ... Bringing more cops onto Atwater’s streets is a big part of that job.”

Jim Vining, a City Councilman who actually got to know Pietro as a volunteer of the Atwater Police Department, said of Pietro that his “heart was fully vested in the community."

Vining added, “Pietro is a pillar of the community and has always been about making the city of Atwater great.”

Atwater is sorry to hear of your retirement Frank, but if anyone deserves it, you do!

Call (209) 383-0433
or (209) 358-5311

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