Sessions, And How They Have Been Abused
By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Founding Publisher
October 4, 2018
This is written in direct response to the
story which appeared recently in the Merced Sun-Star accusing
Mayor Jim Price and Mayor Pro-Temp Jim Vineyard of texting
information which came from a Closed Session of the Atwater
We will not deny information did come from
Closed Sessions, but “The Gang of Three” were
as guilty as anyone else.
In one case, this reporter interviewed
Councilman Paul Creighton, and he gave out some information
which came directly from a Closed Session, and when we pointed
this out, he said: “Oh, that already happened!”
Well, of course it already happened.
There is a much bigger issue here, and
that is the use and abuse of the Closed Sessions to discuss
matters which should have been discussed in open meetings
of the council. It is our belief that Atwater City Attorney
Doug White purposely discussed issues in Closed Sessions
which would have been embarrassing to certain members of
the city staff if they were help in open sessions.
In the Sun-Star’s story, there is
repeated mention of the Brown Act and violations which occurred.
Actually, it takes three members of the city council to
be in violation of the Brown Act, not two; so it was the
three members of the council — Brian Raymond, Paul
Creighton and Cindy Vierra — who were guilty with
the first Brown Act violation when they were seen holding
a meeting with Art de Werk at the Almond Tree restaurant
before his hiring as city manager.
Clearly, Cindy Vierra hired Doug White
with the idea that he would be her “hatchet man”
to go after people on the city staff, or on the Atwater
City Council whom she did not like. The fact that the mayor
and the mayor pro-temp were not even allowed to interview
Dough White before he was hired, showed that there must
have been a violation of the Brown Act for her to get an
OK from both Councilman Brian Raymond and Creighton before
the vote came to hire him.
During the past two years, since the meeting
at the Almond Tree, it appears there have been several back
fence deals in which one or another member of the Atwater
City Council violated the Brown Act or broke the rules of
Nothing in Atwater is secret.
How is it that Art de Werk was even hired
without open discussion of the entire council? The Gang
of Three decided ahead of time that they intended to hire
De Werk no matter what.
What is even more disturbing is the question
of motivation involving key players in the City of Atwater.
Why were the Gang of Three so intent of
getting rid of former Police Chief Sam Joseph?
Why were the Gang of Three so intent on
getting Art de Werk to be the city manager of Atwater?
Why did it only take 11 working days for
Art de Werk to do the job of putting Police Chief Sam Joseph
on administrative leave, and why has Sam Joseph remained
on administrative leave all this time without having a public
Why does City Attorney Doug White continue
to sit on the information which was gathered in the POST
investigation — the same investigation that was bought
and paid for by the tax payers of Atwater?
Why did Art de Werk turn in his resignation
rather than allow the POST Investigation to become public?
These are all questions which are far more
important to the voters and residents of Atwater.
Meanwhile the cost to the city of keeping
Doug White on the payroll keeps going up.
Now it is over $440,000, and that is only
for 8 months — the highest in the history of Atwater.
Maybe that should be taken up in Closed