Members of the public speak out at special meeting in support and critical of council, Pinheiro
“I don’t think I have ever been in such shock and such disbelief and downright livid when I heard what happened” – resident Ann McCauley
After three council members fired their short-term city manager, Josh Pinheiro last week, during a special meeting on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, the Los Banos City Council held a closed session to discuss the appointment of an interim city manager. The council made no formal decision and Mayor Tom Faria reported out from the closed session simply stating, “staff has their direction” and then adjourned the meeting.
Prior to the closed session several members of the public spoke at the council meeting both in favor of the decision to fire the city manager and in opposition.
The following are transcripts of public comments made by residents during the meeting.
Local resident Ann McCauley spoke against Pinheiro’s termination and questioned the council about the appointment of the next city manager. However, she incorrectly identified Police Chief Gary Brizzee as the acting city manager.
“Good evening, council and mayor, I am Ann McCauley, a 25-year resident of Los Banos. I don’t think that I have ever been in such shock and such disbelief and downright livid when I heard what happened at last week’s council in closed session. We probably don’t know all the details, but I think we are entitled to know what you can tell us. Not everything needs to be hidden and kept in closed session, that we can know.
You know the Pioneer Road project never made a bit of sense to me. What a waste of funds. But that issue is a distant second in my mind compared to what happened last week.
Our police department isn’t fully staffed, our fire department is in even worse shape, with the fire chief and assistant fire chief gone. Now is there another manager or director position that is about to be lost or fired or something else for another shoe to drop? Our police chief is having to act as acting city manager and now two positions from the police department have to fill in, one from the fire chief position and the other for the police chief position.
It’s very clear from this council, that some aren’t happy with who are serving in our community, but maybe there are those within different departments that are not happy to stay in their position. I often wonder what is going on with the fire department. All these people are just rotating out. What is going on with this city? Are we so dysfunctional that we can’t operate? You don’t see what is going on under your noses and have any thought about what is going on.
Short of being found out as a felon or embezzler, what was so egregious that you had to fire a new manager within nine months of being hired? You let the prior city manager ride for so long, doing absolutely nothing good for the city, until you finally got the guts to fire him when he only had three months left on his contract. So, what timidity to wait so long and cost us so much in wasted dollars, credit card and all the rest that was out of sight and inaction as well. But he hung on until the final three months when you took action.
You wanted a city manager that was more tied to the city, someone who grew up here and would be more loyal to our aspirations and values. You knew Josh was never a city manager, so you would have a learning curve. Hopefully you didn’t expect to mold him into one of the ‘Good ol’ Boys’ networks, in other words a diehard politician where once again things move too slowly or not at all or beckoned to every whim and never do any independent thinking of his own.
Geez, maybe he went to other city managers to learn how they might deal with similar situations that might help him think of solutions for our city. An independent thinker does think outside the box. Did you have any discussions with him, and how many, regarding his performance before you decided to fire him?
I want to hear from every one of you, your individual reasons for firing him. And your answers better not be ‘well, I agree with so and so the same’. You should have your own individual reasons as to why he had to go. We don’t need bobble heads on the council, we need people who made individual decisions, as well. Your individual reasons are important to us, regardless of how you voted yes or no. No hiding behind closed doors, there should be information that the public is entitled to know.
The city now has a reputation of firing city managers, way too late on one and why on this one. We don’t know but we are entitled to know. This city will play hell trying to get another city manager, who every time we have to pay thousands of dollars trying to get somebody and who knows how long it will take, and if you get somebody, do you want him in your back pocket so you can run him by the nose, or can he have an independent thought?
There are a whole lot of things that need to go into this, but I wonder how long this is going to take you to hire one, because the word is out that you fired the last two, who wants to be number three? I don’t know that we will fully understand or even accept what you say tonight for so much damage I think is done to the city’s reputation. I am seeing this as an outsider, although I have been a resident for 25 years.”
McCauley’s continued comments were cut off due to reaching the time limit.
Another Speaker Very Critical of Fired City Manager
A written public comment extremely critical of Pinheiro, was submitted by resident Sharon Wilson and read by City Clerk Lucy Mallonee.
“My name is Sharon Wilson. Over the previous few months, I have been told of experiences of working with our city’s former city manager. Now that the city manager has been voted out, I have learned more details about the type of work environment he established and because of the effect he seemed to have on others who may not feel they have a voice, I feel it is up me to speak up on their behalf.
The city manager was voted out due to his own lack of experience. The recruitment firm that was hired to secure a city manager did not recommend him and was not willing to offer any sort of guarantee – that is because he had absolutely no government experience. Clearly, he – and, sadly, many others – do not understand that corporate companies and municipalities do not and cannot operate the same way.
The city manager was a young, immature, mentally unstable individual who was used to getting his way – hence him living at home with mom and dad. Also similar to a child, not only could he expect a sandwich on a plate every day from mom when he went home for lunch, he would also have loud, childlike outbursts that would cause alarm to many he worked around.
He did not like being educated by those who have many years of government experience under their belt – particularly because they were women. Instead of having a desire to learn and lead the right way, he came in thinking the rules didn’t apply to him—-another sign of a lack of inexperience and sexist narcissism.”
See the council meeting video to hear all the public comments.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 6 at 7:00 p.m.