Former Parks and Rec Director in dispute with City over personal tools

By Ed Martin, Editor
Joe Simonson
Joe Simonson

Former Lemoore Parks and Recreation Director Joe Simonson is criticizing city officials for not allowing him to retrieve what he says are valuable tools that belong to him that he has stored at the city for many years.

According to city officials, Simonson was in the process of retrieving some of his tools, but when city officials were unable to verify that some tools indeed belonged to Simonson, refused to hand them over.

Simonson recently settled with the City of Lemoore after three months of being placed on administrative leave. Simonson and the City agreed that he would retire and he would receive a $100,000 settlement from the city.

In an email he sent to councilmembers, city officials and The Hanford Sentinel last week, Simonson said that a former city manager allowed him to bring his tools to work so that he could do some in house projects.

“I was hoping to move on with my life and not have to have any further contact with the city of Lemoore,” stated Simonson in his email, “but I am unable to retrieve valuable personal property that I need to make a living.”

He said that he was a general building contractor before he joined the city. “When Allen Goodman was the city manager I brought many of my tools and supplies to the city with his approval and understanding that would enable me to complete projects in-house.”

He went on to say that if he had been able to retire on his own terms, this wouldn’t be an issue.

A frustrated Simonson asked City Manager Andi Welsh to be placed on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting to discuss the issue, but it was Thursday and the agenda had already been completed, and she opted not to place him on the agenda, a move that Simonson thinks is illegal.

Simonson, like any other citizen, can still speak to the council via the public comment portion of the meeting.

The Leader attempted to contact Simonson by email, but he did not respond. City Manager Andi Welsh did not respond as well by the time this article was posted.

Lemoore Councilmember Ray Madrigal, who is familiar with the issue, understands the city’s point of view. “There is a process he needs to go through to identify what property is his and which is not,” said Madrigal. “Our goal is to protect city assets. We have no way right now of knowing (which tools are his) other than his word.”

According to Madrigal, a city employee was able to identify some of Simonson’s tools.

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