Council 3-2 vote approves controversial liaison position; Siegel may take on role

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor

Lemoore council members, at their Tuesday night meeting, voted 3-2 with members Willard Rodarmel and Lois Wynn dissenting, to create a “Council Liaison,” an idea put forth by Mayor Billy Siegel and Council Member John Gordon to keep council members and the public better informed of important daily business proceedings.

It’s unclear how this liaison would keep the public and the council informed, even after taking questions from skeptical citizens.

Under Siegel’s plan the council liaison could be any council member or a member of the public who resides within the city limits. The liaison would be informed of any important meetings related to city business and could attend and participate in the meetings with the city manager.

It appears as though Siegel may be the appointee, though that decision wasn’t made Tuesday night. Gordon suggested that Siegel take on the position.

The liaison would not speak for the council as a whole, bind the council to any decisions, give direction to staff or to the city manager. It is proposed the liaison may be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses in connection with his or her duties.

At issue is some council members’ belief that city managers don’t always give them the information they need, and a liaison would hold managers and council members more accountable to the citizens of Lemoore.

“It will allow council to get another perspective and another opinion as to how a meeting went, what was said during the meeting, and then you will know the information you’re getting is 100 percent accurate,” said Gordon who supports the liaison position.

Gordon illustrated his belief in the liaison by citing hypothetical situations in which a developer may have an idea for a project, but the city manager may discourage that project or refuse to present it to the council. “This thought process means a lot to me,” he said. “I’ve been frustrated in the past … when you learn things second hand and when opportunities for the city come and go and you can’t do anything about it.”

Gordon also cited an example of a developer or developers who told him that the former city manager failed to inform councilmembers about particular projects.

“We need to know what opportunities are out there for the citizens of our town,” he added.

Council Member Eddie Neal supported the concept, but fellow member Lois Wynne had reservations. “I have some real concerns about it,” she said.

Siegel, who stands to step into the position in a couple of weeks, said a liaison is just another step in being accountable to the public. “The liaison will allow us to know more,” he said.

Local resident Jane Dart told Siegel that the council should make all prospective city manager applicants aware of the liaison program. “I hope you let the new city manager know that he’ll have someone always tagging along.”

Resident Connie Wlaschin, in a long dialogue with Siegel, said she simply didn’t understand the concept. “I don’t see a need for it,” she said.


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