To understand why a recall may be needed it is important to look at what the city council and it staff has done in the past, and where we are headed in the future.  In the not so distant past, city leaders had a vision and they worked diligently to ensure that vision became reality.

  Clean up began downtown and Rotary skate park, the train depot, arbor, and dancing fountain for the children (old and young alike) were added.  Historic buildings were saved and renovated, and a façade program gave many downtown businesses a fresh look.  The best movie theater in the valley was built in Lemoore. A college was developed, Leprino was convinced to locate their new plant here instead of elsewhere, Cinnamon Square was built, Pioneer Square was improved and the golf course was expanded and improved.  Heritage and Lion’s Parks were developed, and the soccer complex was developed.  The Planned Unit Development Ordinance was adopted which kept our new subdivisions from being “cookie cutter” type development.  The sign ordinance was modified to kept tattered and faded banners and flags, and those homemade signs attached to light poles out of our city. 

 To keep this vision alive and dynamic, the General Plan Update (the blueprint for future growth in and around the City) was started in 2006.  HUNDREDS of residents were involved in this process by responding to surveys, writing letters, attending committee meetings, public workshops, planning commission meetings and public hearings.  Delayed for two years due to budgetary concerns, the zoning ordinance was started in 2010 and adopted in 2012 after many more public meetings.  Councilmember Gordon and Mayor Siegel both voted against adoption of the zoning ordinance, even though its purpose is to implement the General Plan.

Looking to the future, it is now difficult to see how the visions of the community in the General Plan will be brought to fruition.  Our current city council has decided that they wish to change the zoning ordinance to suit the desires of people from whom they receive input.  Those people that Mr. Gordon and Mr. Siegel speak of are never named, never show up to council meetings, and apparently were too busy to involve themselves at the earlier pubic workshops and meetings where the visions were developed.  Earlier this week on July 8, the planning commission started discussing the overhaul of the newly adopted zoning ordinance.  Together, the General Plan Update and Zoning Ordinance cost nearly $750,000.

In addition to not listening to the citizens regarding the General Plan through the new zoning ordinance, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Siegel decided to ignore the nearly 200 people that showed up at the council meeting to discuss the elimination of the Planning Department.  Every person that spoke publicly, spoke in favor of keeping the department, at least until anew city manager was hired.  Not one person spoke in favor of eliminating the department, yet Mr. Gordon and Mr. Siegel still voted against all of the public opinion.

To set their own agenda in motion they needed to get rid of the opposition and the first firing occurred when the city attorney was quietly replaced.  There was never an explanation given, but coincidentally this happened very quickly after the attorney made a legal interpretation that did not align with Mr. Gordon’s and Mr. Siegel’s interpretation.  The attorney’s employment was at will, and the firing was legal, but may not have been ethical.  A short time later the city manager was forced to resign, while he was away on vacation.  Reason was not given at the time, but was discussed at length during the 02 July regular meeting of the city council.  This firing may or may not have been legal, that will be decided at a later date.  It was certainly unethical.  In May Chief Laws, acting city manager, and Cheryl Silva, Finance Director walked into the Planning Department and code enforcement offices and told those employees to pick up their purses and leave, because they were being placed on administrative leave of absence, and later were “laid off”.  Again, these separations may or may not have occurred legally, but were absolutely carried out unethically.  The saddest commentary on these actions occurred at the 02 July council meeting when David Wlaschin, Public Works Director and 37 year dedicated employee, came to the microphone and stated that he had heard he was next. 

City council is currently negotiating in closed sessions with the Tachi Yokut tribe regarding the possible sale or lease of the golf course.  Those actions might be legal, but after the last blow-up with the citizenry over the golf course, anyone with any concern for ethics would have made certain to get public input before entering into any negotiations regarding the golf course. 

Their latest idea of a liaison is ridiculous.  At the 02 July city council meeting, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Siegel argued with fellow council members and members of the public regarding the need for their own representation in important meetings that the city manager will be attending.  They cited supposed incidents of meetings between land owners and/or developers with the former city manager of which council members were never told.  As a planning commissioner for eight years, I was contacted directly by many developers and residents of Lemoore that were having difficulty getting through the system.  I find it impossible to believe that people would call a planning commissioner for help resolving problems, but not contact a member of the city council to discuss the serious matters for which the current council members are now accusing the former city manager.  Thankfully, new elected Councilmember Neal listened to real people regarding the matter and he changed his vote to not allow another terrible idea by Mr. Gordon and Mr. Siegel become law.

An accusation was leveled through the Hanford Sentinel that this recall effort is being pushed by angry former employees.  To set the record straight, there is not one of the above mentioned former employees involved in this first phase of the recall effort, and only two of the six are eligible to participate in the second phase.  Meanwhile, Mr. Siegel is complaining that he was not allowed to come to the organizational meeting declaring that it was a public meeting.  However, he was told directly that the meeting was private and he was not invited.  He has even threatened to call the IRS and report the Lemoore Trinity Association in an attempt to have their non-profit status revoked because the room was rented to us for our meeting.

Who knows what continued changes will be made to our community if these two unchecked council members remain in place?  They say they are for the people, yet they do not listen to the people who speak on the record.  They have a total disregard for the heavy work community members did in 2006 – 2012.  It also appears that Mr. Gordon and Mr. Siegel are not following the city council adopted Code of Ethics that demand trustworthiness, respect, fairness, caring, citizenship and responsibility.  There are many more reasons to recall these two members of city council and they will be released on our Facebook page “Recall Siegel and Gordon” as the process proceeds.  When the vision and voices of the community are ignored, the people must stand up and be heard.

Lisa Elgin