By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor

The citizens of Lemoore are being shortchanged. Since the election a year ago that changed the voting makeup of the Lemoore City Council the good citizens of Lemoore have been swept aside so that the new power bloc, “wannabe” strong mayor Billy Siegel and his sidekick John Gordon, can foist their own political ideology on the city of Lemoore.

But it takes three to tango and more often than not, newcomer Lois Wynne joins with Siegel and Gordon in their misguided quest to radically change the face of Lemoore.

Was there anything remotely wrong with the “face” of Lemoore?

Since the vote that put Siegel and Gordon in charge, councilmembers have fired one of the most competent city managers in the Valley, shuttered the planning department over nothing more than spite, considered the possibility of selling the golf course, needlessly criticized the Kings County Association of Governments, and nearly approved a boneheaded idea that would have created a special “liaison” that would have kept a watchful eye on the city manager.

Following a months’ long search to find and hire a new city manager, councilmembers failed to find anyone who might fit the “new” council’s narrow mold. Instead they hired the interim city manager Jeff Laws, the city’s police chief, to run the city, at least through next July when presumably they would take a second stab at finding a city manager.

Why exactly are Lemoore’s citizens being shortchanged?

We were deprived of a competent city manager, who through one of the worst financial downturns and the loss of Redevelopment, managed to keep our city solvent. Instead we have now amounts to a part-time police chief and a part-time city manager.

Don’t our citizens deserve a full-time city manager and a full-time police chief?

Our city leaders don’t seem to think so especially after failing in their long search to find a competent city manager, especially one who can fit the ideological mold of Mayor Billy and his fervent supporters. I suspect of the 16 city manager applicants who heeded the call, not one of them appeared to be the kind of “yes” man they wanted.

Only 16 applicants for Lemoore’s city manager job? Something is wrong in the State of Denmark.

In discussing the city manager’s job with friends in the know, it appears that Lemoore has become somewhat of a “toxic” environment in which to work, where job expectancy for a manager can range from a few hours to a couple of years at most. Does a prospective city managers really want a council member or “citizen” looking over their shoulders while negotiating the establishment of a major business in Lemoore, which a liaison would have done?

The mayor has emphatically stated in public that his job is to listen to the people and do what they tell him, but only if he likes what they’re telling him. When council debated the demise of the planning department earlier this year, our mayor failed to heed the advice of nearly 200 persons during a public hearing, including some very high profile suggestions, that they not close the planning department and instead wait until a new city manager is appointed and let him or her study the issue.

None of that for the mayor. He wasted little effort in shuttering the planning department, tossing out several long-term employees and eliminating an agency that guides the growth and direction of the city of Lemoore. All of this occurred after the mayor got himself appointed to a three-person budget committee and said he would meet with department managers and then decide where cuts have to be made. The only department manager he didn’t meet with? The planning department director of course, the department that just happened to be eliminated.

Then, in a fit of unbridled hypocrisy, shortly after the council eliminated the planning department on a 3-2 vote (councilmembers Willard Rodarmel and Eddie Neal voted against) and ignoring the wishes of a civic auditorium full of Lemoore’s citizens, the mayor announced that he had indeed received positive comments about his cutting the planning department. He didn’t share the names of his admirers with the public.

Our council needs to reevaluate its actions and decide whether our citizens have the right persons leading the city. Perhaps a change is needed. It only takes three votes. We need leaders who truly listen to the people, rather than the voices in their own heads.