Perhaps some local leaders need a primer on ethical behavior

By Bill Black
Perhaps some local leaders need a primer on ethical behavior

In 2012 several Lemoore residents decided to create the Lemoore Community Foundation after a local builder talked about his experience with non-profit community organizations in other Valley cities and thought that perhaps he should help Lemoore start one.

Like a similar foundation in Hanford, as well as the Lemoore High School Foundation, it would be a non-profit and it would have no connection whatsoever to the City of Lemoore.

The purpose of the Lemoore Community Foundation was to be an organization that could assist in providing resources to programs that enrich the lives of Lemoore citizens and strengthen organizations.

Paperwork was filed with the IRS, the builder helped by paying the $500 application fee, and the Chamber of Commerce agreed to let the hoped-for foundation use its address.

The group planned to solicit additional board members, begin regular meetings, elect officers and set up operational policies after getting non-profit status. Members would be volunteers.

In the early part of 2013, the current City Council forced out City Manager Jeff Briltz and some members of the council began implementing their personal agenda for Lemoore. Not aware of the turmoil, the homebuilder approached the dysfunctional City Council asking for help in expediting the Foundation’s IRS application, which had been delayed due to issues at the IRS that had nothing to do with the application.

I believe that Mayor Billy Siegel and Councilman John Gordon immediately recognized the request as a political opportunity to subvert the well-intentioned plans of those individuals involved with the Foundation. They appeared to make the issue of a Lemoore Community Foundation personal and perhaps help further their own political asperations. Without asking a single question of any of the founders, they apparently set out to quash the foundation and perhaps embarrass those whose only intentions were to make Lemoore a better place.

Somebody suggested to law enforcement that maybe there was something sinister, perhaps embezzlement of funds. A criminal complaint apparently was filed against two of the founders - Briltz and Ed Martin.

District Attorney Greg Strickland found quite the opposite. There was no embezzlement, nothing sinister at all. The application for the foundation was legitimately filed and waiting government approval.

It seems that someone may have wanted to pin political targets on Martin and Briltz. Martin was instrumental in creating the Lemoore Union High School District Foundation for Educational Excellence and helped to make it a successful contributing factor to the betterment of students. Briltz had contributed to the success of the Lemoore High School Foundation by serving as a board member, and during his tenure offered a wealth of knowledge on public policy and operational ideas.

Both have a ton of knowledge on what was required for the success of a non-profit organization and that is why they took the lead in filing the paper work.

After the ruling from the District Attorney, Gordon posted the following on his Face Book Page: The Kings County DA’s office has decided not to prosecute Briltz and Martin for embezzlement. “I learned in law school that if you try to enrich yourself using your power or position, it is called embezzlement...”

Obviously, Gordon missed the courses on ethical behavior and what constitutes slander in law school. There should be some legal remedy against those who file false and malicious criminal complaints to further their unethical political agendas. The only good news is that even after attempts by Siegel and Gordon to discredit two individuals who have devoted their time and energy to make Lemoore a better place is that the Lemoore Community Foundation was approved in December.

I hope those good intentioned individuals starting the Foundation continue so it becomes a contributing factor in the lives of Lemoore area citizens. It is also my understanding that this City Council, because of its disregard for the legal rights of others, now has at least one lawsuit pending against the City. It is obvious that some do not learn from their mistakes in judgment, unethical behavior, and slanderous statements.

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