TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL DEFENDS MANAGER FIRING, HEARS OF LACK OF CONFIDENCE

TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL DEFENDS MANAGER FIRING, HEARS OF LACK OF CONFIDENCE

In a continuation of the meeting in which City Manager Joe Guzzetta was fired, the Twentynine Palms City Council listened to residents, and decided on a course of action. Reporter Dan Stork was there and describes some unhappy citizens…
The Twentynine Palms City Council heard public comment, before they withdrew into a closed session to decide their next personnel moves in the wake of last week’s surprise firing of City Manager Joe Guzzetta. Most of the commentators addressed the firing, expressing bewilderment at the suddenness of the Council’s action. City founding father Owen Gillick noted the unanimous vote ousting Guzzetta, and suggested that the Council was following the letter of the public meeting laws, while violating its spirit. Gillick concluded his initial remarks, saying “I must say that my confidence in this council is very low right now.” Council member Jay Corbin asked Gillick if he was proposing that personnel evaluations be made in public. Gillick denied that, and, alluding to the “change of direction” mentioned in the press release that announced the firing, said “I didn’t even know the City had a direction,” and that was a proper subject for public discussion. Mayor Dan Mintz and Council member Jim Harris said that the law prohibits public discussion of personnel decisions. Harris hinted that observers could have picked up on clues that there were problems: “If you go look at the agendas, Owen, go back three months where there was a performance evaluation scheduled, and it got prolonged for 90 days–-perhaps then you may understand we were unable to come to a proper evaluation three months ago. We put it off for 90 days to then re-evaluate.” Council went into closed session. When it emerged 40 minutes later, Mayor Mintz announced that he and Corbin would interview prospective candidate for the post of Interim City Manager. He then adjourned the meeting to Monday, June 9, at which time he and Corbin will report on the status of that effort.

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