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Seaside meeting smackdown: Resident rips city spending; police union a no-show

Monterey Herald -- Nov. 20, 2009


Resident rips city spending; police union a no-show
By CLAUDIA MELÉNDEZ SALINAS
Herald Staff Writer
Updated: 11/20/2009 01:29:21 AM PST

Despite repeated assurances by the Seaside Police Officers Association that it would present the City Council with its reasons for a vote of no confidence against City Manager Ray Corpuz, the police union was a no-show Thursday.

Instead, an irate city resident presented the council with a tally of expenses the city has incurred by placing Police Chief Stephen Cercone on leave.

The president of the Seaside Taxpayers Association expressed displeasure about the expenses. And the council received a closed-door report on the grievance filed by Cercone.

The Seaside POA last week took a vote of no confidence against Corpuz, who placed Cercone on leave Aug. 10. Among the reasons cited for the no-confidence vote were:

• An alleged lack of leadership by the city manager when he brought in two interim police administrators whose qualifications for the job were questioned.

• The commission of a staffing study that cost the city $47,000 and concluded that fewer peace officers are needed. The report came after city officials, in a successful attempt to pass a sales tax increase last year, convinced taxpayers that more officers were needed.

Explaining the POA's absence Thursday, Bruno Dias, the union's former vice president, said a new board was sworn in Tuesday as part of its regular election cycle. The new president, Frank Martin, was on vacation. Any pending issues would have to be addressed by the current board, he said.

While council members failed to hear from the police union, they got an earful from Ann Marie Pagan, a city resident upset by the "unnecessary" expenses that have added up since Cercone's departure.

"Recent legal bills for personnel investigations: $127,700. Approximate salary paid to interim Chief (Stephen) Willis since August: $40,000. ... Total cost of unnecessary expenses: $252,300," she read.

The City Council was scheduled to hear in closed session the results of the investigation into the grievance that Cercone filed in August against Corpuz about his removal.

Attorney Rick Harray, hired by the city to conduct the investigation, said he could not disclose his findings. It would be up to the council to make the appropriate decision, he said.

Gene Lee, president of the Seaside Taxpayers Association, said he wasn't happy with the city spending all the money.

"It's excessive spending to have two chiefs," he said. "It's been too long. We need to know what's going on."

Claudia Meléndez Salinas can be reached at 753-6755 or cmelendez@montereyherald.com.




Last Updated: Nov 20, 09

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