Jan. 2009- Hale threw the first punch in a fight with a resident at the local Shell station regarding an unmetered water line that Hale had run to his personal property during the large water infrastructure project. This fight appears to be the catalyst that blew the lid off years worth of "questionable" activities that were widely known in the community by then Public Works Director Jim Hale. *It is important to note that Hale is only one piece of the puzzle and the investigation report makes it very clear that numerous others were involved and benefitting personally.
1.6.09 City Council Agenda lists the first reference to the closed door item "2009/0106.17 Employment Status-Public Works Director" and Hale appears to have been put on either suspension or paid administrative leave at that point.
1.20.09 a memo of allegations re. Hale was given to the mayor, Julie Woodall, and the city council by an anoymous whistleblower
1.20.09 & 1.29.09 two special meetings were held with the city council and the city auditors regarding conducting a "special audit for the purpose of investigating certain findings from the annual audit." For whatever reason, the council did not approve the special audit. The minutes of those meetings were interesting as there was obviously a lot of animosity going on between some of the council and city manager Flemming regarding complaints into misconduct and her alleged failure to put a stop to it. Note that the council member giving Flemming the most heat has been in the city for a whole lot longer, including previous stints as council member and also failed to do anything about the problem. *You can see our 4.7.09 posting for further discussion of these two meetings.
1.25.09 our Community Events page was updated to include the information re. the fight and the employment status agenda item.
2.24.09 city attorney David Martinek requested an investigation into the allegations, presumably at the direction of the council. Floyd Stokes of Stokes & Associates was hired to look into the issues and then report back.
3.24.09 the investigation report was submitted by Stokes after an investigation that included interviews with more than 40 witnesses.
4.7.09 closed door session was held with the council, city attorney Martinek, city manager Flemming and a number of unknown men in suits. The agenda listed it as "2009/0407.01 To consider the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline, of a public employee (Government Code Section 54957)." No action was reported afterwards.
5.26.09 The first of our public record requests was submitted where we clearly asked for any investigation report or summary into any city department or employee as well reports or memos related to the disappearance of disposal of public works equipment. The request and the follow-up request were rejected outright by Martinek who alleged personnel privacy rights.
City Council Agendas continue to list closed door items regarding both the employment status of Hale and the "performance evaluation" of then city manager Nancy Flemming for months. There was never any reported action taken regarding either items.
7.7.09 Nancy Flemming resigns as city manager during a closed door session just before the council meeting but no action was reported such as accepting her resignation.
11.23.09 a settlement agreement was reached between Flemming and the city which paid her salary and generous benefits through Oct. 2nd, 2009 along with a silence clause. Why would there be any settlement or severance agreement when Flemming allegedly "voluntarily resigned?"
At some point near the end of 2009, the Hale employment item simply dropped off the closed door agenda list and Randy Jensen was officially put in as the acting public works director.
The city then spent approx. $100,000 replacing "missing" public works equipment and tools along with instituting a system of checking-out equipment to provide some level of accounting. The investigation report also outlines tens of thousands of dollars in missing equipment, property, staff time, etc. At the same time as all of this has been going on the citizens of Rio Dell have had multiple rate increases in water and sewer with more increases expected very soon. How can the city ask for more money from the residents when it can't address all of the fraud and misappropriation that has gone on so far and any steps that might have been taken to make sure it doesn't happen again? The city is about to ask (again) for the residents to take on a multi-million dollar bond to pay for street improvement but won't say how it will be different from projects in the recent past with missing funds, special favors for select cronies and city assets just dissapearing. The citizens of Rio Dell need to decide if they care or if they just want to continue with the status quo.