Sunnyside Council Washes Hands Like Pontius Pilate
December 14, 2009 6 Comments
In a disappointing vote tonight, the Sunnyside City Council smacked down the notion of hearing evidence from investigators by a vote of 5-2. Council Members Nick Paulakis and Mike Farmer voted in favor of receiving the reports of two independent investigators into the work environment at City Hall.
Mayor Garcia, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Restucci, Council Members Tom Gehlen, Theresa Hancock, and Carol Stone voted against hearing all the evidence. Council Member-Elect Don Vlieger took the oath of office, but will not be seated on the Council until after the end of the year.
Like Roman authorities of old, that ceremoniously washed their hands when local authorities proposed putting Jesus to death, the Sunnyside City Council has acted out the role of Pontius Pilate by refusing to hear the evidence.
They appear to think it is not their role to inquire whether policies they enact are being carried out correctly.
I presented 94 petition signatures to the City Council at the meeting, asking for them to receive reports directly from the investigators. Detective Chumley, President of the Sunnyside Police Officers’ Guild, and Josh Roe, President of the Sunnyside Firefighters’ Union signed on to the petition with their support.
Mr. Roe took a turn at the podium stating his belief that all investigative evidence should be considered before taking action against employees. He pointed out the two employees on leave are not represented by a union, and further said that he felt like the Interim City Manager was exploiting this. To support the idea of fairness for all labor at the City, he supported having the City Council listen to all the available evidence.
I would like to thank everyone that signed the petition, and those that came out to support Pam Sandifer and Terri Rhode being given a fair hearing. The room was full at the meeting.
On a personal note, I do not have a historical record as being the biggest supporter of unions. However, incidents like these are why government employees join unions. Unlike a private company, in government operations, employees are sometimes the victims of abusive politicians and their appointees. Decisions are made for political reasons, and not necessarily business ones.
The City does not have an Internet policy, nor an e-mail policy. Yet, they want to discipline employees for what they said in e-mails. If the Interim City Manager believes he can withstand the same scrutiny when applied to e-mails he has sent to other city employees, then there is nothing to be concerned about. However, I have good reason to believe a double standard is being applied in this case. Not being willing to listen to reports from multiple independent investigators should be a clue to those that are unconvinced.
A discipline/termination hearing is scheduled to be held tomorrow for long-time city employees Pam Sandifer and Terri Rhode.
Round and round we go…