乐动体育LEMOORE – The controversy surrounding former Lemoore Parks and Recreation Director Joe Simonson was supposed to have ended when the city paid him $100,000 in a settlement agreement earlier this month.
乐动体育After a mysterious investigation into alleged misconduct on the part of Simonson that was never disclosed, Simonson agreed to retire in exchange for the $100,000 – roughly one year’s salary.
Now a dispute is brewing over personal property Simonson was storing on city land.
乐动体育Simonson sent an email Friday to City Manager Andi Welsh and members of the City Council saying he was “unable to retrieve valuable personal property that I need to make a living.”
Simonson said he brought tools and other equipment with him to the city when he was first hired there as a carpenter. Simonson said he used the items to do work for the city.
Simonson asked for the issue to be put on a City Council agenda as an action item to be voted on.
乐动体育In a response obtained by the Sentinel that City Attorney Jenell Van Bindsbergen emailed to council members and Welsh on Saturday, Van Bindsbergen said Simonson needs to bring it up in the public comment period if he wants the council to act on his request.
乐动体育Van Bindsbergen said the council is under no obligation to grant Simonson’s request.
乐动体育Nikki Moore, an attorney with the California Newspaper Publishers Association, said Van Bindsbergen is correct.
“There’s nothing in the law that allows a member of the public to compel them to put something on the agenda,” Moore said.
An item can be put on the agenda at the request of a council member.
Simonson said the reason he wants the issue on the agenda is because he’s concerned that if he brings it up in the public comment period, “They’ll say, ‘Thank you, we can’t comment at this time.’”
“I want them to take action on it,” he said. “Let me state my case, they can say their piece and move on.”
In the email, Van Bindsbergen went on to say that Simonson was storing property on city land “for personal purposes.” She said that practice is illegal if it’s used “for personal purposes.”
Welsh said some of the property Simonson was storing in a city-controlled storage unit “was personal property not related to his job.”
In a written statement emailed to The Sentinel, Simonson said that he had the permission to store some “bulky personal items” there.
Simonson said that the “vast majority” of the tools in the storage unit were used “for the benefit of the citizens [of Lemoore].”
Simonson said in an interview that he is missing several items including a rebar bending tool, hundreds of steel stakes, cement trowels, a builder’s level on a tripod and other concrete tools.
He estimated the value at $6,000 or $7,000.
Simonson said he either wants the items returned or the city to pay him. He said he needs the items to go back to work as a contractor.
Welsh said the city can’t pay Simonson for the disputed items without “proof and documentation.”
“I can’t cut a check just because somebody says so,” she said.
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Simonson said in the email that he had approval from former Lemoore City Manager Allen Goodman to bring in [Simonson’s] own tools and use them “to complete projects in-house.”
“Neither [City Manager] Andi Welsh, [Public Works Director] Nathan Olson or [Parks and Facilities Superintendent] Ray Greenlee have been there long enough to know this history,” Simonson wrote.
The Sentinel was unable to locate Allen Goodman for comment. Goodman was city manager from 1986-1997, according to the city’s website, .
Welsh said that she was unaware of any such arrangement. Welsh said that if Simonson still has an issue, “he can come and speak in the public comment period like any other person.”
Van Bindsbergen and Simonson are also at odds over a call to the Lemoore Police Department.
The call was apparently made at some point when Simonson showed up at the storage unit last week to retrieve some of his property.
“I am informed that Simonson became so belligerent that the police had to be called,” Van Bindsbergen wrote in the email.
Simonson said in a written statement to the Sentinel that he requested that city officials call the police “not because I was being belligerent but because I wanted proof that they wouldn’t return my property that I could clearly see on my desk.”
Simonson said that the items in question were computer speakers that were later returned to him.
When asked for comment about her email, Van Bindsbergen declined to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.
Van Bindsbergen sent a later email to the Sentinel in which she said that the Sentinel’s possession of the original email is “unauthorized” and requested that it “be returned or destroyed and not disseminated in any manner.”
Moore, the attorney at the California Newspaper Publishers Association, said The Sentinel can report on the information in the email “[if] you have obtained the document legally.”
The Sentinel obtained the document in a legal manner.
The Sentinel was unable to immediately confirm the details of the incident with the Lemoore Police Department.
City Councilman Ray Madrigal said in a phone interview that the city needs to verify that that the items Simonson claims are his are actually his.
“It’s really a matter of we’re trying to protect our city assets as much as possible,” Madrigal said.
Madrigal recommended that Simonson bring it up in the public comment period at a regular city council meeting.
“It’s something that he can bring up and we can consider,” Madrigal said. “We’re not going to be able to make a decision at this point because there’s really not enough documentation.”
Madrigal said he doesn’t think that employees should be using personal property for city business.
City Councilman William Siegel said that it “seems reasonable” to make the property issue an action item for the council to discuss and act on.
“People have the right to be heard,” Siegel said.