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Resident presents possible recall petition

Bob Birdseye asks for removal of city manager/assistant city manager
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Bob Birdseye sent a serious message to City Council Tuesday night: remove the city manager and assistant city manager or face a recall. Birdseye, a Lincoln resident, distributed a press release and petition, detailing why he wants City Manager Jim Estep and Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer Anna Jatczak to be terminated from their positions “with cause.” The petition also states that “failure to remove them will result in a recall of Mayor Paul Joiner and Council members Tom Cosgrove and Spencer Short.” Birdseye presented 111 signatures with his petition to City Council after addressing the council Tuesday about his wishes. The News Messenger asked Estep, Jatczak and all five City Council members for their response to the press release and petition. “My only comment is we will be discussing the $3 million unrealized investment loss (during Tuesday’s meeting),” Estep said Monday. “I think that when the discussion is made tomorrow night, the facts will become clear versus assumptions being made by Mr. Birdseye.” When asked by The News Messenger if they were considering stepping down, both Estep and Jatczak said no. Joiner did not respond to the request for the removal of Estep and Jatczak but commented on the threat of a recall he might face. “All I can do is focus on the work the citizens of Lincoln elected me to do on their behalf. My job is to represent all 42,000 residents of Lincoln not just the 111 that signed Mr. Birdseye’s petition,” Joiner e-mailed Wednesday. “Mr. Birdseye certainly is entitled to his opinion and process but I doubt he understands the devastating effect such an action would have on our community. If we are to attract new businesses to Lincoln and expand sales tax revenues we need to foster a climate of stability and predictability. Few businesses would have any interest in investing and/or locating in a divided, chaos filled community turning on itself.” The News Messenger called Councilmember Tom Cosgrove for a comment Monday and he sent an e-mail saying he would not comment. “I’m not going to comment on anything that is rumor, speculation or innuendo,” Councilmember Spencer Short e-mailed Monday when asked for a comment. Council member Gabriel Hydrick said “it’s just reflective of the confidence and trust that our citizens have in our city officials.” Councilman Stan Nader had a similar response as Hydrick’s. “I can certainly appreciate the community’s angst. I understand a certain component of the community’s desire to send a message to the council,” Nader said. “I know what it’s like to go through a recall, I don’t really want to see us go there.” Unrealized investment loss main reason for removal effort The main reason Birdseye asked for the removal of Estep and Jatczak stems behind a $3 million unrealized investment loss that was allocated solely to the General Fund instead of spread across all of the funds that participated in the investment. “I feel that the last straw for myself was the revelation as it pertained to Mr. Estep and Anna knowing about the $3 million misallocation,” Birdseye said Monday. “It was solely allocated to the city’s General Fund after they placed Measure K on the ballot.” Birdseye said the misallocation “was to make the General Fund appear greater than what it should have been for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.” Community members have told Birdseye, he said, that they “have been misled about the immediate need for Measure K.” A recent Sacramento Bee article didn’t help Estep’s case either, according to Birdseye. “When Mr. Estep told the Sacramento Bee that most cities would be happy to find $3 million, that was like him telling us Lincolnites we should be happy that we caught his error,” Birdseye said. “He shouldn’t be making $3 million errors, given what we pay him. He needs to go and take Ms. Jatczak with him. If Joiner, Cosgrove and Short don’t act, we’ll recall them, too.” Birdseye has given the council until Feb. 8 to respond to his request. “I’m giving them a two-week period in order to do that. The thing is, the citizens of our community want to restore accountability, transparency, integrity and ethics in our city government,” Birdseye said. “If they don’t act by Feb. 8, the next step in the process is a recall.” Lincoln resident and CPA David Masche said he “supports” the recall effort and has been e-mailing the press release and petition to residents he knows. “I think it’s time for a change. I think people have had enough, are frustrated and credibility is an issue,” Masche said. Masche said his “personal opinion” is that Estep and Jatczak will not be removed from their positions with the city of Lincoln. “The City Council has supported them in the past, and they gave Estep a big raise in 2009 after asking the employees to take a pay cut,” Masche said. Masche said the city’s finances are in bad shape and “there is a problem getting financial information.” “We need to move forward with new people,” Masche said. Jonas Porup gave a passionate speech to city management and the City Council, requesting that employee salaries and benefits be cut. “Now we are in such a mess. My concern is nothing is being done about the city manager. He missed city manager class 101 because I don’t see management here,” Porup said. “We have a group of people that tries to guide the city but it is not being guided in the right direction.” Some residents not in support of petition Not everyone at Tuesday’s packed council meeting agreed with Birdeye’s efforts during the public comment section. Resident Dan Cross said he received an e-mail from Birdseye about the petition and “took offense to a line in the e-mail that stated your assistance in this process will be appreciated by all citizens in Lincoln, Calif.” “That is not true, and I’m here to tell you tonight that I don’t appreciate it and I take offense to someone releasing such vile drivel,” Cross said. “I do not appreciate it and please do not include me. You do not and will never speak for me. I think the whole movement is counterproductive and destructive.” Resident Jim Datzman said he “suggested that now is the time for the newly seated City Council to show leadership” a few weeks ago in a letter to the editor in The News Messenger. “It’s clear to me that we elect five City Council members and provide them with the authority to govern our city,” Datzman said. “I’d like to remind you, the City Council, we elected you to govern the city and should not allow the city to be held hostage by an activist making demands.” Bill Cook offered words of support for the City Council. “I will not support a petition to recall anyone. If anyone does, I want them to put the money down to fund it because that’s throwing bad money after a cause that is lost,” Cook said. On Wednesday, Birdsye said that the comments made Tuesday night did not discourage him. “Even though the city lobbied to have people in their own court to shut me down, we are a strong force and we will move forward,” Birdseye said. “It didn’t bother me at all, even when the first gentleman (Dan Cross) who went up there and blasted me out of the water. I was not discouraged at all because, as I’ve said before, I feel every American in this country has the right to petition their government when they feel something is not going right.” Birdseye said he will continue to collect petitions signatures during the next two weeks and “will see what happens within the next couple of weeks.”