City of Thousand Oaks City Manager’s Resignation Sparks In-fighting and Investigations

City of Thousand Oaks

Flap previosuly reported on Phil Gatch’s, City Manager of the City of Thousand Oaks, resignation and the FLAP that ensued.

At this Tuesday evening’s Thousand Oaks City Council meeting the sparks flew and an investigation launched:

The controversy over the fate of the current Thousand Oaks city manager took a new turn during Tuesday’s city council meeting, dividing the council further.

Instead of resolving the issue in a closed session during the meeting, the council called for an investigation into whether or not state laws had been violated concerning the possibly coerced resignation of longtime city employee Phil Gatch.

According to letters obtained by the Thousand Oaks Acorn, Gatch, the city’s 64-year-old city manager, was pressured to resign by Councilmember Andy Fox on March 23.

When the action became public, residents protested, arguing that Gatch, a 38-year employee of the city credited with authoring the city’s general plan, deserved better. Many singled out Fox as the instigator, supported by council members Jacqui Irwin and Dennis Gillette.

“I don’t know Mr. Gatch but I know that what was done to him was wrong,” said Linda Brown, who was among more than 20 speakers, including several former city leaders, who spoke on Gatch’s behalf during the council meeting. “Lower level workers can have no faith in higher ranks if they see this kind of treatment.”

Mayor Claudia-Bill de la Pena requested that outside counsel be called in to review the circumstances surrounding what’s been called a forced resignation to ensure no impropriety. But Gillette balked at the idea of spending an unknown amount of money on an inquiry and criticized the mayor for wanting to single out specific council members.

City Attorney Amy Albano suggested that the district attorney would be the appropriate party to investigate possible violations of the Brown Act violations. The Brown Act is California’s open meetings law that requires government business to be conducted in the open. Elected officials are specifically forbidden to take action behind closed doors or outside the public forum. Albano suggested writing a letter to the D.A.’s office, but pointed out that the district attorney may already be looking into the issue.

“They don’t tell us when they do that,” Albano said. “They read the papers. They know what’s going on.”

Fox took the mayor’s idea further, calling for an investigation into possible violations of the Brown Act over the past two years—from the time Gatch was appointed to city manager.

“I welcome an investigation,” Fox said. “I didn’t violate any state laws or rules.”

Irwin echoed Fox, adding that closed session discussions on the issue that were revealed to the public were Brown Act violations and deserved further investigation.

Bill-de la Pena also wanted the inquiry to include possible violations of city code, but such an investigation must be conducted by an outside counsel, something that Fox, Irwin and Gillette voted down. Only Councilmember Ed Masry supported Bill-de la Pena’s motion.

Larry Horner, who served on the council for nearly 17 years, including four terms as mayor, agreed that an investigation would clear up rumors and offer a resolution. But he felt that rather than focusing on the past two years, the investigation should only address the current issue of Gatch’s employment.

“What’s past is past,” Horner said. “This situation appears to be a power struggle or a personal conflict. It should have been handled in an entirely different way.”

Albano will draft a letter on the council’s behalf to the D.A., she said.

Mayor Horner is correct that this matter should have been handled in a different manner. But, will the Linda Park’s crowd, including other council candidate wannabes and amen chorus allow slow-growth advocate Gatch to slowly fade into the sunset?

The Ventura County Star (free registration required) now reports that now the City Council has agreed to hire outside counsel to negotiate the possible resignation of the City Manager:

Two days after the Thousand Oaks City Council voted unanimously to investigate itself, City Attorney Amy Albano said Thursday that the city has hired outside counsel to negotiate the possible resignation of the city manager.

The resignation letter of City Manager Phil Gatch has fueled accusations that the 38-year city employee was pressured to leave by Councilman Andy Fox. This week, the council agreed to ask the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office or the state attorney general to investigate possible violations of the state’s open meeting law.

Although the City Attorney’s Office has the expertise to negotiate the terms of a possible resignation for Gatch, hiring an outside attorney is a good decision given the circumstances, Albano said.

“I believe the relationship between the council, the city manager and the city attorney, given everything that’s going on, has become awkward,” she said. “This was really done to lessen the awkwardness.”

The city has hired Melanie Poturica, a managing partner for Los Angeles-based Liebert Cassidy Whitmore. The city will pay $250 an hour for her services.

On Tuesday, the council gave direction to Albano’s office to contact the District Attorney’s Office to seek an investigation.

Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Pena has contended that some council members might have violated the state’s open meeting law based on conversations she had with Gatch, she said. Gatch told her he was pressured to resign by Fox, who apparently implied he had the three votes to fire him, she has said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Fox said he welcomed an investigation and said he believed that others, not him, might have violated the Brown Act.

It is unusual for a council to seek an investigation into itself, said Tom Harris, special assistant district attorney.

“It is my experience that it is relatively unusual for a city council to invite an investigation of this nature,” he said. “However, I do recall Thousand Oaks is a city that has done it at least once in the past.”

About three years ago, the District Attorney’s Office investigated allegations of potential Brown Act violations among some planning commissioners. The office concluded there had been no violations.

Harris said he is unaware of any other city that has requested such an investigation in the eight years in his position.

He said the District Attorney’s Office would consider the merits of a city’s request just as it would any other request. As of Thursday, he had not received an official request from the city.

The Mayor and her supporters did not win majority control of the Council in November 2004. She and Councilman Masry are in the minority and the majority wants to replace Gatch – big deal – let him go. He has served the City well but a majority of the council wants a new manager with a new direction.

Flap cannot help but think that the Major is sore because she simply is not getting her own way and by creating a FLAP she hopes to discredit sitting councilmembers. In the process she is making herself appear as an ineffectual leader and denigrates city government.

She needs to remember the November 2006 council elections are long off and voters will little remember these machinations. In fact, most residents do not even know or care who the City Manager is.

So, Mayor gather a few more headlines and make your supporters feel good and then step out of the way and allow the City find a new manager.

Read more >

Some Electric toothbrushes Are More Effective Than Manual Brushing

Dentistry

Whenever I read some of these studies I always wonder who funds them. The latest missive in this subject comes from Peter Robinson of Sheffield University in Sheffield, England:

British researchers say some powered toothbrushes are better at removing plaque and reducing the risk of gum disease than are ordinary manual toothbrushes.

Peter Robinson of Sheffield University in Sheffield, England, and his colleagues, made the discovery in a study that has been published in the April issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.

The kind of powered toothbrushes that demonstrate superior performance are those with circular bristle heads that rotate in alternating directions.

Ok, but is that what they are really saying?

Next, read this take on the same story. this one from ABC News:

The circling motion unique to certain power toothbrushes is better at sweeping away dental plaque than the traditional ‘up-and-down’ technique used with manual brushes.

That’s according to a new review of 42 different studies, involving more than 3,800 participants, that found circle-motion electric toothbrushes outperformed simpler, hand-manipulated models.

The review’s British authors found that over one to three months, powered toothbrushes with circular heads that rotate in alternating directions reduced plaque 11 percent better than manual toothbrushes and reduced signs of gum inflammation (gingivitis) 6 percent better than manual toothbrushes.

After more than three months of use, the powered toothbrushes reduced gingivitis 17 percent better than manual toothbrushes. The researchers found no evidence that powered toothbrushes of any kind caused more gum damage than manual toothbrushes.

They stressed that even though the powered toothbrushes provided better results, the benefits of regular brushing “occur whether the brush is manual or powered, and the results of this review do not indicate that tooth brushing is only worthwhile with a powered toothbrush.”

“We did not want to say that electric brushes are necessary, just that they can help. It is possible to clean one’s teeth perfectly well without an electric brush,” review co-author Peter Robinson of Sheffield University said in a prepared statement.

Ionic brushes — which makers say reverse the polarity of teeth, improving cleaning — and powered toothbrushes that do not use a circular, alternating motion, were no better at removing plaque and gingivitis than manual toothbrushes, the review concluded.

The review was published in the April issue of the journal The Cochrane Library

Now read the manual toothbrushes are just fine slant to the same story. This time the piece is from Canada’s globe and Mail:

Most electric toothbrushes are no better at cleaning your teeth than the old-fashioned manual ones.

That’s the conclusion of researchers at the University of Sheffield in England, after reviewing 42 trials of all sorts of toothbrushes.

In fact, the only type of electric toothbrush more effective than a traditional brush is one with a so-called “rotating-oscillating” head. (It has a circular head that moves a quarter turn in one direction and then back a quarter turn.)

“These results show that many people may be wasting money on toothbrushes they believe will clean their teeth better, when actually a much cheaper traditional brush would do the job just as well,” Prof. Peter Robinson said in a statement released with the study.

His team looked at trials that assessed how well various brushes removed dental plaque — a gooey mix of bacteria and detritus — which can cause gingivitis, an early form of gum disease that undermines teeth.

There are a wide range of electric brushes, including those that move bristles with ultrasound, and those that move side to side, or round and round — and those of the rotating-oscillating variety.

Compared with manual toothbrushes, the rotating-oscillating gadgets removed 11-per-cent more plaque and cut gingivitis by a further 17 per cent after three months of use, according to the study in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Prof. Robinson said the other electric gadgets don’t do any harm. “However, if [people] bought an electric toothbrush to get their teeth as clean as possible, then it is worth investing in a brush with a rotating-oscillating head.”

Other experts also recommend regular flossing, rinsing with an antibacterial mouth wash and periodic trips to a dentist’s office for a professional cleaning.

So, what is the truth of the matter – BRUSH YOUR TEETH, FLOSS THEM, WATER IRRIGATE THEM, USE ANTIBACTERIAL MOUTHRINSES AND SEE THE DENTIST AND HYGIENIST REGULARLY.

And forget about worrying about what type of toothbrush you use because it is simply one portion of dental hygiene and doesn’t really matter.

And to researchers….. you have better things to study – Heh!

Read more >