Councilman Howze Op-Ed on Mayor’s Accountability Being the Issue

For more than a year a majority of the Turlock City Council remained silent as to the reasons why former city manager Tim Kerr was fired. With the city’s recent filing of a countersuit against Mr. Kerr, many of those reasons became public. I was one of three votes on the Council who chose to terminate the former city manager for reasons listed in the cross complaint which, by the process of being filed in court, has become a public document. For my part, I will let the document and the facts speak for themselves. Clearly, a majority of the City Council voted to hold Tim Kerr accountable for his actions during his tenure as city manager.
Mayor Lazar has by virtue of untruthfully stating that a single councilmember was the architect of the lawsuit for the sole purpose of political grandstanding has most likely handed Kerr’s attorneys all the ammunition needed to render the action useless. The mayor’s  claim that an individual councilmember influenced a court filing written by an outside legal firm and approved by the vote of a majority of the city council is simply ridiculous. Once again, John Lazar has gone out of his way to ensure Tim Kerr will never be held accountable for his actions during his employment as Turlock’s city manager.
The most common question I’m being asked in the community is why Mayor Lazar has refused to hold Tim Kerr accountable for his actions as city manager? Why did he twice refuse to fire Kerr if the facts supported it?  I will publicly say again that Mayor Lazar’s absolute unwillingness to hold the former city manager accountable was because Tim Kerr enabled the Mayor’s political and personal financial agenda. Two examples most highlight why the Mayor always had Tim Kerr’s back.
A month after winning the mayoral election in December 2006, Tim Kerr illegally hired Mayor Lazar’s campaign manager while bypassing all public employee hiring rules.  The facts are indisputable. The newly created  city position payed Mayor Lazar’s campaign manager $142,782 annually not counting benefits.
On November 3rd of 2008, Tim Kerr granted an appeal to the Vintage Lounge which allowed them to obtain a hard liquor license which they had been denied by a committee comprised of the Police Chief and other senior members of city staff. It was brought to the attention of members of the City Council, by city employees, that there were concerns of corruption in the appeal process because Mayor Lazar was pressuring the city manager to grant the liquor license. Kerr did grant the liquor license on appeal contrary to the earlier denial.
It was during a conversation with the former City Manager that Kerr informed me that Mayor Lazar was the real estate agent involved in the Vintage Lounge project and that the Mayor clearly had a financial interest at stake. Mayor Lazar did publicly validate his conflict when he later excused himself from a citizens appeal trying to halt the project.
These type of shenanigans were good enough reason for a majority of the City Council to place Turlock’s Police Chief in the interim City Manager position vacated by Kerr before officially hiring former Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden as our new City Manager. Council clearly recognized that Turlock needed new leadership with a strong moral compass that could not be corrupted. Contrary to the widely rumored belief that the discourse amongst the Turlock City Council is ideologically motivated, the true divisive factor has always been nothing more than a difference between doing right and wrong.
If you are like me, you have grown weary of career bureaucrats working in conjunction with career politicians for their own benefit. I have been threatened with promises of personal embarrassment and political ruin if I didn’t remain silent about the activities of the former city manager and mayor. Despite the threats, I will not remain silent until such time as Turlock’s government can be guaranteed accountable to its citizens best interests at all times.
Ted Howze

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