Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden announced his unexpected, and early, retirement to City staff in an email. He intends to leave for Christmas vacation on Dec. 7 and move into retirement afterward, according to a press release sent out by Assistant to the City Manager for Housing and Economic Development Maryn Pitt.
This comes after a closed session performance evaluation of the City Manager on Oct. 13.
An announcement of Wasden’s early retirement was sent out in a press release on Oct. 14, the day after the performance evaluation by Council.
Concerns of mistrust, ethics, and accountability regarding several controversies were expressed while a former City Council decided to renew Wasden’s controversial contract worth over $200,000 per year, just before an election would see a new Councilmember and Mayor seated at the end of 2014.
When current City Councilmember Matthew Jacob and current Mayor Gary Soiseth were candidates during the 2014 election that they would go on to win, both stated that they would’ve liked to have a say in the decision that would bind a new Council with long-term management contracts.
TurlockCityNews.com asked Turlock City Councilmembers if Wasden’s retirement was due to the previously expressed concerns, however, no responses were given. Mayor Soiseth did issue a statement in the press release.
“Roy’s four decades of dedicated public service are inspiring. In my short time working with him, Roy has proven to be a determined and focused leader,” Mayor Soiseth said.
On Oct. 14, 2014, just before a new Turlock City Council was to be elected, Wasden and City Attorney Phaedra Norton were given controversial renewed contracts to run through June 30, 2017, for Wasden, and June 30, 2019, for Norton.
Wasden has been the Turlock City Manager since 2009, when he left from being the Modesto Police Chief.
The 4-1 vote included current City Councilmember Amy Bublak as the only one in opposition. Support for the renewal included current City Councilmembers Steven Nascimento and Bill DeHart, and now former Councilmember Forrest White and former Mayor John Lazar.
When informed of Wasden’s retirement decision, former Mayor John Lazar commented, “Roy is a man of great ethics and integrity. He brought a new kind of capable leadership to City Hall in leading the organization through some difficult economic times. He has served the Turlock admirably and from my 22 years of serving the Turlock community, is possibly the best City Manager our region has ever seen.”
However, Councilmember Amy Bublak has not shared that same sentiment as Lazar.
Controversies with Wasden
Bublak called for an outside investigation due to multiple events before the election in 2014, including inserts being sent in the September utility bills, promoting Turlock residents to vote “yes” on Measure B (Turlock road tax), and a pay raise received by members of Turlock Associate Police Officers before their contract was ratified, both of which were under Wasden and Norton’s watch.
“I’m concerned that there’s been a couple issues… specifically utilizing utility bills, things of that nature, paying people before we vote, we haven’t ratified contracts,” said Bublak. “I think it’s important to show the public and our employees that we’re hearing you and I think, respectfully, that we should have an outside investigation and hold off on doing this until we’ve proven to the public that we trust everybody and that everybody is doing right.”
Wasden and Turlock Police Officers Union
One of the concerns with Wasden was an increase in wages with the TAPO union. Turlock police officers had not seen their wages increase in several years, which is why it came as a surprise to see an increase on their checks.
Members of TAPO had the opportunity to approve the contract with the City that was before the union. This pay raise, approved by Wasden, raised many concerns, claiming it was a ploy to sway union votes to approve the contract.
TAPO later voted to reject the contract proposed by the City.
Wasden then had to take back the money that was prematurely given as a raise.
Wasden and Turlock police officers have been involved in many controversies throughout his career as Turlock City Manager.
In 2012, TAPO filed a grievance claim with city personnel, which Wasden ruled against. This claim came about due to the fact that the City of Turlock continued to take out nine percent of their monthly income towards the California Public Employees Retirement System for the month of November, despite the fact there was no contract in place for that month
After the claim was not responded to by a deadline, the TAPO case went to the Stanislaus County Superior Court by operation of law, and a case was filed.
The Turlock police union also blamed Wasden for the department having the lowest rate of cleared crimes in Stanislaus County. The department had cleared just under 40 percent of violent crimes within the last decade.
In a statement on their Facebook page in January of 2014, the TAPO stated “That amounts to two less detectives, elimination of the four officers assigned to the proactive Street Crimes Unit, and two patrol officers, at the direction of the City Manager Roy Wasden, who also led the Modesto Police Department when they had the lowest number of solved crimes in over 20 years!”
Wasden Approves Sending Road Tax Mailer in City Utility Bill, FPPC Investigates, Legal Questions
For the 2014 elections, Turlockers were given the option to vote on Measure B, a half-cent road tax going toward Turlock roads. Turlock voters received utility bill inserts with information on Measure A (district based elections), as well as Measure B. However, the differences were vast.
As TurlockCityNews.com originally reported, the insert with information on Measure B included content that was nearly, if not exactly, word for word from the branded campaign of “Citizens for Yes on Measure B,” a committee supporting the road tax. The government mailer included a designed logo similar of that from the Measure B campaign and advertised the political campaign’s website, FixTurlockRoads.com, that urged voters to approve the tax.
“[Local governments] are not allowed to send out any communication that unambiguously urges a particular result in an election,” said Brian Hildreth, Attorney at Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP.
Fox40 covered the Turlock incident reporting that the action may be illegal, and Wasden commented, “I would have liked to have given it greater scrutiny. There were some time tables that didn’t allow for that. That’s where we’re at.”
The last update from the Fair Political Practices Commission to TurlockCityNews.com was an email in March stating that the incident was still an ongoing FPPC investigation.
Wasden Manager While Chamber of Commerce Doesn't Show Stats and Data of Results for CVB Contract, Alleged of Misspending for Several Years
Wasden is most recently involved with an outside audit that found unallowable expenditures from the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) contract awarded to the Turlock Chamber of Commerce by the City of Turlock, and recently terminated.
The contract was to increase convention sales, tourism marketing and services for the City. In the proposal, the CVB would be charged with marketing for the Turlock community to make Turlock more attractive to potential visitors, as a means of bringing in outside dollars, and encouraging economic development.
The City of Turlock released several documents on April 25, alleging that the Chamber owes over $241,000 in expenditures from the CVB contracts from 2009 to 2014.
On Nov. 18, 2014, after then-incoming Councilmember Matthew Jacob and Mayor Gary Soiseth were elected and soon to be officially joining the Turlock City Council, replacing then Councilmember Forrest White and then Mayor John Lazar, the Turlock City Council was scheduled to consider accepting the CVB budget of $249,253 for the 2014-2015 year.
An $111,253 budget for elements relating to the promotion are included in this $249,253 budget. Some highlights of that include $20,000 towards Director and Visitors’ Guides and official city maps.
Councilmember Amy Bublak inquired to CVB representatives present at the meeting regarding past effectiveness; she inquired regarding the number of downloads of the CVB app, popular devices used to access the website, most searched terms on the CVB website, and social media presence.
“As I’m reading this looking and looking for results, and data and statistical analysis, all I have is expenditure stuff, I don’t have any projections of revenue what you did in the last couple years, what worked, what didn’t work…what we can anticipate in six months, what we can anticipate in a year. And with $250,000…I think we should just have that,” said Bublak.
Turlock City Council approved the budget on a 4-1 vote, despite concerns that were raised regarding the effectiveness and accountability of the CVB. Bublak opposed while requesting to wait until stats and data were provided. A new Council would also be making the decision.
It was later discovered and reported by TurlockCityNews.com, that former Mayor John Lazar would be a seated Board Member of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, after voting as Mayor of Turlock to give the organization a $249,000 contract without providing stats and data of results. Lazar nor City Attorney Norton even noted a possible conflict of interest.
Since then, Mayor Soiseth has led the new City Council to initiate a 90-day termination process of the CVB contract with the Chamber, then make the CVB contract an open bid process, audit CVB/Chamber budgets and find unallowable expenditures, and currently work to get approximately $186,000 of taxpayer funds repaid to the City.
“This Council has started the process of creating a renewed City strategic plan and actively analyzing our department budgets,” said Soiseth in the statement when addressing the CVB contract. “The need for a comprehensive and clear marketing plan for our great city has been a recurring theme.”
Recruitment Process to Replace Wasden Approved by Council
And now just before this current Council’s first full year working together under the leadership of Mayor Soiseth, at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Council approved a request for proposal to conduct executive recruitment for the position of City Manager and move forward with the official recruiting process. City staff also asked the council to appropriate the funds to pay for the recruitment, which was also approved.
California Executive Recruitment Firms will be emailed with information that the City of Turlock is looking to hire recruiters, now that the RFP has been approved by City Council. The process in hiring will be competitive, and the city council approved a maximum of $30,000 to be paid to the recruitment firm.
FORMER CITY COUNCIL APPROVES CITY MANAGER ROY WASDEN AND CITY ATTORNEY PHAEDRA NORTON'S CONTRACTS DESPITE ISSUES OF ALLEGED MISTRUST, ETHICS, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND OTHER CONTROVERSIES – NEW COUNCIL HAS ADDRESSED SEVERAL OF THE ISSUES IN A CORRECTIONAL MANNER, AND NOW EVALUATED THE CITY MANAGER WHO ANNOUNCED HE IS RETIRING EARLY THE NEXT DAY
City Manager Contract Renewal Worth Over $200,000 Annually in Negotiation; Potential New Mayor, Councilmembers Would Want Say in Decision
Council to Consider City Manager/Attorney Multi-Year Deals Worth $1.5 Million Before Election
Council Approves City Manager, Attorney Contracts Despite Concerns of ‘Trust’
Breaking: Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden Retiring Unexpectedly, Halfway Through Controversial Contract
CITY MANAGER TIED TO ALLEGED POLICE UNION CONTRACT VIOLATION, LAWSUIT, CRIME ISSUES, AND AN UNEXPECTED RAISE FOR POLICE OFFICERS BEFORE APPROVED BY CITY COUNCIL, COUNCILMEMBER AMY BUBLAK CALLED FOR AN INVESTIGATION OF THE CITY MANAGER'S ACTION (ALONG WITH MEASURE B ROAD TAX POLITICAL CAMPAIGN MAILER USING GOVERNMENT FUNDS)
Police Union Blames City Manager for Violent Crime Clearance Rate
Turlock Police Union Files Lawsuit Against City of Turlock
City Gives Turlock Police Officers Unannounced Raise While Contract Awaits Vote
Council Approves Employee Contracts, Police Officers Reject Offer
FORMER CITY COUNCIL APPROVES CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MARKETING CONTRACT WITH NO STATS AND DATA, CITY MANAGER ROY WASDEN DOESN'T HOLD CONTRACTOR ACCOUNTABLE AND ALLOWS ALLEGED MISMANAGEMENT OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS – NEW COUNCIL PUSHES TO END CONTRACT, INVESTIGATES AND FINDS SCANDALOUS SPENDING OF TAX PAYER FUNDS, REQUEST CHAMBER REPAY MISSPENT TAX PAYER FUNDS BACK TO THE CITY OF TURLOCK
Council to Consider $249k for Tourism Marketing by Chamber of Commerce’s Visitors Bureau, $20k for Maps and Visitor Guides
Council Approves $249k Visitors Bureau Budget Without Report of Results, Stats, Data
Mayor Lazar Votes to Give Chamber $249,000 Before Leaving Office, Now on Chamber Board
New Council to Consider Terminating Visitors Bureau’s $249K Contract and Seeking Competitive Bids
Breaking: Chamber Owes $241K in ‘Unallowable’ CVB Expenditures, Alleges City
INVESTIGATION OF CITY MAILING OUT CAMPAIGN MATERIAL SUPPORTING ROAD TAX ELECTION USING CITY UTILITY BILL, GOVERNMENT FUNDS/RESOURCES – CITY MANAGER ROY WASDEN TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR APPROVAL OF USING GOVERNMENT RESOURCES FOR POLITICAL MAILER – FAIR POLITICAL PRACTICES COMMISSION INVESTIGATING
City of Turlock Sends Insert by Citizens for Yes on Measure B in Utility Bills, Both Say It Was Only Informational
Fox40 Continues Coverage of Measure B Inserts in Turlock Utility Bills
FPPC Reviewing Measure B Inserts Sent by City, Despite Recent Reports