GEORGIA KEY SMITH, PROTECT OUR NEIGHBORHOOD’S GROUP, San Clemente

We are a citizen’s group that was formed to promote the safety of our neighborhoods. We believe we represent the views of many San Clemente residents, and we are concerned about the well-being of our city.

Mayor Pro Tem Laura Ferguson’s allegations at the most recent council meeting must be investigated. Her claims that other councilmembers violated the Brown Act, coupled with her accusations that others harassed and bullied her, are both concerning, as well as potentially illegal.

The other three councilmembers, city attorney and acting city manager all believe that none of them have violated the Brown Act. That said, it is quite possible the main violator may be Ferguson. 

At the most recent city council meeting, Ferguson accused our acting city manager and a past city manager of creating a hostile work environment (her comments were made at the 3-hour, 20-minute mark in the meeting).

We have reason to believe her constant public criticism of former City Manager James Makshanoff caused him to resign. She also is responsible for the departure of interim City Manager Bob Dunek. Now, she has targeted our acting city manager. How many city managers must we lose?

We believe she has shown through her actions she is unable to work with the other councilmembers or city staff members. She criticized our late Mayor Steve Swartz up until the day he passed away. (See her City Council Corner column in the SC Times’ May 2, 2019 edition)

We must take action to stop her social media character assassinations aimed at city employees and other councilmembers.

This all leads to the unfortunate fact that our city will not be able to attract any quality candidates for city manager with Ferguson at the helm. It is difficult to imagine anyone willing to work in such a toxic environment. Moreover, her circle of advisors has sued the city on several occasions, then placing blame on city officials for money spent defending their lawsuits.

It is time to take action, councilmembers, request an impartial investigation now and let the facts inform as to the next steps. 

Editor’s Note: Former interim City Manager Robert Dunek was let go from the position following a 2-0-2 vote on June 17, when Mayor Pro Tem Laura Ferguson and Councilmember Gene James voted to reject his contract extension. This letter to the editor has been readjusted to its original version as submitted by the author. The previous publication of this letter, which also ran in the San Clemente Times’ Aug. 6 print edition, included a modified sentence made by the editor as a last-minute change prior to deadline without the author’s consent. San Clemente Times apologizes for this error in judgement.

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