Prior to a closed session of a special session of Los Banos City Council June 22, five persons spoke in the public forum and the written comments of a sixth person was read aloud.
The special session was called so that the council could discuss in closed session the appointment of an interim city manager, following the termination of city manager Josh Pinheiro at its June 15 meeting. Following the closed session, no action was announced.
During the public forum, Los Banos resident Anna McCauley spoked against the dismissal of Pinheiro. “I don’t think,” she said, “that I have ever been in such shock and such disbelief and downright livid when I heard what happened at last week’s council. What was so egregious that you had to fire a new manager within nine months or so of when he was hired?
“I want to hear from every one of you what your individual reasons were for firing him,” McCauley said. “And your answers better not be, ‘Oh, I agree with so and so.’ You should have your own individual reasons for why he had to go. We don’t need bobble heads on the council. W we need people who have individual reasons, as well, when decisions are made.”
Gregg Wilson, another resident of Los Banos, expressed that Pinheiro did not work a reasonable amount of time before the decision was made to terminate his employment. “Somebody can’t do their job, like a city manager, in nine months,” he said.
“You guys need to be held accountable to this city,” Wilson continued. “Our police department is a revolving door of officers who are leaving because they don’t get paid enough. We can’t hire a fire chief, a deputy fire chief, for what reasons? Maybe because the City Council doesn’t know what they’re doing.”
A married couple, Los Banos residents Sandra and Jess Medrano, each recounted how the council members spoke positively about Pinheiro at the opening of the police station prior to the decision to terminate him.
Jess Medrano addressed the council, “You guys yourselves were there and you people were putting this man up here on a pedestal, saying ‘What a good job this man has done.’ Next thing you hear, you guys cut the feet right from under him. Do you think that’s right?”
Another resident of Los Banos, Kathy Ballard, encouraged city council to focus on the next steps: “You need to have somebody that is familiar with the rules, the regulations and be accepting to learn from other people,” she said. “I understand that my council and city tried everything they could to teach him and to show him what you wanted and needed from him.”
Near the end of the public forum, a letter left in utility drop box written by Sharon Wilson was read aloud by City Clerk Lucy Mallonee. “The city manager is a young, immature, individual who was used to getting his way,” Wilson wrote. “He did not like being educated by those who have had many years of experience under their belt, particularly because they were women. “Instead of having a desire to learn and lead the right way,” Wilson added, “he came in thinking the rules didn’t apply to him, another sign of a lack of experience.”