Cancer of distrust grows in Anderson

Two weeks of vacation, much of it spent outside California, provided opportunity to ponder more thoroughly several recent developments alluded to in a previous column.

While I am loathe to pronounce “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” as Marcellus boldly told Horatio in Act I, Scene 4, of William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Hamlet, there is a noticeable stench from a dangerous growth in the body politic of Anderson.

At the July 16 meeting, City Council member John Day came closest to naming the disease eating away trust and creating disharmony among city employees when he publicly expressed disappointment in recent hiring practices at City Hall and Anderson Police Department.

Nepotism and cronyism come closest to describing this cancer, Day shared with me afterwards when asked to explain his public comments.

Day made his comments just prior to a lengthy closed session in which the council was to discuss the job performance and evaluation of City Manager Jeff Kiser.

Kiser allowed the experience was more akin to a trip behind the woodshed and admitted his honeymoon with the council has ended.

And that wasn’t the end of the council’s discussion.

At 4 p.m. on Aug. 6, the city council again held a special emergency meeting with just one item on the agenda — Public Employee Performance Evaluation, City Manager.

Day specifically mentioned a series of recent hirings by Anderson Police Chief Michael Johnson as the most troubling.

In no particular order, they include Johnson’s hiring of his closest friend, Rocky Harpham, as his lieutenant and, hence, second in command following the retirement of Capt. Robert Kirvin; hiring David Coates, a former college schoolmate, as Community Service Officer.

Lt. Harpham is also well acquainted with APD Sgt. Sean Miller, a former roommate.

Several officers have confided in off-the-record conversations that there is little trust in a department where trust should be paramount since lives are at stake.

Day also mentioned as troubling other hirings at city hall overseen more closely by Kiser.

Those included Michael Johnson’s wife, Rosemary, hired as a customer service clerk in the city’s Finance Department, and the hiring of several engineers Kiser worked with at Omni-Means, a private civil engineering firm that continues to do work for the city.

While Day is the most vocal public voice, other council members offer similar opinions in private talks.

Thankfully, most members of the Anderson City Council are mentally awake and paying close attention, as I urged all citizens to be in a previous “Perspectives” column.

© 2013 Anderson Valley Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 3

Amused writes:

The citizens of Anderson desperately need to listen to Mr. Day and Mr. Winship because in less then one year Johnson has managed to place several friends and family in key positions of your community, stifling any and all questions or disagreement. Johnson has always been a very poor excuse for a working policeman, depending on personal contacts like Kim Kerr for job opportunities. Kerr has since gone on to envelope El Dorado County in the same financial mess she left in Ione. Finally, after all the years of expensive failure and arrogance, a council member and editor are recognizing the root cause of many issues. Learn from Ione. Send the Johnson family and Harpham packing while you still can. Remember, Johnson was so busy kissing up to Kerr and select community members, he dissolved an 18 officer reserve program and the burglary rate doubled his first year in Ione. These men would not have passed any professional background check, as is evidenced by Eureka's decision to leave the position open rather then hire Johnson.

mongolBBQ writes:

Thanks George for your honesty and your love of the City of Anderson. Also thanks for keeping us informed as much as you can!

ambulancedriver writes:

I would think that after 4 weeks this op-ed would be old news, or old opinion. Come on George find something new to report. The piece has run out of gas put it away!

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